I thought Sea Otter was a whirlwind! Justin and I got home late Monday, and were up and at'em early on Tuesday for 4-days full of work. Mid-week we traveled west to partake of a cool group ride with Ergon and Crankbrothers and that made for another really late night. Super on track for back to back race weekends! :)
Friday we got stuff packed up for an early Saturday morning departure to head north to Santa Ynez!
Podium bottle I got free from Sea Otter (thanks Camelbak, Garmin, and Clif!)
We got to the venue in the early afternoon, picked up our registration packets (series plate #5w, stoked!), chatted with Ty and Davey in the Sho-Air RV, and headed out for our pre-ride. The course was shortened a bit from 2008, but still included some fun sections. The course was both in better and worse condition than last year if that is possible? It seemed like it hadn't been used a lot, so the cows had been enjoying the trails, but I don't think the dirt had been soaked as much and then dried out, so there wasn't a lot of caked/broken earth like last year.
There were a few sketchy corners, but otherwise everything was in great condition.
It's all about product placement!
I'm trying to switch over to exclusively using E2Hydro drink mix and the E2 ProCharge recovery. Hopefully I can continue to use this stuff (I'm running sample packets at the moment). I've been really happy with the E2 Hydro on hot days (wish I would have tried it last weekend at Sea Otter, actually). I've struggled with Cytomax in the heat quite a bit. It just isn't really drinkable. With only one bottle cage on the bike I've got to have a mix that I can drink no matter what the temps, and something to wash the gel mix down with! I was really happy with the E2 Hydro on Tuesday in the heat on our lunch ride, so used it this weekend. The ProCharge ice cream tastes great with both water and milk, and is chock full of protein mix! Mixing it with milk I think ups the carbs a bit and gives it a nice blend of nutrients. Follow that up with PB&J and I was good to go!
Driving back to the hotel through Solvang we were scoping restaurants. There wasn't much for seafood except in Lompoc (according to the Garmin 705 "Where To? Feature), and neither of us felt like making the drive. We decided on AJ Spur's Steakhouse. The food was great, but we got a little more than I had bargained on! No worries - meant I didn't have to make lunch last night! It was the happening place to be I think. It was half empty when we got there, but full when we left!
The rest of the evening was spent preppin bottles and food (me)
and going through the bikes and changing tires (Justin). He switched out my front tire to a brand new Specialized LK. It was great for Sunday's main event!
Despite trying to sleep in, it was an early morning for us (we're usually up before 6). We got to making breakfast and playing online, but it was pretty quiet! We anxiously awaited word on Luke's finish up at the 8 hours of Hurkey since he raced solo and was going for the big "W".
Eventually around 9 we figured we may as well head out to the venue, so packed up and off we went. The Cat 2 and 3 riders were just finishing up warmups, and we watched the waves take off as we chatted with Jason and Heather from So-Cal Endurance.
After some relaxation and race spectating it was time to suit up!
We did our warm-up on the hill that was used to shuttle downhill riders up to their start last year. This time they were using the "old" course, so the shuttle trucks weren't using it. There were quite a few others warming up there as well. The wind was picking up, but otherwise the weather was pretty good.
Justin went back to the truck to fiddle with his shifting, and I put in two more efforts and rode the finish chicane. We met back on the line where XC Pro and super supporter Robert Herber was set up with our start line/lap 1 bottles ready for take off!
The "call up" was kind of random, and I wound up on Joy's right side up against the barriers. Despite the series ranking plates, the call-up didn't seem to go by series placing. I knew it was going to be a weird start, and one or more of us was going to get squeezed out. I think I wound up 6th or 7th off the line; not a great place to start on the singletrack. The pace was smoking fast from the get-go as I think Amanda led us out for the first mile or so with Kathy and Zephanie right on her wheel. I moved up a few spots and I think was sitting 5th behind Krista as we made our way to the first singletrack climb. Passing is tough on a lot of the course since it is a lot of bench-cut singletrack. I put in a few efforts to try to move up, since I wasn't sure if the Kenda women had any tactics going into the race or not! The 3 of them held the top 3 spots all the way up the climb and I knew Kathy was putting in efforts to create an early gap.
Eventually I settled into 2nd and kept Kathy in my sights. Near the end of lap 1 I bridged up and sat behind her for a bit. She sat up to feed and I went around, but that didn't last long! She moved around me again on the ridgeline and I just tried to keep the gap manageable.
I had a bit of miscommunication in the feedzone and was not sure where Robert was, and I slowed up way too much. He was at the end of the line in a clear position (no one in front or behind him, so clear spot), so lesson learned. Keep it moving the ENTIRE time! Jason told me to make a move as Kathy was pulling more time! I kept her in sight for most of lap 2, and saw Amanda closing in on me.
They were both riding really strong throughout.
Lap 3 I was slowing down big time. General body fatigue was setting in and everything hurt (especially my legs!). Justin caught up to me and I tried to enjoy the windbreak, but couldn't hold his wheel at all. I yelled to him to go after Matt who wasn't TOO far ahead, and eventually he took off up the singletrack climb to try to bridge up in his class.
Amanda passed me easily near the top of the first singletrack climb, and my body wouldn't respond to hold her wheel. I settled in to a pace, trying to recover and make up time on the descents. Eventually I noticed my HR just wouldn't climb back up to race pace, so it was all about damage control and making sure to keep the pace just enough to hold on to 3rd.
The wind on lap 3 was downright brutal, but I tried to put in a final effort on the flats back to the venue to stay in 3rd, and just tried to finish strong.
Super tough race after Sea Otter last weekend. Gotta get the body used to these back to back hard race weekends!
Everyone raced and rode really strong and I was definitely pushed a lot. Had a blast out there racing. The course was a lot of fun.
I tried to spin for a bit, but I was pretty shot. Wound up doing a little loop with Heather, Joy, Krista, and Justin post-race and had fun hanging out and chatting! Definitely makes it worthwhile when you can hang out with other racers and get out of race mode. I've noticed there's not much time to chat when we're out trying to rip each other's legs off during the race!
Overall, great weekend. Definitely looking forward to backing off the racing and getting back to solid miles on the bike at a bit slower pace.
Pro Women podium
Pro Men podium
Cat 1 30-34 men
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