The Sea Otter Classic, probably the largest cycling event in the USA and the inofficial start of the (mountain) bike racing season here, is coming up again (April 12-15, Laguna Seca near Monterey) . There are many races and race categories, populated each year by thousands of participants.
The mountain bike cross country amateur race is one of the more popular races and features dozens of categories depending on factors such as expert level (beginner, sport, expert), age, gender, amount of cogs (singlespeed or not), etc.
In order to get some idea of what to expect and to figure out which class to sign up for, we at MTBGuru went out and took a look at last year’s data, in particular at the average speed numbers for the 19 mile long cross country course.
This race is infamous for its sandbagging, and often times you’ll see people in the beginners class averaging 12 mph over the course (trust me, that’s not a beginner’s level). The above graph lists the number of finishers with given average speed – it is an estimate of their statistical distribution. You’ll see that the best ‘Beginners’ wouldn’t look silly amidst the expert/pro crowd. Note that the Pro Male and Female contenders did *two* laps of 19 miles – i.e. in case they would only need to do one lap, their average speed numbers would probably be quite a bit higher.
Age doesn’t matter
Another observation is that the various age categories (graph above) lie pretty close to each other in average speed. Age doesn’t seem to matter too much – at least not for the beginners class.
Anyway, no matter which class you sign up for, make sure to have fun on the scenic course!