Saturday several of us got together to pre-ride the Sea Otter course. Weatherman said showers but we had decided to go rain or shine. I’ve registered to race the course in April in the Cat 3 Single-Speed division and wanted to see what I had gotten myself in for.
This stupid idea all started last year. Nick did the Sea Otter and raved about how much fun it was and what an experience it was. So, hyped up after one of our Thursday night rides and fueled by adrenaline and a couple beers several of us said, sure we’d do it with him this year and I even went as far as to say I’d do it on the SS...
So, now here we are in late February and with only a couple months until the race, I’m really regretting the fact that once again, my ego has written checks, my body will be forced to cash.
Well, Saturday, as always, the internal alarm went off about 5am. I lay there listening for the sound of rain, conflicted as to whether I wanted to hear it or not. Eventually though, I rolled out of bed and checked weather.com to see what the outlook was to be...partly cloudy in the high 50’s ...perfect riding weather.
I loaded up the Jabberwocky and headed out to pick up Tracy. After a quick detour through the Starbucks drive-through, we headed south where we met up with the rest of the gang in San Jose and caravanned down to Monterey.
As we unloaded the bikes, and everyone saddled up on their geared, full suspension rides, I again wondered what I was thinking when I so gallantly blurted out that “yeah, I’ll sign up and I’ll even do it on the single speed”
Pretty much right off the bat we missed a turn and had to take a different loop to get back on course which at the time was no big deal. It was later in the day as my legs started to cramp that I’d really start to regret letting Nick play the role of ride leader.
For now though, we were having fun and enjoying the ride. The first section was fire road and paved road leading up the hill. From there it was a ripping singletrack descent that wound along side the hill and offered narrow, twisty goodness with some sketchy corners that continued to try to trip us up.
I was riding in the second slot and when Nick went down in one of the corners I was able to pass and let the big wheels of the 29er lead me along. (I want to say AGAIN, I had nothing to do with Nick going down in that corner)
As the day wound on, we continued the now normal routine of climbing and descending and I actually felt pretty good. (although every time I asked Nick where to go, he said the same thing....we'll take a left up here and start climbing)
There were some areas where I had to get off and walk, but to be honest the geared bikes were just as slow spinning in their granny gears as I was walking.
One of the questions that came up several times during the day and actually comes up pretty regularly is “why” Why single speed and why no suspension. As I labored up the hills standing and suffering, the same question continued to go through my head. And, I’m not sure I have an answer.
I have a geared bike and its fun to ride. It’s just not as fun. I don’t know if I can articulate what it is, but I really do enjoy the SS more than the geared bike for most of my riding.
Towards the end of the day though, the SS was taking its toll. I was starting to cramp, and it was apparent I was running out of gas. I had a cliff bar and a gel and continued to drink, but there was really nothing left in the tank. (I’m pretty sure most of the guys on the geared bikes were feeling the same way I was though, so I’m blaming my level of fitness and not the bike.)
The last section back to the truck is a long fireroad climb and of course now we had a headwind. Since you really have no choice in the matter, I just increased my whining all the more and kept pedaling.
Eventually, we made it back to the truck and although it was now actually cold and windy we celebrated with a beer as we loaded up our gear and went in search of food.
Garmin showed 22 miles and 3550 ft of climbing…I wonder if it’s too late to bail on the Sea Otter and get my money.
(Thanks Troy for being the photographer - I brought my camera but it never made it out of the camelbak)