Barbara Howe diary: Epicenter of Belladom

After racing at the season opening NMBS #1 event in Phoenix, Howe went on to Sea Otter, where the...

After racing at the season opening NMBS #1 event in Phoenix, Howe went on to Sea Otter, where the Velo Bella presence was strong. Blue and pink jerseys were spotted everywhere, with road and mountain bikes always nearby.

Sea Otter is a special race because it's located at the epicenter of the Bella kingdom, or queendom if you like. The team was started in and around Monterey and many of the very first Bellas still live in the area. It's the race where the Bella vibe can clearly be seen and heard by all. For all of the years that I've raced Sea Otter, Velo Bella has had a large team booth decorated with pretty sparkly things and blasting disco music. The booth expands a bit each year, this year it was a continuous extension from the Kona trailer through the Bella booth to Vanderkitten and Zeal Optics. This year, the Bella Queen, Sabine, envisioned roller disco and her subjects obliged. There were crazy outfits and many sets of roller skates.

My weekend started by driving to the home of long time Bella Laura, her husband Steve, and two dogs after work on Thursday. I've stayed with Steve and Laura for most of my Sea Otters, and it was really good to see them again. Friday morning, I woke up to sunny skies and fast trails. Natasha and I pre-rode the course enjoying clear ocean views and wildflowers. Saturday was short track but I hadn't registered in time for it so I became a spectator. I went to the venue with the Bellas who were racing short track so I could ride afterwards. A light sprinkle of rain started when we left Salinas. Upon reaching the Bella booth the light sprinkle turned into a deluge of biblical proportions. Buckets of rain threatened the integrity of a thousand EZ Ups, rivers of mud canceled the women's NRC race, and plunging temperatures goose bumped countless arms and legs.

Back at Bella HQ, Queen Sabine stood strong in the face of pending disaster by digging a drainage ditch with a plastic wine glass to prevent the creation of new wetlands. Loyal Bellas and Fellas re-lashed tarps and did their best to keep the tent canopies from amassing too much water. Through all of this several ladies did their best at staying warm and loose for the short track as it was delayed for a while. When the rain turned to a fine mist, it was time for a muddy short track.

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