Sea Otter debacle
Today, I'm just a little bit pissed off with the folks who run the Sea Otter Classic. It's the biggest event of the year for road racing here in the Monterey Bay area. This year they planned on events not only on the Monterey Peninsula, but also in Redwood City (just south of San Francisco) and Santa Cruz (at the north end of Monterey Bay).
Well, first the Redwood City road race went wrong. The geniuses at the Sea Otter or at Redwood City did not take into account that the highly technical course went through a densely populated residential area with lots of parked cars and and cars potentially pulling out of driveways. The women nervously raced the course. The men rebelled and altered the course. The Sea Otter folks chose to nullify the men's race.
They took a positive attitude about the upcoming events: "As for the remainder of the race, we have three stages, in preparation for which we have gone through the same methodical training of support staff and preparation of facilities, and we are confident that these stages are safe and challenging, and will go off without undue incident.”
Yeah, right. Late last night I saw on Cyclingnews.com that the criterium in Santa Cruz had been cancelled and replaced by a circuit race at the Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey. That's when I really got pissed. I really love going to the Sea Otter crit. Usually, it's on Cannery Row in Monterey on an exciting course with a large enthusiastic crowd. I was really enthusiastic about it being in SC, much closer to home, in an incredibly beautiful setting--lighthouse point.
Unfortunately, it is a totally flat parcours, on one side in a densely populated neighborhood short on parking, and on the ocean side at a world class surfing spot. The parcours would block access to all the ocean side parking. Surfers and race spectators would be walking fairly long distances to get to the course. As a surfer, I know we are a pretty unruly bunch and I don't think the marshalls could keep the foot traffic with surfboards in line. Not a great choice of location.
The folks at Sea Otter said that they were changing the venue to provide a more challenging stage for the male riders since they nullified the Redwood City stage. That is important; however, they did it without the slightest interest in the public. They made no effort not get the info about the change to the local media--I only read about it late last night on cyclingnews.com--via Australia! Had I not gone to that website I would have never known about the change and would have joined all the other fans who are going to be looking for a non-existent race this afternoon. BTW, if you go to the Sea Otter website you really have to go out of your way to find out about the change. They seem more interested in letting you know you can't bring your dog to Laguna Seca this year than letting you know about the change in venue.
Usually, these events bring big tourist bucks to Monterey and it was a great gesture to share some of the wealth with the sagging tourist economy of Santa Cruz. A group of friends and I planned to go to the race, cheer on Prime Alliance, and then have dinner and suds at a local brewery. I'm sure we are not the only group with such a plan. Now, the big money maker is going to be the parking lots at Laguna Seca.
My feeling is that if those folks can botch this event so badly, how are they going to do when they expand the Sea Otter with the Redlands Classic into a two week tour of Califiornia type deal next year?