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:
If you’re at the show, be sure to check out all the booths and see what kind of free schwag you can score:
— Trek Bicycle (@TrekBikes) April 18, 2013
Unlike Interbike, Sea Otter is open to the public, allowing everyone access to the vendors and the opportunity to test ride bikes. Consequently, one of the best things about Sea Otter, especially for the general public, is cruising the booths and getting to check out the new products. If you’ve never been to a bike expo like this before, it’s enough to make the eyes bug out of your head and make you wonder if you can get away with selling your car to fund your next bike purchase.
My other favorite thing about Sea Otter is the riding: all day every day you have access to top-of-the-line mountain bikes and excellent mountain bike trails.
Laguna Seca is a short spin away from the massive 7,200 acre Fort Ord recreation area, home to 86 miles of trails (according to the BLM). This land originally was an old military fort, and some areas of Fort Ord still have unexploded ordinance in the ground. If you see a fence that says not to cross it, a word of advice: don’t cross the fence.
Traditionally, Sea Otter is best known for the slew of races held here over the weekend. Featuring everything from road racing to downhill mountain biking and everything in between, if you want to race your bike, there’s an event for you! Thursday and Friday aren’t as busy on the racing front, but there are several qualifiers that take place. No official mountain bike race results have been posted yet, but there was some great short track racing earlier today:
Pro DH course inspection and practice is underway, and Steve Peat, Cedric Gracia, Josh Bryceland, and Greg Minnaar have already released some killer helmet cam footage from the course utilizing Drift HD Ghost cameras:
While most of the top pros in North America and from around the world flock to Sea Otter for the races, all of the events are also open to amateurs. Sea Otter is a great place for those of us who are mere mortals to rub shoulders and bump tires with the best bike talent in the world:
While there are plenty of people who are very serious and focused on putting up the best race result possible, most people aren’t nearly that serious. This is a bike festival, after all!
By the way, in case you haven’t heard, the Angry Singlespeeder made the 560 mile pilgrimage from San Diego to Monterey in the most appropriate way possible: by bike:
What good is a bike bash without quality craft beer? California-based brewery Sierra Nevada helps get the party started while also offering a cool respite from the hot California sun:
— Sierra Nevada Beer(@SierraNevada) April 19, 2013
While this guy might be starting a bit early, once late afternoon hits, if you start cruising the booths looking for free beer, you’ll probably find some:
Guy – “Dude, where is the beer?”Me – “it’s 9:30 in the morning!?!”Life at the Sea Otter Classic.
— Kenda Tire (@KendaTire) April 19, 2013
If you’re looking for a little passive entertainment after some tiring test rides, be sure to check out Ryan Leech’s trails demos:
Also, there’s always at least one big bike movie screening in downtown Monterey on Sea Otter weekend. This year, it’s Singletrack High:
It looks like Sea Otter is staying true to form in 2013, offering up one of the best weeks of bike racing, riding, and partying of the year! If you’re out in California enjoying the fun this year, be sure to take a couple of snap shots and share them with us!