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Need your opinion on the XC course this year. Was it just me riding a FR bike on a XC course or did you guys feel that it was longer than a typical beginner level XC course?

I don't recall this many climbs from before. It wasn't steep, but just seems relentless, especially toward the end. I heard another rider screamed out the same thing as we re-enter near the Laguna Seca area where the pros split up from the Cate 3. It was yet another set of small uphills.

Has the course changed for more climbing?

There was also a lot more road riding. Haven't rode this for a few years. Perhaps the course has been like this for a while?

Opinion appreciated.
 

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190lbs of climber
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There was not more climbing, but the descending was on lame paved roads or fireroads, so it was over much much faster and there was less time to recover before each climbing as a result.
 

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Just here for the scenery
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Don't know the tale of the tape, but dropping into Couch Canyon near the end was a new feature this year, and that's a fairly punishing couple of miles of trail.

The pavement descents felt like a waste of perfectly good gravity, but the gravel road descents were that, plus dangerous... I saw riders down and hurt (with ambulances attending) at the bottom of the Lookout Ridge descent. And even with all that double-track, there was still slow traffic and long lines on the singletracks. It's almost like it's hard to hold an offroad bike race for thousands of riders squeezed into a few dozen miles of trail on a few weekend days.

Some passing lanes in the singletrack would help... I wonder how BLM would feel about a wider section of trail every 100-200 yards?
 

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more skier than biker
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I think Menso summarized the course and changes pretty good.

As a Cat 1 single speeder, I was lucky to not have to experience conga lines and what not on singletrack as we were the first group off at 7:30 am on Sunday morning so we basically had the singletrack climbs to ourselves.....(which is nice because getting stuck in a conga line with a single gear is terrible..)

that being said, I still enjoyed the course....I go in not expecting the most fun pure riding experience out there anyway...if I wanted that i'd go do a fun trail ride in Santa Cruz or something...I'm there for the competition, and Sea Otter racing always has some of the best. I think no matter what kind of course is put together out there, there will be some kind of 'issues' with either not enough flowy down or too much climbing, or not enough places to spread people out, etc. It's just a crap ton of people racing.
 

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I raced the XC course yesterday. The climbing was par the norm for a ride of that length on a XC course. It was a weak layout as Menso points out with all those paved and fire road descents. Also that's where most people who got seriously injured crashed it seemed. Might as well just time us UPHILL only as those where the most technical parts of the course on single track . I'd rather see a shorter course doing a few laps that keep us off pavement and sketchy fire roads. They are not at loss for trails there which really made you wonder? I'm sure they have some official reasoning behind the course layout. But as a racer. While I dig the event overall, had a good time camping and watching the slalom and DH. I'm not sure I'm going to spend $ to race in the future if they don't take the time to make a truly great XC course as they should.

With this being a BIG FRIGGIN deal in the world of cycling and especially MTB, all the racers should be frothing on how great the course is and can't wait to ride it next year. Instead everyone I talked too complained about the pavement and gravel descents and wonder if they should keep XC racing there.
 

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I raced the cat 2 course and I would agree we spent a bit too much time on the paved stuff (for example, why not trail 50 instead of jumping right onto a long section of pavement? would have ended in exactly the same place).

From my perspective there were two problems:
1) The website indicated a start time for the first Cat 2 riders of 9:00 am and this was changed at registration - but not updated on the website. There were many riders who missed their start, some very good and a good number of them were coming through from behind the entire race.
2) IMHO they should have spaced the cat 2 and cat 3 riders. The issue was that the cat 2 course added several miles to a point in the course, the cat 3 riders simply skipped that extra bit. By the time a good fraction of the cat 2 riders finished this extra bit we found ourselves behind what seemed like the bulk of the cat 3 riders. Couch Canyon was, shall we say, interesting without good passing lanes - and frustrating when people stopped on the short climbs right in the middle of the trail.

I had a great time, posted my best finish, etc., etc. I think the experience could have been better (and my time 3-4 minutes faster I bet) had we not gotten mixed up with the Cat 3 riders. I think gapping them at the start by 30 minutes would have solved that problem.
 

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For most riders this is a parade. Racers race on anything. ;)
^^^ don't piss on our parade

Did you race the course? Thought so......... Why not support the fact that the course kinda sucked from the feedback from actual people who raced it weren't happy with it? Your hardboy sound bites reek of complacency.
 

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It's about showing up.
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Many times over the last 12 years. Brought my teams there. Post-race complaints about the course, no matter how they put it together, are common. Same with start times, spacing and such. No biggy. Geez.

Menso and Tyrone hit it on the head.
 

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If you have to complain about this SO XC course (and you have raced in the past)... then maybe racing the SO isn't your thing.... this is pretty reflective of riding in Fort Ord and the Sea Otter... yes, maybe a few less pave DH's are available but... yes, maybe you got caught in a group... pretty much is what it is...

if you are new to the SO.. yes there are some better trails to go downhill on... oh and 3rd straight year of little to no rain, typically these trails are better than this... dry, sandy yes.. but a little better...

Q
 

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Hipster
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Raced cat 1 here. 1st half of the race could have been designed better (fireroad climb, singletrack descent please!), but the second half was fun. Preriding the course definitely helped-- Plenty of people overshot the hairpin turns/trail transitions.

One issue---Tandems. Got lucky and passed them in good spots most of the time, but there was a tandem that was unwilling to pull right on a narrow singletrack climb for ~30 seconds. Second was the bottleneck of riders at the very last singletrack climb to the finish. Got some elbows and bushes in the face from riders that were willing to be rude about it. I wasn't and just got in line at a much slower pace than I would have liked.
 

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They improved the start considerably, since there was no conga line going into the first single track. Just one slow-poke younger cat 2 rider. Maybe a fire road climb or a loop on wider trails around the race circuit first would be a good addition. That would allow the spectators to follow the start of the race better as well and it would allow for the fun single track downhill to be added instead of Barloy Canyon road.
The main website had the start time wrong. You had to click on "registration" to find your actual time. Many cat 2 riders started late because of the organization's sloppiness.
The cat 3 riders were jamming up the single track for us cat 2 riders after our goat trail/oil well loop. Either have cat 3 start with a large (30 minute) gap or have them do the goat trail/oil well loop as well and let them skip the couch canyon single track at the end. They should have someone directing traffic at the cat1/2 vs 3 split as well. I wonder how many slow cat 2s ended up following the cat3s and doing the shorter course.
It would be nice if they added or even built some more single track parallel to the two asfalt descents on Jacks' road and to the boring Oil Well and Skyline fire road climbs.
 

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M8 M12 M15 deez nuts
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Sounds like I didn’t really miss anything by not racing Sea Otter this year. I really had no issues the past few years (had been racing Sea Otter XC from 2011 - 2013) with racing there in the past with the sole exception of the (previous course) big steep rutted fireroad climb early on in the ride, where everyone (except me on my fatbike) was walking their bikes up, strewn about with no lines to take, such that I was forced to dismount (wasting valuable time).
 

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So I was one of the Cat 2 guys that didn't get the memo for the earlier than posted start time. Checked it the night before and the morning of and was warming up as the Cat 2 SS guys were taking off. So I started about 45 minutes late and rode half the course off trail in the passing lane. After 100 people of passing I stopped counting. I was the ******* on the black ss riding in the tall grass bumping bars while riding in the chunk the whole time. Sorry if I pissed anyone off but I was a bit pissed at the race organizers. Got 1:40 still but all the conga lines and hard passes really reeked havoc on my time. Yeah I should have raced Cat 1 but I have no liscense And don't need one as racing USAC events is long over for this old guy. Sucks that the course was thrown back into the Cat 3 course in the end as we were like oil and vinegar in the end. Will I do another SO race again? Most likely I will but I will be sure to let the RO know what a F up it is to change stat times without posting it on the website in the right area. No one told me of the change at check in
 

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I figured that CAT 2 9am start meant as long as i was there 15 minutes before start time i would be good which is my usual ritual and I have never been late for a start. I told my wife to look for the individual start as we were driving to the venue early that morning but she could not find it. I got a few emails as well during the event with previous race results/recaps for the day and nothing in there. Sucks for people who train hard and spend a lot of money to make it to this event just to get screwed by something so easily avoidable. The Sea Otter is the only race where you can put yourself up against so many other good riders to see where you stand. Over 60 SS riders between CAT 1/2. That is a lot of idiots at one venue. Maybe next year.
 

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J-Flo
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I had a good time in the XC race (Cat 3) but agree with the above comments. I found the correct start times but only because I looked for them; they were not obvious and some Cat 2 guys I know would have been late if I hadn't warned them.

On the course (this is my second SOC), the quantity of pavement descent seemed too high and it was unfortunate that most of the climbs were clogged up in singletrack conga lines. I have raced maybe 10 times ever; this was the first time I repeatedly had to coast or brake while going uphill in a race due to heavy traffic and impossibility of a safe pass. The crowd was 99% cool. I even got a kick out of the dude with the stereo in his Camelbak blasting Led Zeppelin.

Traffic was a problem for most groups. There is no way around it when you have about 1,500 racers on one course -- another reason why a big loop is required rather than multiple laps. For example, the Cat 1 juniors started right after the SS/Tandems at 7:32 and their group broke completely apart in the first singletrack climb as most of the pack was held way back by slower tandem riders who would not/could not allow passing.

The Hurl Hill descent / Couch Canyon climb was surprisingly fun, even though it was backwards from the "proper" way to ride that part. Somehow I got my mojo back on this part and passed a lot of people on the climb out.

Overall, this course was about 2 miles longer in distance but considerably easier than last year's course. It still had some horrible gravel descents, but not as much as last year and no sand dune descent. I also did not miss the stupid steep hill that Porkstacker mentions above. The best descent of the course this year was for Cat 1/2 only -- the Pros skipped it also. The Cat 3/Pro course had very few sections requiring technical skill. All that said, I loved it and will be back next year.
 

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I spent ALL of Sea Otter on paved road................Doing a 123 mile road ride out of Gilroy. I did the XC one yr and just don't have a desire to go back and race.
 

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ballbuster
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^^^ don't piss on our parade

Did you race the course? Thought so......... Why not support the fact that the course kinda sucked from the feedback from actual people who raced it weren't happy with it? Your hardboy sound bites reek of complacency.
I think you're forgetting one of the rules of the interwebz: There is always a heavy bias towards the negative. People get pissed off about something and furiously complain in all caps like 10:1 more than people will say good things about something. A lot of complaints doesn't mean that everybody hated the course, or even a majority.

I thought overall it was a pretty good course. I could have done without the paved descents, but the climbs were all good. Do-able on singlespeed, mostly. There has always been a lot of fireroad descent at Sea Otter.
Raced cat 1 here. 1st half of the race could have been designed better (fireroad climb, singletrack descent please!), but the second half was fun. Preriding the course definitely helped-- Plenty of people overshot the hairpin turns/trail transitions.

One issue---Tandems. Got lucky and passed them in good spots most of the time, but there was a tandem that was unwilling to pull right on a narrow singletrack climb for ~30 seconds. Second was the bottleneck of riders at the very last singletrack climb to the finish. Got some elbows and bushes in the face from riders that were willing to be rude about it. I wasn't and just got in line at a much slower pace than I would have liked.
About the passing.... thing is, it isn't your job to get out of the way of somebody behind you. It's his job to pass safely if he can. I'm not going to mess up my race to let you by. That said, I'll let you pass when I can. On a tandem, it's hard to stop and start again, so I can see why they wouldn't just readily 'pull over'. Race your own race.

Heh... during my race, some guy tried to pass on a very narrow section of trail. His bar hit my behind and he went off into the bushes and crashed. He knocked me sideways a bit, but I stayed upright.
 

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ballbuster
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I checked start times the night before and clicked through to the individual class start times. Apparently it was not obvious since so many folks missed it.

The same start time sheet was taped to the reg table when we checked in on Sunday morning. It wasn't pointed out though.

The communication could have been much better.
It wasn't just that the start times were not posted in an arguably obvious place or not. It was posted in many places WRONG. Hence, the massive confusion.
 

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I think you're forgetting one of the rules of the interwebz: There is always a heavy bias towards the negative. People get pissed off about something and furiously complain in all caps like 10:1 more than people will say good things about something. A lot of complaints doesn't mean that everybody hated the course, or even a majority.

I thought overall it was a pretty good course. I could have done without the paved descents, but the climbs were all good. Do-able on singlespeed, mostly. There has always been a lot of fireroad descent at Sea Otter.


About the passing.... thing is, it isn't your job to get out of the way of somebody behind you. It's his job to pass safely if he can. I'm not going to mess up my race to let you by. That said, I'll let you pass when I can. On a tandem, it's hard to stop and start again, so I can see why they wouldn't just readily 'pull over'. Race your own race.

Heh... during my race, some guy tried to pass on a very narrow section of trail. His bar hit my behind and he went off into the bushes and crashed. He knocked me sideways a bit, but I stayed upright.
Yes, it's funny when you are really are a LOVER not HATER and just trying to provide some feedback that you hope would resonate with others after listening to racers comments. But then everyone thinks your HATING when in fact it's the opposite. It's for the love and wanting to make it even BETTER. I've done SO 3 times now. I know there's pavement and fireroads in the course mix. I know it's a parade of less than hardcore racers mixed with the committed. It just seemed this year we descended that crap instead of climbing it and it's really dangerous surface to be trading elbows with sketchy adrenaline fueled racers at high speed. (I hit 40mph at one point) So why not TELL THEM it's not a great course for your racing dollars? The XC race is a big CASH COW for the promoters there is a lot they could do to make it better for the racers. Instead of making excuses for them, let's communicate for change!

PASSING: I concur with what you said and will just add that a lot of racers could benefit from watching some Auto and Motorcycle racing and read after race press conferences to learn more about passing. It's your right as the faster racer to pass me. It's your duty to call out where you are and where you want to go if you expect a clean pass. I can't help you pass me. But I won't hinder you either as long as your communicating.
 
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