After a wet and wild weekend in San Dimas, California last weekend, Stephen Ettinger and many of his competitors from Bonelli Park have traveled north for sunnier and drier conditions at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey. Over the course of 23 years, there have been many iterations of the cross country track. The course for the 2016 edition will be a new one for the racers and held entirely inside the perimeter of the Laguna Seca Raceway.
“The field will be pretty much the same as last weekend,” says Ettinger. “But it’s going to be different kind of racing on a new course we haven’t seen yet. Because it is a UCI HC race, we will have the short course that fits the Olympic standard. The upside is that there are more points on the line. The downside is that we have to do short laps instead of the traditional Sea Otter long laps.”
Rather than travel back to Washington state after Bonelli Park, Ettinger chose to stay in California where he was able to get better rest with less travel ahead of another big weekend of racing.
“It was good to have a week of downtime after 10 days of pretty constant travel and being in motion,” says Ettinger. “The time I had to relax should help me be a couple percentage points faster. I was on the start line in Bonelli and was racing, but I wasn’t quite at 100 percent. This week I feel like I’m in a much better spot in terms of how the body is reacting. I haven’t had to try to catch up on sleep leading into a big race. That makes a difference. Now I’ll try to go out and win a bike race.”
First on the docket for Ettinger is the short track race on Friday with the marquee UCI HC cross country race being contested on Saturday. With the goal of adding points to his UCI count, Ettinger is focused on the cross country race but looks forward to opening the legs at Friday’s short track.
“Short track is fun racing,” Ettinger says. “It’s a fun way to go out and win another bike race. It’s usually a pretty good opener for me.”
“I’ve had some good races at Sea Otter,” adds Ettinger. “I’ve been on the podium a couple times, but the field here varies so much from year to year so it’s always a wild card. You never know what the week has looked like for riders – some have just flown in from another country, others have done a lot of sponsor events. This year is a middle-ground for me in terms of sponsor obligations so I’ll just go out there and race my bike.”
Known as America’s biggest bike festival, hundreds of brands within the cycling industry set-up shop in the expo area to show off their wares to the thousands of spectators and athletes milling about the infield over the course of four days. Many athletes attend autograph signing sessions, clinics and rides with their sponsors. Ettinger is fortunate to have so many of his sponsors in one place at one time to look after him. In attendance at Sea Otter are Focus, Shimano, Fox, Clif Bar, Giro, Oakley, Kenda, EVOC and Stages.
Join Focus in using the hashtag focusedonettinger to show your support!