Sea Otter

XC Race

As we lined up for the Women’s Cat 2 Cross-country race, I looked ahead at the staging order being set before me. The previous year, the traffic on the trail had been quite heavy and detracted from any chance of accomplishing a PR on the course. I had great hopes that the race organizers had worked overtime to iron out the staging times so that the excessive trail congestion would not occur again. However, as I looked ahead, they were actually releasing the women in groups of Cat 2’s and Cat 3’s separated only by age groups. So, unlike the men’s race, which was separated by entire categories, I was looking at having Cat 3’s in front of me. This frustration piled on top of my extreme nerves served as fuel for the fire that I released as I sprinted up the tarmac to the top of the raceway in first place. I then realized that we were being sent to the left to also complete a lap on the pro cross-country short course track! This was actually quite a fun segment but, I am so glad that I did not know it was part of the course since I definitely would have spent the night stressing about that as well. As I entered this first section of single track at the top of the raceway, I encountered my first racer from an earlier wave. From this point on the central focus became passing as many people as possible until the final climb back to the raceway. Overall, the course was much more fun this year and included some more challenging features. I was able to win my age group as a Cat 2 for the second year in a row so, I hope to try the Cat 1 race next year. -Lynn Argente

Lynn Sea Otter XC.jpg

The race start was brutal as always! I managed to stay in second place for the first 5 miles where I then took the lead until mile 14. I held second until the last two miles where my legs started cramping and I was passed again. I took third place out of 13 ladies in the Cat 1 40-49 age group. This is only my third Cat 1 race. I was extremely happy to be on the podium. -Julie Silva

Julie Sea Otter.jpg

Sea Otter is one of our Favorite places to race. It brings in a lot of tough competition!  We make it a family trip and camp for the 4 days at the festival! I raced Cat 1 open Single speed and placed 7th out of 14. This race is always tough and challenging but is a lot of fun! -Eddie Silva

Wait…Eddie, where is your front and rear derailleur??? Eddie enjoys the simpler things in life such as single speed mountain bike races.

Wait…Eddie, where is your front and rear derailleur??? Eddie enjoys the simpler things in life such as single speed mountain bike races.

John Hawkins on the top step of the podium.  Way to go John!

John Hawkins on the top step of the podium. Way to go John!


I led the pack up the first climb on the tarmac from the start line I knew must have gone out too hard. I was still in good position until a couple chain issues on the super steep climb around mile 1 and then went into damage control the rest of the race, picking off just about everyone that passed me during my chain fixes. Finished 8th of 34 and is probably where I would have ultimately finished without the chain issues. -Dave Good

Dave Good after he crushed it on the XC course finishing in 8th place.

Dave Good after he crushed it on the XC course finishing in 8th place.

Gran Fondo

This year I decided to ride in the Pacifico Gran Fondo at the 2019 Sea Otter which is approximately a 60 mile ride along the Monterey Coast.
I really appreciate the “kits” provided with the VCC logo these things are a conversation piece for sure.
Thank You for your support. -Eric Streiff 

Eric Streiff (left) and another VCC Joe Valencia (right)

Eric Streiff (left) and another VCC Joe Valencia (right)

I was looking forward to another good Sea Otter ride and I was mainly focused on making the cut on the first steep climb out of Fort Ord. Similar to the previous year, about 20 riders rode away from the group, and when we crested the hill, they had about 30 seconds on me and a handful of stragglers. The rest had wisely decided to get a proper warm up and went up the hill at a reasonable pace. The gap quickly stretched and I decided to wait for the second group to come by so I could join them. When we reached River Road we were surprised by a headwind where there normally would have been a strong tailwind. So, I struggled to stay in the pack while the strong riders pulled along to the stop just before Carmel Valley Rd. The stops at Sea Otter are among the best in terms of food quantity and diversity. Since it was around mile 40, I made sure that I fueled up so I was ready for the Carmel Valley Rd. climb. Once we were up an over, after climbing for an hour, we dropped into the valley towards Carmel. The headwind was slowing the pace, and I was trading pulls with just one person, so what normally would have been a long fun downhill, ended up being a lot of work maintaining a decent speed. Once in Carmel Valley we turned and went over Laureles Grade, and then finished with the Laguna Seca south entrance hill, which is only .8 miles but has pitches of 12% to 15% at mile 90! Total distance was 91.32miles, with 6,100 feet of climbing, which took me 6:01:00 to complete, slower than in the past, but I am blaming the headwind rather than fitness for that. -Mauricio Argente

Mauricio taking a selfie at the top of the Carmel Valley climb when he was enjoying the end of an hour plus climb.

Mauricio taking a selfie at the top of the Carmel Valley climb when he was enjoying the end of an hour plus climb.

Road Circuit Race

Sea Otter Classic! I finally made it up to this crazy event. Of course, I had the family in tow, and I hadn't been riding much leading up to this race, but I had to make it happen. And happen it did. Actually, it happened to me, is more like it. Wow! So much fun! Riding on the race track was surreal, and a super fun experience. The descents were thrilling and the climb was brutal, lap after lap after lap. Obviously, not the best result for me (11th/20th I think), but at least I made it to and through the event. It was great to see so many fellow VCC mates out there as well. Lots of great results were had by our club over the few days of the festival, which is phenomenal. Next year, I want to plan a bit more strategically and see if we can get a larger convoy of participation from the club. Make it a weekend getaway!?!? There could be worse places to be stuck for a few days. See you next year, Sea Otter Classic! - Mike Greenlee

Ben Crandall (left) with Mike Greenelee (right)

Ben Crandall (left) with Mike Greenelee (right)

What an unbelievable place to race a bicycle!  Laguna Seca Raceway has perfect paving and turns sharp enough to make you appreciate the smooth terrain!  The race started with over 30 riders and I had never ridden the course before.  I watched a YouTube video and it didn't look very hilly but there's a good 3 minute climb right in the beginning that leads into the famed Laguna Seca Corkscrew downhill turn.  You go from an 8% climb to 50 mph down a winding turn.  It was super fun but nerve racking with 30 people around you.  On lap 2 I decided to push the 3 minute climb each lap to be at the front of the pack so I wouldn't have to worry about anyone in front of me taking a bad turn.  Five people were with me at the top and the descent was awesome from the front!  The peloton caught up and I went to the back of the pack until the next 3 minute climb where I surged into the lead.  Nobody caught me for the next 5 laps and I had a minute lead in the end.  This was a perfect way to end my time being a Cat 4 and I look forward to my future Cat 3 races! -Travis McCarty

Travis pushing himself to the limit as he stayed away from the main field most of the race.

Travis pushing himself to the limit as he stayed away from the main field most of the race.

This year, I elected to register for the Circuit Race as a Cat 5. The women’s race consisted of all Cat 3, 4, 5’s and Masters Women. In 2018, I entered the Masters category and felt that competing with the ex-pro racers was not to my advantage. Apparently, Cat 5 was not either. However, my 9th place finish may also have something to do with my “hammer until you die” racing tactics. I led the initial raceway climb and completed the first lap with the front group.  And then, the actual race began. I was able to hold on with the lead group for four of the six laps however, as in the past, I could not hold on down the corkscrew and the strong headwind on the backside of the raceway killed any chance of a recovery. I was cooked. And, “hammer till you die” does not work in all types a racing apparently. Lesson learned…maybe. -Lynn Argente

Lynn Sea Otter Circuit.jpg

Road Race

Summary coming soon…

Travis on the top step of the podium.

Travis on the top step of the podium.

Criterium

From the get go the Cat 5 Criterium at Sea Otter was challenging. There was a gnarly cross wind and the courses hilly nature almost favored climbers over the sprinters. A front group split off right away that consisted of me and 4 or 5 other riders. After a few laps we reduced to a group of 4, but by lap 7 I was spent. I had to skip much of my warm up due to unfamiliarity with the lay out of this MASSIVE festival and as a result I was fighting a cramping left calf from lap 6-9. Never the less, it was amazing to push so hard with a group of really strong riders. Lessons for next time: show up twice as early as you think you need to, eat just enough (a full belly in a Criterium is no good!), get in a good warm up, and stay loose on the bike. This event sparked a hunger in me to do more Crits! The fast paced nature of the race and chess-like strategy one has to employ is challenging and tons of fun. Can’t wait until the next one! -Ben Crandall

Ben (mean muggin’ Ray-Ban wearin’ force to be reckoned with)!

Ben (mean muggin’ Ray-Ban wearin’ force to be reckoned with)!

Calvin Harris