Sea Otter Race Report with Tanner Visnick
The race season is coming fast and furious. Right on the heels of Santa Clara, it was off to California for Sea Otter, the largest cycling festival in the world. Temperatures approached 90 degrees during the pre ride and there was minimal wind. I brought two bottles for the 2 hour ride, but I was quite dehydrated when I got back to the venue. We swung by the Rotor tent for technical savant Joel Sehloff to make a final shift adjustment. Afterwards, we explored the expo, and headed back to Los Altos.
Saturday morning we hit the road at 5 am for the big objective of the weekend, the Fuego 80k. Temperatures had cooled off since Thursday and it was 50 degrees at the start. I had to line up behind the Gran Prix riders so I was 4-5 rows back. The start was a mad dash to the singletrack. With gravel and road pros competing, it was important for mountain bikers, like myself, to get near the front for the first descent. I made up a few spots on the first climb and slotted into 30th or so. I was riding with a group of 10 or so riders for the first lap. We were yo-yoing, with the mountain bike racers taking time on the descents and the roadies taking time on the flats. Using the trusty INspider as my guide, I kept steady power through the undulating terrain. I ended up getting dropped on the flat road section, but I caught back on the final singletrack climb of the lap and ended up a few minutes behind the leaders.
For the first half of the second lap, I felt really good and I passed and dropped every member of the chase group. I was hoping to catch the next group up the road before the road section, but they were too far ahead and I ended up solo on the flats. Therefore, I had to use a lot of energy to hold off the chasers and I ran out of gas on the final climb and got caught by a group of two including Ted King in the raceway. I could’ve used a couple extra gels! The final result was a 25th place finish and in the stacked field I was still quite pleased. And with a normalized power of 374 for 3 hours it was certainly an impressive effort.
For the remainder of the morning and afternoon, we explored the venue, grabbed a coffee, and met some new companies and athletes.
Another 5 am alarm, and we were on the road. An extra bit of coffee was needed this morning and my legs were feeling heavy. The gravel race began with another hectic start, albeit in a smaller field. I was 7th leading into the singletrack, but I ended up behind some slow descenders. I dropped them on the next climb and pushed hard on the next descent to catch the lead group. I was closing in on third when my tire got caught in a rut and I slid hard on my right side. I didn’t have any cuts, but I landed hard on my butt and it took me a few seconds to stand up. On the following climb, the throbbing pain in my ass forced me to take it easy for a while, but when I got caught by a chasing group, I kicked it back into gear. I worked with them on the flats and we caught the 4th place rider. I sprinted ahead into the singletrack and pushed hard on the final climb for a 5th place finish. The podium was five deep so it was good to get on the podium in the final race of the weekend.
The 2022 Sea Otter was an unforgettable experience. The expo atmosphere is like none other and as is always the case, my ROTOR equipment performed flawlessly. The featherweight Kapic carbon mtb cranks allowed me to knock off some grams on my Ibis full suspension, which was needed since most of the other riders were on hardtails. My oval chainrings helped me power up the steepest, loosest climbs with no rear wheel slide outs, even out of the saddle! And the INspider allowed me to find some semblance of pace in the chaotic, 3 hour sprint that was the 80k. I am feeling primed and ready to tackle the Epic Rides Whiskey 50 in three weeks.