MONTEREY, Calif. Once, the Sea Otter Classic was a solid local race weekend where area riders would sign up for every race they could squeeze in during the course of the event. Families, fans, and racers of all types descended upon Laguna Seca to take on the challenge of early-season racing (back then Sea Otter was in March); kids’ allowances got maxed out on race fees and satisfied parents – thankful for activities that didn’t come out of a box or involve joysticks and computer screens – poured their weary children into backseats of cars for the drive home following the event.
Now, 20 years later, Sea Otter owes its success to the kids of those kids who are coming to watch dad and mom, who are still racing and who’ve managed to convince an entourage of supporters to join them for a weekend of activities for both cyclists and non-cyclists.
This year, Mother Nature honored Sea Otter’s twentieth anniversary with weather dialed to “sunny and mild” for all four days of the event.
The inaugural “Gran Fondo” (Italian for “great endurance”) attracted 1,000 participants to ride one of three distances ranging from 39-95 miles. Initial reports have trumpeted the event as a success but of course there is always room for improvement. Look for the second annual Gran Fondo to return next year in a savvier, more sophisticated fashion.
SRAM pulled out all the stops by launching en force its 2X10 drivetrain to the general public. Cameos by some of the world’s most celebrated racers (they have the rainbow stripes to prove it) helped explain the system in terms of racing circumstances.
One kid named Stander went on to demonstrate the 2X10’s merits in real-time by winning the men’s elite cross-country race. Burry Stander (Specialized) is the current U23 World Champion but is ineligible to wear the distinguishing stripes since his race age (according to UCI rules) dictates that he is instead, 23, and therefore no longer qualified in the U23 category. But Stander is no one-shot-wonder; expect to see him still racing at the front for years to come.
Once again we did the math and counted 8,400 athletes, 47,000 spectators, 300 exhibitors, and 300 media members. Despite ravaging economic conditions nationwide, promoters of the Sea Otter Classic are extremely grateful to the loyalty of its participants, who have helped elevate the event to its current world-class recognition.
Lastly, if you’re the sort of goal-oriented person who likes to plan things a year in advance (or if you just need something to look forward to), early-bird camping registration for the 2011 event begins on June 7, visit the Sea Otter website for more information.
We will announce developments for the 2011 event on our Facebook fan page as they happen so check back often!
Sea Otter Classic - Media/PR
Donna Brown (local media)