I know there is a reason why people say it's important to build a relationship with the LBS (Local Bike Shop). My LBS is Passion Trail Bikes. I met Jill at PTB and heard about this underground group of female mountain bikers — the Dirt Divas. (Oops, did I say underground?) As soon as I signed up their mailing list, I saw the call to pre-ride the Sea Otter race course (some of them are racing). I'm in! Well, I'm not racing, but I'm doing the Recreational Tour at Sea Otter next weekend. It'll be nice to know what I'm getting into. Riding with a group, a group of girls, just sounds like a wonderful idea!
Around 10am, everybody gathered at a parking lot at Laguna Seca. Nine of us! I've never ridden with a group of girls before. This was new to me, and I liked it right away! Our ride leader Janet handed out a map to everyone — color-printed, map with turn by turn directions on one side, and the vicinity area map on the back side, guess just in case some of us got so lost that we accidentally ended up in Salinas or something. Oh and she wrote her cellphone on each map too. This had never happened on any other rides I'd done, but of course I had always ridden with guys.
Before the ride, I had heard about the sandy sections on the course. When I saw them, I realized they were just like ocean beaches, except that the sand was not packed by the tides. To ride it, it was challenging, but it was also fun and exciting. The bonus is when I came down because the front wheel washed out the first time I hit a sand patch, it didn't hurt at all! Later down a sandy trail, I took the advice I heard to heart — do not brake the front. The front wheel wiggled around in the loose sand. I rode, I dabbed, but I stayed upright. By the end, my right forearm was hard as a rock. Oops, I guess I over-braked the rear wheel.
Near the end of the course (Mile 9 – 12) was a long gradual uphill ride out. The group was spread out on the fire road. Somehow, four of us in front ended up separated from the rest of the group. Hmmm… were we lost? Even with Janet on the other end of the cellphone communication, and with maps in our hands, we rode this way and that way (as you can see between Mile 12 and 15 in the elevation profile). At one point, it seemed I had the others convinced that I knew the way out (which turned out to be indeed one way out). I told others my husband would be laughing if he knew this because it was known that I could get lost in a closet. We all cheered when we met the group back at the cars.
One thing I noticed that's different from other rides I've done was after the ride, everyone wiped the sunblock off, brushed their hair, and changed. Suddenly everybody looked like she was going to a mall or something.
Oh, and another thing, it was hot like I said earlier. I'm guessing it was in the 90s. There were coolers around alright, but I didn't see beers. The guys would be chatting away each holding a beer. I opened my cooler — a few iced bottles — we had icy water to drink on the way home. Yup, this is a girls' ride.
For a few more pictures, please visit the gallery.
[Note: As usual, this report was first posted to our forum.]
Following is added on April 14, 2008:
After studying the map and my GPS recording, I figured out where we, the four of us, had missed the turn. It's shown in yellow in this picture:
Our ride was not shortened though because in the end, we rode back and forth near the race track while trying to find our way back.
Oh, after Janet read the trip report, she said, "I think we need to work on our 'mean & tough' looks. I don't think we could scare a rabbit off the trail!"