5 May 2010  |  Race Reports

Sea Otter Smells like Maple Syrup

Seriously, something on the course smells like maple syrup.  It must be some kind of plant because there isn’t an IHOP for miles….

I always like racing at Sea Otter- despite all the craziness. The trails are fast, fun, and it’s one of the only races where we (women) get to race the same distance as the men.  At least that’s how it used to be.  This year the pros got to race on a shorter, more spectator-friendly course, and while the rider in me misses the old course, I think the new course is the way to go.

I came into the weekend with no real expectations (of course I always want to win, but it’s not always in the cards…).  In any case, I was very excited to be in the mix both days.

The short track course was similar to last year’s: a long (for a short track) steep climb, some bumpy, rutted singletrack, a few chicanes, and very few opportunities for passing.  This year, the first corner was an off-camber, rutted and slightly muddy uphill- the perfect spot for a first lap crash and bottle-neck. Luckily, I had a good start and cleaned the first corner in 3rd behind Willow and Lene.  Willow was drilling it for the first few laps, and our group had separated from the rest of the field, but Catharine and Emily weren’t far behind.  I pulled for a few laps, and then with 5-lap-to-go I heard a bottleneck behind me on the muddy hill and Catharine said, “you’ve got a gap!”  “Oh great,” I thought, “just what I want- to ride around by myself for 5 laps!”  Waldek was yelling at me to keep going and stretch out the gap, but I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it stick, so I rode a good tempo, but kept a little in reserve in case I got caught and had to counter an attack.  In the end, I was able to keep the gap and finished with a small gap over Lene with Catharine, Willow and Emily rounding out the top-5. I was also excited to be racing in our fancy one-off white and gold Luna Sport kits.  They looked pretty cool.  And it didn’t rain so that was good….

The cross country was more of a road race- with a big chunk of the course on the paved racetrack.  A group of 7 made the first selection, and then it was whittled down to 5.  Everyone would sit up on the pavement, and then drill it as we headed into the singletrack.  All the climbs were so short that it was hard for me to gauge how everyone was feeling, so I didn’t try any attacks- I wasn’t feeling fantastic and I didn’t feel like riding around by myself with a group of 4 behind me.  I had a spot picked out for my last-lap-attack, but Lene beat me to it, and when she took off I was sitting 4th wheel.  She opened a bit of a gap, and I had to put in a hard effort to reel her in, but I managed to get on her wheel and ride with her up the last climb.  At the top I put in one big effort to get around her before the downhill singletrack, and I was able to get enough of a gap to ride in for the win.  It was a very exciting race- up until the end, I wasn’t sure how it was going to pan out, but I was really psyched that I didn’t blow it tactically.

After the race, we packed up all our crap and headed to the airport for a Sunday-night flight home (it’s all about maximizing time at home these days).  So I got 2 days at home, and then it was off again to the airport for the first trip to Europe. Luckily, the Icelandic volcano had settled down, and Katerina and I were able to make it into Manchester, UK without incident.


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