Returning to the Scene of the Crime – Sea Otter

First year mountain bike race 2007

My first Sea Otter Classic bike race experience was in 2007 when I was 20 years old. I had just started collegiate mountain biking and I attended Sea Otter for my first taste of the big-league mountain bike scene, racing in the Expert category. I remember looking at all of the pros lined up on the start line and thinking, “they look like rock stars with their matching bikes and spandex”. Witnessing the action left a powerful impression, and I made a pact with my friend that, one day, we would be big-time pro mountain bikers too!!
 
Last week, was my 9th Sea Otter Classic. I raced the pro enduro and the cyclocross race, placing 4th and 6th, respectively. I can hardly believe I’ve been at it as a career now for 8 years. What an incredible experience.
 
Jumping back into the big Sea Otter event at the start of my season reminds me that I love doing what I do. The racing is always a fun challenge but it’s the community coming together that I look forward to the most.
 
Because I didn’t get started on the bike until college, I, admittedly, have been pretty ignorant about the history of my sport and some of those who were the original mountain bike pros and rebels, making waves in the sport before me. Over the years, I’ve met top pros who have inspired my riding and pros who were the pioneers, introducing ground-breaking skills and styles that have forever changed the face of the industry. I am always immensely honored to connect with the legends, who have been cyclists for way longer than myself, and who still have the tenacity and dedication. Good people and good energy.
 
In the niche world of cycling, Sea Otter is the biggest national outdoor cycling expo and now I get to feel like a celebrity on the scene. It’s a strange concept, something that will always feel a little weird about, but it is also such a privilege to inspire other people and get them exciting about biking, the way I felt when I was first introduced in 2007. I will never take my opportunities and position as a professional athlete for granted.

 

2017 Pro Enduro race, photo credit Wil Matthews


 

2017 Pro Enduro podium, 4th place

Backyard Pump Track

I pride myself on being an adult kid and I vow to stay this way forever.

When I lived in Durango, CO last, my awesome neighbors built “Durango’s Best Pump Track” in our shared backyard. It was a draw for the college cycling community and gave us all something to look forward to when we came home. Ever since I moved, I’ve been looking for an opportunity to recreate the same backyard paradise.
 
This past weekend, I had the honor of finally hosting a backyard pump track building party in my own yard. It was a blast. We had a BBQ, a keg and several cases of beer, provided by a local Reno brewery, Brewer’s Cabinet/ Tahoe Beer, and the weather was a perfect 68 degree day with no wind and hero dirt, after receiving a spring rainstorm two days prior.
 
Lot’s of good people showed up who had never met each other before and became instantly bonded over digging, drinking beer and getting to ride the fruits of our labors at the end of the day.
 
The pump track plan had been slowly coming together since we bought our house a year and a half ago. In fact, one of our motivators for purchasing a house was having the liberty to build our own backyard pump track.
 
We have a small yard but it was just big enough. After the digging frenzy, our pump track takes up approximately 1400 sq ft.
 
The building process has definitely attracted some interest in the neighborhood since it’s a bit different from the landscaping most people are used to seeing. The whole process has allowed us to have some great conversations and connect with new friends.
 
I’ve always wanted my own adult playground in the convenience of my backyard. I still am hoping for some other fun yard assets like a garden, fire pit, and a chicken coop and whatever else I can squeeze in around the perimeter of the pump track, which nearly covers the entire yard.
 
We also plan to plant pumpkins on the berms and turn it into a “Pumpkin Track”.
 
There is still plenty of work to be done, we’ve only got one rideable outside line so far. The truth is, a pump track is never done because there is always an opportunity to change and reshape it. Pump tracks are a constant evolutionary design with room for new lines and creativity.
 
Sure, it’s not the most “practical” thing to have in the backyard, and it does not match the status-quo of what most adults build in their backyards, but we couldn’t be happier. I now have a new way to decompress after a stressful day, and I know I’ll develop better bike handling skills by default. If you feel like behaving like a kid, you’re welcome to come ride the pump track too. #NorthwestRenosBestPumpTrack

 

It Must Be Experienced

I was recently told a story about a mother who walked with her daughter a couple miles into town in -60 degree wind-chill and snow blowing sideways because she told her child, “it must be experienced”.
 
Simple, yet profound. My personal struggle is to shift the focus back to experiencing, NOT sharing.
 
I catch myself, in the midst of an experience, thinking about how something could be photographed or recorded or captured in 140 characters to document the event/idea/moment/thing/scenery and disseminate the information.
 
It sounds selfish talking about experiencing it and not sharing, but, let’s be honest, in this era, it’s the sharing that can be more narcissistic. We have the ability to share with EVERYONE…it seems. We are focused on making sure everyone else knows about our “experiencing”. And yet while we are capturing our “experiences” to share, are we actually experiencing the experience we are sharing?
 
Of course, we can do both. But let’s make sure we truly are.
 
Ask yourself, would you still be doing whatever it is that you’re doing, even if there is no one to witness it or validate it?
 
Communications and connections, virtual and in person matter, but, I am striving to get off the grid and unplug and experience things for myself in a mysterious, un-shareable way too.
 
Ironically, sometimes it’s what we read, see and watch, that others have shared, that inspire us to seek out new experiences. As I hope this post I am sharing will do for you.
 
The hypocrisy of my own sharing in this moment makes me laugh at the conundrum.
 
The point still remains, “it must be experienced”!
 

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