Sea Otter Classic will shuck its hard-earned reputation as a "cycling festival" in 2007. Never fear, instead the Sea Otter Classic will best its reputation as the largest, most celebrated cycling festival in North America by adding key events that reflect Sea Otter's innovative spirit, like BMX, Adventure Racing, and Super D.
BMX at last gets its chance at the limelight with the eagerly anticipated return of BMX racing to Sea Otter. In preparation for its first-ever appearance as an Olympic sport in 2008, Sea Otter's BMX event will feature an NBL-style BMX track with "tabletops," rollers and one or two rhythm sections. When the start gate drops, eight racers will stomp hard on their pedals for a chance at the lead heading into the first jump or turn. The coveted "inside line" might help advance the racer who gets it first but it could be a power rider who pedals into the lead from the outside. Racers must keep their bikes low to the ground if they want to keep up their momentum and this will be difficult given the terrain typical of a national level course.
"A traditional track will have a start that's probably 8-10 feet tall, not too steep and then it can have any combination of obstacles in the first straightaway," said Randy Stumpfhauser (GT Bikes), four-time UCI BMX World Champion (cruiser class). "It could be a roller, a step-up jump or a tabletop. I would say that a traditional track has a lot more pedaling; power has a lot to do with it and getting to the first corner is 80 percent of the race."
News Alert! Sea Otter's BMX event will now be one of six state qualifiers in the Golden State BMX Championship Series!
Earning a spot on the 2008 Olympic team would be a rare prize for any of the BMX racers expected to attend Sea Otter, especially given the level competition in the U.S. and the very real shot at a gold medal for the U.S. BMX team.
"They've been talking about it for years and years and now we're like 'Wow it really happened!'" said Stumpfhauser. "This is exciting because USA Cycling has been getting behind us a lot with a lot of support. Our talent pool is so deep in the United States that whoever makes the team will have a chance at winning the gold medal."
The "winningest" adventure race team, Team Nike, passes by Castleton Tower near Moab in the Primal Quest Expedition
L-R: Mike Kloser, Monique Merrill, Michael Tobin, Ian Adamson
photo: Dan Campbell
Thanks to ever-inventive event organization, the Sea Otter Classic now throws open its gates to the multi-sport crowd with the debut of Adventure Racing, where teams must complete the course together - no more than 30 yards apart - using nothing more than a map and compass. The Sea Otter Classic Thule Adventure Race will be made up of four elements featuring water, mountain bike, foot, and a "special" element described as a "navigational skills test."
"Adding an adventure race to Sea Otter will just continue to diversify an already expansive weekend of events," said Mike Kloser. Mountain Bike Hall of Famer who now belongs to the "winningest" team in adventure racing, Team Nike. "I was there in the infancy of Sea Otter when it had just started as a mountain bike specific event. Over the years I've watched it continue to expand and grow in size and seeing it continue to expand is really a symbol of what Sea Otter is all about, which is innovation."
Since most adventure races are scheduled for the summer or fall, Kloser added that spring events like the Sea Otter Classic Adventure Race help create more of a balance to a typical adventure race schedule, which is heavier later in the season.
Also debuting in 2007 will be the Super D, which is a hybrid of downhill and cross-country requiring not only power, but also a finely tuned descending strategy to win.
2006 Super D National Champion
photo courtesy of Trek Bicycles
"Super D is the kind of race you'd have with your riding buddies - first one down the last epic descent doesn't have to buy the beer," said two-time national Super D champion, Adam Craig. "It's the essence of mountain biking in my mind, everyone climbs to descend, is in shape because of it, knows how to rail because of it - it's the simple combination and concentration that make it such a good time."
Sea Otter's Super D will be a 14-minute race with a Lemans-style start. Racers are expected to reach for short-travel, maybe even hard-tail rigs due to the classic hard-packed, typically dry, fast conditions of mid coast California.
"The course should have some punchy power climbs somewhere and a bunch of buff fast single-track to lay it down," said Craig. "Some people will blow corners and get poison oak for sure..."
For racers like 2006 National Super D champ, Sue Haywood, who has raced at Sea Otter many times, the addition of Super D will no doubt liven things up. A Super D race usually takes no longer than 15 minutes so a pro like Haywood can collect a win in the morning and still line up to race cross-country or short track in the afternoon.
The Sea Otter Classic has founded its reputation as the go-to event through events like Dual Slalom and Downhill, a Pro Road Circuit Race, Pro Mountain Bike Short Track (The Hurricane of Pain), the Invitational Dirt Jump, Road and Mountain Bike Recreational Rides, Mountain Bike Ride Zone, Bike Rodeo, and BMX Demos. At the center of the non-stop action is the massive Sea Otter Village and Expo, home to the world's largest outdoor consumer bike tradeshow featuring nearly 300 vendors, an international food court and loads of friend and family fun activities. The Sea Otter Classic draws nearly 10,000 professional, amateur and recreational athletes; 50,000 spectators; and, more than 250 media representatives from across the globe.
All recreational events and festival admittance are free to kids under 12! Spectator festival passes are $10 per day or $30 for four days.
ATHLETE REGISTRATION: www.seaotterclassic.com
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.seaotterclassic.com or, 800-218-8411 / 831-373-2331
About Sea Otter Classic LLC
The 17th Annual Sea Otter Classic will be held April 12 - 15, 2007 at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, Monterey, California, USA. The four-day 'Celebration of Sport' is considered the world's largest cycling festival, hosting nearly 10,000 professional and amateur athletes and 50,000 fans. The Cypress Youth Fund is the Sea Otter Classic's philanthropic arm. The Fund provides funding to organizations that benefit their communities in the areas of youth, sport, education, and environment. More information can be found at www.seaotterclassic.com or by calling 800-218-8411.