Solosjuntos & The 2022 Sea Otter Classic

Posted on

With a standard routine that’s somewhat solidified in my life I’ve found myself getting quite used to what to expect, and how my days are going to go. While there isn’t anything wrong with this, it can become predictable and well… routine.

On the flip side, every now and again I find myself experiencing life in its fullest and most beautiful way that feels almost too good to be true. These experiences leave lasting impressions and memories that change my perspective and understanding of the world around me. 

My most recent of these experiences was Over The Edge being invited to stay with Mike Ferrentino and Kelley Richardson during the 2022 Lifetime Sea Otter Classic, two salt of the earth individuals with a beautiful piece of land known as “Solosjuntos”.

Solosjuntos is nestled deep in the mountains of Big Sur, about an hour South of Monterey, California. The term, “Solosjuntos,” means to get away to be alone together, which I find to be a very fitting name for their land. 

A photo of the word, "SOLOJUNTOS," in spray-painted bubble-style graffiti on a wall in a hillside in the forest.
As you enter Solosjuntos you’re greeted by a loud graffitied, “SOLOSJUNTOS,” surrounded by small lights. This is just the beginning.

Solosjuntos has an aura of purity and magnificence – a place to feel very at peace and disconnected from the busy world that lies a few thousand feet below it. This was a refreshing reprieve from the hectic and electric scene at Sea Otter. It was this contrast that allowed me, and the rest of the Over The Edge family, to experience both Sea Otter and Solosjuntos in the fullest. 

As a passionate mountain biker and writer, being in the presence of Mike Ferrentino seemed almost too good to be true. For those of you who are unfamiliar with his work, Mike is a legendary mountain bike writer and character. Because of the immersive and engaging articles he’s written for Bike Magazine, Mountain Journal and other publications, Mike has found himself in a place amongst legends in the mountain bike world (whether he realizes it or not)… 

Solosjuntos allows Mike to do his best writing and be his best self. My four short days there made me appreciate what he and Kelley have created –  it’s amazing what you can do when you’re way up in the mountains surrounded by beauty, care and passion.

A photo of four men and a dog in front of an open door in a rustic-looking building.
Left to right: Jordan Rarick, Mike Ferrentino, Zaya the dog, Jonah Teetsel and Troy Rarick.

Kelley is quite the accomplished individual too. She’s an accomplished artist and photographer and told us stories of photo shoots with Metallica, how she creates her beautiful and diverse art and what she’s learned from her time at Solosjuntos. Kelley’s hard work is critical in ensuring Solosjuntos looks and runs as good as possible.

Mike and Kelley played a large role in Brandon Semenuk and Ryan Howard’s video,  “Parallel” , a two-minute masterpiece where the two riders are completely in sync. Many of the shots in Parallel were filmed in Mike and Kelley’s backyard – a scenic compliment to the beauty and creativity of Semenuk and Howard’s mountain bike vision. 

Mike shared some stories about how extensive and difficult the process to create the production was. From forty-plus takes on certain shots to overcoming bad weather conditions, to how quickly their crew built the trail I learned of their dedication and process through Mike’s words.

A photograph of a leaf-covered trail through winding into a Northern California oak tree forest.
A snapshot from “Torture Forrest,” a scenic and switchbacky singletrack in the heart of Solosjuntos.

Over The Edge’s motto, “Bringing together the mountain bike world since 1995.” embodies my experience during the 2022 Sea Otter Classic.  It was inspiring and fun to see the bike industry friendships and connections Over the Edge founder Troy Rarick, and Over the Edge World’s Paul Aieta, have made over years.  The trip confirmed my desire to do the same: continue to network, make friends and ride bikes.

The thick forest creates a shade canopy that keeps the ground dark and full of life. It also provides great cover for the hotter days up in the mountains.

My whole experience in the Monterey, California area got me thinking about how my perspective wouldn’t have ever changed for the better had I decided to stay here in Southern Utah. With my original flight plans falling through, and a lack of energy to figure out a solution I was only a couple of further inconveniences away from giving up on the idea of making it to Sea Otter entirely.  

I came home with an urge to always go for it. Whether it’s fulfilling travel plans or completing hard routes on the bike, the satisfaction of knowing what is, as opposed to what could be, is irreplaceable. I found myself absolutely burying myself on the trails at Solosjuntos. I had the constant thoughts of, “you aren’t here every day,” and “you may never be here again,” looping inside my brain. It almost felt like I owed the beautiful Big Sur landscape a sufferfest as a tribute for my experience. 

It was easy for me to push my limits on the bike because I pushed myself in ways that I am less comfortable to get to that point. Without overcoming the adversity of botched travel plans in the first place I would have never been riding on their beautiful estate to begin with. I encourage those of you who have read this far to “go for it” – you might just find yourself a Mike and Kelley to learn from and stay with along the way. After all, It’s always better to know than to wonder.

A group of people in a backlit, California coastal mountain clearing.
We experienced a beautiful golden-hour on our final evening at Solosjuntos where the main priority wasn’t anything other than each other’s company.
An orange Knolly full-suspension mountain bike, lying on the ground in a dark forest clearing.
Troy Rarick’s Knolly Warden, which he was kind enough to let me use during my time in California.

Now that it’s all said and done, I am feeling entirely content with how my 2022 Sea Otter/California experience ended up. The highs and the lows left an imprint on me that I don’t think I’ll be losing any time soon. The love that was felt, and the laughs that were shared are still echoing in my soul as I write this. 

To Mike and Kelley, thank you for everything. Your hard work and kindness inspires whether you realize it or not. To Over The Edge World, thank you for allowing me to express myself and share my love of the bike industry with you. I can’t explain how good it feels to have all of you as family. Love all around, my friends. Until next time. 

Tags: ,