Sea Otter XC racing tips

Hey Lee, I am 13 year old kid and I’m going to be racing in the Sea Otter XC. Do you have any tips for me for the race? I have raced the CCCX xc race in similar terrain, so I know there will be a sh*t load of sand. I ride a 2007 Rocky Mountain Element 70 with Specialized The Captain s-work tires. What is the proper way to ride through deep sand? How should I pace myself through the race? Should I use a Camelback? If so, should I bring a spare tube/ tools, and if so, what should I bring?

Hey Joseph,

You are stoked. The Sea Otter XC course is super fun. I’ve ridden it a few times and raced it twice: both on a tandem. We would have done great, but we destroyed our freehub body both times.

The answers to your questions depend on racing experience and personal preference. But since you’re too young to have much racing experience, I’ll give you my opinions.

I’m not sure which loop(s) you’re doing, but the courses usually have multiple long climbs with fun fire-road and singetrack descents.

Definitely pre-ride the course so you know what you’re getting into.

I suggest riding the whole race just under red line. You should be going hard, but not so hard it hurts a lot or makes you stupid.

Save it for the last climb — then spend it! On that last long ascent, push it into the red zone. Not 100% pain/death; maybe 90%. Recover as much as you can at the top, then, when you hit the racetrack finish section, give it everything you have.

When you cross the finish line, you should be Done with a capital D.

Riding through deep sand
Bottom line: lean back.

If you’re coming in with speed, find your attack position and lean back just a bit, so you feel some pulling on your fingers. That will lighten the front end so it’s less likely to knife in and send you OTB. Don’t lean WAY back; lean back just a bit.

If you’re pedaling through, sit back on your seat (to lighten the front end) and PIN IT in an easy gear that you can keep spinning.

If the trail is clogged with struggling riders, get off your bike and run around them.

Hydration pack?
I think no. 1) You’ll feel more racy and pro without one. 2) It’s not a very long race.

Start hydrating now. You should be peeing all the time, and it should be clear. Line up well hydrated with a bottle or two of water or energy drink. That should do the trick. Oh, I think there’s a feed zone on the course. You can get some sugar water (aka Gatorade) there.

Carry enough to get you back if something goes wrong.

You should be fine with a multi tool, tire levers, tube, patches and a small pump or C02 inflator. Make sure you know how to use them — under stress!

I know it isn’t cool, but a saddle bag is a great way to carry that stuff.

Have fun and rip it up!

— Lee

11 replies
  1. scott says:

    “We would have done great, but we destroyed our freehub body both times.”

    And why was the brand name of the hub appropriate?

  2. scott says:

    “..when you hit the racetrack finish section, give it everything you have.”

    That didn’t work out so well for us on year 2… Not on what ended up being a 24 speed fixed gear. So many good memories (good as in ‘lasting’) from those races.

  3. leelikesbikes says:

    Oh man.

    Blown freehub body, locked freewheel. We’re pinning it around the FAST downhill turn on the paved track, and I set my outside pedal down for just a second. The chain winds up on the cassette, the derailleur blows into the spokes, the bike dies. Scott picks up the rear end, I grab the bars and we start running. We’re in third — hosed but at least on the podium. We’re running as hard as we can. Clack clack clack go the SPD cleats. The Chariots of Fire theme is playing. We’re about to finish on the podium. And we’re running. We’re almost there. And another team passes us. We cross the line and I collapse. I sob.

  4. scott says:

    My legs still hurt when I think about that run. Stiff soled Sidis with SPD cleats on pavement in a sprint for what seemed like several hundred yards. Ouch.

  5. Joseph says:

    well… (clears voice) on friday, i was checking out the expo. I guess I caught a virus or something… Anyway, on Saturday, I had stomach flu. I was constantly vomiting, and had severe stomach aches and diarrhea… I won’t give you that many details, but during the afternoon, I decided i felt a *wee* bit better, so I asked my dad to drive to the expo. On the road there, I felt like puking. When I got there, I knew I wouldn’t make it, so told him to drive me home. Half way there, we had to pull over, so I could empty my stomach of it’s contents… if you catch the drift. I essentially slept the rest of the day. On race day, I felt a bit better, and I decided to race like it was just another ride. I stopped numerous times to help people with flats and stuff… and still managed to finish third. 🙂 Oh, and on the drive there, I made a bet (more of a deal…) with my dad, saying that if I got podium, he would buy me a full race kit of my choice, and $100 as well as $50 more for every position i was above fifth. Here I am today, with a Fox race kit, and $200 at my disposal. Life is good.

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