Category: Sea Otter Classic

May 12, 2010

Sea Otter Classic 2010 Men's Race Photos

Sea Otter - (c) Ken Conley
Sea Otter - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Better late than never, I guess. Termites invaded my home the week of Sea Otter, which restructured my plans a little bit. I ended up not being able to do the planned coverage, but I was there long enough to snap some shots of the men's race. It was a beautiful weekend; sad to not have had more time down there.

Sea Otter 2010 Men's Race Gallery

April 29, 2009

RoadbikeReview checks out Sea Otter (Part II)

Some more Sea Otter Classic booth videos from RoadbikeReview:

April 24, 2009

RoadbikeReview checks out Sea Otter (Part I)

RoadbikeReview just posted a bunch of videos from Sea Otter (more to come). I ran out of time to stop by the Edge booth so I'm glad there's video. I heard riders on the pro course singing the praises of Edge composites, especially the forks. It was hard not to notice all the bikes at the San Diego Handbuilt Show sporting the Edge wheels and forks.

I did stop by the Fizik booth, mainly to choose the color of my next saddle. The Arione was always a bit thin for me, but the Antares looks just right for my next bike.


April 23, 2009

Sea Otter XC Links

XC - (c) Ken Conley

The Sea Otter XC race was a heat-fest worthy of revisiting. How many XC races have riders puking in the first five minutes. With temperatures approaching 100 on the sun-exposed landscape of Laguna Seca XC course, it was no wonder the women's race was cut to a single lap. Here are some recaps (media and first person):

April 27, 2009

Rooly Sunglasses Part II: Rooly Partial Review

Rooly "Partial" Sunglasses rooly partial.jpg

$89, glossy black, silver, glossy blue, matte chrome, interchangeable lenses

In the over-saturated arena of sports performance sunglasses, the Rooly "Partial" easily holds its own against heavy hitters Oakley, Giro, Smith and Rudy Project. They include lightweight "Trinine" frames, interchangeable lenses, shock-resistant Megol rubber nose and temple pads, polycarbonate lenses and 100% UVA and UVB protection.

These glasses are extremely comfortable, fit very securely on the face and don't get in the way of peripheral vision as they protect your eyes. While swapping lenses can get a little tricky, it was no more difficult than swapping out the lenses on a pair of Oakley Flak Jackets or Smith Reactor Max glasses. You can also order additional lenses through their website.

Each pair includes additional yellow lenses for low light conditions and a zippered neoprene case.

April 24, 2009

Rooly Sunglasses Part I: Rooly Proz Review

Liz Hatch - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Guest Blogger: Al Painter, Integrate Fitness

Southern California sunglasses manufacturer Rooly is probably the best kept secret in the eyewear industry. Their products are used by Major League baseball players, professional skiers, golfers and snowboarders as well Olympic track athletes and elite level endurance athletes. And, of course, professional cyclists like Tony Cruz and Taylor Tolleson of BMC as well as Liz Hatch of Vanderkitten, who was showing off her pink frames on the Laguna Seca race course.

Rooly came out to Sea Otter to showcase their wares so took the opportunity to give some of the lenses a spin.

Rooly Proz Sunglassesrooly proz.jpg

$109, glossy black, matte black, matte chrome, interchangeable lenses

First up was the Rooly Proz, which are part of their "Fashion Performance" line. The Proz feature an interchangeable lens system allowing you to adapt the glasses to whatever light conditions necessary. They feature lightweight, polycarbonate Trinine frames. I found changing the polycarbonate lenses to be a breeze -- "husband proof" as my wife called it.

While the lenses provide 100% UVA and UVB protection, they didn't seem to fit the same way after the initial swap. They also tended to sit higher on the nose and didn't seem as snug a fit. However they didn't fall off, slide or jiggle with activity, so don't let fit issues be a deal breaker that gets in the way of owning a high quality pair of eyewear. You can also try the larger Prospect frame.

Each pair also includes additional yellow lenses for low light conditions and zippered neoprene case.

April 23, 2009

Interview: Rick Sutton, +3 Network and Sea Otter Classic Founder

plus3network screen shot.jpgGuest blogger: Al Painter, Integrate Fitness

What if you combined the best parts of Facebook, Evite, your favorite iPhone exercise tracking app and added in the ability to raise money every time you played outdoors or attended your favorite exercise class? You'd have the +3 Network, a charitable social networking site created by Sea Otter Classic co-founder Rick Sutton that allows you to raise money each time you exercise.

The biggest difference between +3 and other social networking sites is each step, pedal stroke, kick in the pool, walk or hike can be turned into a fundraising opportunity. Once you join the site, your favorite local recreational activities begin to make a difference on a global scale.

"Our site is a GPS-enabled free social online community that actively manages, motivates and rewards its members for participating in fitness activities," says Sutton.

To his point +3 features the ability for you to throw down the gauntlet to family and friends by creating fitness challenges to see who can lose the most weight after the holiday season, or punch out the most pushups.

Interested in how many miles you've done on your feet, on the bike or in the pool? You can keep tabs on that.

Want to create a calendar to enter your upcoming events or set up times to meet with your friends? Go ahead.

Want to know how much money you've raised for your designated charity? You can track that too.

"Our users can either hand input their workouts or upload them from a version 205 or newer Garmin Edge or Forerunner," says Sutton. Uploaded activities can be mapped and sent to your friends on the network.

If you're thinking to yourself, "This sounds great, a free Web site that contributes money to charity on my behalf, I don't have to raise any of it, and all I have to is exercise. What's the catch?" There isn't one. "Since the site is free to join and the charitable donations come from our corporate sponsors, our members don't have to actively solicit donations," said Sutton.

To join all you have to do is:

  • Create your free account at (
  • Designate your charity
  • Begin raising money through leading an active lifestyle.

Whether the activity is a mountain or road bike ride, a run, or a midday stroll to your favorite coffee shop, it all counts on +3.

"We want to encourage people to be as active as possible with the goal of getting sedentary people to start moving regardless of the activity," says Sutton. "We just want people to begin developing the habit of giving through active living."

An iPhone app is scheduled to be released in June and there are apps for Blackberry smart phones and the Palm Pre in the development pipeline as well. Additional features on the way include the ability to track elevation gains and keep tabs on heart data.

When asked what the best part about the +3Network, Sutton said it is the fact that it appeals to all levels of fitness and athletic ability. "We envision the site as an online hub where friends and family can connect over active healthy lifestyles while raising money for worthwhile causes."

For more information on how you can begin to make your exercise efforts count, log onto

Sea Otter Guest Blogger: Al Painter

IMG_9283I was originally going to be in Japan during Sea Otter, so I asked my friend Al Painter of Integrate Fitness to fill in for me while I was away. As a mountain biker, personal trainer, and coach of the University of Santa Clara cycling team, I new he'd have a different perspective on the Otter.

My trip got moved and we both made it there, but why not still have him do a couple of posts?


April 20, 2009

Sea Otter Classic 2009 Gallery: XC

Georgia Gould - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

This one isn't much of a gallery. I decided to spend Sunday testing riding bikes and had just turned in the last bike after the XC race had already begun. The womens' race was shortened to a single lap due to the blistering hot temperatures today, which was also part of my motivation to leave the camera equipment behind.

I wasn't entirely lazy -- I broke out a camera body and rode a Jamis Sputnik road bike (in single speed mode) up a fire road to shoot the men as they came by. It wasn't the best spot for XC shooting, but it was about as far as I could take road tires with one gear. I then road down to the finish so that I could shoot Georgia Gould winning in familiar style. I wasn't going to wait around in the heat for Sauser to win -- he was already thoroughly thrashing the field after the first lap.

Gallery, kinda

April 19, 2009

Sea Otter Classic 2009 Gallery: Men's Circuit Race

Andy Jacques-Maynes - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Levi Leipheimer - (c) Ken Conley
Daniel Holloway - (c) Ken Conley
Bissell - (c) Ken Conley


It was the Bissell and Levi show, with a dash of Colavita. Bissell, because they owned the race, Colavita, because they tried but were outmanned, and Levi, because he's Levi. With the Tour de Georgia gone, Levi's schedule was freed up to drop on be Sea Otter for some laps around the course -- SRAM's sponsorship seemed to help entice him to come (as well as convince him, Lance, and Horner to go to Gila).

Bissell and Colavita made the first major break of six, which got a huge gap on the field. The two Felt U23 riders and Garmin's Holloway tried to contain it, but the break was too big. Apparently Bissell didn't like the makeup of that break, which contained two Colavita riders, so they were soon helping Levi chase it down. You knew that Levi was starting to hit it when the peloton came down the Corkscrew in fragments, slowly regrouping to prepare for another dose the next lap.

Bissell made two riders the next break, as did another Colavita rider, but with the odds 2:1 in Bissell favor, they were ready to let this one play out. Alex Howes of the Felt U23 team tried to bridge the gap, but it was far too much for a solo effort -- unless, perhaps, you're Levi Leipheimer, but Levi didn't seem terribly interested in towing a large group of riders up to the break.

Click to see more Men's Pro Circuit Race Gallery Click here for more photos from the Sea Otter 2009 Men's Pro Circuit Race

Sea Otter Classic 2009 Gallery: Women's Circuit Race

Jo Kiesanowski - (c) Ken Conley
Vanderkitten - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley


The conditions weren't quite right for good race photos: heavily backlit course (at least the interesting half), pretty tame racing, and lousy photographer. A fairly small field (~40 riders) meant that the pack stayed together most of the race, with the real fireworks happening in the closing laps. Jo Kiesanowski outsprinted fellow breakaway companion Catherine Cheatley (Colavita) to take the stage for TIBCO. Colavita and TIBCO had been battling all Sea Otter with Colavita taking the spoils, but TIBCO took the final prize.

In the spirit of offering advice to fellow photographers -- and not at all criticizing riders who are suffering their butts off -- I will say that it sucks to take photos when a race isn't full on: riders don't take predictable lines and they also bunch up. There's not much you can do about it, except to be prepared.

Sea Otter Classic 2009 Gallery: Dual Slalom

Jill Kinter - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Melissa Buhl - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Sam Hill - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Dual Slalom Gallery

I focused my attention on Jill Kinter and the riders seemed to as well -- several of her opponents crashed under the pressure and Kinter was able to roll easily through the elimination bracket. Reigning World Champion Melissa Buhl had no such problems, besting Kinter easily in the first heat and then finishing close enough in the second to take victory.

Sam Hill took the men's race, coasting to victory after Cody Warren crashed in the second heat.

Click here for more Sea Otter 2009 Dual Slalom Photos

April 16, 2009

There shall be Otter and Levi


I'm headed to Sea Otter tomorrow night to shoot over the weekend. I'm skipping the road race, but I'll be shooting the circuit race, some dual slalom, some XC, and whatever else floats my boat. Levi's officially a show this year -- last time he was at Sea Otter he looked like this:

Levi descends

May 6, 2007

Sea Otter XC

Georgia Gould wins Sea Otter XC Kabush leads Peraud

It's a bit late to join the rest of the photos, but I uploaded photos from the Sea Otter Pro XC event. Georgia Gould won the women's race by staying off the front for most the race and Geoff Kabush won the men's race in a sprint. I went to the offroad section to catch the men as they came in on their final lap then walked down to the Laguna Seca racecourse finish to catch Georgia Gould as she crossed the finish line. I had it in my mind that I was somehow going to get this great framing of Gould and the American flag as she crossed the finish line, but the results were a little mixed.

Sea Otter Pro XC Photo Gallery

April 16, 2007

Sea Otter: Pro Circuit Race Men

IMG_5400 Daniel Ramsey, race winner


IMG_5136This year's Sea Otter circuit race was a bit pared down due to the Tour de Georgia and the riders were greeted with a rain-delayed start and messy course. Successful Living's Daniel Ramsey and Cal Giant's Andy Jacques-Maynes decided to make the most of it by going on the attack. For awhile it was a comfortable break as the field gave little chase -- some fans implored the peloton to give chase.

As the rain on the course evaporated into steam, the race began to pick up. Ramsey and Jacques-Maynes were caught and Jacques-Maynes was quickly shelled. From my vantage point, it seemed that Jelly Belly's Alex Candalario was putting in big efforts as I seem to have photo after photo of him on the front.

Alex Candelario Alex Candelario

Team Successful Living had the better tactical position as they had plenty of riders up front -- as many as four at times. Of all his teammates, somehow Ramsey had the legs to attack the group and from there he built up a huge lead. He rolled into the final straightaway with over two minutes on his chasers and gave Successful Living a well deserved win and KOM.

April 15, 2007

Sea Otter Classic 2007: Pro Short Track Women

Short track winner Katie ComptonSpike's Katie Compton delivered a surprise win at the Pro Short Track Women's race. Compton, who usually races cyclo-cross and hasn't raced short track since 2001, took an early lead on the first lap and built on it throughout the race. The Luna riders Katerina Nash and Georgia Gould chased as best they could, but Compton used her cross experience to hold them off on the muddy course.

Pro Short Track Women Photo Gallery

IMG_4598 Wendy Simms Susan Haywood IMG_4580 IMG_4616 Katie Compton

Sea Otter Classic 2007: Pro Short Track Men

Nino Shurter IMG_4999 Jean Christophe Peraud IMG_4775 IMG_4828 Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski

Ryan Trebon built an early half-minute lead on a group of chasers but wasn't able to hold off a late charge by Jean Christophe Peraud. The track was in better condition than last year's mud pit, but the weather came out in full force. The pictures tell the rest of the story.

Pro Short Track Men Photo Gallery

April 14, 2007

Messy here at Sea Otter

IMG_4347 IMG_4338 IMG_4342

The poor riders in the Pro Women's Circuit Road Race got dumped on as the skies have opened up here at Laguna Seca. Things quickly turned from sprinkles to downpour and high winds -- the fabled Corkscrew at Laguna Seca is currently covered in chunky rivers of mud. After toughing it out for several laps, USA Cycling decided to cancel things mid-race and awarding no winner. It was the right decision given the hazardous conditions, but Webcor is probably steaming after rider Christine Thorburn had put in so much work up front splitting up the pack.

Pro Women Circuit Race Photo Gallery

April 12, 2006

Sea Otter Road Race Video Recap pointed me to's latest multimedia contribution: video recap of the pro men's road race at Sea Otter. There are even interviews with Matty Rice and Levi Leipheimer. Quite a nice bit of citizen media.

People dig the Specialized Angel

Specialized Angel-1I ended up near the Specialized Angel for two of the Tour of California stages. In all that time, I only took one photo of her when I saw an amusing moment at the top of Sierra Road. That photo: 1634 views. None of the other hundred or so photos I took at the Tour of California got half as many views. The next nearest photo in popularity? This one of Bobby J, Floyd, and DZ, which got 300 views by virtue of being posted on I told the Specialized Angel as much when I ended up near her again at the Sea Otter Classic: she's more popular than Bobby J, Floyd, and DZ combined.

She's rocketed to popularity in a very short period of time. I first saw her standing along the Coit Tower climb at the Tour of California Prologue. By the end of that short stage she had already been elevated to prime positioning at the finish line. By the end of the Tour of California she was standard montage material in the television coverage. Her popularity definitely carried over well into the Sea Otter Classic. Everyone passing by her on the course paid her homage. Riders would nod, fans would take photos with her "for the bikeshop back home," drivers in the motorcade would slow down and blow kisses.

I remember one rider that we were cheering up the climb because he had fallen way off the back. His gaze seemed locked towards the top of the climb, determined to make it, except that as he got closer, his head rotated, and rotated, and rotated, until he was looking backwards over his shoulder at the Angel on top of her van. He didn't make it back into the pack.

I took a lot more photos of her this time because who can turn down 1600 instant hits? It's ten times harder to get a crisp shot of Levi, but lazily point your camera at the Specialized Angel and suddenly everyone's viewing your photo album. Who knew a female model could be so popular? (Potential suitors: she's married)

Stairway to Heaven-1 Specialized Angel-3

Specialized Angel-Sea Otter Classic

Update: A new photo from the 2007 Tour of California. More photos in the Prologue and Stage 3 galleries.

Specialized Angel
Photo by Ken Conley

April 11, 2006

Sea Otter Classic (Saturday): Women's Pro Road Race

Tina Pic holding on

Left-Right: Dotsie Bausch, Christine Thorburn, and Tina Pic going up the Rahal Straight climb

The women's pro race at the Sea Otter Classic was full of attacks and regroupings. If you go through my photos, it was pretty much Colavita/Webcor duking it out over the Rahal Straight climb again and again. Webcor wanted to drop Colavita's Tina Pic, but Pic hung on and powered away from the pack to take the win. In my photos you can see Webcor's Olympian Christine Thorburn (who I last saw annihilating the field at the Morgan Hill Grand Prix a year ago) marking Pic's wheel and putting in some attacks, but it wasn't going to be a Webcor day. Pic probably owes a lot of her victory to teammate Dotsie Bausch, who was right up there leading Pic through the final laps and finished in third.

Thornburn attacks-1 Pic and Thornburn at Sea Otter Tina Pic (Rahal Straight)

April 8, 2006

2006 Sea Otter (Saturday): Elite Pro Male Circuit Race

The men's pro race had a big surprise entry: Levi Leipheimer, who raced without a team. I've seen Dave Zabriskie shatter a North American field without the benefit of a team, so I'm sure the rest of the riders were more than a little worried about Levi. Levi was back in California to train for the Tour de France and decided to put in some miles on the Laguna Seca track. It's difficult to say whether or not Levi gave it his full effort after finishing in 8th place. I mean, the guy is smiling going up the Rahal Straight, which was the main climb on the course that they had to do 31 times:

Levi feels no pain-1

He does look a bit more determined at the end:

Sea Otter-Levi Leipheimer

The Laguna Seca track is wonderful for spectating. From the top of the Rahal Straight you can look down and see riders come around the Andretti Hairpin and into the final straightway for the finish (course map). You can also go down to turn 10 and see the Hairpin and finishline as well.

The road race was won by Jelly Belly rider Matty Rice, who attacked on the final lap and was able to hold off a chasing group that contained surprise entry Levi Leipheimer. I was confused at first because my photos from Rainey Curve (just below The Corkscrew) showed Jelly Belly rider Caleb Manion in the lead on the final lap. Manion had attacked on the final climb and was being chased by Levi Leipheimer and HealthNet's Karl Menzies. ota and I ran down from Rainey Curve to turn 10 so that we could watch the finish of the race from a distance. What we saw was a Jelly Belly rider easily holding off a pack of seven chasers. I assumed it was Caleb Manion, but it turns out that Leipheimer and Menzies caught Manion, but were then counter-attacked by Matty Rice. Rice and Manion are from the town in Tasmania -- Launceston -- so it's rather fitting that those two teammates would putting in a good one-two attack for the win. In fact, the top three finishers of the race -- Rice, Menzies, and Manion, are all from the same town in Tasmania. That town must be shaped like the Laguna Seca track, because that's just weird.

Race-winner Matty Rice descending Matty Rice-1 Caleb Manion attacks on the final lap Levi Charges-1 Gord Fraser and Ben Jacques-Maynes-1

I have plenty more photos on Flickr, including photos from other events at Sea Otter.

April 7, 2006

2006 Sea Otter (Friday)

The Sea Otter Classic is tons of fun (plenty of Saturday and Sunday events for those who haven't gone yet). It's all of the biking events you can imagine -- road circuit race, MTB endurance, MTB gravity -- all wrapped inside of the famous Laguna Seca raceway. I walked up the hill at the Rahal Straight to the top of the Corkscrew, which plunges riders 50 feet back down (course map). There I watched the Master 30+ and Master 40+ punish each other over the course of many, many laps. I also just barely caught the sight of Women's MTB World Champion Dahle-Flesja fly around the MTB time trial course.

As I walked over to the MTB amateur dual slalom finals, I was a bit more prepared and managed to snap a shot of Jean-Cristoph Peraud midway through his time trial in which he finished second (time trial results). Peraud won the overall in the MTB Omnium event as well as the opening Super CX stage.

Jean-Christoph Peraud-1

I stayed a bit at the dual slalom, which was pure crash entertainment. There were many photographers who were probabaly like me: waiting to get that shot of someone landing in the mud (the riders weren't cooperating with the spots I was choosing). I didn't think the course was very fair: the rain had pretty much made one of the runs a complete mudpit at one of the most difficult points. There was a three-second handicap for the more difficult course, which was fair if you managed to stay on your bike, less fair if you were one of the many people that ended up lying in the mud. The course marshals had to assist one of the riders with finding a shoe that he lost in the mud. The race was a good lesson on never giving up. There were plenty of riders who looked impossibly behind that won when the lead rider crashed. This is my favorite shot from the downhill, which I may end up submitting to the VeloNews contest:


The final event I watched was the MTB short track (19-29 beginners and 30+ beginners). The rain had been the cruelest to that course. One person referred to it as "soupy;" I thought of it as cement mixing. It was faster in many parts of the course to run with your bike then attempt to navigate the mud and taking photographs was easy because the riders were pretty much standing still. The race was torture on both the riders' bodies and their pocketbooks. After suffering for almost half an hour, Al finished with two broken derailers.

The weather on the day was beautiful, though it poured rain shortly after I left. I heard that day 1 was wretched and there was certainly evidence of that on the MTB courses, but Friday's weather was t-shirt weather, possibly the best day of weather we've had in a month.

The funniest moment on the day for me was explaining to Al's parents how many different fun events there were to watch from the road racing to the MTB. I mentioned that there's a crash every minute on the dual slalom course and, right on cue, a rider went flying over his handlebars trying to land a jump. The rider raised his fist in triumph afterwards, so I'm sure he's fine.