March 26/02 10:21 am - The Shep Report: Sea Otter
Posted by Editoress on 03/26/02
The Shep Report
by Haro-Lee Dungarees rider, Chris Sheppard
The Sea Otter Classic is the intro to the coming mountain bike season. This year's race saw the addition not only of a road crit for the mtn bikers but also of an increase in entries by some 30%. Good news for the industry. Shamoe and I started our trip two weeks ago with the Haro training camp. 6 days of working the kinks out of the bikes, training 3-5 hours a day and trying to turn the first day's sun burn into a tan.
The following week we headed to Club Dusce (the Duscay's) .....Team Canada's gracious hosts for the Redland's Classic road race. Dre and Toulouse joinedus for the week as did some development rider's, seasoned pro Jibber Hall andteam leader Roland Green. Won't get into the details but it was a good timeand race with Roland taking second, Seamus 19th Dre 25th and the rest of us trying to survive.
Next the Sea Otter.......
The first day was the new stage.....the fat boy crit. Fricking scary stuff. Nothing worse than over a hundred mountain bikers whohaven't raced, riding skinny tires with wide bars. Almost went down more than a couple times....the pace wasn't high enough for the first 30 mins so riders with less skill would venture up front... and well, just crash! Seamus avoided a big one but had to ride over an arm in the process! The racing was mellow as a break containing Leuches, Rowney and Tilford maintained a 15 second gap while the rest of us couldn't get a chase going. Tilford won by taking a tight inside line and nipping Rowney and Hoydahl. Everyone was stoked not to become part of the pavement.
A five mile time trial greeted us as did rain and gusty winds. This is a true test of form with both descending and climbing wrapped into an 18 min package. The first climb was about 2mins then 6 mins of rolly descending anda ten min climb to finish us off. The final twenty five guys got worked by the wind as the first round had none. Bart ripped the legs off everyone, taking Roland by 12 seconds, another handful to Seamus, ten more to Ryder then Rowney and Hoydahl on 30 sec back, me 37 sec in 7th, Toulouse in 8th, Kabush in 10 and Dre in 11th. The previous day's winner was in 40th.......
Once again a nice light 25 mile and hour gale greeted today's festivities. The dirt crit is very short, just seven laps, with a two minute gradual climbfollowed by a rapid 30 second descent. Problems with the call to the line occured when the announcer called the top five then left it a free for all instead of the usual top ten. That sucked but I managed a front spot while others banged bars and feuded for position.
First 200 yards went off without a hitch as Ryder punched it from the line tothe tapered trail just ahead of us. Bart man flew in from the left bank followed by Roland, Shamoe, Philipe, Rowney, moi and others. Rounded the side hill when suddenly someone (Barry Clarke) slammed my hip with their barsand I went down in a blaze of glory. Hell I freaked as I tweaked my bars back into shape while invisioning Barry being run over by a stray Indy car onthe back side of Laguna Seca. Didn't happen though.
The pace up front from what I've been told was relentless. Bart, Ryder, and Roland pretty much dominated the pack til the bitter end. Shamoe stayed on for four laps then hit a wall..... Rowney tried a futile chase that didn't work as he flatted out. At one point the Shamo - Meirhagre pack nearly reeled the front three in but the last two times up the climb snapped the elastic and the three did battle for the order of the podium. Ryder - Roland - Bart....followed by Meirhagre, Shamoe, and strong rides by Hestler in 6th and Toulouse in 7th. I managed to relentlessly pursue the front runners passing 8 then 9 then 6 then 4 then 2 over the laps for a 13th. Kabush rode steady into 11th.
We are awaiting the final stage report...