Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Fantastic Day at the Sea Otter Classic

I was fortunate enough to spend all day yesterday at the Sea Otter Classic at Laguna Seca in Seaside/Monterey. It my first time making the trek down for what it is, basically, cycling mecca on the west coast. It is a grand celebration of all things bicycle. There were roadies racing on the paved race track, there were downhillers blasting corners and whoop-de-dos on a steep dirt track, there were trials riders, there were BMX studs launching themselves high into the air above quarter pipes and ramp boxes. And there were hundreds of manufacturers, accessory makers, nutrition companies and lots of good food too. There were also two distinct demo areas, one for the dirt riders that was like a BMX race track and another road course to demo out the skinny tire road bikes.

And then, there were a ton of activities centered around kids. A short oval dirt track they got to race on that had previously had some obstacles for them to negotiate, a cool bungy bouncer thing, bounce houses, those big bounce house inflatable slides.

I got to worship at the Temple of Ibis, paid $5 to enter a raffle for a sweet orange Mojo SL and also bought myself a cool new sweatshirt though, with the awesome weather, I did not need it until much, much later in the day.

I also connected up with Fritz (aka Richard aka Cyclelicious) and had a really good time walking the booths with him. He knows an amazing amount of people in the industry and those people he doesn't know, he introduces himself and now he does know them. Part of the fun of an event like the Sea Otter is that there is a real communal bike culture element present, everyone there is a bike nut in some way or another. Because of Fritz, I got to meet and talk with a whole host of interesting and, on occasion, luminary bicycle folks including Steven Wild, one of the founders of the Mt. Tam Velo Club waaaaaay back in the days before mountain bikes, and Gary Fisher, yes THAT Gary Fisher. Too cool!

Because Fritz writes for Momentum, the magazine for self-propelled people, he was also very interested in speaking with, interviewing and photographing all the cool bike stuff that caught his or my eye. He'd also scheduled a demo ride on the Delta 7 Ascent, its an isotruss carbon fiber and kevlar frame that is extremely light, extremely strong and extremely stiff, its also extremely expensive. As he was prepping to head out on the demo, he happened to ask if they had another bike for me to try out and, as it happens, they had the Delta 7 Arantix, the mountain version of the bike. I will put together a full write up later but suffice it to say that the bike is very, very fast and feels like you could dyno it over anything you wanted to because it was so light.

We also met with the BikeGlow guys and got a chance to see just how well the system worked. They'd constructed a dark room with a bike outfitted with the safety system and it definitely makes a bike much, much more visible. Also makes the bike look pretty cool too.

We were momentarily beset by the Mountain Pipe militia, two guys decked out in bandoliers of CO2 cartridges and some very slick widgets to make using them easy. The neatest product they demo'ed for us was a CO2 inflator that, when the cartridge was empty, could be screwed into the end of the tube and used as a handle for a manual pump. Good guys and some neat products!

We also hit up the Larabar booth for some delicious samples, the Clif Bar booth for some gummy samples and drinks and the FRS booth for a sample. My favorite was the Larabar but the FRS drink was pretty good too.

I'm sure I'm forgetting more than I'm remembering. But it was a great and memorable day. I am deeply thankful of connecting up with Richard, he was great company and I'm not just saying that because he got me dinner at Panda Express!

I wish I could be headed back down there today with the whole family but, alas, it isn't in the cards. Next year we will plan a much more ambitious outing and I might even enter a race or two but no promises.
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