Photo Essay: 2018 Sea Otter Europe in Girona, Spain

Sea Otter Europe, held in Girona, Spain, features mountain bike racing, hundreds of exhibitors, and demo bikes. Tens of thousands of cyclists attended this free festival in 2018.

Here in the USA, Sea Otter is perhaps the most well known, widely attended bike festival of the year. Based on the success of the US event, Sea Otter expanded to Europe in 2017, drawing a respectable 20,000 attendees over the three day event. This past weekend, organizers estimated almost 50,000 attended the second annual free event held in Girona, Spain.

Leah and I travelled to Spain to cover Sea Otter Europe, and we had a blast riding demo bikes, watching races, learning about new products, and taking in the sights. The following is an overview of Sea Otter Europe, and a preview of the detailed coverage and reviews that will be published from the event over the next several days.

The venue

Sea Otter Europe was held at the Girona Municipal Sports Complex located just northwest of the city center.

Sea Otter Europe Cannondale Demo Bike
Cannondale was the title sponsor of Sea Otter Europe

A large singletrack demo bike course was marked in the Taiala area just north of the venue. On my first ride I met up with a local mountain biker named Marc who helped me find the good stuff.

Compared to the trails available for testing bikes at Sea Otter California, the Girona trails were much more varied and challenging. The full demo bike course measures about 6 miles long and features an elevation gain of 600ft. Stay tuned for mini reviews of the mountain bikes I tested.

There were multiple bike tracks set up for kids and adults alike to enjoy. photo: Leah Barber

Most exhibitor tents and booths were set up outdoors around the main arena, while a few were inside including a mini exhibit of vintage mountain bikes.

The vintage bikes on display were on loan from their owners, many of whom raced the bikes in the BTT Classic on Saturday. photo: Leah Barber
Food trucks were set up around the venue, including this one serving crepes and gofres (waffles). photo: Leah Barber
photo: Leah Barber
The MTB Eliminator course. photo: Leah Barber


More than 400 brands participated in Sea Otter Europe, including global, regional, and local cycling companies.

I brought back a set of these Panzer tire inserts. Stay tuned for a review.
So many oval chainrings to choose from!
Darimo Carbon Handlebars Handmade in Spain
Darimo carbon handlebars, handmade in Spain. photo: Leah Barber
One of two new mountain bikes Whyte announced at Sea Otter Europe.

Dozens of brands made 400 demo bikes available to the general public for evaluation on the local trails. A new demo bike badge system was being tested during the show, though the online registration and implementation process was a little rough around the edges.

Rooftop glamping. photo: Leah Barber


Just like Sea Otter California, racing is a big part of Sea Otter Europe. The weekend features races for all ages in mountain bike events including XC Marathon (XCM), XC Olympic (XCO), and XC Eliminator (XCE).

Some parts of the XC race courses were fairly technical, while other parts were muddy due to recent rains. The rain held off during the event itself for the most part.
photo: Leah Barber
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot Canyon-SRAM Sea Otter Europe Massi Super Cup
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot of Canyon-SRAM takes a win in the women’s Massi Super Cup. photo: Leah Barber
Kids line up for Supercurses (Super Races) photo: Leah Barber
Circuit Super Cup Massi Race. photo: Leah Barber
photo: Leah Barber

Not bikes, but these kids were FLYING with their scooters.
This corrugated tunnel along one of the race courses had some seriously nasty loose rocks right in the middle.

Trials competition.
We don’t see many dedicated trials bikes in the US.
photo: Leah Barber
photo: Leah Barber


Girona is known as a top location for cyclists, and proves to be an excellent setting for Sea Otter Europe. The event venue is located within walking distance of the main train station and the city center where hotels, restaurants, and attractions abound.

The city of Gerona does a great job supporting Sea Otter Europe, despite the event being just a couple years old. photo: Leah Barber
Sunset from the steps of the Girona Cathedral.
Despite current political tensions, everyone we met in Catalonia welcomed us.
Houses River Onyar Girona Spain Sea Otter Europe
Girona’s River Onyar. photo: Leah Barber

Iberian Ham jamoneria Girona Spain
Local jamoneria offering Spain’s speciality Iberian Ham. photo: Leah Barber
So many gelato choices…
The fried chicken at this Honduran restaurant in Girona is the best I’ve ever eaten. And I’m from the South.

While dates for Sea Otter Europe 2019 have not been officially announced yet, it’s safe to say this event will be back again next year, perhaps even bigger and better.