Sea Otter Classic turns 25 years old today. Old enough to rent a car. So it only seems fitting that we do a throwback post in the whoa it's been a ride style of Sea Otter's past in a tribute to its birthday and future. The oldest photo I could find came from the 1995 XC race start, appearing in the 1996 WTB Catalog:
Can't really make anybody in particular out unfortunately but you can see a proud old school Grip Shift logo and the Sea Otter logo itself happily touts turquoise as its primary lettering with perhaps purple accents, hmmm... can't quite see well enough to discern. On to better things, IT being SENT:
Terrible photo quality but at least they're on WTB product. You see a lot of photos of the Dual Slalom, must be something about a bicycle skying over a car racing track and being such a showdown, here's a better one:
Kirt Voreis, takin' care of bidniss, on a lovely Intense Tazer HT. There was nothing lovely about the Tazer HT, it was an M1 without the fun massive shock that let you luxuriously case landings. Ok, speaking for myself here. The Tazer HT was definitely a Ferrari of slalom bikes - tight, taught, nimble and unforgiving. There were other treats tucked in the folds of the Bicycle Retailer throwback to 2003:
Pretty sure they're long gone so I can openly make fun of them. Yes, there was a time period, un hunh, 2003ish, where bikes looked too much like moto bikes and not in the good way. See how high that BB is - it's almost as tall as the kid (it's at least higher than his theoretical belly button) grasping the Double Track, the cheap OEM version of the truly expensive heavy misunderstanding, the Double Wide, which I wanted because Bender had it, but had to settle for the Single Wide. Depending on who you talk to, this was either the best or worst period for mountain bikes. Notice I didn't even mention the Super Monster fork - yep, everyone erased that from their memories... 40mm stanchions, heavier than children, known for tearing off their 1-1/8" steerers, and lowers that extended so far beneath their axles that it wasn't a matter of if but when an unruly stump or upset root would slingshot you over the bars.
Somehow, at the same time, this occurs:
The zing of angry freehubs, a whole moving irksome mass hurtles past on the speedway, leaving the aftershock of something sweet lingering in the air... hmmm.... roadie perfume? Don't they know that thing's designed for race cars? They can't be fast enough for it.
It's a unique time, that's for sure. This perhaps intentional, perhaps not titling of the photo from the 2003 Vol 12 No 8 Bicycle Retailer probably sums it ups best:
Yep, no idea. Not sure I want to know.
But I do know that amidst the fluttering flags, blowing dust, uncertain weather - are we sunburned and parched or soggy and unhappy? Somewhere in the middle of all that, set up, take down, sneak beers in, act professional, there's a real sense of community. Too many people come together, even more race, and it's all for celebrating bikes. That's a good thing. So here's to another 25 to Sea Otter, the most cycling merriment you may or may not wish to experience.