Sea Otter Classic, ’14, Part II

Sea Otter Classic, ’14, Part II

As I mentioned in my previous post, this year’s Sea Otter Classic seemed more actively, deliberately friendly to children. I’ll grant that some of my perception my be skewed by my own desire to take my family to the event, but I can point to several features that were different from years past. The track above is a case in point. This small-scale pump track enjoyed a near-constant stream of little people taking warm, if not hot, laps.

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Scenes like this one, of families riding together, were a good deal more common this year, compared to years past. There’s no doubt that families have been showing up to Sea Otter for years, but I think having more opportunities for kids to ride and have fun has been a boon. 
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This dirt track just beyond Specialized’s compound in the expo area has been in use for a few years, but whereas in the past it was nothing more than a dirt oval, this year they built it with a number of twists and turns and the addition of these Flowform ramps. Riders ranged from little guys on 12-inch wheel balance bikes to groms graduated to 26-inch wheels. Everyone there appeared to be having a killer time, if the grins were any indication.  IMG_8570

Even the littlest attendees got a warm welcome. IMG_8557

This little girl would scoot ahead of mom a bit and then do donuts until she caught up. Her riding was graceful and confident and driven by nothing so much as her sense of fun. I could have watched her for an hour. IMG_8524

The French brand Commençal displayed a number of mountain bikes, but the one everyone was talking about was this one, the Supreme. It’s a full-suspension rig with a 140mm-travel fork. When the rep there told me the bike retailed for $3100, I couldn’t help but think how much less that is than rehab. (Sorry about that dark crescent in the shot; something got on my card and I didn’t realize it until I downloaded the images. It’s going to show up a few more times.)
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Of course, not everyone you might take to the Sea Otter is big enough to ride on their own. Since purchasing Chariot trailers, Thule has increased their availability. I’ll be reviewing one soon. IMG_8541

The average age of cyclists is increasing, which is to say that we’re getting older (and dying) faster than young cyclists are coming into the sport. When I think about what I want for my kids, one of the single greatest things I want to share with them is happiness, and the bike is my favorite shortcut to happy, other than them. While I can’t guarantee that they will love the bike, I’ve got a good start with Mini-Shred but who knows how the Deuce will go. I’ll admit that one of the things I think about is indoctrination, bringing them into not just a toy or an activity, even a sport, but a culture. I see the National Interscholastic Cycling Association as a way to share the stoke, a way to build community long before our kids are old enough to see the value.

NICA announced two new leagues for 2014, one in Alabama and one in Virginia, hence the appearance of Virginia resident, pro mountain biker and national champion, Jeremiah Bishop.

Raising kids in such a culture here in the U.S. wasn’t an option when I was growing up. I’d have loved to be immersed in a culture in which sport was front and center, but competition wasn’t the be-all, end-all. There may be hope for us yet.

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1 comment

  1. Uma

    In writing up my own experience of this year’s Sea Otter I asked others what they thought was different or what stood out with this year’s event. The consensus seemed that while the World Cup took some of the pro racer energy away, it also took a sort of frenetic, harried vibe with it, leaving the festival a bit more relaxed and friendly. That vibe lets things like the kids events, pump tracks and demo tracks shine a bit more for the regular folks who just love bikes. Just a theory, I suppose. :-)

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