Recently, the Cyclepaths/Wildcherries Racing Team and some friends booked the 2008 calendar with a trip to Monterey in hopes of making a lasting impact on the event for our team’s first appearance as a group at this large scale cycling showcase. Nonetheless, our attendance left an impact on the event with top place finishes, carnival activity like no-hands spinning on rollers (which attracted many photographers and fans thanks to Huisman) and much more. The CWC Racing Team is off to a huge start, every member of the team has a ton of character and I am very pleased to be part of something that I feel is really, really rad. All of our equipment from our Oakley’s, my Addidas, didas, didas, scratch, scratch, crossfade…to our Scott Addict, Scale, and Spark bikes, Giro helmets, SRAM components, and on to our plaid kits thanks to Wild Cherries and Cyclepaths. All of this, along with the CWC personality, camaraderie, team support, and racing skillz we were able to have a super fun time cycling, standing atop the podium, eating wonderful food, taking a few pictures, and staying in one of California’s best environs…Carmel Valley. Special thanks to everyone who made the trip and to all of our wonderful sponsors listed above and to Michelin tires for helping Conrad, ESI grips for styling out JT’s ride, Chris Schierholtz from WTB, and Engin from Scott Bikes. Continue reading some great stories below:
The last time I went to the Sea Otter Classic was three years ago. I had just moved to Tahoe not too long before that, and decided on a whim to try to get back into road racing. I entered the Cat.4/5 race, got shelled from the field after about 3 or 4 laps, and probably finished near last. It sucked. This year was a different story… Nick and I will soon travel to the Tour of the Gila in Silver City, NM and the Sea Otter Classic would serve as the last true test before the 5 day stage race. The Circuit Race was the first of two races that I would participate in. 90 minutes of racing worked out to about 15 or 16 laps, and well over 5000 ft. of climbing. Because of this there were no suicide attacks off the front, just a consistently fast pace throughout the duration. Many different riders(including myself and Nick) took turns pushing the pace up the steep Laguna Seca climb. By the time we arrived at the bell lap, much of the field had been dropped off the back. I didn’t feel great climbing the hill for the final time, and as a result, did not have good position for the final sprint. I finished up in 13th, out of range of Cat.2 upgrade points, which was my goal for each race. In hindsight I feel like I should have pushed the group a little bit harder more often up the climb, to drop even more of the field for the final climb… next year I guess. That night we shot team photos, which I had never done before. My favorite part of the experience was when Paul called for “mad dog” face when he was shooting individuals. I am still not quite sure what a “mad dog” face is, but some of the individual photos turned out really funny. Overall though, they look very professional, and will make the team web site look amazing. When we got back from the photo shoot, a lasagna/pesto pasta feast awaited us. Everything was great…. thanks ladies! Saturday morning the Cat.3 guys awoke early, while the rest of the team got to sleep in. It was much colder and much windier, but did not seem to be a huge deciding factor in the race. The Road Race course featured a rolling 8 mile lap which we would do 7 times, and a 2.5mi. mountaintop finish. I figured that this would be very much similar to the three road stages of the Tour of the Gila, so it wo
uld give me a good idea as to where I am at, and h
ow I should expect to perform there. Glenn rode with Nick and I in this one, and rode off the front immediately off the front from the gun. He held a relatively consistent 45 second to 1 minute lead for about 30 miles. This kept the pace high and allowed Nick and I to just sit in the pack and let the other teams try to decide how to handle the situation. By the time that Glenn had been reeled in, many guys had already been dropped. The pace stayed high for the remainder of the race, with guys sending out an occasional attack, but nothing sticking. On our approach to the final climb, my legs felt like they did not have much left at all… About 30 guys remained in the field, and at the foot of the climb, the pace increased to about 25mph. This cause the pack to immediately shatter. I struggled to hang with the front guys, but a small gap opened up in front of me with only 10 guys in front. This is the only time that the wind played a factor for me, as a small pack formed about 20 meters in front of me, and I was unable to close the gap. I managed to grind my way for the final 1k by myself, and pass 2 guys in the process… finishing 9th. That evening I had a great time watching all the Cat.4s race the Circuit Race. Nick mentioned that watching this race can almost be compared to watching some sort of torture…. but the entertaining kind. I agree. I was very proud of how hard everyone rode… I don’t know everyone on the team THAT well, but I do know that none of us will drop out of a race unless we have a very good reason…and I definitely appreciate that. Thanks! ~Nathan Freed.
This was my first time in Monterey at Sea Otter, hosted at the Laguna Seca raceway. The venue is most famous for its auto racing, but during Sea Otter the track is transformed into an epic bike-only party. The entire Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing team was at the event so we rented a large house in Carmel Valley (about 10 minutes away from the venue) to relax between races with home-cooked meals. The house and teammates alone was worth the trip, as it provided a great bonding experience, eating and living together for 2 days. The first race was early Friday morning on the actual Laguna Seca race track. It was a 2.5 mile circuit with 300 feet of climbing per lap followed by the infamous corkscrew to a 50 mph downhill. Rinse and repeat for 90 minutes (or about 15-16 laps). To prepare for this course I have been playing Forza Motorsports 2 on my Xbox 360. It features an exact virtual replica of the Laguna Seca track, and when driven at about 15-20 mph – you can get a good feel for the course. Call me crazy, but it worked. I knew every turn and hill by heart and I hadn’t ever seen it in person. With Forza Motorsports in mind, I was able to roll right up to the start line knowing full well what was in store for me. I stayed at the front of the pack throughout the entire race. Each time up the big climb we shelled more and more riders until our field was down to about 30 by the final lap. Going up the final climb I punched it as hard as could, but it felt like I was pedaling uphill in quicksand. I lead over the climb into the downhill and held my position in the top 5 all the way to the finish line, sprinting for 3rd/4th place. The reason I say both, is because I am still not sure what place I finally got in the race. The initial results listed me in 3rd, on the podium I stood in 3rd place and I received a 3rd place medal. However as we were walking down from the podium, an official came running up to declare he looked closer at the finishing photo and decided to slide an additional rider into 2nd place. Even though the results had already been officialized, this USCF judge decided to re-officialize them. Those of us in the top 5 didn’t really care, so we exchanged medals and moved on. And later that day I saw a results sheet with my name in 4th place, but the online results still list me in 3rd. Whatever. That night we had our team photo shoot with individual portraits and a bunch of group shots riding out on the open road around Monterey. We must be the most professional looking non-professional team in California. Matching kits, Scott bikes, SRAM parts, Addidas shoes, Giro helmets, Oakley glasses and our bellies full of organic Clif products. I’m really proud to be a part of all of it. And not only do we look good, more importantly all the stuff we have works really well. I had a Scott CR1 last year, and I was amazed at the difference when upgrading to new Addict frame. It’s a much racier setup, even stiffer and the geometry has been tweaked for quicker handling. It has taken some time to get used to SRAM shifting, but the quality and performance is there – especially in the RED components. The Oakley Radars are the best optics I’ve ever looked through, and the hydrophobic coating truly works. They never fog up and never get sweat stains – so clear viewing all day long. The next day was the road race around the Fort Ord military base near Laguna Seca. It was 70 miles of steep climbs and false flats. I had two teammates in the race, Nate and Glenn. Glenn was saving his legs for the single speed cross country race the next day, and didn’t plan on finishing the race. So we formulated a plan to use Glenn to make the race hard for our competitors and easy for us. He attacked right from the start line and stayed out in front for the next 90 minutes. The pack would work to bring him back and then he would attack again. Meanwhile Nate and I were able to sit-in and relax while the field wore down their legs on catching Glenn. At the 2 hour mark, as we discussed, Glenn was done and turned in for the day. But his efforts truly made a huge impact on the final outcome of the race. I didn’t have the legs in the end though and dropped on the final climb like a rock for 32th place. One thing to note in this race is that we all had timing chips on our ankles to help the judges with scoring. I’ve never worn a timing chip before. On each lap following the feed zone, there was a large metal device on the road that would beep when a timing chip passed by to count your laps. There is a scene in the movie Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger where he is trying to break out of a futuristic prison. However everyone at the prison has a tracking collar around their necks. In the movie, if you cross the prison boundaries the collar will start to beep and then explode and blow your head off. Each time we passed through the lap counter and it started beeping, I kept expecting the collar around my ankle chip to explode. ~Nick Schaffner
I had high hopes coming into Sea Otter, figuring maybe my form would be coming around, and I might be able to do some damage in the peloton. But it wasn’t to be. In the Road Race, I was with the front group for four of six laps, then was “the last guy shelled,” which seems to be my M.O. these days. I soloed for a while, then got caught by four guys who were behind me and working well together. I got in with them and we worked as a group on the last lap. Then I dropped ’em all on the finish climb. Too bad I was riding for twenty-something place instead of the win. The Circuit Race was super fun as our cheering squad/fan club was present. Greg, Liam, Lisa, Alanna, Annmarie, Matt, Katie, Allie, Nick
, Nate, etc. were all there during t
he multi lap race screaming wildly each time we came around. It was so inspiring! But alas, while motivated, my legs wouldn’t cooperate, so I got dropped toward the end of the race and soloed in for another twenty-something place finish. On the bright side, I found an awesome place for the team to stay for the weekend, I got some great team photos, and our overall performance as a team was great! I guess my contribution for the weekend is in areas other than race results… All in all, a super fun weekend. I’m really stoked about our team, the people and friends, and the great support from our sponsors. Our equipment is nothing less than awesome!
Sea Otter is one of the highlights of the bike racing calendar. It’s such an awesome festival of bikes, with every discipline represented: when else do roadies in lycra mingle with DH’ers in full-face helmets, goggles and baggies? The weekend was fantastic. Since almost the whole team was racing as well as staying in the same house and eating together, we really had a great time hanging out. I raced well, with two 2nd place finishes and a 3rd. Cat 4 Road Race (Fri): With the mountain bike race on Sunday, my plan was to sit in until the final climb. At the the end of the road race, there were only 3 of us remaining with 500m to go, and I was attacked by the other 2 and finished 3rd. This was the first race where I followed my plan, and with success (note to self). Our big group dinner with lots of beer and wine that night served as a great recovery session. I can’t get over how great our wives and girlfriends are, first they put up with our racing, then make us dinner!?! Wow. Cat 4 Circuit Race (Sat): As I laid in bed to take a quick nap in the afternoon before the race, I visualized the sprint finish. My heart rate increased and adrenalin pulsed through my legs. After a few moments, as the feeling disappeared, my legs got tired – whoa?! Based on that and the hard road race, I followed my plan to sit in until the sprint finish. It’s REALLY hard to know when to attack. At about 1/2 mile to go, I found myself in second position behind Eric from Specialized. At first I was nervous since that’s typically too close to the front, but when he dropped the hammer, I thought I’d have a chance. I yelled encouragement to him, and he accelerated so much I wasn’t sure I could hold onto his wheel! With 200m to go, he pulled off and I went for it. The hilarious part, was that I letting up a bit when a rider came up on me, but was yelling so loud that I noticed him, and accelerated a bit more to take the sprint (unfortunately one rider was away off the front so I got 2nd). That was my first field sprint victory, and it’s a huge confidence booster. The best part of this race was having the rest of the team in addition to the girls, on the side of the course cheering us on! Pro/Expert Singlespeed Cross Country MTB (Sun): After two hard days of riding, I wasn’t sure how I’d hold up for the 39 mile mountain bike race. This race seems to be the perfect distance for me. After flatting last yr, I didn’t want to take any chances. I ran slightly heavier tubeless tires (Michelin Dry2) at a slightly higher pressure than normal (35psi) and ended up trouble-free. While I blew the first corner, I was off my bike and running it back onto the trail before I lost more than 1 position. Travis Brown, Josh Kelley and I rode together for the entire first lap, though they almost dropped me halfway around. Interestingly, Josh and I worked together taking turns pushing the pace, but Travis hung back, never taking a pull. Early on, I told Josh he and I were racing for 2nd place and the obviousness of that statement became clear at the beginning of the second lap, when Travis attacked and left us in his dust. With 10 miles to go, when Josh could no longer help set the pace, I slowly rode away to happily secure my second place finish. Here are a few fun quotes from the race: from Travis to me “you have a lot of fans out here” then following the hand up I received from Liam (12 yrs old): “was that your son?”. Quotes from Josh to Travis: “I’m honored just to be riding with you”, and from Josh to me when Travis attacked us as we began to fade at the beginning of the second lap: “that guy’s an animal, I can’t believe how fast he’s going…”
Otter course is fast and generally n
on-technical and smooth. There are several short sharp climbs and quite a few long steady grunts. The singletrack descending is exhilaratingly smooth and fast. This was my first race on my new Scott Spark 15, and I assure you that while I wasn’t the fastest rider in our race that day, I was on the lightest/fastest bike. While the equipment doesn’t win the race for you, having the right equipment puts you in a position to win the race. For singlespeed races, the most important equipment decisions include: frame, fork, tires, gears. My Scott performed flawlessly the entire race. Over the years I’ve learned that while a light bike is essential for climbing, it’s also critical for descending: throwing the bike from one side to the other for linked fast, tight turns. The Reba World Cup 100mm fork is the best all-rounder I’ve found. It’s light, stiff, and has an awesome remote lockout, which I use constantly. I ran tubeless Michelin XCR Dry2 tires, which are super fast with a thick, strong, protective casing. I ran my standard 32:18 gear (front ring:rear cog), which was perfect for me. While I wanted more gear on the rolling sections, I had a little bit of a hard time with some of the climbs indicating I couldn’t have used a larger gear. However, Travis Brown ran a 2:1, so clearly I can chalk his win up to gear selection if nothing else… 😉
Click here to see more photos on Flickr.