April 30, 2008 by ladyfleur
I’m writing this to express my displeasure about the errors in the course markings for the XC Beginner Womens course at this year’s Sea Otter Classic.
I’m sure that you are aware of the two intersections on the course where “10 mile Off-road Tour” signs led racers off course. But let me clarify that I am talking about the signs at the junction of Pilarcitos Road and Lookout Ridge Roads and a second set at the junction of Trail 44 and Skyline Road. At both locations there were yellow signs that said “10 mile off-road tour” and red and white signs that said “xc race” with “20 miles” a handwritten on them.
I will not focus on how it made me or fellow racers feel about the race or the race organizers. I encourage you to read race reports to understand its impact. Links are provided below.
Nor will I focus on correcting race results. The race times of racers who took the first cutoff were obvious and thus corrected at the event. And since taking second cutoff merely reduced the course by about 1.5 miles, there was no way to untangle those times.
Rather, I will be very specific about what I’d like to see in the future:
- Station course marshalls with flags at intersections where two courses diverge. Signs are not enough and there really aren’t that many places where courses diverge.
- Use cones to “block” likely erroneous turnoffs, especially in high speed areas like flats or descents. For example, on Pilarcitos Canyon Rd past the Lookout Ridge turnoff. No one should have to look for much less stop to read signs in places where one choice is no one’s course.
- Station course marshalls at intersections which cut the course. While I believe the racers who did not take the turn at Trail 44 did so accidentally, not having a course marshall there leaves it wide open for cheaters to cut over a mile off the course. No one with a race number should have been riding on the stretch of Skyline between Trail 44 and Oil Well Road and I saw a 4-5 when I approached Trail 44.
- Stop referring to the Beginner short course as a “10 mile race”. The motionbased data found on your site lists it as 12.8 miles and that doesn’t include the portion of the race on the race track. Not only does that cause racers problems in pacing themselves, it makes them question whether they’re on the course when their bike computer reads 12 miles. Plus it does not give proper credit for effort. Women, clydesdales and juniors have enough trouble getting respect from the faster riders as it is.
- When race awards for a field are postponed due to protests or corrections, award them at the start of the next award ceremony. Not only did I have to wait until Saturday to get award for a Friday race, I had to wait through over an hour of awards for Saturday morning races (Sport men, Sport women). It just added to the feeling that the Beginner racers don’t matter as much.
Sea Otter is a unique experience for cyclists. It’s a rare time when all cyclists–roadies, mountain bikers, downhillers, BMX–gather to watch the pros, check out the latest gear and even race the same courses the pros they do. It’s special and irreplaceable. Unfortunately, I’m finding more and more people using the term “Sea Otter’d” meaning disallusioned, disgusted or otherwise unhappy with their Sea Otter experience.
I understand that there is so much going on at Sea Otter it must be a logistical nightmare. And I understand you can’t please everyone all the time. But I’m asking you to please make some of these small changes to show respect to the recreational racers who come from far and wide to make Sea Otter their only race of the year.
Thank you for hearing my requests.
Mountain View, CA