Sea Otter is much more than just a bike race. It's a gigantic bike festival and everyone in the industry is there. Even if the competition is tough and it is considered as one of the biggest races on the North American MTB calendar, for most people except the racers, the race is not the main event of the weekend.
It is a whirlwind, it is busy, tiring and awesome at the same time. Luckily for us racers, our team mechanics and manager are working very hard to make it easier for us to race among the craziness. Nonetheless, it is always a good time and I'm always excited to head out there!
Heading into the weekend, we had an ambitious plan of racing three events; Short Track on Friday, Cross-Country and Cyclocross on Saturday. Katerina was on the same program as me and I was pumped to be racing all these events and wear my new Garneau cyclocross National Champ skinsuit.
Instead of the usual race report, I thought I'd give you an idea of how the whole weekend panned out for the CLIF Pro Team.
- Fly in. Marla picks Hannah, Haley and I at airport.
- Drive to hotel.
- We are so into our conversation that we miss the exit and go 23 miles too far. Wow... We laugh.
- Haley uses that extra car time and give me a really nice bday gift! "How nice of her!"
- Eat at Whole Foods and meet Michel and Chris.
- Rooming with Lea. Bed time confession: I tell her I feel kind of old because I'm going to turn 24 that night. 24 feels like a big number...the ind of number where you become an official adult.
- She reassures me that this happens only at 26.
- Lea says Bunny! (Her way of saying "Bonne nuit", which is french for good night). We fall asleep.
Then when we woke up on Thursday, I had aged. But I felt so happy and excited to be at Sea Otter with most of my best friends to celebrate my birthday.
- Breakfast with the team.
- Catharine gives me a really cool cooking book (and a super sweet card) for my bday! "My teammates are so sweet!"
- Pre-ride the XC course with the team.
- Have fun lunch and interesting conversations about Olympic experiences and such at Whole Foods with the crew.
- Go hang out at Katka's room. She also gives me a super nice bday gift and very cute card. "Can't believe how nice they all are".
- We go for a team dinner at nice restaurant overlooking the ocean. Gary (owner of Clif Bar) joins us and he is awesome as always.
- We see whales. Haley doesn't tell us that she has been watching them jumping and flipping for the last 10 min.
- They bring a delicious cake and a tiny bottle of champagne.
- I love these guys. It was a great day!
Friday (Short track, Lemonade, meetings and party)
- Drive to the venue for the Short Track race. We are pumped.
- Warm up. Go time!
- I feel horrible but I'm in the front group.
- Group splits. I close the gaps twice. "Maybe if I go really hard a few times my legs will eventually wake up and get going!"
- Legs never get going. I get dropped. Not a good day for me. "Oh well. I guess it happens sometimes". Catharine says I probably need a longer warm up not that I'm older lol.
- After Short Track it's time for the annual Little Bellas lemonade social.
***Little Bellas is a program started by Lea and her sister Sabra to bring more girls on bikes. They now have over 800 girls in the program across the country. Every year at Sea Otter, we get to sit with 20-30 girls and answer their questions. It is awesome!
- Little Bellas ask what is our favorite fruit and how we motivate ourselves to get up a big climb.
- As the tradition asks for, we start rapping for them. Good fun is had. For the first time ver, there actually is lemonade, which is pretty awesome. So we sing this:
- "I’m on a 24h Lemonade diet
Spilling while I’m sipping, I encourage you to try it
I’m probably just saying that cause I don’t have to buy it
Little Bellas supply it, and Camelbak is cooling it"
- "I’m on a 24h Lemonade diet
- 1.5h break: Eat lunch with Katka and hang in the shade under a tree.
- Meeting with our new sponsor Rotor. We learn about the technology of our power meters and their oval chainring. Then, Catharine arrives and the rep of Rotor asks me to explain everything to her. Luckily, I had been listening! People who work there are awesome!
- Visit at Maxxis. They have exciting stuff coming next fall!
- Back to our team ten for the annual Clif Pro Team party. Eat delicious quesedillas and catchu up with many friends and sponsors.
- Waldek's hat is off: That's our sing to leave the venue. It's 6 O'clock and we've been there since 8AM. Even if we're having fun, it's time to go. 2 races tomorrow.
- Massage. "Thank you Waldek". Bed time.
- Lea says "Bunny!"
Saturday (Cross-Country, Cyclocross, Meetings, dancing and rapping)
- Drive to the venue for cross-country race
- Warm up. Race start. Here's how it went: In the first group for 2 laps feeling okay, smash my wheel, start sliding around and get dropped a tiny bit, pretty certain I had a flat, stop in the pit, lose the group for good, turns out I don't have a flat, leave feed zone, start riding by myself, mad/grumpy at myself for 2 laps, finally get mentally back into it with 2 to go, not a great performance, not so proud of myself. Oh well.
- Little cool down, go back to the tent. Eat 1 LUNA bar, 1 Clif Bar oatmeal pouch, change, relax stretch a bit. Little Bellas visit the tent; answer cute questions and sign tiny jerseys. Next race is in less than 2h.
- Hang in the van with Katka - getting ourselves pumped for race number 2. Get change. "So happy to have a buddy for this one, makes it so much better!"
- Race starts, men and women together. Here's how it went: First 20 min hurts a lot "I think I'm a bit tired", finally settles down as Cody Kaiser sets a good pace and let's Katka and I sit on his wheel "thanks Cody", I face plant in the sand, lots of people are cheering, push hard to catch up to Katka and Cody, face plant again in the sand, catch up again, our teammates are cheering hard, last corner; Cody lets us go, we exchange a few words, sprint to the finish, Katerina beats me.
- We eat an apple and share a bag of chips and head to Garneau booth. We chat and sign posters.
- Go to podium.
- Finally go to van and get out of our shammy. "Yes!"
- Go to CLIF Bar party. DJ J-Pows and DJ Peanut Butter are jamming great music.
- Everyone is dancing. "THIS IS FUN!" I finally eat lunch, it is now 5:30 PM. "So great!"
- They introduce the team. Baby Got Back from Sir Mix-a-lot is on...Can't control myself, I "turn around, stick it out" sign and dance. The whole team is also into it, Katerina even does the worm. "AMAZING!" Click here for a video: https://www.facebook.com/ClifProTeam/
- Then, as if we hadn't make fools of ourselves enough, they give us mics, the beat drops and we decide to do our team rap. Everyone is kind of weirded out. We have a blast! This is great.
- CLIF Bar party is amazing. Favorite company ever!
- Gary brings us back to hotel. Super fun team dinner.
- Lea says Bunny! We sleep.
On Sunday, we ended the weekend with our annual team ride on the beautiful 17 mile drive along the ocean.
We are now headed in separate ways for the next few months as some of the team will go to Europe and others (like myself) will stay in North America for most of the summer.
As usual, Sea Otter was super busy, but super fun at the same time. My races weren't great, but I still had a big smile on my face the whole time! Now I'm back in Tucson and looking forward for the Whiskey Off road this coming weekend.
I don't think I'll need much external help to get pumped for Whiskey, but in case it's needed..."Turn around, stick it out. even white boys got to shout, BABY GOT BACK"!