A group of us went down to Monterey to do some course recon for this year's Sea Otter Classic. We did one lap, got turned around a few times and ran into a herd of sheep towards the end. I did it last year as my big comeback race where I placed 8th out of a very stacked field where I crashed early on and recovered.
The dirt was nice and tacky but heavily rutted in a quite a few sections. On the western side of the valley the temperature was nice and cool, but as soon as we got up and over the back side we started to cook under the sun.
I forgot how challenging some of the climbs were. Some were so incredibly steep I had to get off and hike, while the rest were either sandy or just steep and long enough to break your spirit. The series of steep ups and downs make for a challenging course, especially if you do two laps. I definitely learned my lesson and aim to pace myself more this time around.
It was our friend Josh's birthday weekend, and it was his idea to come down and ride. We had raced Sea Otter together in the same category last year not knowing each other at the time. He had also bought my beloved Epic from me right as I was putting my Open bike together.
We ran into a large herd of sheep crossing the final section of fire road. They didn't seem that alarmed as well rolled through their lunch time.
The final climb leading into the second lap is long and gradual. To me it's the toughest part of the course because it feels like it keeps going and going. We're also hoping it won't be as hot as it was last year. We all suffered 90º heat for 40 miles. I made the mistake of running a single bottle, struggling to stay remotely hydrated. If it gets that hot again I'm definitely going with a CamelBak.
This is where the Open brand was announced, on the beautiful hills of Laguna Seca park. I'm looking forward to meeting the folks of Open this year as well as racing their bike to a podium finish, hopefully.