Otter Adventure

Another Sea Otter Adventure

Part II

The alarm pierced the silence of the room. I cracked my eye to see a blurry 6:00 AM on the alarm. Apparently it really was time to get up for Sea Otter already… The sun cut through the crack between the blinds of our Motel 6 room. We staggered out of bed and walked across the parking lot to Denny’s for a rushed $5 breakfast special, plus the 10% discount hotel guests receive. Ballin on a budget. After loading up on cheap food we gathered our gear and loaded into the van to drive from Salinas to Monterey.

Sure, some people in the bike industry get to stay in posh, cozy Monterey in a fancy hotel or Air Bnb mansion, but where’s the fun in that? (Cue eye roll). As a small independent outlet we don’t get those luxuries. Instead four of us share a two-bed room in a Motel 6 where thugs and field workers come to mingle and bring Tinder dates. But that’s another story.

Rather than just show you fancy new products that you’ve already seen, we’re going to share our story of going through the pits as regular dudes, just like you. Here’s a small sample of what goes on behind the scenes with some of the other media outlets and brands that make up the industry.

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Bikes and people cover Slalom Hill every year as racers weave down the infamously dry and dusty track.

After battling our way through the traffic at Laguna Secca raceway, wondering why they don’t just open both entrances so we could get through in half the time, we made it to the media building to claim our passes and free donuts. Apparently the double-digit growth of the event was reason enough to downsize media offerings and now that we no longer got free lunches or breakfasts, we had to stock up on some consolation donuts. No complaints from us.

After getting badged up and official, we headed into the event. When we got there at 8 AM, most brands were still putting the final touches on their booths, rolling out bikes and setting up displays. It was the last chance for them to prep for a long weekend of wind, dust and sore feet. Our first stop was Marin bikes where we were thrilled to be unveiling our Witch Hunter giveaway bike: A custom-built Marin Wolf Ridge. The bike got dusted off and mounted up front and center!

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Giving the Witch Hunter one last cleaning.

For us, Sea Otter 2018 was especially meaningful. It marked the one-year anniversary of the Loam Wolf dream. A year ago, we were three dudes that lost our jobs and had a dream to do things differently. This time we were showing up with some proof that we were stubborn enough to stick around and hopefully make a name for ourselves in the great big Internet pond of mountain bike media. In the first hours of the show, photographers and journalists ran through the venue searching for the new products. Each year it’s a race to see who can get the “X brand launches Y new product” posts up first. Once the photos are shot, they get quickly sent back to a team waiting in the media room to post it on the various sites. As outsiders looking in, the race is not only self-consuming but stressful. It burns a lot of people out and we want more for ourselves and our readers. Our team had another objective for Sea Otter.

Instead, our goal for Sea Otter was to work with brands to come up with cool and interesting stories for the rest of the year to share with all of you. We enjoy taking the time to visit with pro athletes and brands that we identify with and believe in. Together we create story concepts and begin to work out logistics. We had goals set and tried to visit all the brands we could, despite not stopping for lunch breaks and being physically drained at the end of the day, we still felt like we had more to do every day. Hell, we couldn’t even take any good pictures for this story! Even on Sunday at 5:30, we were still walking around trying to pitch ideas and establish relationships for future projects.

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Chili Dog, Sourpatch and Drew – “Did we really make it one whole year!?”

As if dehydration wasn’t enough of a prize every day, we always end up racking some serious miles walking around the venue. My personal record for one day was 9.7 miles of walking and 21,223 steps with a total of 59,959 steps over the event.

Having so many brands present is also a great time for us to work to line up future giveaway bikes. With the growing popularity of each build, we’re hoping to build four bikes a year to give away to our awesome fans! If you haven’t seen our current giveaway bike, check it out here.

After the event is done the work is far from over. In fact, just about every night has a list of opportunities requiring more “professional” attention. Whether it’s a movie premiere and appetizers or the annual ride with Leatt, most of our evenings fill up quickly.

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Steps walked during the one mellow day we had.

Each year, Leatt puts on an event to show off a new product or two. The new product part is really just an excuse to get everyone together. This year they continued the annual beach cruiser bar crawl.  We’re not so sure we’ll be allowed back next year by the bike rental place.

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Anytime you get a bunch of media squids together and feed them free food and alcoholic beverages, things are gonna get weird. Throw in some rental beach cruisers and you’ve got a winning recipe with bike-breaking experts. If there wasn’t a record yet for the most stairs sent on a 4 person pedal cart, we officially made one. I perfected the beach cruiser stoppie, while others got to work on their park bench trials skills. Leatt riders Teal Stetson-Lee and Lauren Gregg also joined along for the chaos and got pretty rowdy themselves, skidding, sliding and making us all cry from laughter. Expect a very cool story featuring Lauren and Teal on real bikes in the coming months.

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Watch out Brett Tippie, Lydon Shreds is on your trail.

Big events like this let our bicycle brethren get loose! So many people move around from company to company as they rack up years in the industry. It’s not uncommon to see a marketing director from one brand arm-in-arm with an engineer from a competing brand sitting at the bar with the CEO of another brand, that they both used to work for. After some long days and loud nights we usually find our way back to our hotel room and pass out covered in sunscreen, dust and other people’s beer. Housekeeping loves us.

Sure, it sounds like a lot of work but the fans at Sea Otter always make everyone feel better. Exhibitors who sit at their booth feel proud and rewarded as people come by and take pictures of their new products and talk to their friends about how much they want one. For us, people yelling “Loam Wolf!” or giving us a high five and saying they love what we’re doing keeps us plodding ahead. So, thank you!

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This guy wants you to watch him wheelie.

While the fans are there all weekend it seems one event is the queen of the rodeo when it comes to the crowd’s support. Dual Slalom. With a record number of visitors this year, the Slalom World Championship was no exception. There were more than enough freedom chugs, American flags and cheering to go around. Even though the new gate failed early in the racing, prolonging the race well beyond its normal time slot, the energy from the crowd was incredible. Kyle Strait’s loss to Mitch Ropelato kept everyone on the edge of their “seats” until the last second. Despite the poor course conditions, it was good racing and spectating as usual.

Sea Otter 2018 was a big step in the right direction for us. We want to thank you, our readers for making this all possible. We’re going to give 2018 our all and do our best to keep creating unique and passionately motivated content with a no bullshit mentality. We have a ton of plans for the upcoming year and can’t wait to share the stories with you all. Untill then, check out some pictures from the show this year.

If you missed part one of our trip to Sea Otter check it out here!

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Papa Zink on litter duty. Don’t leave your empties on the ground when Cam is around. Not only did he call people back to come pick up their trash, he helped them pick up all the trash and put it in their cooler. Props Cam!

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The mass exodus after slalom. While most people raced to leave the venue, Commencal hosted one rowdy ass party back in the expo area.

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Cody Johnson may have been injured but some liquid pain killers helped him run that bullhorn for one of the most entertaining bunny hop comps we’ve been to in a while!