For those that aren't familiar with it, Sea Otter is a festival that celebrates all things cycling. At its center is an expo with booths featuring nearly every major vendor from the cycling industry. Surrounding that is bike racing in nearly every discipline on the road and off road, and at all levels from beginner to professional, over a 5 day period.
The goal of the USMES elite programs is to give the military’s best endurance athletes opportunities to experience national level competition and continue their development. I serve as director for the program and Sea Otter is an opportunity to give our cyclists experience at a major pro/am event and allow both the elite team and the club leadership to interact with some of our sponsors.
From a director perspective, an event of this size is a bit nerve racking as it’s a bit of a challenge logistically getting athletes to and from airports, food, events and to and from sponsor responsibilities while predicting traffic density and parking availability etc. We were able to pull it all off though with everyone making their starts with no panic, and getting the support they needed along with keeping our generous sponsors happy.
As far as the racing goes, the guys did a solid job and gained some great experience, but left hungry for more. Our roadies, Jay ShalekBriski, Stefan Zavislan and Dwayne Farr, were in the mix every day in the pro field, took some chances and made the final splits in the road race and criterium finishing in the top 20 in both of these events. Considering in the past we struggled to finish these events at Sea Otter, and now we are putting 2-3 guys in the main splits that is progress to be proud of for sure, but at the same time I know they can aspire for more! I think the key thing was it showed them they can be a factor with some of the pro team and top amateur teams and the experience helped to build confidence and continue develop their fitness and skills.
In the mountain biking events, David Flaten continues to show great progress moving up 40 spots from his best finishes in the past in fields that are much deeper then they have been historically. He was literally rubbing elbows with the best mountain bikers in the world.
Its great to be part of a program that is focused on nurturing talent and continuing to raise their game. Thanks for reading, and check out some of the pictures form the trip below!