The Sea Otter Classic, one of the largest mountain bike races and festivals of the year, is currently in full-swing at the Laguna Seca speedway in Monterey, California. While mountain biking is a major part of Sea Otter, the festival caters to bikers of all disciplines.

In 2011, the festival had 8,500 racers, 50,000 spectators, 325 exhibitors, and 300 journalists turn out for some great bike racing and revelry. Sea Otter continues to grow, and in 2013 they have over 400 companies exhibiting at the expo. All of the major bike companies and component manufacturers are in attendance with their latest and greatest products on display, Shimano among them:

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I’ve been shopping around for a good bike to race the Cohutta 100 on. At first, I was hoping to find a carbon hardtail 29er to use for my race bike, but based on Jeff’s recommendation, I also threw some short-travel 29er FS XC rigs into the mix. When the opportunity came to do a long-term review of the 2013 Trek Superfly 100 AL Pro, I knew I had found my race bike!

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Building on their classic history, Raleigh’s XXIX+G hardtail 29er looks like a throwback to the beginnings of mountain biking. From the steel frame to the stamped head badge to the understated graphics, at first glance this looks like the mountain bike that every singletrack luddite has been longing for!

However, this bike hides some new-school componentry in its classic-looking package.

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There are less than three weeks to go until the Cohutta 100. What I am trying to do… the difficulty of what I am trying to accomplish… is finally setting in.

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While the Tahoe area is known as a world-class skiing and snowboarding destination during the winter, it is also an excellent mountain bike destination during the summer.

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In the Roanoke area, Carvin’s Cove is the well-signed, hard-to-lose-yourself trail destination while Dragon’s Back is where you go if you’re looking for some real adventure!

Complete with gravel road connectors, hike-a-bike singletrack, rocky ridgeline riding, gorgeous views, and blazing-fast technical descents, this ride harkens back to the days when men were men and boys stayed at home and hid behind their mothers’ aprons.

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We stretched what was initially supposed to be a three-week journey into an almost two-month excursion. While we spent over a month of that in California alone, there were numerous trails to ride (and friends to visit) along the way that we just couldn’t drive past.

In the end, we put about 7,000-8,000 miles on my pickup truck and I rode almost 700 miles of trails. Some of those trails were out of this world and some of them weren’t worth writing about, but in the end this experience was one that I will remember forever!

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I have pedaled several hundred miles of down-and-dirty mountain bike trails in these shoes, including dry conditions, wet conditions, rides that I was on the bike the entire time, and rides that included several long, arduous hike-a-bikes. To make a long story short, my homework paid off: the Gauge has proven to be the perfect shoe for the type of mountain biking I do!

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