Words by Drew Rohde | Photos by Chili Dog
Sponsored by Trek

I’ve been coming to the Sea Otter Classic since I was an excitable shop rat. Back then I (almost) even trained for it. I couldn’t wait to race with the Pros and see how my times stacked up. I paid for the overpriced camping, ‘cuz that extra $25 for a hotel room just wasn’t in my budget. Plus I wanted to spend every waking minute wandering the expo area looking at cool parts, spotting my heroes and riding the trails around Laguna Seca.

Since then, I’ve transitioned from shop rat to jaded, cynical and overworked industry guy, who hasn’t ridden a bike at Sea Otter for the last 5 years straight. I had a list of excuses why I declined “testing” new bikes at the venue, but they all swirled around me not wanting to ride mediocre trails in the middle of the day. And if I did go ride, it would leave me walking the rest of my ten mile daily circuit all dirty and sweaty. I figured all my appointments wouldn’t appreciate talking to an even sweatier, stinkier dirt bag. Did I mention I was just another jaded bike industry dude yet?

This year, thanks to our gracious fan’s support, we spent the additional few bucks to get out of the Motel 6 in Salinas and into a seedy motel outside Laguna Seca. It was great to have a halfway decent shower. That relative luxury also meant we were now part of the rat race every morning and night. The last few years we’ve been crawling single file with all the hung over zombies inching towards the venue.

Sea Otter Classic - Rush Hour Rip

A couple months ago, we started spending a lot more time on e-bikes and found ourselves riding to trailheads we normally drove to. The wheels started turning and I wondered how feasible it would be to ride to and from the venue while mixing some trails and campsite hucks into the mix. Luckily the folks over at Trek dug the idea and were more than happy to supply us with some of their Powerfly LT’s.

We were excited to test the hypothesis. Even if we weren’t that much faster on our bikes, we’d at least have a lot more fun and probably be in way better moods. Our original goal of ditching the van and riding to and from the venue every day didn’t last long as we’d hoped, since the realization of carrying tripods, camera equipment and a change of clothes in our small packs wasn’t ideal. We did get to take turns driving however and without a doubt, the driver was always the loser!

Sea Otter Classic - Rush Hour Rip

Despite this Sea Otter being our busiest yet, we were instantly relieved when it was time to clock out and mount up. It was just what we needed after racing around all day and talking to countless brands about new products and buzzwords.

The ride time forced us to escape the stress of the day and the meetings we missed. Rather than brainstorm our next day’s plan while we sat in traffic, we focused on drifting corners, finding new side hits and feeling the wind in our faces as we chased the sunset back to our seedy motel.

Cheating, ain’t easy.

Sea Otter Classic - Rush Hour Rip