Monterey, Calif. (April 30, 2009) – For four days in April, the Sea Otter Classic draws professional athletes, team staff, competitive cyclists, cycling enthusiasts, spectators of all ages, manufacturers of a variety of products related to cycling and outdoor sport, industry VIPs and friends from all over the world to race, ride, and relax on pedal-powered vehicles.
This year, the sun was in attendance for all four days, with record-breaking high temperatures on Sunday. The product demo area pulsed with activity as people tested bikes in the Ride Zone. The Kids Carnival and Kids Bike Zone reverberated with sounds of pure joy as kids bounced, bungee'd, and teeter-tottered, while parents lounged nearby. And the Expo buzzed with excitement as new products made their debut, contests were won and autographs were signed.
"We are very pleased to produce an event with so much action and so many ways to participate, inspiring people to come back to year after year," said Frank Yohannan, President and CEO of the Sea Otter Classic.
On the Course: Internationally Acclaimed Racing and World Champions
Three days of road racing brought America's best pros to Sea Otter, including Tour de France Podium finisher and three-time Tour of California Champion Levi Leipheimer (Astana). Leipheimer, who came to the race from his hometown of Santa Rosa, regarded the races largely as training events, and didn't count on winning without any teammates to help him. Road racing being his specialty, however, he earned the win on his own, with a move on the last climb.
With four straight days of competition, road racing took central stage this year, even without the presence of Leipheimer. Thursday's new criterium race added another great spectator event to the schedule, and a format for athletes with a technical specialty to showcase their talent. The crowds, which were impressive for a first-year event, were rewarded with an exciting course of tight turns, short, steep hills and the added factor of the day's strong winds, leading to breakaway finishes in many of the fields.
Meanwhile, on the dirt, the races featured the best riders in the world, including Multi-time World and Swiss National Champion, and Olympic Medalist Christoph Sauser (Specialized), who took home the gold in Men's cross-country, and Olympian Georgia Gould (Luna), winner of the Women's cross-country race. This year's cross-country race was part of the 2009 USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour presented by Sho-Air, and one of very few UCI-sanctioned races in the U.S.
In the Gravity games, impressive fields included all four winners of Sea Otter's Downhill and Dual Slalom races: Australian National Downhill Champion Mick Hannah, 2007 World Downhill Champion Sam Hill, 2007 British National Downhill Champion Tracy Moseley (Trek) and U.S. National Downhill and Dual Slalom Champion and World Four-Cross Champion Melissa Buhl (KHS).
In the Expo: Manufacturers, Media and Advocacy Groups
As the largest consumer tradeshow in North America, Sea Otter is a major event on the industry calendar, drawing exhibitors from all over the country and world. Product launches, new technologies on display, demo equipment, and access to racing superstars have inspired thousands of articles, blog posts and tweets since the event.
This year, Sea Otter welcomed a number of new companies to the Sea Otter Marketplace, and received compliments all around.
"We were delighted to be part of Sea Otter and look forward to taking part next year," said Barrie Gorton, of VP Components, maker of Bebop Pedals. "It was a great way to get brand exposure, and the number and quality of contacts we made exceeded our expectations."
Jeff Bauman of Hubdock came to Sea Otter to generate public and industry interest, and considers the event a huge success. "It was very well run, and we achieved everything we set out to do," he said.
In addition to for-profit companies, Sea Otter is also an important event for numerous advocacy and non-profit organizations working to make cycling safer, build trails, take at-risk youth to the trails, and champion cycling rights. The Bicycle Leadership Conference held its annual meeting in conjunction with Sea Otter for the first of three years, focusing on improved communications between manufacturers and advocacy groups.
Around the Village: Recycling and Reward
The Sea Otter Classic has consistently been one of Monterey County's most productive events in terms of recycling, but this year it bested its record. Anyone "caught" throwing recyclables in the correct bin was offered a "ticket" – in the form of a Sierra Nevada bottle cap – with which to redeem for prizes at the Zero Waste Store located in the Expo.
The motivation – and competitive aspect for a daily raffle – worked. According to Kristin Cushman of Pacific Grove-based organization the Offset Project, which managed this program, approximately 2,300 items, such as bike clothes, socks, hats, energy drinks, stickers, water bottles, books, videos, bike parts, sunglasses, and reusable grocery bags, were cleaned out by Sunday morning.
"There were many motivated people, scouring the trash bins, putting as many entries as possible in for our raffle prizes," said Cushman.
Next Year: Twenty Years of Sea Otter
The twentieth annual Sea Otter Classic is set for April 15-18, 2010.
"We look forward to hosting the twentieth anniversary of the Sea Otter Classic next year," said Yohannan. "We are committed to sharing the passion for cycling and sport with everyone from toddlers to world-class athletes."
About Sea Otter Classic, Inc.
The 20th Annual Sea Otter Classic will be held April 15-18, 2010 at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area, Monterey, Calif. 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. More information can be found at www.seaotterclassic.com or by calling 800-218-8411.
Donna Brown (local media)
Chris Worden (Web-related)