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March 20, 2018
For the second consecutive year, CyclingTips is an official media partner of the Sea Otter Classic and will be sending North American editors to cover all the happenings at the largest cycling festival in North America. Below is a list of 10 things to do at the event; the list could have easily been twice as long. The 28th annual Subaru Sea Otter Classic takes place April 19-22, at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area in Monterey, California. For more information, visit www.seaotterclassic.com and follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Had your eye on a new model? Never ridden an e-bike? Now’s your chance. The Sea Otter Classic doubles as an early-season trade show, drawing bike brands from across the country to the expansive expo held on the infield of the Laguna Seca Raceway. Nearly 450 vendors, representing around 1000 brands, display new products and offer demos and samples as well as special show pricing. Test before you buy at the expanded demo areas. Courses will be set up to test out eMTB, road e-bikes, mountain bikes, and kids’ bikes.
If you like racing your bicycle, there’s an event for you at the Sea Otter Classic. There’s road racing. There are criteriums. There’s a circuit race. There’s cross-country and short track and downhill and dual slalom and enduro. There’s a cyclocross race — in April! There’s even an eMTB race. You could easily spend the entire weekend racing your bike, if you’re so inclined. A reported 10,000 athletes participate over four days. Kids race for free.
At any given moment, legends of mountain biking can be spotted walking the expo area of the Sea Otter Classic. Founders of the sport, such as Joe Breeze and Tom Ritchey, intermingle with legends like Ned Overend and Gary Fisher. National champions and Olympians float in and out of their team compounds. Scottish trials sensation Danny MacAskill will be on site doing daily shows and signing autographs.
The vast Laguna Seca grounds offers ample viewing opportunities to watch the best in the business battle at close range. And if you’re into something a little lighter, have a laugh at the Brompton World Championship, which features a Le Mans-style start with participants dressed in formal wear sprinting to their folded bikes, which they’ll unfold as quickly as possible to start racing.
Outside the race venue, there’s no shortage of things to do. Visible on a quick trip to Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name, is the world famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, as well as sea otters, the event’s namesake, floating along the coastal edge of the Pacific Ocean. To the north is Santa Cruz, and its world-class singletrack; to the south is 17-Mile Drive, the Pebble Beach golf course, and the scenic vistas of the Big Sur coastline. To the east is Salinas Valley, which Steinbeck wrote about in several books, including “Of Mice and Men.” North of Salinas is San Jose, aka Silicon Valley, and the international airport which many Sea Otter participants use. Monterey also has a regional airport, though there are few direct flights in and out.
You could easily fill a backpack every day with freebies being handed out in the expo area, and many people do. T-shirts, hats, socks, posters — all the usual swag, and more.
Not into racing? No problem. There are plenty of organized rides to check out. The gran fondo, on Saturday, attracts thousands of participants across several distances. On Sunday, SRAM hosts an “Open Road Tour” along gravel roads surrounding the area. Former Olympian Adam Craig is guiding a mountain-bike ride along the surrounding singletrack so that you can’t get lost.
The expansive venue for the Sea Otter Classic opens itself to camping, and every year the site’s many campsites are filled with RVs, tents, coolers, and bikes. It’s a good way to save some money and get to know your fellow cycling enthusiasts. Wake up in the morning and you’re already here – no need to sit in traffic or rush to make it to your event.
Beer flows freely at the Sea Otter Classic, and you don’t need to wait until 5pm. There’s seemingly a party around every corner.
CyclingTips editors Neal Rogers, Caley Fretz, and James Huang will be on site all weekend, and are recording a Sea Otter edition of the CyclingTips Podcast at the SRAM booth on Friday afternoon at 4pm. Come on by and check it out!