Sea Otter

Ah, Sea Otter. So much crammed in to one weekend.

Most of the NoTubes crew rolled in to Monterey on Wednesday evening. Nina picked up Jenny and I in San Jose and we rolled down to our amazing team house in Carmel. On Thursday morning we were able to do some bike work to help my rad Cannondale Scalpel fit me a little better. It’s not easy being freakishly short – and it’s not easy for Shannon, the team manager, either…

Bike work – make it fit!

Once bikes were built and ready by the afternoon, we headed to the venue to pre-ride the XC course. Since the race is not a UCI race anymore, there course isn’t quite the silly road race that it used to be. It is now a slightly less silly road race on a longer loop. But it does have some legitimately fun singletrack pieces thrown in between the fireroad sections. It is one long loop of 20 miles so the pre-ride took a solid couple of hours.

Nina, Kaila and Tiziana – pre-ride smiles.

Once we finished up, we zipped home, took a quick dip in the ocean and headed to Light & Motion for their soiree and a factory tour. After that, we went back home and hosted the Stan’s crew for a late dinner.

Friday morning we headed to the venue for STXC. My teammates rode great. Nina, especially, crushed it on her new Scalpel 29er. Shannon, Kaila and I were a pink brigade for the first bit of the race, all riding pretty close together. My legs seemed to take the first seven minutes or so to wake up and I was able to move up a little starting then but it didn’t last long as I was pulled shortly after.

Bling bling Stan’s wheel-tree at the Stan’s booth.

Jenny and I busted out of the venue before too long after the race and we went home to get some downtime before Saturday’s XC race. We hopped in the ocean again and chilled out for the afternoon. Kathy arrived on Friday night to complete our little NoTubes family for the weekend.

Saturday morning we headed to the venue and prepared for a HOT day of racing. (Ironically, as I sit here in Monterey the following morning, it is cool and there is thick fog sitting outside the window. But that doesn’t matter because during our race it was friggin’ hot). The race start at Sea Otter is unusual as we start on flat pavement. We buzzed around the track in a group like a bunch of roadies until the pace lifted before the turn off the track. Through a couple of U-turns and we hit the rollers on the fireroads. I made an error in one of the turns and was chasing when the first accelarations started on the rollers. A gap quickly formed and I could not punch it enough to close it. It was damn frustrating to watch the front group fly along the down fireroad as myself and the other chasers could only watch the race ride away from us. C’est la vie. As we hit the first section of singletrack and groups had been established, Kelsy and I found ourselves together. Kels is practically my next door neighbor, I know we’re very evenly matched and I trust her lines. We wound up working together for the rest of the race. We took turns on the front and we both had issues with dropped chains, lost bottles, crashes and tolerating the heat but we motivated each other and it was nice to ride together. I tried to hit the last long climb hard and create a gap (hehe…as great as it was to ride together, um, it WAS still a race). I didn’t want to sprint Kelsy or have to play tactics at the end because I knew I would lose. Though I didn’t let myself look back, I thought I had I opened a small gap partway up the climb but Kels closed it up as we crested the top. I led into the final singletrack but, again, on the sandy S-turn climb, Kels closed it up and we entered the race track together. We laughed rolling down the hill and Kels said, “Sprint it out?” So we did. And Kels took it. It was a thrilling sprint for 20th place.

It was a little demoralizing to see the results later and see the 21st place and the time gap but all in all, I was happy with how I rode and pleasantly surprised by how I tolerated the heat. Aside from letting the gap form in the opening miles and one especially hot, exposed section of singletrack climbing where I had a good fade, I felt pretty good. As Jenny put it after the race (in her New Zealand accent), “I think we rode pretty well for mountain girls.”

After the race, we were lucky enough to take part in the SRAM Ladies Lounge hosted by Rebecca. Though I think our brains were a little fried at that point, it felt great to be a part of getting more women stoked on bikes.

Saturday night we hosted a legitimate party and stayed up ’til the breaka-breaka dawn. Okay, not really. But it was way past my normal geriatric bedtime. And Sunday we wrapped it all up and headed home. A few days of appearance at work to make sure I still have a job and then it’s off to the Whiskey!

Huge thanks to Kenny and Jimmy for the wrenching, Shannon for, well, everything, Stan’s for, also everything, elete, Adidas, Lazer, Cannondale, Alpine Orthopaedics, ProGold Lube, Gu Energy, Genuine Innovations, Ergon, Crankbrothers, Kenda, Verge and fi’zik.

From Sarah’s blog.

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