My previous posts on Sea Otter Classic focused mostly on my races. This post has nothing to do with racing. Knocking out my first weekend of professional mountain bike racing was a big deal, but it was far from the only thing I did while I out in California. In fact, my non-race activities far outnumbered the other things I had going on during my eight days in California.
The day after I arrived, Anthony and I headed to one of the California Giant strawberry fields in Watsonville. The fields would set the scene for the commercial we would shoot. Cal Giant is proudly sponsoring the second stage of the Tour of California. The stage runs from San Francisco to Santa Cruz County with a likely sprint finish in Aptos. We shot a 30 second clip that will air on KSBW to promote the stage, specifically, and the race, in general. The commercial actually may already be airing, so you’ll have to keep your eye out for it and let me know if you catch you me on your television. And when you do see it, you’d never know that it took Anthony almost the entire shoot to get his lines right. Mine went lickity split from the gun. As usual. Ahem.
California Giant has been in the sport of cycling for over a decade. They’re one of the few brands in the produce world who gets it – berries, health and exercise. They just work well together.
Next up, I had a photo shoot with Light & Motion. In the past, my photo shoots with Light & Motion have been solo ventures. Just me, the photographer, the trails and some lights. This time was a bit different. I showed up for the shoot and discovered a huge group ready to roll.
A few group leaders led the bunch that included Ross Schnell, Dax Massey, Dejay Birtch, Nate Bird and me. Our photographer was actually from Denver, so he needed someone to show the way as much as we did. We all headed out for a trail ride in Santa Cruz. Basically, we played around in the woods for five hours while we had our pictures taken. To say that we all felt like kids in a giant playground would be an understatement.
At various points on the ride, we stopped to shoot specific sections. They had us ride over logs, jump through holes in trees and do other technically impressive stunts. And I use the term impressive loosely here, for myself anyway. While the guys were the ones performing the impressive stunts, I simply rode my bike between the trees rather than jumping through them. Which, for me, was a bit intimidating. I was the only woman in the group, and these guys are REALLY good mountain bikers. That being said, I had a ton of fun surrounded by such a strong group of riders who are all superstars in their own disciplines. The ride definitely pushed my limits as I attempted to do things I normally wouldn’t ride, especially not in waning daylight hours.
The lights were obviously the main focus of our photo shoot. During the last hour, when it was finally dark in the woods, the lights really shone bright. From the front of the group it was pretty sweet to look back and see a trail of brilliant lights snaking their way through the enormous redwoods! We finally rode out of the woods around 9PM after having ridden this crazy rock garden descent on “mailboxes”. Photos from the shoot will be on the Light & Motion website and in their brochures and catalogues.
The next night, Light & Motion had an open house that included a tour of their amazing facilities. Their building is located in one of the last canneries on cannery row, so they have a pretty spectacular warehouse with huge windows overlooking Monterey Bay. Talk about the perfect setting for inspiration.
The open house was intended for guests to get a sneak peek at new product that isn’t yet available (but is coming out soon!) and learn a bunch about what makes the company successful. They demonstrated why their product is superior to other light brands and introduced the folks behind the brand that make Light & Motion such a cool place. None of this was new news to me since I have been working with Light & Motion for a couple of years now. I’ve known for awhile now just how cool this company is! So, seeing the smiles and hearing the excitement from the first time visitors was no surprise to me.
Most Light & Motion products are made in house. Not everything comes from within the US, but a lot does – and all their lights are assembled in house. As part of the evening, each visitor got to assemble one of their new Urban 180 lights to take home as a ‘thank you’ gift. How cool is that?!
Earlier in the day, before the Light & Motion party, I spent some time on site at Sea Otter. I pre-rode the the XC course and then dropped my bike off at SRAM for a little pre-race TLC. I went to the Ladies Lounge with Team TIBCO and super rad MTB’ers Katie Holden and Linsdey Voreis where we answered a bunch of questions from female cyclists and had fun hanging out with the Queen of Pain, Rebecca Rusch. Rebecca has a whole tour dedicated to reaching out to women in the sport so make sure you catch her somewhere on her Gold Rusch Tour. For every ounce of energy she puts into riding her bike, she gives it right back to help get more women on bikes. She’s pure Gold.
Friday was my first of two race days and included some sponsor visits with Team TIBCO. We spent some time at the FRS booth handing out samples and talking about the product before having dinner with the FRS crew in Monterey. Before dinner, we visited with DeFeet, and I spent more time hanging out with Specialized and SRAM – both of whom took such great care of me over the weekend.
Whew! It was a whirlwind of a weekend – packed with near-constant activity. I finally got to kick back a little bit on Sunday with a chill ride in Santa Cruz and a barbeque at Anthony’s before I headed home Monday morning.
Less than twenty-four hours later, I was back at the airport on my to Fayetteville, AR for my first stage race of the season.