There’s likely no other event in the world that can compare to the Sea Otter Classic. It combines cross-country, road, cyclocross, downhill, and dual slalom racing with Grand Fondos, dirt jumping and trials events for just about every age and skill level from World Champions to first-timers. In addition to the racing and events, the expo is the largest of any race in the country, yet still has a laid back and fun atmosphere. It’s for these reasons that the Sea Otter is such a world class event and draws so many people.
The 2003 Sea Otter was one of the first mountain bike races I ever did. The reasons listed above are what drew my family and friends to make the trip down to Monterey, CA every year. Back then the Sea Otter was about lining up to race my best friends, camping with our families, running through the expo gathering up all the free stickers, nutrition samples, and schwag that we could find, and searching for autographs from the pros that inspired us to race.
Reflecting on these things reminds me just how amazing of a journey I’ve been on for the last 11 years and what an amazing opportunity that the Marin Factory Team has presented me with. I never would have thought that some day I’d be the pro on the other end of the autograph table, that I’d be the guy giving out stickers and schwag to the sport’s future pros, or that I’d some day be racing my friends to a 29th place in the Pro Men’s Cross Country race.
The 36 mile course was fun, fast, and beautiful. The start was crazy, as usual, with people running into each other, panic breaking, and chopping each other in the corners. At one point I found myself in last place but managed to work my way to mid-pack by the time we hit the first singletrack climb. From there I just held on to every wheel that I could, occasionally gaining a spot or two. By the time lap one was over I had found a good group of guys going about my speed and we worked together to keep moving forward through the field. Only seconds separated riders all day long which left no room for mistakes or for becoming fatigued. My finishing time was 2:09:22 only 9:02 out of first place (Christoph Sauser) and good for 29th place. Check out my full race file here.
Not only did I race to a strong finish but it was one of the best experiences I’ve had with my team and the individuals behind the Marin brand. I shared bike rides, beers and plenty of laughs with both old and new friends. I’ve attended hundreds of bike races over the past 11 years but THIS Sea Otter will certainly go down as one of the best. It’s so great to see this event continue to be so successful, and I can’t wait to go back next year.