What's Cool In Road Cycling

Episode 10: Chaos At Sea Otter

By now most of you have probably heard about the weird circumstances at Sea Otter on April 9th, for those of you who haven’t it ended up being one of the weirdest bike races I have ever been in.

For most of us, Sea Otter marks the end of about a month-long series of races before we head on to the Tour of Georgia or Gila. With tired legs and worn enthusiasm, everyone seemed excited for a new course in Redwood City that would change things up and make things more exciting. Unfortunately, this is where the promoters really dropped the ball.

The course, a nine mile loop through South Bay suburbia over narrow roads, was like a video game. There were parked cars, mounds of dirt, construction sites, abrupt 90-plus-degree corners after high speed descents and narrow roads. Not only that, the course would change every time through. A car that was there last lap was gone the next, and cars that weren’t there before seemed to jump out from nowhere.

Before the race even started, the riders decided that we would do four neutral laps followed by two laps racing to try to limit the risk involved because of the obvious danger of the course. But even riding it at a neutral pace we had guys just missing cars and near pileups in corners, so over the team radios and throughout the pack the idea of not racing at all started to spread. Within two laps we were stopped on the side of the road, not moving at all, with Gord and Jonathan Vaughters acting as the ring leaders in our mid-race conundrum.

The verdict ended up being that we would ride two more laps and then one guy from each team would be allowed to go to the front and race for the stage win (so that the spectators would have a show). In the end, in what is probably the shortest UCI road stage in history, Mike Sayers ended up taking the 5 km stage, with all of the prize money being donated to Garrett Lemire’s family (Garrett died at the Tucson Bicycle Classic in March).

On top of all of this chaos, the promoters of Sea Otter must think that slavery is still alive and well. If you look at the prize list you’ll see that we are racing for $450 for 1st place G.C.; hell if you get 13th place in a stage they award you will an astounding $4, which, when you break it down amongst a team of eight, is enough for a bagel… no cream cheese! Have you ever seen a monkey [email protected] a football?

To add fuel to the fire, today they canceled tomorrow’s criterium because they decided that the “speed bumps” in the road were too dangerous. Did these guys ride the short bus to school?

Last I heard we will be doing a 60 km stage on the Laguna Seca raceway. We’ll see, I’m sure it will be interesting. I sure hope the promoters of Redlands are watching.

Rusty Beall
Health Net Cycling Team

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Rusty Beall rides for the Div. 3 Team Health Net, based in Oakland CA. Check out their website at www.mosportsgroup.com

Learn more about Rusty in our About Us section.

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