Kelli's Sea Otter - Racing and Rattlesnakes!

April 27 — 2015 | Laguna Seca, CA

I haven’t missed the Sea Otter Classic in the last 15 years and I was not about to let that happen this year. I love this event, not because the racecourses are amazing (joking), but because it’s a time when I can catch up with all my industry friends who I rarely see throughout the year. This year’s racing was all about the Enduro. I was a little unsure about the DH race since jumping isn’t my strong suit as a racer, and the XC is no longer my jam—I already paid my dues on that course. I had packed the weekend with women-focused events—Ladies Lounge, Little Bellas, and a photo shoot with Bike Magazine. In all, a pretty low stress weekend

Wednesday afternoon I arrived at Laguna Raceway with Allan Cooke, the Sports Marketing Manager, to pre ride the Enduro courses and check out Stage 1, the downhill course, and Stage 2, the Dual Slalom, a new addition to this year’s Enduro.The courses were shorter and more downhill-ish compared to last year’s 20 minute pedal fest. I still decided to use the Joplin, my lighter-weight XC bike, because it’d be a great weapon in the pedaling stages! So much time can be gained at this race with a lighter bike.

Teal Stetson and I pre-rode a few laps on Stage 2 and 3 and walked the Dual Slalom to get a feel of what to expect. I’d never even been down a slalom course before, and was totally out of my element. My only hope was that the 30-second run wouldn’t affect my overall race time too much. There was no pre-riding on the Slalom, and it definitely looked more built up and tougher than in years past.  

Once the Enduro got started, it went by so quickly! I think our overall ride time was about 2 hours, and race time was 12 minutes. I finished third when it was all said and done, and was satisfied. I was hoping for a slightly better result, but we always want to do better, it’s what keeps us competing! I hung out at the venue, visited friends and had a few glasses of wine at the SRAM Ladies Lounge to celebrate the podium finish.

The next morning, I set out for a photo shoot with Anthony from Bike Magazine in the hills close to the venue. As Anthony was taking a few photos in the tall grass, I heard a little rustling close to me. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but the noise grew louder. Then I just thought it would be a little lizard scurrying by, no worries. I couldn’t ignore it any longer and had to look—it was a huge rattlesnake coming right at me! Both the photographer and I screamed like little girls and ran. When we finally stopped running we looked at each other and realized our hands were shaking. Anthony yelled, “photo shoot is done—we have enough photos!” There was no way Anthony or I were going to walk back in that zone. Never would I have guessed there were rattlesnakes at Laguna Seca, but apparently it’s not that uncommon, so next time you’re at Sea Otter—watch for snakes!

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