Sea Otter Classic
CAT 1, XC 15-16
My Dad and I set out for the drive up north to Monterey to race at the 2015 Sea Otter Classic! I came into this race with great momentum from previous results and was in the best mental and physical state of my life. On Thursday I arrived at Laguna Seca where the races were being held, and would be racing on Sunday. The first day at the race venue I got in a nice pre-ride on the CAT 1 cross-country course. The course was a mix of rolling gravel climbs, and fast slippery single-track with some super fast pavement sections throughout the race. I was ready to race in the CAT 1 15-16 class.
With a 7:30 a.m. start time my Dad and I had to leave the hotel at 5:30 a.m. and head out to the race course. The conditions were cold and misty with a ton of fog, creating an ominous feeling thanks to the geography of the beachfront forests. Before I knew it there was only 10 minutes before my race start so I rushed on over to the Subaru bridge for staging. I got an awesome starting position in the front row and middle. With my grandma, mom and dad cheering me on, off the start I got the hole-shot, and was leading the pack of riders behind me, but decide to dial it down a bit so I don’t die before the dirt. Staying towards the front of the group on the pavement didn’t seem to do anything for me as when we hit the first sample of dirt; all the top riders in my category engulfed me. I tried to tag along, but my legs weren’t made for sprinting. I looked behind me and saw only 3 riders behind me, and had the dust fly up into my lungs. Luckily, I was able to pass a few riders on the first descent. For some strange reason the first category to go off in the morning was the CAT 1 Tandem class. So I knew it was going to be a struggle to pass in the super tight single-track. I would have never expected to have the tandem class play into my advantage. On the first downhill pavement section, I managed to hook on to the back of a tandem and they seemed to have pleasure in towing me a-long, I was in my hardest gear and spinning out! I was counting down the riders as we passed and dropped each one, they tried to hook on to the two person pedaling piece of speed but couldn’t, HA! The part of the course that seemed to have no significance was a key factor to my race! I had passed about 5 riders thanks to the tandem, and once the single-track came I swung around and made the pass.
Of course what I had thought would happen did, a tandem with 10+ single speed and riders in my category stuck behind. Now we had to stay at the pace of the tandem, and people were rubbing tires, and banging bars as we tried desperately to get by. Once I passed all the tandems I knew now I would have to sprint for the next 18 miles. Sure enough I managed to catch up to my first culprit. I stayed quiet, and once I saw a chance I accelerated and made sure he couldn’t stay on my wheel. This gave me the motivation to keep on pushing, I embraced the pain, and reminded myself that pain is only temporary. I kept on putting the sayings through my mind, and found my rhythm. From this point on I was able to pass four more racers in my category. I finished in 12th out of 20, and was the 3rd 15 year-old to finish, and was exhausted after the hour and a half of racing. I was satisfied with the result, and can’t wait for next year! I ended the trip with a nice drive in the truck with my Dad down the 17 Mile Drive in Carmel.