The Sea Otter Classic

There once was a time when if you weren’t racing at Sea Otter, you were busy watching other people race. Those days aren’t entirely gone, but I was busy enough in the expo area that I was, at best, only marginally aware that bike racing was going on. Weirder still was the weekend’s climate, and I’m not talking psychology.

Sunshine? Check.

Warm temps? Check.

Little wind? Check.

Sunscreen? Whaaaaa?

In twelve years of attending the Sea Otter, it was the best weather I’ve ever experienced in Monterey. I didn’t think Monterey could be this nice in April. It was as surprising as a 70-degree day in January in Boston. As if.

There were plenty of bike industry VIPs around, from the ubiquitous Gary Fisher to Specialized CEO Mike Sinyard, above.

The expo is colossal fun. Clif and other energy food producers can keep you snack happy, at least until you go get a burrito or some barbecue. I paid $6 for the finest, handmade, limeade of my entire life. I’ve spent less on a glass of wine and been less satisfied, too.

The kids flocked to the Sea Otter with such magnetism that parents and non-parents alike howled with laughter. From races to slides and a bouncer, the kids had plenty to do (read: wear them out). I don’t think I’ve been to a more family-friendly bike event. I wished the wife and little guy were with me.

I love checking out the mechanics’ setups and have discussed with some of them just how they set up their cases to promote quick and effective work. We also discussed case weight. The ten and 12-inch cases can be heavy. Super-heavy, in fact.

The autographs are a cool touch. I should have thought of that years ago.

Brad Harper of Harper Sports has made the transition from making inline skate boots to also offering cycling shoes. Why care? They are custom unlike anything else I’ve seen. He takes a mold of the rider’s foot. Yes, $1200 is a lot for a pair of shoes, but no other shoe is made with such precision.

Assos’ Northwest sales manager, Larry Kohn, gets his feet immortalized. He said the experience of having his feet molded reminded him of a pair of Asolo boots that were customized for his wide feet years ago. Lead time on the shoes is supposed to be less than six weeks. To learn more about Harper Sports you’ll need to call: (714) 376-3630.

Cyclists with charitable foundations are as common as Orange County residents with reality shows. The number of different do-gooder foundations is dizzying and connecting with them in a meaningful way can be difficult. The Bahati Foundation is a little different, and as a result, pretty easy to understand to me. Rahsaan Bahati wasn’t an angel when he was growing up in South Central LA. He, as they say, got into some trouble. Fortunately for him, his teammates, and a few sponsors over the years, he got introduced to cycling. The two-time US Pro Champion is now giving back to other kids with his background, hoping that his fondation can steer them away from gangs and other trouble and into cycling.

Cannondale is auctioning off this bike to benefit the Bahati Foundation. The graffiti-inspired artwork makes the bike both eye-catching and culturally relevant, which is a fancy way of saying on-target. With enough support, the foundation will reach out to kids beyond just Los Angeles. For now, Bahati seems to have his hands full. After all, the way his team picked up riders set adrift by Rock “Here to Stay” Racing and other programs, he could be said to rescue not one population, but two.

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  1. todd k

    Sounds like a great kid friendly event. Glad to see more of this developing.

    I heard word that Turner had a cross bike at Sea Otter. Was curious if you happened across one?

    1. Author

      Very kid friendly. I can’t wait to take my little guy next year.

      I must be honest and say I was so busy with road stuff that I was almost completely oblivious to what was going on with the majority of the mountain bike manufacturers. Turner could have had a fleet of ‘cross bikes with Di2 and disc brakes and unless someone took me there, I’d have missed it.

  2. L Kohn

    Just for perspective…I have size 9 EEEE, yes that’s QUAD E, right and 8.5 EEE left foot.
    Try finding shoes that don’t smash one set of mets while allowing the smaller foot to swim around. I’ve used orthotics from various sources over the years and have been thru multiple manufacturers wide and “custom” shoes with no comfortable solution. While attending Interbike a couple of years ago another off the shelf “custom” shoe company tried to mold it’s version to my foot and gave up. What really hooked me here is the fact that the shoe IS the orthotic and dialed specifically for each foot. You can even specify cleat mount location and amount of ventilation. I’ll send a report after a couple months use.

  3. Erik

    On the toolbox front you should check out Vincent Gee’s from RadioShack. Increadibly small and amazingly complete.

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