April 26, 2017 Teal Stetson-Lee

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