Leaving on a jet pain

I know that I’ll get no mercy for flying off to California to go to the Sea Otter, but the timing could have been a little better. We’re finishing the issue this coming week and it’s going to cause extra hassle for the other Singletrackers that I’m not going to be around, at least physically, for the week. However, the Sea Otter has become such a must-do event that we couldn’t afford not to have someone there to cover it.

No, it's all work. Honest...

The event itself is OK – the dual slalom is fun to watch if you’ve not seen it before, the downhill is rather short and not particularly tricky and the XC races (and road races) disappear out of the main arena, not to return for over an hour (it’s a 16 mile lap on the XC!). However, last year – and most years – I don’t really see any racing. I don’t have time to stand out on the course, watching the racers, just as I don’t have time at Interbike in Las Vegas to gamble.

I’m here for the tech… It’s my job to trawl the pits, looking for new and exciting stuff for you lot. The place is full of 2011 early samples, prototypes, team-issue only gear and all sorts of madness. Unfortunately, it’s not really the kind of job we can leave to most freelancers. They’re usually crack photographers who can bring us back some great shots of the racing, but they might not notice those funny new pedals on Cedric’s bike, or that the Atherton’s have gold spoke nipples on their Saint wheels. It’s a funny job – part detective, part charmer, part geek, but it’s something that I appear to have grown into over the years. I’ve been going to events like the Sea Otter (and Cactus Cup) since about 1996, and Interbike longer than that. Hopefully this has equipped me to be able to spot a rough-machined prototype at 100yards now – though there’s always something I miss, and you have to learn to live with that too.

Anyway, I’m out here for a week, going to a couple of press launches before the racing itself starts on Thursday (Santa Cruz and Fox at the very least) and then I’ll be down at the Laguna Seca Raceway, trying to catch up with what’s new. I’ll be filing stories every evening (in between some evening launches (like SRAM on Thursday) and trying to also have something to eat – and some sleep – and making sure that the guys back home have all the words and images they need from me to finish the issue. There’ll also be some extra stuff for our Premier users too.

Hopefully I’ll get time to ride bikes a couple of times, but once the event itself starts, there’ll be no time to ride. Right, time to board the plane. Only another five hours in the air and then a couple more driving to Santa Cruz without crashing (in all respects of the word…) Cheerio!