2011 Sea Otter Classic

Answer ProTaper 650 XC Handlebar
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Review: Answer Products ProTAPER 650 XC Handlebar in Pink

While at Sea Otter this past spring I was hooked up with the new pink Answer Products ProTaper XC Flatbar. After installing and riding the bar for a couple months (15 or 20 rides) I can give some honest feedback.

ProTaper 650 XC Bars Details

Width: 685mm Weight: 235g (flat) Back Sweep: 3º Colors: PINK, Mango, Red, Green, Brunette (brown), Black

Answer ProTaper 650 XC Review

While the handlebar got me at the word “pink”, the weight and options are really what kept me interested. Even though flat bars really aren’t my gig, not giving enough sweep for my longer distance hauls. I ended up riding these bars for a couple months on my geared Airborne Goblin and then moving it to my Surly Karate Monkey single speed. The weight and taper were confidence inspiring, especially when you use a stem like Thomson that can sometimes crack handlebars when not installed correctly. A bike shop could carry a few of these bars in different colors and really add some flair to customers bikes. Check out more Answer bars on JensonUSA.com

This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.
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Answer Products PINK ProTaper XC Flat Handlebar: On Review

I’m a color freak. Ask anyone that I’ve built a bike for, I love things to compliment, match and fit pieces together well.  Colored housing, grips, zip ties and spacers – they all matter for the end product.   For women especially, wanting to ride a bike is almost as important as how well the bike rides.  While walking the grounds of the 2011 Sea Otter Classic I spied color, ProTaper XC colored handlebars from Answer to be exact.  There aren’t enough bike components made in green, and we all know my love of pink.

Answer ProTaper XC MTB Handlebar

Answer Products ProTaper Handlebar

I was caught taking photos by one of the Answer guys, I inquired if they were making a flat bar in pink.  29ers ride very well with flat bars… The nice guy said “Yes, yes I do! How about you check out the matching gloves?”

How could I turn this nice guy down?  White gloves, pink accents, and a clean subtle feel to the palm.   The graphics on the handlebar and gloves are matching, the main graphics will be hidden under a grip other than the very prominent brand and model logo’s displayed in the middle of the stem.

Answer Pink Handlebar and Gloves

The gloves have been used daily for riding and a couple times for wrenching, they work perfectly so far.  Longer term I’ll document the fit and a full 360º of the glove as well.  The handlebar will be installed this week and tested for fit, weight and awesome color flare!

This product was given to me at no charge for reviewing.  I was not paid or bribed to give this review and it will have my honest opinion or thoughts through out.
Cyclelogical
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Cyclelogical Booth at 2011 Sea Otter Classic

Warm, inviting, and cozy are not words you associate with booths at the Sea Otter Classic.  To be able to make people feel welcome, even kids and women, it is a great compliment! A quick peek in photos of the Cyclelogical Gear booth.

Cycelogical Sea Otter

Hangers made out of rims, spokes and shrader valves.

Cycelogical Sea Otter

Cycelogical Sea Otter

Cyclelogical Sea Otter

Renovo Bicycles
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Renovo Hardwood Bicycles at 2011 Sea Otter Classic

Often I come back from industry events like the 2011 Sea Otter Classic and people ask me what the coolest thing I saw was.  I try to highlight all of those things on Bike Shop Girl and keep the fluff to the rest of the internet.  One of these things were hardwood bicycles from Renovo Hardwood Bicycles.

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From Renovo

Why Wood?  We chose wood not because it’s different, not because it’s sustainable, but simply because we believe its engineering properties suit the requirements of most bicycle applications better than any other material. The performance of wood in applications more structurally demanding than bicycles has been well proven over many years. The most successful fighter bomber of WWII was the all-wood 400 mph British Mosquito, of which some 7500 were built.

Details in Photos

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The frames were beautiful and it would be very cool to have one as a cafe cruiser.  Clean, sleek and thought out. The drop outs worry me, as they are simply bolted into the wood.

A Frame Cut in Half

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Amazing.

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2011 Sea Otter Dual Slalom Photos

During my stay at Sea Otter something happened to my mentally and emotionally that I can’t explain.  It’s a bit more deep than I want to get into on this post but one of the after affects was wanting, no yearning, to take more bike racing photos.   Saturday afternoon before we packed up for the day, Neal and I hiked up the dual slalom hill to watch the final heats of the races.  While I had no experience of this type of racing, besides what I have seen in the magazines, it was thrilling.  It took a BMX track and pulled it downhill.   In fact it looked SUPER fun.   Everything I love, downhill, speed, berms and a short sprint!

Here are some of my favorite photos I took during the 20 minutes on the course. Feedback and criticism are encouraged!

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Photo
Sea Otter Dual Slalom Photo

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Photo

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Photo

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Photo

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Katie Holden

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Katie Holden

Sea Otter Dual Slalom Katie Holden

Airborne Goblin 29er Preview
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First Taste of a New Bicycle

When I was first notified that I had made the cut for the Airborne Flight Crew my selfish first thought was “when do I get to try out the bikes?”

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No longer do either the dreaming of bikes, or critically going through the specifications or grams of a bicycle do it for me. Every bike is built different, and other than the geometry of a bike your early can’t know how all the ingredients of the end recipe will turn out. Every piece of the puzzle matters and even in sales I often would tell a “upgrade crazed” consumer to simply give their new ride a few weeks as stock.

Some great examples :

I cycle through 4 different saddles. Depending on the bikes reach, drop, handlebar width, seat tube angle and “cush” I may fit on one saddle better than the next.  There are 3 tires I prefer on my mountain bike. If it’s a suspension bike, full suspension bike, 29″ or 26″, and finally how aggressive the fit is. All of these things change the handling of your bike, which will change how you ride your tires. Do you have more weight on your front tire through the turns, are you able to run lower air pressure, will you ride rockier trails (all mountain style) and the list goes on.

The First Taste of a New Bike

Where was I? Oh yes! I know the generic spec off paper of how the bike will be built. I don’t know how all of those spec’s in this “bike recipe” will taste, and I can’t wait to get my butt on the bike to taste my new bike!

Today’s the Day

As I walk into the 2011 Sea Otter Classic I have a few things on my mind, and a few things to take care of but I am ultimately excited to be testing out what I’ll be riding the rest of 2011. Between the Airborne Goblin 29″ and the Airborne Delta CX my butt will mostly be rotating between some variation of these two bikes.

Look for an initial preview of my first test ride

!

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Airborne Flight Crew at the Sea Otter Classic

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

Airborne at Sea Otter Classic

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.)

Sea Otter Bike Box

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.

Airborne Bicycles Hoodie

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.

Airborne Goblin 29er

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) :

Airborne Delta CX in Hotel

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.

Results :

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.

Airborne 650b

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..

Jerry Hazard

Jerry Hazard Sea Otter

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!

Sea Otter Classic Twitter
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2011 Sea Otter Update

Sea Otter Classic TwitterA quick status and “what the hell are you doing?” update!

It’s 7am in Monterey and I’m slowing getting my crap together to go grab some food and head out to the venue.   Today’s my last day at Sea Otter as I fly out tomorrow morning.   I plan on getting a ride in (if possible) and take a crap load of photos and pictures.   I figure I have 12 hours of travel tomorrow to actual put together all the post.

Today is also the last day of the SRAM Ladies Lounge. Yesterday the tent was packed and we had a ton of great questions and feedback from women and athletes.  If you are at Sea Otter, this is a must.  And you don’t even have to be a guy!

Trying to stay on East coast time but have been failing.   Instead we go out to dinner at 8pm most nights and  I get back to the hotel exhausted to pass out in bed!

Thank you to everyone that has introduced themselves in person, visited the Airborne or Ladies Lounge and reached out about Bike Shop Girl!

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