Monterey, CA (April 14-15) - Jared Graves's recent BMX killing spree had many wondering how committed he is to the 26, but his Sea Otter performances -- and those of his teammates -- proved the Yeti-FOX Racing Factory Team means business in 2007.
Practice was moist. Qualifying was muddy. And racing was perfect -- on the quintessential Sea Otter slalom course: braaap-able ruts up top, the standard pinner berms in the middle and a fall-line gate- and pedal-fest to the line. Best bring your skills and your power, 'cause you'll need both.
You can guess who brought both. Graves, who has been demolishing international BMX on his way to the 2008 Olympics, rocked a Yeti 4X with a 32mm FOX FLOAT to the finals and barely got edged by Mick Hannah. These guys were pinning it! Just bouncing from turn to turn, sneaking in a 1,500-watt pedal here and there, obviously having fun the whole way.
Justin Leov, feeling strong, confident and recovered from last year's shoulder injury, took out Rennie and Gracia in the early rounds then fell to Hannah in the round of eight. Ross Milan, back from an off season, faced Graves in the first round and, while he got eliminated, the pair looked great ripping the course. Young TJ Sharp has taken a semester off college to train, and after a strong qualifier he got axed in the first round. Rich Houseman is recovering from shoulder surgery and promises to return stronger/faster/better than ever.
Tire note: The team ran 2.2 Maxxis Wet Screams, which rail in mud. They clipped the knobs down as the course dried out.
Without a doubt, this was the best Sea Otter downhill ever. While last year's course spent its altitude on a paved road then skirted the creek on a dead-flat slog-fest, this year's route stayed high off the road and dosed the elevation like a morphine drip.
Team mechanic Nate Espinoza pulled a switcheroo on the team's 4X bikes: 36 FLOAT forks for more travel and slackness, burlier wheels and Maxxis High Roller tires (a semislick in back and a standard in front). That's a recipe for fast times on a smooth course.
Graves, stronger and more confident than ever, pedaled and railed and rat-tat-tatted his way to a fast 2:16 -- just three seconds off powerhouse Rennie and good for another 2nd place finish. Leov posted a quick 2:21 in 19th, while Milan rocked a 2:23 for 26th. Sharp faced a world class field and finished a respectable 67th.
The entire team is excited to back on the circuit. Next stop: Fontana, CA for NORBA #2.
The Yeti-FOX Racing Factory Team rides the best products on the market.
- FOX - Front and rear race-tuned suspension
- Shimano - Drivetrain, chain, brakes, pedals, footwear
- Maxxis - Rolling the best rubber on the circuit
- DT Swiss - Swiss quality wheelsets
- e.thirteen - Chain guides that keep you on the gas
- Chris King - The finest headsets on the planet
- Control Tech - Handlebars for the real world
- Curve - Pro-quality apparel
- ODI - The easiest and most reliable grips available
- Thomson - Stems and seatposts
- Topeak - Pumps, tools and bike stands
For more information contact:
Mark Fitzsimmons or Chris Conroy
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