This past weekend, Tracy, Chris, Nick, John and I headed down to Monterey to race the in the Sea Otter Classic. Nick and John went down early Saturday and evidently really cleaned up on the free schwag. Chris, Tracy and I ended up heading down later in the day Saturday.
After registering, we wandered down to the vendor area to find that things were pretty much winding down. The first indication that we should have gotten there sooner, was when we decided to head towards the food tents to see what was available for a late lunch. We found we had a choice between a hamburger and a cheeseburger.
I, being the gourmand that I am, opted for the cheeseburger since we all know that adding a slice of pasteurized, processed, imitation cheese like product to a soy based, meat like patty raises it to a whole new level of distinction. (note – pretty sure aged beef doesn’t mean it’s been left under the heat lamp all day long)
After wolfing down the burger and nice cold Sierra Nevada brown ale, we wandered around for a bit picking up what remaining schwag was available and checking out all the cool bikes, components and shiny bits. We watched the kids on the pump track for a bit amazed at their ability to launch themselves off ramps and jumps with absolutely no fear of arthritis, slipped discs, or broken bones before heading out to Monterey to meet up with the others for dinner.
Dinner was amazing. We ate at some little place off the strip where I had incredible homemade lasagna and mediocre garlic bread. (not sure how you can make a plate of pasta like that and not be able to pull off something simple like garlic bread).
Afterwards we headed for the “resort” where we were staying in the lovely industrial area of Salinas. The Good Nite Inn is situated on Work St (told you it was the industrial area) right underneath Hwy 101. Actually, the room was fine, the beds were clean and I slept like a rock.
5:00am the next morning the alarm on my crackberry went off letting us know the day had begun. After everyone had gotten ready and packed up we headed out to McD’s for a hearty breakfast of fruit and nut oatmeal which actually turned out to be pretty good. I can now honestly say there is something on the McD menu I like other than their iced coffee.
Arriving back at Laguna Seca we got our stuff together and took a warm up lap on the track itself. I’ve been to Laguna before to watch MotoGP and riding my bicycle down the infamous corkscrew was a pretty cool feeling.
Granted the guys with motors probably do it a little faster than I did on my single speed mt bike, but I’m sure the thrill is about the same.
Soon enough it was time for the race itself. Being in the single speed category, I was in the first group out and thankfully so. Much of the race is on winding single track so I imagine the groups behind us were dealing with issues of passing, and traffic and crowds, while we had relatively traffic free conditions. (at least until the other groups caught and passed me anyway)
My buddy Nick has done this race before and he told me that last year, at the halfway point they had water bottles available. Seeing the water station ahead, I drank most of my remaining bottle only to find out when I got there that they were handing out Dixie cup-sized glasses of water. I took a paper cup and motored by wondering if it was going to go back to haunt me...it did.
About mile 14, I drank the last of the water in my bottle. I had started to feel the twinges of cramps prior but had avoided them to this point. Now though, every hard push resulted in twinges and tightening of muscles. Fearing a full on attack, I backed off and kept motoring as best as I could. The last section is a fireroad climb that isn’t too bad. I just had to keep the pedals turning and I could finish this.
Evidently, the race organizers decided just surviving wasn’t entertaining enough, so they changed the last mile, adding another single track section with a very not fun switchback at the top where the spectators could watch us suffer.
Finally, I came out to the pavement and the nice fast, sweeping downhill finish. I didn’t break my under 2 hour goal, but finished in 2:05. From there I found a spot in the shade and waited for the others to finish.
Back at the truck, we enjoyed a nice cold beer, lied to each other about how good we felt and eventually got on the road for home.