Great seasonopening at Sea Otter Classic

Annika Podie


Wow, that was an intense, interesting and really fun week in California. This trip included my first international XCO race of the season, so I was more excited, than I’ve been for a long time. Thomas and I spend the first part of the week at the Specialized Headquarter in Morgan Hill and then finished the week with racing at the Sea Otter Classic. 

The SeaOtterClassic is a gigantic bicycle festival. The event is every year taking place at Leguna Seca, which is a raceway for cars and motorcycle road racing. The area and clima is hot, dry and sandy.

My races for the week would be a short track race on friday and then the XCO race on saturday. The short track course was winding its way through gravelpits, grass field, hardpacked ground with lots of cornering. I have almost forgot it by now, but I think I was quite nervous before the start. I hadn’t been racing against those girls since last year, so it’s always unknown, what fitness level people show at the first race.

Last season really had its toll on me. Several injuries throughout the season, the Olympic Game wave and the constant feeling of lacking behind left me mentally empty at the end of the year and I really struggled finding joy on the bike. So I felt, that a long winter at home in Denmark was what I needed. Instead of traveling for trainingcamps during the winter constantly living in a suitcase, I somehow adjusted my training to the conditions.

Back to the race at SeaOtter – In the shortrace I rocked! I had a bad start being caught behind crashing girls, leaving me far behind the front af the race. By the end of the first lap, I had already worked my way to the front again. I remember seeing the other girls sitting watching eachother and all the sudden I felt like being hit by lightning, I didn’t think much, just attacked!.. I had a really good feeling in my legs, and just pushed the pace. I got a gap to the bunch and was encouraged by the public all the way round the course. I was later told, that it was Marianne Vos, who then went to the front and started catching my down. When they reached me, Marianne, Katerina Nash and I soon got a gap again, and took turns at the front keeping the pace high. Maybe I did too much work at the front, because with 2 laps to go, Marianne attacked and got away. Nash also put the hammer down and left me in third position. Just before the last corner before the finishline, I was almost in her wheel again, but honestly I was more than satisfied with just going to the podium and being able to race at the front of the field.

The following day it was time for the XCO race. The course was one big loop, instead of the normal shorter lap ( 5-6 laps a race), that an XCO race consist of. The course was very fast, hardpacked and sandy, including fireroads and funny swichback singletracks. Right from the start of the race it was the same girls at the front – this time I didn’t get caugh behind a crash though 😉 It was quite windy, so I was careful finding windshades. The speed was high, so soon girls got dropped and then it was just Marianne Vos, Catherine Pendrel and me at the front. The course had very long singletrack climbs and descends and everytime the course got narrow, there was sprints to get into singletrack first, in order to be the one setting the pace, and certainly not to be the one getting dropped behind. Halfway through the race we still rode together. Then on the next climb, Marianne turned up the pace a notch. We followed. I think, we all were uncertain about eachothers level of strength. Then, with maybe 8km to go, Marianne put the hammer down hard on a climb and attacked. At this time I was in third position, and quickly overtook Pendrel to not let Marianne get away. I managed to keep her pace, and all the sudden, the speed went out of her attack!.. The rest of the course consisted of several climbs and descents and I knew, that somewhere on the way, it would all be decided between us. Marianne wasn’t done attacking and made numerous attemps on the climbs. Every time I was able to stay with her or to roll her back in. Then on the very last climb, she got her deciding gap, which she held to the finishline.

Honestly I hadn’t got the last eager to defend her attack. I had already achieved my goals and had done a way better race than I expected. I was absolutely satisfied with my second position, to me it was a personal win.

Since our adventures in California Thomas and I have enjoyed time in Denmark. The weekend we spend time in my hometown Silkeborg, where the first round of the Danish MTB liga was held. Silkeborg has some of the best mountainbike terrain in Denmark – have I mentioned that before? I had struggled with a cold since thursday, but decided to race anyway. Today I feel better than yesterday, but my better half has ordered absolutely rest today, so I better follow Doctor’s order 😉







Thanks to Mikael Bech, for cathcing me in action with his lens

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