Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Sea Otter...success!

What a weekend!

This bike festival is a must visit. If you ride bikes, any bikes, then this is the place to be. I read that there were over 13,000 athletes competing in every type of bike race you could imagine. Cross Country, Downhill, Road, Gravity Assist (Big Air), BMX, Dual Slalom, Short Track, Freestyle, Trials and what ever else happens on a bike. Did I mention Adventure Racing! We had 2 teams competing in the race and were picked up by Thule to represent them. We both raced as DART-nuun powered by Thule. We were Cyril, Jen Ratay and Myself and the other team was comprised of Aaron, Glenn and Seegs. (Team Roster)

Our race started bright and early Friday morning and we really lucked out with the weather. There was talk about the paddle being cancelled because the winds the day before were so strong, of course after our battle in Mexico with the strong winds and sea we were excited about getting back out there in our NW Kayaks and paddling hard for some redemption.

The paddle was a 4 mile out and back (8 miles total) that took us west out of Monterey Bay. The tide was going out on our way to CP1, so we had that speeding us up and we had a small 2 foot swell helping us surf our way back into the Transition. We had a blast and finished with the other DART team in 2nd and 3rd, just behind Wingnut (our friends Team Sole racing as Wingnut) and ahead of Nike. These would be the teams battling it out for podium space in the end.

We headed out on our bikes for what turned out to be the main component of the race. The bike section was 30+ miles and had us on about 10 miles of roads/paved trails to get to Fort Ord and then mostly single track and some great riding. We caught Wingnut in about 10 minutes and traveled as 3 teams in a good pace line through CP5. As we headed into the hills and technical maze of trails our pace slowed down and navigation picked up. Soon enough Nike joined the navigation party and we were all off. At times the teams would split and then rejoin at the next CP. The CP's could be done in any order (Rogaine Style) but we all seemed to have the same idea about the order in which we would race.

About 3/4 of the way through the biking section the teams all headed in different directions and this proved to be the breaking point. We chose a slightly longer route to CP14 than Wingnut, who we were still with, but it proved to be much faster as it had less climbing and was paved for about 1/2 of the approach. We showed up to where it should have been placed and it was no where in site. The directions stated the intersection of Trail 3 and 33. We proceeded to bike the loop that was made up by trail 3 and 33 and still did not find it. We bumped into Wingnut coming from the other direction as wecompleted our loop and they let us know they had not found it either. We agreed to return to where we both agreed it should have been placed and took a picture for the record. It turns out it was placed about 1/2 mile south on 3 from where it should have been and Nike stumbled accross it in route to where it should have been.

This lucky find turned out to be the winning move for them. We spent 15-20 minutes looking and riding around trying to find the CP. Our lead over Nike was shot and we went from 1st to 3rd just like that. After that we moved well into the TA and set out on foot. We enjoyed the whole bike, lots of great trails, fun climbs and killer descents.

The run was about 5 miles and had some good bushwhacking and route finding. I enjoyed the fact that you had to locate the CP's by plotting bearings on your map and do some technical navigation over a short distance. We noticed between 15 and 16 that we were running through a small field of Poison Oak, I picked up a bit on the legs (hate it). We had a visual on Nike and the other DART team and followed them into CP18 and the finish.

Overall a fun and great race and it was nice that we represented at Sea Otter. This race will definitely be on our calendars in years to come and is a great place to go to celebrate everything you can on a bike.

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