Get ready for a lot of radness, and some suffering. Here’s what went down the past 3 jam packed weekends. Scroll down to skip the boring Sea Otter XC races if you want…
Sea Otter by Will Curtis:
Sea Otter is always a rad event, and one that hold ls a special place in my heart as it was my first race ever back in 8th grade. Over the years, I have moved through all the categories a Otter, from beginner 14 & under to Pro. It really has been a big part of my racing experience, and it has never been an easy one.
This is year was no different: hard, but fun. STXC was great, and despite a less-than-amazing result, I was stoked to hang in for the entire race and finish only half a lap behind the winner.
Saturday morning was the XC, on a course of similar length (2 laps of ~18 miles), but with a ton of fireroad and even pavement. I had a strong start, riding the first lap in the top third of the 100 person field. Unfortunately, a couple mechanicals set me back, but nothing too crazy and was still stoked to work my way back up to a mid-pack finish alongside some seriously fast dudes.
Yet the best part of Sea Otter is having the whole bike community gathered in one place. Everyone is stoked, and it makes for a killer vibe. I’m happy that I got to see everyone and excited to continue on with the season! Next up is the collegiate state road championship, followed by the WTB TDS Enduro and Ashland Spring Thaw.
and From Bonedog (Tony)
I didn’t have many expectations for Sea Otter this year. Coming off a rather long and exhaustive cold, my only goal was to finish the 2-lap race ahead of team manager Colby Pastore. Luckily it was a 34 mile race, and I knew he was going to have a bad time. The race started off faster than I was expecting, and having been dominated at the 2 lap race several years ago, I’ve learned that bonking at the Otter can be quite the death march. So, I found a pace that I knew I could hold for 2.5 hours and made sure to not move out of that comfort zone. Half way through the first lap I found myself in a group with teammate Will Curtis, WTB-Cannondales’s Jason Moeschler, and a couple other guys. Although we were towards the back, we were working at a solid pace and I kept fighting to pull back riders. By lap 2 Will had ridden ahead and I tried my best to keep him in sight. His group had about a minute on me with 2 miles to go, but I hit the wall and just coasted to the finish by myself. It turned out not to be my strongest race, but I’ve had worse races at the Otter. Luckily I had a fast bike and GU energy labs to keep me fueled, so I was stoked I able to duke it back and forth with riders despite not feeling too well. I even beat Colby! Wow! All in all it was as good as it was going to get. Next stop is the Whiskey 50 with Colby, who I know is itching to redeem himself.
Then came the Whiskey 50, complete with a snow storm.
Most fun of all the infamous TDS. Report brought to you by the one and only Will MF Curtis. and Colby Pastore.
This past weekend I raced the Dirty Sanchez Enduro (now referred to simply as TDS Enduro to maintain political correctness). I was stoked to have been invited to this exclusive event, and was blown away by the quality of the trails that were built by Ron Sanchez and his crew as well as the professionalism with which the entire event was run. From the first practice runs I took on Friday, I had a smile from ear to ear. Great people and amazing trails; sounded like a perfect weekend.
Unfortunately, it was not to be. On the first stage of Saturday, I started to feel clicking in my shoulder, leading to a close call in which it came close to dislocating after landing awkwardly on a step down. I headed to the medical tent before the next stage, where the experienced trail doctor improved upon the taping job that I had done before the race, artificially tightening my shoulder joint as much as possible to hopefully avoid a dislocation. I started the second stage confidently, deciding that it was better to race as if nothing was wrong than to constantly worry about a possible problem. Yet, coming into a set of rollers before a tabletop jump, I felt my shoulder suddenly collapse, dislocating my arm only milliseconds before the lip. I went off looking like it was the first time I had ever hit a jump, cased the landing, and pulled off to the side of the trail to get my arm back together. Disappointed, angry, and confused, I told Ron that I was bailing on the rest of the race. It just was not worth the risk.
But it was not a bad weekend. I still had tons of friends around me who I rarely get to see, in a gorgeous place with a higher concentration of Coors than I have possibly ever seen in all my days of college. Even though I couldn’t join them, I got to see some of the fastest riders in the country fly down rad trails while heckling from the sidelines and drinking cheap beer with my friends. And minus the solid layer of poison oak over my entire body that has turned up since, the weekend was a highlight of my year and I do not regret attending for a single moment. I can’t give enough thanks to Ron Sanchez, Nate Byrom, WTB, and everyone else who made the weekend possible. If I get the chance, you can bet on me coming back next year.
So where do we go from here? At this point, the only certainty is that I will need surgery. I won’t go into crazy medical detail (although it’s tempting as I begin to prepare for the MCAT in the August), but what I have is a severely damaged labrum, a piece of cartilage that expands the surface area of your shoulder socket so that the head of your humerus stays in place while still allowing you to have a huge range of motion. I can do all the PT in the world (I have been doing PT exercises to strengthen my rotator cuff for 6 months now), but it will never return my shoulder to full stability. It sucks that this needs to be done, but it is a necessity nonetheless. I hope to get the surgery done in June after I graduate from UCSC and be back to riding before I head out to travel the world starting in September. There’s nothing I love to do more than riding my bike, and at the end of the day, this will help to ensure that I can continue to do so for a long time. Thanks to everyone for the continued support!
Will and I had been pretty excited/scared about this race for a few months. This event is an invite only race and they invited some pretty fast guys. Ben, Marco, and Jason from the Cannondale crew, Nathan Riddle, John Buckell, and Mason Bond just to name a few .
I unfortunately wasn’t able to get up there in time to practice any of the stages so I was going in blind. I was lucky enough to have a lot of friends walk me through each stage and what to look out for which helped a decent amount.
The morning of the race was pretty nice, fairly relaxed and everyone was just stoked to ride some sweet trails. Will and I started our normal shit talking and the race was off. Unfortunately Will’s shoulder popped out on stage 2 (a pre-existing issue) and he was forced to drop out.
Every stage was amazing and had its own challenges. This was hands down the best race I’ve ever been to. The scariest part was coming into jumps and drops I had no idea what was on the other side. I had some issues on most of the stages with a few crashes but still ended up 24th overall which I am fairly happy with.
Huge thanks to Nate and WTB for the event and invite as well as the Sanchez family for hosting an amazing event.
Super rad photos by the one and only Robert Lowe, you rock!
Until next time,
Team Santa Cruz-X Fusion