Athlete Highlight: Hannah Otto
The Sea Otter Classic is one of six iconic off-road events that comprise the Life Time Grand Prix. Also known as The Sea Otter Fuego (“fire”), this cross-country race puts professional mountain bike racers to the test on the rolling hills and gravel trails of the Fort Ord National Monument.
Only sixty (30 men and 30 women) of the nation’s best cyclists are selected for this epic series that spans from April through October, and Stages Cycling’s own Hannah Otto is one of them. We had the chance to catch up with Otto as she prepared to take on the first race in the series. She had a lot to say about how training with power has charted her career and spurred her on to the massive success she’s been having. Listen to the entire interview or enjoy the transcript below from our discussion at the Sea Otter Classic.
Stages Cycling: Can you tell me about how training with power shapes your training and informs your racing?
Otto: is the # 1 method I use when training and racing, and I feel like power has told my story across the years. Starting in the sport of triathlon conditioning and moving up the ranks and becoming a professional mountain biker, you can watch the whole progression through my power numbers throughout the years. And that’s something that I hold very close because it almost seems like power numbers are a very intimate thing. They show you your improvement and how you feel on that day, so watching that story over the years is something that really means a lot to me.
Stages Cycling: Tell us more about the transition you made from triathlon racing to professional mountain biking.
Otto: I started doing triathlons when I was 9 years old, which is a very different place to be. I did triathlons from 9 to 20, so I raced for 11 years, and then at 20 I had the opportunity to be a part of a professional mountain bike team, and it felt like the opportunity of a lifetime, something I couldn’t turn down. Having done some mountain biking through XTERRA triathlons and collegiately, I thought, “I think this is something I’m pretty good at, good enough at least to give it a try.” And so I went all in and changed my training dramatically. With triathlon, I never really trained more than 2 hours on the bike and now here we are, professional biker for 6 years now, doing races like the Lifetime Grand Prix, I train for 7+ hours at a time.
Stages Cycling: You’re racing as a privateer this year, tell us more about your decision to do that.
Otto: I’m super excited to be a privateer this year. Privateer means that I am an individual that has gathered all of her own sponsors to create a program, so basically, I am a one-man team supported by a larger team of many brands. I still feel more connected than ever because I have so many different people supporting me and I’m really excited to work more closely with the brands. I’ve been on many big teams and while there are many positives, I also feel like there has been a big bar between me and the sponsors; meaning me and the people who support me directly, so deciding to be a privateer this year has allowed me to work more closely with the brands who are truly investing in me. The investment in me means that they believe in me, which is really powerful and something I can actually repeat to myself on the start line and say, “all of these people believe in me therefore, you also need to believe in yourself,” and I certainly do, and that’s something I’m really excited for this year.
Stages Cycling: Stages is very excited to be a part of your journey too.
Stages Cycling: Tell us a little bit about your race schedule this year, some of your big goals, and what you’re looking forward to.
Otto: I have a massive race schedule this year which is something I’m super pumped about. Another reason I wanted to race as a privateer is that I had this dream and schedule that I wanted to pursue and I had a plan and the ability to execute it. I knew that I could and I just needed the freedom to be allowed to. So privateering has allowed me to do that. I’ll be racing more than 20 race weekends, which a race weekend often has more than one race so you can imagine how many races that is, but I’ll be prioritizing the World Cups as I pursue the 2024 Olympics and also the Lifetime Grand Prix, which is definitely one of the biggest series in the world, and for sure in North America.
Stages Cycling: How is indoor training a part of your schedule, and what type of training do you do indoors?
Otto: Indoor training is certainly an important part of my training process since I live in Salt Lake City. There are certainly days when training outside can be difficult if not downright impossible, and even dangerous, so the barometer I usually use is that if I feel like the outdoor conditions would inhibit my ability to do my best I know that training indoors can still give me the ability to do my best. So training indoors has given me the ability to pursue exact intervals, hitting my intervals every time so that I know, at the end of the day, I’ve done everything that I can and I’ve checked all of those boxes versus training outdoors and dealing with variables that I can’t control.
Want to read more about Otto’s Sea Otter race?
Click HERE to read her blog.
Life Time Grand Prix Race Information:
Sea Otter Classic, Monterey, CA 4/7-10/22
Unbound Gravel, Emporia, KS 6/4/22
Crusher in the Tushar, Beaver, UT 7/9/22
Leadville Trail 100 MTB, Leadville, CO 8/13/22
Chequamegon MTB Festival, Cable, WI 9/17/22
Big Sugar Gravel, Bentonville, AR 10/22/22