Falling backwards up the stairs.


Via Kerry Skarbakka.

Here at All Hail The Black Market, we start at the bottom and strive for the top, in exactly that order.

But getting past the bottom step is always the challenge.

For those who missed Monday’s post, (where I also noted that I will be gone again, through Monday the first), I stuck my finger as far down my throat as possible, and barfed up the absolute extent of what I remember.

Luckily, I’ve had a couple of days to rest, during which time I’ve refilled my tanks and have found myself prepared to do it again.

Ready? Somebody get me a bucket.

Somewhere around Saturday morning I ran into Joe Parkin (Has Nice Hair) and he was en route to the media center where he told me I could get a photographer’s vest, allowing me a front row seat for the day’s racing action. Not knowing that this was even a thing, I walked with him there, where I exchanged my driver’s license for the very last one they had in their possession. I had visions of myself hiding behind one of the berms at that afternoon’s dual slalom, snapping off an array of the best shots on the web.

That plan got derailed, but we’ll get to that later.

First things first however, we went back to his motorhome and drank a bloody mary;

Just then I realized I was neglecting my duty and turned in my chair to get a shot of the men’s pro CX race start;

I’m nothing if not committed to my job.

With my cup finally empty, I beat feet to the course where I caught the last couple of laps worth of action.

For folks who might be unaware, this race (as well as those for the expert and one speed classes) used to consist of two eighteen mile laps. They were gut-punchingly hard, but in terms of regional races, was certainly one of the crown jewels. Now days it’s basically just a dirt crit. Boring as hell to watch, and probably quadruple-ie so to do, but certainly considerably easier to document/watch if that’s a thing you’d like to partake in.

Before making the paved ascent, I also noted that it continued to take a lot of cars to race bikes;

So I trudged along and periodically said things along the lines of “your bike makes you look fat“, and the like;


Making my way through the feed zone and to the part where people were finally riding on dirt, I took note of a lone photographer (one I later learned was this guy), who despite the fact he didn’t have one of the cool vests, clearly looked like he knew what he was doing, so I posted up behind his and poached his angle;


I had much preferred to stumble across the pro women’s race because that’s always been my favorite thing to watch, but had immediately lost my schedule of events so I was stuck with the dudes.

I won’t make the same mistake next year.

Quickly I made my move to in front of the guy who knew what he was doing (because they always appreciate that), and snapped off a couple of more better, closer ones;


Then I grabbed my bag and headed on to other vantage points, but not before marveling at the structure of the dual slalom course;

-and a lovely set of wild flowers;

Then I sat down and caught a couple more shots of fast guys, none of whom were Tinker or Tomac, so I didn’t bother remembering names or placings;


At that point I wandered back to the expo to see what else I could see;


At that exact moment I caught wind that the women’s pro cross race was just about to start. Because the previous (and might I add, pretty awesome) course had been usurped by the goddamned e-bike demo area, I had to hustle to figure out where to go.

Thankfully I wasn’t far, but was dismayed to find it had been replaced with basically a long oval of backs and fourths on the race track with what I could see was all of about twenty feet of dirt on either end.

I was so dumbfounded it was all I could do to simply document what I saw as the most interesting feature on this year’s course;

Which of course is that there coffee stain.

I took no photos of anyone racing their bikes because I find that flat oval crits are about as interesting to watch/document as it is to watch paint dry.

At the conclusion of the women’s pro race the one speeders lined up, I said hello to some friends-

and then wandered away despondently to check out other corners of the expo, when I immediately came across this;

It was once said that one should never turn their back on someone who rides a pink bike, as they’ll tear your legs off sooner than they’d look at you.

Around this point in the afternoon cans of beer started being opened, the men’s one speed cross race was over, and I had to get back up the hill for the men’s and women’s pro dual slalom, (which I didn’t). Luckily homie Amanda was there and caught this snap of Caroline Buchanan and Jill Kintner (who also got first and third in the pro women’s downhill race) honching the hell out of their way to first and second place finishes;

And I’d like you to take note of all of those lime green vests back there. That coulda been me, but it wasn’t because as I previously noted, beer was being opened and my feet were glued to the floor with an assortment of derelicts at the Giro tent;





And it was then, or at least, shortly thereafter that another day was done and dusted.

Under a handsome display of clouds and violet skies;

-we headed back to the truck well after the media center had closed, so for the evening, they got to keep my driver’s license, and I got to keep their vest.

We had a final evening of food and camaraderie at the Kona Bikes house, where not only did we have a whole lot more laughs, but I finally got he opportunity to make good use of my vest;

Because, you know… Safety third;


I’d now like to take the opportunity to introduce this fellow who goes by the name of Scott Countryman, won this year’s hardtail downhill race, and then followed it up with ample servings of whatever the hell was in the blender;

-but also whatever the hell was in the plastic box on the table;

Truly a pro bike racer after my own heart.

We concluded the evening with enough hi-jinx and high fives to make the cast of Animal House raise an eyebrow;




From this point forward, the crowd dispersed, and Sally and I were both running on adrenaline and alcohol, so we pulled the ripcord and retreated to our box of solitude;

Upon peeling our eyes open with the appearance of the next day’s sun, we returned to the venue to retrieve my license, and we got on the road with the most brutal 1000 yard stares ever;

He dumped me off in Oakland, and like the machine he is, motored on the rest of the way to Seattle.

Thus concludes my perspective on the 2017 running of The Sea Otter Classic, A Celebration Of The Bicycle®™©. Thank you for the time, and I hope you’ve enjoyed my retelling of it as much as I’ve enjoyed attempting to remember any of it.

As I’ve said at the conclusion of every other sort of report I’ve penned regarding foolish functions such as this, let us stand in truth with hands on hearts to never do it again until next year.

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9 Responses to “Falling backwards up the stairs.”

  1. Yuri April 26, 2017 at 6:48 am #

    His eyes glistening with the ghosts of sea otters past….

  2. Colin M April 26, 2017 at 8:49 am #

    No coverage of Nat Ross in the e-bike race? I’m disappointed. He better have been soaked in beer

  3. tsp April 26, 2017 at 5:40 pm #

    Stevil, let it be affirmed that you have no greater purpose in this world than to wake up in the morning, and make everyone around you scratch their heads in wonder whenever they think of you. There can be no greater purpose in life than that!

    Mission accomplished. Well done!

  4. Eric April 26, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

    Fuck man, Sea Otter looks about as fun as a root canal… e-bikes and oval crits?

  5. J to the ames April 27, 2017 at 6:34 pm #

    No orange jump suits in the SS race? WTH!

    • Stevil April 30, 2017 at 1:45 pm #

      None of the Amigos were racing. Not just anyone can wear one of those, you know?

  6. Smitty May 1, 2017 at 8:36 am #

    Single speeders photo, guy in red: is he talking to someone or trying to remember if he locked his car?

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