Sea Otter 2017 Summary

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This post is long overdue. We made our annual trek to the Sea Otter Classic at the Laguna Seca racetrack in Monterey, CA. It was our 4th year in a row, 3rd camping.

Ready to roll.

My son’s buddy flew in and we picked him up at the airport on the way down. After we got him, we stopped for lunch and parked, a dude was yelling something about bikes. We gave him the Shaka , like that’s ride dude, we’re going somewhere cool. Then we saw him pointing, to the ground and figured out he was saying, “your bike rack broke off.’

We looked the back of the Westy and sure enough, the bike and the bike rack were gone. The fell off when we went over a speed bump in the parking lot. The guy had picked up the whole rack with three bikes and dragged into the grass. Miraculously, the bikes and the rack were fine. It was a new Thule swing-out. I had not locked the vibration knob and it loosed up over the 30 mile drive. Luckily it fell off in a parking lot and not on 101.

We camped in the usual area, I think we might have even gotten the same two spots as last year. Dustin and the folks from Humboldt State were on the corner as always. The guy to our north had driven all the way from Minnesota in a sweet 4×4 custom van complete with air compressor on the front.

Home

Settled

Contrails in the morning.

Twinning is winning!

The two years prior, my buddies from Chicago had come, but didn’t make it this year. So it was just me, Jordan, my son and his buddy. I missed having the guys, but it forced me to meet some new people including some great guys from Livermore (Chris and Tyler), and a Scottish guy (Chris) from Monterey with a Westy just like mine.

Thursday we drove down and mostly tooled around the expo. It was a pretty low key night. Fox had a dialed out RV up the hill and were showing movies outside.

The next day I met the guys from Livermore. One of the used to have a bike shop, but now reps KTM bikes. He loaned me one and I went to the expo with them. We got back to the campsite in the afternoon and Jordan arrived.

Bike-powered smoothies.

Mork the dork.

My temporary Tasco Tat.

The official Sea Otter chillin’

Saturday morning, we were going to go for a long ride. But Chris stopped by after his race and had an iced coffee with us, which led to beers, which led to the expo, and led to no ride.

Saturday night is the big night around campground E. The Humboldt State guys have their jumping contest and nobody has a race int he morning. We had a taco bar at our place and invited a bunch of neighbors to chow down. After dark, it was time for Bugsy to take his longboard down the 6-story Corkscrew curve around 40mph. But not until he’s had a few puffs and gulps of courage.

Me and Bugsy.

Jumping competition.

Jordan waiting for the Jiffy Pop to burn

The Corkscrew

Bamboo Bike with flask. Perfect for the environment.

Willie?

Dance party at the Humboldt State campsite.

Nailed It!

It was a very good year, and looking forward to next. I’m hoping that we can coordinate to get 3-4 sites with the folks I met and make it an even bigger shindig.

Kissing cousins.

Breakfast of champions.

Driving home.

Two new stickers for the window.

Sea Otter 2016

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Another Sea Otter Classic has come and gone. This year didn’t disappoint. My buddies came out from Chicago and rented a rather large RV. They learned the hard way that Monterey, CA gets cold at night.

This year we bailed on the organized ride and did our own. We rode into the towns of Monterey and Pacific Grove and on to Carmel by way of 17 Mile Drive.

We had perfect weather and met a cast of characters out of central casting. The best being a bleach blond 48 year old beach bum who told us his life story no less than 3 times because we gave him a beer. It was like someone gave a seagull one potato chip and it wouldn’t leave. We learned he has 6 kids. He’s lived on 8 continents and visite 88 countries. Not to go to Santa Cruz because it’s a bad scene and they stole his bike.

Sunday, I entered my first mountain bike race. First I got a flat 3 miles in. Second I flipped over my handlebars on a washboard descent. I tacoed the front wheel on my new bike and separated my shoulder. I managed to straighten it out enough to finish the race. I managed to place 34 out of 38 in my age group. Not bad.

I have some great pictures to share when I’m not writing on my phone.

One last hurrah

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The kids start school soon, so we wanted to get in one last day of hanging out. We played hooky for a half day (leaving the phones on of course) and took a drive around San Francisco to see some of the sites we’ve overlooked in the past.

The first stop was the Cliff House and Sutro Baths ruins. One of the best things about having a smartphone is being able to look stuff up on Wikipedia while you are at the spot. I was reading about the bath houses and trying to figure out where things where at. There was once an amusement park near the site as well.

From there we headed over to Golden Gate Park to check out the Japanese Tea Garden and Flower Conservatory. It felt like Summer was already over because it was so overcast and cool.

We topped the day off in Pacific Heights and had dinner with our friends David and Stephanie. They had not seen my son since he was a baby. The last time they saw him he was about 18 months old. A bunch of us had gone out for Ethiopian food. I was the only one with a kid so none of us had really thought through the timing. We lasted about an hour before total meltdown. On the way home, we grabbed some fries at Jack in the Box and all was good again.

Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park

Sutro Baths

Sutro Baths

Tahoe and biking

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I went up to Tahoe this past Sunday with my son and his friend. It’s pretty cool to be able to load up the car with bikes and be only 3 hours away from some of the most beautiful parts of the country.

There’s a place up there called Woodward my son wanted to go to. They have day and summer camps there where they’ll teach you all the extreme sports like snowboarding, skateboarding, dirt bikes, and par core (sp?).

While the guys were busy doing flips and shit into foam pits, I went for a ride along the Donner Pass. I started down at the lake and road up to the Summit.

Donner Lake from the Summit

Donner Lake from the summit

Donner Summit

Donner Summit 7135 Feet

Woodward Skateboard Bowl

Woodward Skate Bowl

Woodward Foam Pits

Woodward Foam Pits

Donner Lake

Donner Lake through the trees

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Bridge near Donner Summit

Yosemite Day Trip

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It’s easy to forget how close we are to some of the best National Parks in the country, one of them being Yosemite. It’s only about 130 miles away, but takes a little over 3 hours to get there. For Mother’s Day we took a day trip over to one of my favorite places on earth. There’s not much else to report, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Bear Trap strategically placed by the backpacker's campsite.

Bear Trap strategically placed by the backpacker’s campsite.

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Sea Otter Classic 2015

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This past weekend, some of my Chicago biking buddies flew in to join me and my son down in Monterey, CA for the 25th annual Sea Otter Classic. It’s the biggest bicycle show in the country, if not the world. And if you’re into bikes, it’s the place to be.

We took the Westy down and camped inside the grounds of the Laguna Seca raceway, which is also where it’s held. We arrived around lunch time Friday and spent the afternoon meandering around the show.

I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking. It was one of the best times I’ve had all year.

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Spring Break ’15, San Diego

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I love traveling up and down the West Coast. Everything is within a 90 minute flight. We went down to San Diego this past Spring Break and stayed at a resort on Coronado Island. It’s a cool little town, definitely different than Santa Cruz.

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Everyone had a chance to work on their tans poolside. We did a good job of getting around. We went up to La Jolla to check out UCSD, had lunch in Old Town, and of course, took a trip to the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

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Giant Panda eating what looks like crap, but is actually bamboo cakes.

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Look closely, there’s a Koala Bear in there.

We tried going to the zoo first thing on Monday and it was a complete shitshow. The lines were an hour plus just to get in. We went back Wednesday in the afternoon. It was the perfect plan. We waltzed right in  fresh as daisies. The rest of the crowd looked like the walking dead and were moving to the exits. We didn’t quite have the place to ourselves, but we weren’t waiting in huge lines. They’re one of the few zoos in the country with Giant Pandas. So it was a pretty cool getting to see those in person.

The other highlight of the trip was surfing lessons for the kids. We wanted to take them too, but my knee isn’t ready.

Surfer Girl

Surfer Girl

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Coronado Surfing Company van. Chris, was a great instructor.

Coronado Island is a great place to stay if you want to get away from the bustle of the city. They’ve got a decent little downtown built up around the famous Del Coronado Hotel.

Interesting factoid, Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads is from Coronado Island. 

Santa Cruz

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While temperatures in the Midwest and East Coast dropped below zero, we took advantage of a nice sunny day and headed down to Santa Cruz. For those of you unfamiliar, it’s where they filmed “Lost Boys.”

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk has one of my all-time favorite roller coasters, the Giant Dipper. It’s a small wooden coaster with a 70 foot drop. It’s not that impressive to look at. There’s something about it though. Maybe it’s the view, or the way it shakes your teeth loose, or the dips, but I can’t miss riding it at least once whenever I’m there.

Late February is one of the best possible times to go there. You will practically have the park to yourself.