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Erik at the Sea Otter Classic

Story by Erik Williams

Padre on the course I signed up on-line a month out for "Expert Singlespeed." Although I knew I would get smoked in this class, it's the only class that requires the riders to make 2 laps of the 19 mile course. As I'm prepping for a 100 miler at altitude later this year, I wanted to do 2 laps.

The day of registration they told me "no way", that the best I could do was "Sport SS." All this since I did not have an expert Norba license.

Last year, I had inadvertenly won, riding my SS in the geared clydesdale division. I thought it better to mix it up with the fast guys with one gear than to tangle with the meatheads on gears again.
Erik climbing
So, Sunday at 8 something, I took off with about 200 beginner and sport singlespeeders. Sea Otter course is usually FAST and this year was no different.

In no time I had dropped to the back of the pack, but like the start of VQ's, I don't panic as it's going to be a long race. As soon as the race left the race track and began to climb, I began my attempt to pick off riders as they climbed. Winding our way up and down lush green singletrack, passing was not easy to do, but gave the mind something to focus on.

I was feeling strong, trying to real in my heart rate and keep it below the "blow up" level of 175 or so. I had passed at least 20 riders and had begun to stand up and tug my way up a steady incline of rutty fireroad.

Suddenly, I felt something weird, looked down, and my chain had popped off! Oh well. Flip the bike. Get the tool. Loosen axle, Put chain on. Tighten axle. Adjust EBB tension. (all while murmering that all the guys I'd passed were passing me again.) About 3-4 minutes later I was under way. It took about 8 miles to finally reel in all the guys who'd passed me, but it felt great when I did.
Erik at the finish
The mud wasn't too bad and at the 15 mile mark I knew I could turn the gas on a bit since this thing was almost over. Wow. 19 miles at the VQ takes FOREVER. I kept the gas on and attempted to push out all the hills. Once the track was in site again, another SSer out front looked back and sped up. I used him as a rabbit to chase to the finish.

Ended up finishing 29th out of 71 Sport SSers. I felt pretty good since I was clearly twice the size as most of the other riders. I checked the Sport Clydesdale category for fun. I would have taken 2nd based on my time...even considering the chain issue.

All in all, Sea Otter was another fun race. Short, but fun.


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