This year we ran the second-ever Sea Otter Classic Speed and Style event. It was speedy and stylish.
In the past, Sea Otter had Speed Trials, which was a semi-trialsy, semi-freestyley, head to head race. They still run Speed Trials at various mountain events.
Then came pump tracks.
In 2010 I built a sweet pump track next to the speed trials course. The pump track was a major hit — many riders and spectators said they liked it more than Speed Trials.
Check out the 2010 pro pump track:
In 2011 there was no more speed trials, but the sponsor money — from SRAM and Native — was for “freeride,” which means jumps. So trials legend Jeff Lenosky devised and I helped him design Speed and Style. The basic notion: parallel pump tracks with a trick jump in the middle; head-to-head race with time bonus for rad style. Well, I call it rad; I think the current term has something to do with “steeze.”
Check out the 2011 Speed and Style event:
Last year’s Speed and Style was a big hit. Riders were stoked. Sponsors were stoked. Exhibitors wanted to be close by. So we did it again.
Every square foot of the Sea Otter venue is spoken for. If it’s not terrain or walkway or porta potty, it’s being paid for. Good news is there was lots of competition for space. Bad news is we lost space. Anyone who builds things for a living (buildings, software, bike terrain) knows it’s all about finding the right compromise to meet all the project requirements. So this year’s requirements:
• Fit into a 50×90 space. Last year we had 70×110.
• Parallel tracks like last year, but faster. I opened up the spacing on the rollers.
• Encourage jumping and reward higher skills on the straights. We made the rollers pointier than normal. Less like a pump track, more like a BMX track.
• Less pedaling. Last year we had two cranks’ worth of flat ground before the trick jumps. This year we built a sweet little step-up that felt amazing to ride and left space for one desperate pre-jump crank.
• Big jumps! We used the same jumps as last year, but we added decks in case people case. In case people case. Ha!
• OK for kids too. At the end of the build we found out there would be no public pump track for the kids, so we shaped go-arounds to let people rip the track without hitting the kicker jumps. Hey folks: We’re saving the world one pump track at a time.
• Deal with the conditions. Heavy rains made the dirt very hard to work with. First we were mucking around in slop, then we were chopping up clods, then the sun same out and we couldn’t keep the track tacky enough. Sea Otter weather is always an adventure.
Total dirt used: 520 cubic yards! As far as I know, that’s a pump track world record.
We planned two full laps and three jumps, but most riders couldn’t do it. So we shortened the race to:
• Start down the ramp and hit the jump (time starts, style advantage awarded)
• Rip a full lap
• Hit the jump again (time stops and style advantage either kept or switched)
• Whoever has the best style gets a one-second time bonus. That pretty much makes this a style contest with an element of panic.
Last year I did such a terrible job announcing that I will never be asked again. Sweet! I got to sit my tired carcass against the fence and watch the action.
The best dirt jumpers had the best style for sure, and it was interesting to watch everyone attack the corners and rollers fully pinned. A lot of basic cornering and pump errors knocked great riders out of the event. Martin Soderstrom crushed it.
Check out the 2012 Speed and Style:
Next year: We’re talking about multiple pump tracks and racing for all classes. I really want to make that happen.
Know more. Have more fun!
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