Sea Otter ’06 pre-ride

The 2006 Sea Otter XC course has been drastically changed from the familiar loop we learned to love in previous editions. Under brilliant California winter conditions (sun, blue sky, high 60’s), an mtbsh-crowd including your humble servant undertook a scouting trip.

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The first couple of miles are all on wide rolling fireroads: fast descents and a number of steep climbs; thinning the field and overtaking won’t be a problem here, unlike on the early singletrack we got served in previous years.

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We even get to do some of the Sisters in the proper way (i.e., in the downhill direction). But alas, there is no shortage of formidable walls to climb in Fort Ord and every foot you drop you’ll need to gain. Even the camera could get a decent grasp of the steepness (see picture above).

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Next, great singletrack is up (at trail 50).
Spectators are guaranteed to have a blast at the sandpit descent that comes at the end of this – pure mtb carnage can be expected here.

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A mix of singletrack, fire road, and more sand infested sections follows; and we get to climb up the Goat trail (number 41).
Then, good news reaches us: we won’t need to do the 4-mile long Grind Home (aka Pilarcitos Road)!

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However, there’s also bad news: the new Climb Home (over trail 10 and Skyline Road) is far more grueling than the ol’ Grind, with a few extra steep pitches to squeeze out all that’s left in us. Finally, after 18 miles, we find ourselves back on the Raceway.

In summary, this new XC course is, as we’ve come to expect from the good Sea Otter people and the Fort Ord trail system, a great and fun ride; there’s nothing too technical, but a couple of very, very sandy descents are sure to create havoc and excitement. Compared to the previous course, it feels a tad more demanding and the numerous steep climbs will surely inject good amounts of lactic acid in many rider’s legs. We will be feeling very respectful (and sorry) for those who’ll step up in the singlespeed Expert/Pro class – with two laps in one gear on their plate.

Race weekend is April 6-9, at the Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey. Besides the cross country event, there’s of course the whole Sea Otter festival, featuring many races and demonstrations of almost all mountain (and road) bike disciplines known to man and tons of other entertainment.


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