The main purpose of my recent trip to the 2011 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, CA was a homecoming of sorts for the 2011 Airborne Flight Crew members. It is the one time a year that we are brought together from across the country. Some of us race, some of us banter and we all work the Airborne Bicycles booth for a couple hours a day during the festival.
The team has already been introduced over on the Airborne Bikes Blog, they do it better than I so click on over there to read!
Round Up of Events
Day 1 (Wednesday) :
Some members were flown in a couple days early to get become Airborne models for the website and print use. From my understanding the photos were taken by Ian Hyland of PinkBike fame. There was a ton of hiking, re-doing shots and back and forth shuttling. (This is also the day I was flying all over the country getting to Monterey.)
Day 2 (Thursday) :
Every day started off with unpacking the trailer we had packed with bikes the night before. This is the official first day of the Sea Otter Classic. We were all given our Airborne Flight Crew gear. Dickies work shirts, hoodie, beanie, long sleeve jersey, a couple XC jerseys, shorts, and a downhill jersey.
It is “industry day” so it is the day most vendors are getting their booth’s properly setup, running through demo bikes again and it is also a good time to split up booth duties to walk the festival. Airborne Flight Crew members test rode all the models, for most of us it was the first time to test ride the new Goblin 29er, Wingman DJ and Delta CX. From 2-4pm I was found over at the Ladies Lounge. Then it was time to start shutting down and putting all the bikes and goodies back in the trailer.
Thursday night we went out as a group for authentic mexican food and really started to get to know each other. Several folks stayed out in the hotel room, I went back to my room to recover from the past 48 hours of travel and going.
Day 3 (Friday) :
Woke early to go over the Delta CX I had brought back from the festival to ride in. Grabbed breakfast with a few Flight Crew members and started riding. 9 miles = 1.5 hours = a crap load of climbing! It was a beautiful ride, but very humbling thanks to the long sustained climbs on the cyclocross knobby tires. I look forward to having a geared cyclocross or 29er bike to take it to Pisgah for the fire road climbs that I miss being able to ride. My legs were miserable the rest of the day, but it was a good feeling even though I regretted it during the long walk back to the car at 6pm.
The day consumers really start mingling. It was a really good fit with most Flight Crew Members. It is a very even split between the gravity style riders and XC. I think I’m one of the most “dedicated” cyclocross racers, so I tried to pinch hit as much as possible on that one. It was also very helpful to have so many knowledge folks of the Taka and Wingman bikes. A good amount of bikes were test rode and talked about. Several magazines and websites came to take photos or chat about the bikes. This included someone from 650b.com to check out Tony’s custom Zeppelin that he converted to 650b.
I can’t forget the Ladies Lounge with Rebecca Rosch and other pro-super star ladies. There were tons of tech questions, I ended up greasy after it (always a great sign.) One of the readers of our site (link/name?) who’s a pilot for a heli-ambulance landed her helicopter to come to the show and join Ladies Lounge! That was such a great treat to meet someone with an amazing story and a friend of Bike Shop Girl.
Tuesday through Thursday was the BLC (link) which many vendors and “who’s who” in the industy were at. Friday those folks finally made it to the Sea Otter Festival, including my dear Pam Sayler from Kurt Kinetic (link.) After the festival ended for the day I spent a couple hours catching up with her and then we all went to sushi down at the Wharf. If I have a chance to make it back to Sea Otter next year, I will go a day early to fully experience Monterey. The wharf alone was amazing with the seals on the coast, the boats in the harbor and the mountains in the background!
Day 4 (Saturday) :
The busiest day of the festival, my last day of the festival and the day I became inspired to get to more races to photograph. All our downhillers were racing and running around frantic in the morning, parking was crazy and included another long walk up hills but it was a great day. I walked every inch of the show it seemed!
Our downhillers had great success in their racing.
Tony learned that 650b.com was the brainchild of the one and only, Bike Shop Girl. There wasn’t any “scoping” of his bike and Airborne Bicycles wasn’t going to change their mind this season on NOT having a 650b Zeppelin.
Unfortunately I wimped out and didn’t go out after we closed down shop. With a long day of traveling the next day, I stayed behind at the hotel to eat in and pack. From what I hear our team husband, Jim Davis, stayed behind at the festival and has some wild stories to tell. (Including hitch hiking home!) Wendy and I talked racing a bit before bed, and I had to say my final goodbye to many of my teammates until the next time I see them (probably 360 days!)
Other Notes :
While I wasn’t present for the last day of the festival, there was still tons going on. Wendy placed 10th in her race! First race on the Goblin and gears (from my understanding), she rocked it! Other Flight Crew members also had snafu’s with their flights and spent way too much time with airlines..
Hopefully all my teammates can understand this when I say it… When I learned the roster for the 2011 Airborne Flight Crew the one thing that I was jumping up and down inside about was the name Jerry Hazard. Jerry is an amazing photographer that I followed almost 10 years ago on Deviantart.com. His photo’s have been featured in many magazines and his personality around photography and riding is a treat to be around. To be able to pull from that type of fountain was alone something to fly to California for! During my trip he allowed me to borrow his fish eye lense, evidence is above and on many photo’s through out the Sea Otter post you’ll see. Walking me patiently through the settings and recommendations. It was humbling and inspirational to see his photography coming from the event!