The Sea Otter Classic, coming up April 20-23, 2017, is just another mountain bike festival like the State of California embraces right wing politics. Held every year since 1991, the event in Monterey, California, has everything from kid-friendly exhibits and events to gran fondos and tours around the Monterey Peninsula to racing for Pros to amateurs.
In between the racing and exhibits the Sea Otter Classic features fun rides both on the road and on trails, a ginormous expo with lots of the latest in bike tech and products, music, entertainment, and bike riding on an enormous scale. Even if you did spend all four days there, you wouldn't experience everything. So, here are a couple of things you might not expect when you get to the Sea Otter Classic.
Early morning yoga
Trials specialist and personal coach Ryan Leech leads morning yoga sessions, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Chaparral Event Building. Open to as many as can fit into the room, Ryan runs through some vinyasas, just the thing to start a day of walking, riding, and exploring the Sea Otter Classic.
Use this hour-long intensive stretching session to get in touch with your inner Sea Otter. Then go out and watch Ryan's compadre, Jeremy VanSchoonhoven, as he shows off his crazy balance skills during his trials demonstrations beginning at 10 a.m. all four days of the Sea Otter Classic.
Skipper the Walking Sea Otter
Kids and some adults have fun with Skipper, the official mascot of the Sea Otter Classic. A friendly sort, Skipper will stop and say "hi!" or give a hug to anyone giving the thumbs up of approval. Skipper will be seen all around the expo area all four days of the event.
Sea Otter Racing
Perched on the side of a hill overlooking the expo, the dual slalom course beckons racers and spectators alike with its off-camber corners, jumps, berms and rhythm sections. Two racers at a time (as with dual slalom in downhill skiing) take on the clock for the fastest time around the gates and down the mountain.
Because the racers don't compete against each other, the preliminary heats typically will have men and women competitors racing down the course at the same time.
The Sea Otter spirit of camaraderie shines through — you'll see competitors racing for time then clapping and cheering as their fellow racers take on the slope.
For spectators, the fun of watching dual slalom racing is that they can set up close and personal to the racing -- there isn't a bad view as everyone can see every bump and turn as gravity exerts its force on the racers as they carom down the hillside.
Cyclocross -- usually the sport starts in the late summer/early fall and goes through December. So the Sea Otter Classic's cyclocross race is technically the first of the year! With Pros, Masters, Singlespeed categories for the men and Pros, Cat 4 and 5 for the women, there are all kinds of levels to get involved in. All the events start in waves and race along Laguna Seca's raceway, along rocky paths and over obstacles.
Sea Otter Mountain Bike Tour
On Saturday, the Focus Mountain Bike Tour takes off for 22 miles into the rolling trails of Fort Ord National Monument. The event includes trail-side support, feed zones, post-ride lunch and massage.
Two Gran Fondos
The 52 mile Vélofix Gran Fondo Coastal ride takes off to Pacific Grove and back along a bike trail and through the iconic Cannery Row. Following your out-and-back ride, you ride by the waves and into the iconic Cannery Row.
The more intense 92 mile Vélofix Gran Fondo Carmel Valley ride takes off in the opposite direction of the coastal route to take on the remote roads of the Carmel Valley and the wine country in the Santa Lucia Highlands. As with the the coastal route you receive support, feed zones and post-ride lunch and massage.
Check the schedule for more information, here.
You bet! This year Brompton, the makers of folding bicycles, is holding a roller racing championship over the four days of the Sea Otter Classic. Show up at the Brompton booth at anytime, grab a bike and turn in a time! You might be in line for the latest version of these iconic folding bikes, the Brompton S2E.
Gathering of the Tribe
Stroll the hundreds of booths in the Sea Otter expo, take your kids to the Pump Park, enroll your little princess in the Little Bellas all-girls camp, stop for a brew at the end of the day at the Sierra Nevada Beer Garden and relax, realizing that tomorrow, you get to do it all again!