2013 Sea Otter Classic

IMG_0034The limited-edition blue in Giro’s lace-up Empire shoe, the one that would go so well with the RKP kit.

For four years running now, the annual spring convocation of cycling, the Sea Otter Classic, has enjoyed stellar weather as it draws crowds to the Monterey Peninsula. I’ve visited the event most years since 1997, and I can’t recall such an ongoing stretch of great weather as these last few years. For each of the four days of the event temperatures reached the mid to upper 70s and the skies stretched cloudless, showing the blue of a booby’s feet.

For the first five years I went to the event, I was there strictly to race. Most years, though, I’d find a window in which to wander the expo area. Back then, my wandering would take 30 minutes. If I gave myself an hour, I could see everything—twice. By comparison, even without doing one of the gran fondos on Saturday,  I still don’t feel like I saw everyone or everything I had hoped to.


This year, I decided that during those windows in which I didn’t have a dedicated mission, I’d try wander the expo with fresh eyes and see what caught my attention. I’ve been hearing about Scott Montgomery’s (yes he of Cannondale and Scott fame) latest endeavor, called Club Ride. I’ve been noticing an increasing number of riders on the road in what has traditionally been considered mountain bike apparel. My takeaway is that as many people enter cycling many of them struggle to accept the idea of wearing Lycra, but have in some cases at least come around to the idea of technical wear for increased comfort.

Giro’s “New Road” line and Club Ride’s assortment are fresh takes on what technical wear can be. I don’t see myself doing a group ride in this stuff, but I would happily wear it for running errands on my bike and when going for a ride to the park with my son. If the next CicLAvia doesn’t conflict with my schedule (Which genius thought it would be a good idea to plan it for during the LA Times Festival of Books? But I digress.) I’d wear this sort of stuff for the outing.


Challenge has long made great tires, often for other manufacturers. Recently, they began a more concerted push to market their products here in the U.S. With the burgeoning acceptance of riding dirt roads on road bikes, even when ‘cross isn’t in season (Or is ‘cross always in season now?), the 32mm-wide Grifo XS made me lust for roads unpaved. Its stablemate, the 27mm-wide Paris Roubaix, looked like it would be at home on hard pack or the local group ride.

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So if you’ve ever wanted to drink beer, go for a ride, burn calories and NOT get pulled over for a DUI, the brain trust at Sierra Nevada has the perfect solution. You pedal and drink while someone else does the steering. Somehow I think you could drink beer faster than you could burn it off, even with the aid of this contraption, but being wrong has rarely been as likely to be as fun.


I’ve been following the work of the folks at Alchemy Bicycles since before I first met any of the guys at NAHBS. I’ve seen their work improve and evolve to the point that I think it’s fair to say they are doing something fresh and new in carbon fiber. The bikes I saw at Sea Otter featured unidirectional carbon fiber cut in artful shapes to give the bikes an unusually artful look. I can say I’ve never seen any work like this anywhere else.


Even when they paint the bikes the paint lines are crisp and reflect a honed aesthetic.


The work on the top tube on this bike deserves to be shot in a photo studio to capture all the beauty and detail, but even outside, I was blown away with what I saw. It’s a refreshing departure to spraying the bike one solid color or wrapping the whole thing in 3k or 12k weave. While I still need to learn a lot more about their current work, I’m coming to the conclusion that they are doing some of the most advanced work in carbon fiber, at least on the appearance side, but maybe on the construction side as well.


I’m not your typical guy in that I don’t spend Saturdays and Sundays each fall watching football while consuming 6000 calories as I sit on a couch. However, I am still some variety of guy and that means I do have a thing for tools and tool boxes. The Topeak Mobile PrepStation is a mobile work station. It includes 40 professional-grade tools that fit into water jet-cut foam forms in three trays. The bottom bucket is good for larger spare parts and any additional tools you might need, while the top tray is great for sorting any small parts you may need to keep on hand, such as quick release springs. And while this $895 rig is really meant for mechanics working event support, in it I see the genius of being able to put away all your tools and then have the whole shebang roll into a corner. I’ve witnessed many a household where the more the bike stuff got put away the happier the real head of the household was.


This Ag2r Team-Edition Focus Izalco comes in SL and Pro versions. The SL is equipped with Campy Record EPS, an FSA cockpit and Fulcrum Racing Speed 50 carbon tubulars; at $9800, it ain’t cheap, but that’s a lot of bike for the money. The Pro is equipped with Campy Chorus, an FSA/Concept cockpit and Fulcrum WH-CEX 6.5 wheels. It retails for only $3800. Honestly, there’s not another bike company that delivers as much bike for the price, though Felt comes close. I can’t figure out why I’m not seeing more of these on the road.

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Cervelo has just introduced a new P3. While I haven’t seen wind tunnel specs or anything like that, I’m told this bike is both UCI-legal and faster. The UCI-bit I could give a moth’s wings about, but faster, well that always makes my mouth water. Apparently, some Cervelo purists complained about the new seat tube shape, but from an industrial design standpoint, I think this bike is really gorgeous. That said, I can observe that the hydraulic brakes spec’d on that bike aren’t easy to work on. The version shown here with Dura-Ace mechanical and Mavic Cosmic Elites goes for $5400 and is already shipping.


I have this belief that when I have to pay to do an event, that’s my time. And if I’m on my time, I’m not obligated to do anything other than ride. It has happened that on a few occasions I have chosen to write about the experience afterward, but because I paid to be there, I wasn’t obligated. It doesn’t change what I might write, but it does affect the urgency I feel about getting a piece up, post haste. This year, the Sea Otter organizers declined to grant me an entry for either gran fondo, so I took the opportunity to do a reconnaissance ride of the cross country course with Brian Vaughn and Yuri Hauswald of GU. We pulled over at a couple of points for them to give riders tips less on how often to fuel than where they could fuel, given the challenge of the course. I’ve heard a lot of bright people talk about how to fuel for races and hard rides and these two guys offered fantastic strategic thinking on how to stay on the gas even while staying fueled. Given the way I’ve been riding, this was a good deal more fun than trying to drill it for hours. And I definitely learned a trick or two.



Of course, strategic thinking about how to be a good athlete got short-circuited every time this thing came by in the expo. If there was more fun being had by adults than this, it Ninja’d by me in sunlight bright enough to burn my scalp through hair. I did encounter some great skin-care products, but I didn’t see a conditioner with an SPF factor. Someone needs to get on that before next year.

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  1. Andy G

    As a mountain biker who moonlights as a roadie, I’m really interested in hearing about what you learned from Brian and Yuri. We have a number of XC races here in Ohio that don’t really have a lot of great refueling points due to the techy nature of the courses. I’m always looking for ways, spots, tactics, etc to make eating and drinking on the bike possible while still hammering.

    Any chance you could do a small write up on that or shoot me an email with what you picked up? I’d love to hear more.


    1. Author

      Andy G: Yuri is a fine writer in his own right. I’ve been looking for opportunities to bring his work to the readers of RKP and while we’re not normally a site that provides tips, strategy seems a big enough idea to fit inside our wheelhouse. I’ll discuss it with him. I think he would write a far more interesting piece than if I just summarized what they were talking about.

  2. Andy G

    Excellent, thanks for the reply. Hopefully Yuri agrees and has time to contribute. I think it would be a fascinating write up.

  3. Pingback: Catching up with today’s way too long compendium of all the latest bike news and links | BikingInLA

  4. Tim Jackson

    Pat, as always, it was sincerely great to see you… though I sure wish we’d had a chance to actually RIDE a little too. Road/ track nerd that I am, I sure enjoyed hitting the trails again there… some pretty spectacular views too.

    It seems like every tradeshow/ event/ catalog/ website has at least one whopper of a typo. Well, Ocean Weasel… I mean, Sea Otter, was no different for us this year; our handy-dandy MSRP pricelists said 2012 (rather than 2013) and we had the price of the AG2R Izalco Replica wrong… and not in the direction most people like to see… that Chorus equipped bike actually retails at $4500, and not $3800.

    I guess this means I owe you a beer AND a bike ride soon.

    Tim Jackson; Marketing Manager, FOCUS Bikes, USA

  5. royalewithcheese

    While the brakes on that P3 probably aren’t easy (or particularly fun unless you’re a masochist) to work on, I can’t imagine they’re all that much more difficult than some of the ridiculous mechanical brakes companies are putting on their TT bikes, probably easier than some, those on the Trek Speed Concept for example. I also imagine that being hydraulic the rear brake on the P3 has to feel absolutely amazing compared to many of the internally routed/full length housing/below the chainstay mechanical brakes which no matter how much time, effort, coffee, beer, and swear words go into setup always feel terrible and mushy.

  6. tinytim

    How is it that Yuri is always so photogenic? He looks so casually deliberate straddling that mountain bike, that it almost makes gears on a mtb ok. Almost ok.

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