2012 Sea Otter Classic

25 Apr

Unless you have been living under a rock or haven’t had internet access over the past few days, you know that I was at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, CA over the weekend.  Sea Otter is a 4 day event with bike races from road criteriums to dual slalom down hill, pretty much anything you can imagine on a bike.  This was the 3rd year for Tough Chik to participate in the expo and the first year for Team Tough Chik to race the event.

We arrived at Laguna Seca Racetrack on Wednesday afternoon to set up the tent.  We got our same spot as last year near Clif, which is the place to be! They have a party on Saturday evening and is always a great time.  There are hundreds of vendors and by far our biggest even of the year, that being said it is also a very well organized event.

The set up

Thursday was our first day of selling and it was a beautiful day. I was accompanied by my number one supporter and ultimate partner in crime, my husband, Marc.  He is an avid cyclist and mt. biker, so he was in heaven.  He took this opportunity to enjoy the local trail and get in a few rides himself.

Post-ride happy hour at the Tough Chik tent and yes, he is wearing a TC cap!

We worked from 9 to 5 and then we were treated to homemade tacos from a local, Tommy, at the campsite where most of the Toughies stayed (I opted for a hotel).

Tommy's Tacos

Friday is when the show kicks it up a notch and is in full swing.  All of the Team Tough Chik racers stopped by the tent and hung out with me which made the show a 100 times more fun for me!  I was joined by my PIC and Co-Capt, Angela, along with her Big Bear gal pal, Michelle, Jess from Sacramento and Dubai, Chrystal from Fresno and Tracey from Modesto!  We had a great group of women!  I raced on Saturday so I did my best to stay hydrated and off my feet, which is pretty much impossible.  I wore my heavy-duty CEP compression socks and just hoped and prayed that this wasn’t taking a huge toll on my legs.  After we left the expo and cleaned up Marc and I headed to the Italian restaurant across the street. I drank a whole pitcher of iced tea and huge bowl of pasta primavera.  Even the waiter was impressed that I polished it off.

Saturday morning we met Angela and Michelle at the tent before I headed over to the start line.

Michelle, Shannon and Angela - pre race

My race started at 9AM and it was already in the 80’s, it was going to be a scorcher!  I reminded myself that I was going to race my own race and just treat this as a training ride.  I had not properly trained for this race, my focus has been on my triathlons in May.

Shannon at the start line

I was racing cat4 road stage race, translation – beginner level race on the road with a start and finish not on a track or just going in circles.  Bike racing segmented into categories 1-5 for men and 1-4 women and is very unregulated until you get to the pro level.  That means that you can move yourself up and down cat depending on the race.  They want 3 or 4 races (I think) under your belt before you move from 4 to 3, but after that you really decide in which cat you want to ride.  Cat 4 should be beginner, i.e. one of your first 4 races.  Look at the photo, do these women look like this is their first race?  I try not to judge a book by it’s cover, because most of the time I am wrong.  But these ladies look like they know what they are doing.  Cat 3 and 4 raced together but we had different color numbers, so you could see who you were racing against.  We started on the race track and had a motorcade out to the course.  Everyone was nervous and chatting and it got a little dicey a few times with speeding up and slowing down.  Once the motorcycle peeled off I stayed mid-pack for about 5 miles until the first climb, then I was dropped.  Just live that, 40 miles left to go and I was dropped.  THIS.WAS.GOING.TO.BE.UGLY!

They way the course was set up, we rode about 7 miles to a loop and then we had to complete the 7.5 mile loop 4 times and then climb a hill top finish.  By the time I got to my second lap, the group passed me.  Not only was I dropped, but I was lapped.  Devastating.  It was pretty easy to ride my own ride, since I was riding by myself.  Half way threw loop 2, I dropped a chain and spent what felt like eternity on the side of the road.  I was able to get my chain back on and jumped on the bike.  Instantly my legs seized.  Each pedal stroke was harder than the last and my legs felt like they were made of concrete.  I made it through the next loop sluggishly, exhausted and defeated.  I tried to keep the race in perspective and pushed along.  Each loop started with a steep climb and then several miles of rollers, then a very steep climb, a small downhill and back to the first climb again.  Almost 800 ft of climbing over 7.5 miles.  It was in the 90’s but the heat didn’t bother me, it was the steep climbs that killed.  I was pushing myself so hard that I felt nauseous the entire race and had trouble drinking water.  I didn’t even finish one water bottle in over 2 hours of racing in that heat…not good.  Needless to say, it was a rough race and I finished 29/36.

While I was killing it getting killed, Angela and Michelle held down the fort, errr tent at the expo.  It was a very hot day and I was wiped after the race, but i put on a happy face and worked the tent for the rest of the day.

Sunday morning was the cross-country race and the rest of the team was ready to go.  First off was Angela and Jess.

Angela and Jessica

Then Michelle…


and last and not least, Chrystal


After the ladies raced, the stopped by the tent for a photo op!

Team Tough Chik

Team Tough Chik

As you can see Chrystal had a spill on the course and still placed 2nd in her cat!  I was so proud of her!  She had to sacrifice an arm warmer, but it was worth it!

Toughies acting silly!

This was by far my favorite Sea Otter.  I had SO MUCH FUN with my team members and they really made the weekend!  These women are amazing!  Thank you ladies for making my weekend ROCK!  I love you guys!


5 Responses to “2012 Sea Otter Classic”

  1. jnkmiles.org April 25, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Aww, man…tough conditions and tough weekend to work AND race. But you held you your own and I’m super proud of you for fighting those climbs and finishing what you started!!

  2. tmbrunnerfirst April 26, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    That event looks like a blast! Bummer about the race, but now you know what to expect for next year. Plus, you were badass enough to finish. I would have been too chicken to start. Congrats!

  3. srcycler April 29, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    I have spent a good deal of time around Santa Cruz and the area and would like to go to the Sea Otter Classic next year, Are there trails that novice mountain bikers can ride there?



  1. DB at the Pool « Tough Chik - May 9, 2012

    […] which was 4,000 ft of climbing over 40 miles.  “Now, THAT is a challenging course” (of course I left how how poor I performed at the race).  He kept throwing quips out there like how everyone trys to draft off him and how annoying it […]

  2. doubts « Tough Chik - May 11, 2012

    […] the DB at the pool, my terrible performance at Sea Otter, the fact I have been traveling non-stop for a month and my 3 lb gain….I am NOT FEELING […]

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