Sea Otter Classic 2021
The UCSD cycling team had a fun and productive long weekend of racing at the 2021 sea otter classic. With two podium finishes and exceptional times, everyone worked hard to show that the UC-San Diego cycling team came to win. The Sea Otter Classic started in 1990, originally expected to be a simple mountain bike race. Over two decades after the first rendition of the event, Sea Otter has evolved into an energetic celebration of cycling, hosting hundreds of pro and amateur cyclists to compete in almost every racing discipline.
Most of the team drove up on Thursday night, but one of our newest mountain bike racers, Nicholas Finke, scouted ahead to race the enduro course Thursday morning. The structure of enduro combines the agility of downhill with the endurance required by cross-country; racers are timed only on the downhill sections but must ride uphill courses to each section. Out of nearly a hundred riders, Nicholas was able to place 47th, staying consistently in the top 50 in every section. Given the dry, hot conditions of Sea Otter’s MTB courses this year, it was definitely an impressive feat!
Deryn LeDuke raced the circuit race on Friday morning. The circuit course laps the Laguna Seca racetrack used by Nascar vehicles throughout the year. Consisting of a long uphill, the track then famously corkscrews down to loop back. After a long seven laps on the course, Deryn was able to place 6th overall, and 5th in her category. Our other racers were able to pre-ride the challenging cross-country course, a roughly 15 miles consisting of steep climbs, rock gardens, and sections of the aforementioned raceway. They would face cyclists from nearly every other major university in the western collegiate cycling conference on Sunday, but for now, they familiarized themselves with the terrain.
One of the most well-known race routes at Sea Otter is the downhill mountain biking course. With a plethora of flowing jumps and perilous sandpits, it is a sprint to simultaneously keep up your speed and not slide out into one of the many obstacles. Bohdivista Yohn and Deryn were the two racers to compete in the collegiate downhill and both of them made it down quickly. Bohdi was able to finish the course with a time of 3:03 and Deryn earned a place on the podium, coming 3rd in the C/D category.
Most of our team saved their legs and lungs to compete in the collegiate cross-country race, beginning on Sunday morning. After a grueling sprint up the hill of the Leguna Seca raceway, the collegiate field quickly strung out for a dry, lengthy race across the trails of Fort Ord National Monument. Our racers, Nicolas Forno, Nicholas Finke, Camille Kittredge, and Grace Murphy proved to have formidable times, despite dodging rocks and other cyclists on the trail. Camille’s time was strong enough to earn her a 2nd place in the women’s collegiate C/D category. The other race this morning was the women’s road race, which Deryn competed in to earn a respectable result of 4th overall. Our team celebrated by starting the long drive home, legs tired but hearts proud. Ultimately, Sea Otter was a bittersweet representation of a cycling season that was mired by COVID delays and cancellations. The persistence of our team, which thrived throughout such a physically and emotionally taxing season, was demonstrated this weekend by all of our racers. Thanks, Sports Clubs, for this incredible opportunity!