Monterey, CA - The Sea Otter Classic, the world's largest bicycling festival, bids farewell to another year. Yeah, sure, we all know it was a dirt kickin' mudfest, but by all accounts the 8,100 registered athletes, 40,000 spectators (est.), 225 vendors, 1000+ volunteers, and 275 members of the media had a blast. Below are some of the highlights.
"Sea Otter Classic 2006 will go down in history as another year of Mosts: Most preceding rain days in a row, Most mud, and surprise... the Most well-attended Downhill event ever! Gravity pilots from all over the world flocked to the intense, mud and jump-laden sprinter's course," said Sea Otter spokeswoman Marla Streb (Luna Women's Mountain Bike Team/Red Bull).
In 2004 the Downhill event had apparently peaked with just over 1,000 athletes. In 2006, Sea Otter's Downhill race held court to 1,310 competitors on a BMX style course that proved, physically, to be one of the most difficult ever. "Never before have so many up-and-coming amateur riders signed up to test their finesse and fitness on the famous cycling season opener," says Streb. "The athletes prevailed in wet and unpredictable conditions with smiles beaming through full-face helmets. An epic Sea Otter Classic!"
Pro King and Queen of the Hill for 2006 are Jared Graves (Yeti) and Tracy Moseley (Kona). Visit: www.seaotterclassic.com/media.asp, Day-4 Stories, for Marla Streb's (Luna Women's Mountain Bike Team/Red Bull) colorful account of the competition.
Queen of the Hill Tracy Moseley
photo: Chris Milliman
Local Santa Rosa resident and Tour de France Pro Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) signed on as a last minute entry to NRC Pro Road Circuit Race delighting crowds and finishing a respectable 8th. Levi rode solo on the newly formatted, 71-mile race with the primary goal of training for the Tour de France. Pro's Matty Rice (Jelly Belly) and Tina Pic (Colavita) reigned supreme in the one-day Circuit Race around Laguna Seca's famed raceway. Visit: www.seaotterclassic.com/media.asp, Day 3 stories, for full race details written by Canadian Cyclist Editor Rob Jones.
The Mountain Bike Endurance competitions drew a total of 2,499 athletes including top pro and Olympic athletes from the world over for intense competition on a world-class course. Sunday's Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country challenged the best of the best. It was no surprise when 23-year-old Briton and Commonwealth Games Champion Liam Killeen (Specialized) and defending World Champion, Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle (Multivan Merida) emerged with mud speckled faces (and teeth) to claim their respective titles.
Jean-Christophe Peraud (Orbea), took the men's SRAM MTB Omnium title while Gunn-Rita Dahle 'dominated' taking the women's title. Kudo's to Adam Craig (Giant) for his superb technical riding skills that kept him on his bike 100% of the time giving him the MTB Short Track title. Visit: www.seaotterclassic.com/media.asp, Day 1,2, 3 & 4 stories written by Wendy Booher and Chris Milliman.
The largest, most competitive SRAM Invitational Dirt Jump proved to be a media circus as photogs jockeyed for position to photograph an elite class of aerial experts launching off jumps designed by dirt jump legend John Cowan. Timo Pritzel (Scott USA) from Berlin, Germany took the 1st prize. Kudo's to Eastcoast Shredder Jim DeChamp who superbly landed a front flip and took home 500 bucks from Nike for sickest trick of the day at Saturday's Jam Session. Visit: www.seaotterclassic.com/media.asp, Day 3 and Day 4 stories, written by Jacob Genaur and Tarek Rasouli.
Sea Otter's all about getting kids on their bikes and this year it's estimated that 70% of event attendees were under the age of 30 with a core demographic of 25-28 year olds. Part of the event's success in drawing youth is accredited to Sea Otter's Youth Outreach Program that focuses primarily on teaching bike safety skills. Along with the Leukemia Lymphoma Society's Pennies for Patients program and the folks at Bike Skills, Sea Otter's Outreach efforts resulted in 34 school visits in Monterey, Salinas, and the extended San Francisco Bay Area.
"Our mission is to introduce young people to the sport of cycling," said Frank Yohannan, president and CEO of the Sea Otter Classic. "We want to get them off the couch, away from their computer screen, and onto a bike."
Sea Otter, the four-day multi-sport cycling event / outdoor tradeshow expo, bills itself as the largest bicycling festival in the world. But if you were to ask any one of the 50,000 people who attended Sea Otter this year 'what exactly does Sea Otter mean to you' you're likely to get 50,000 different answers. A most interesting interpretation of Sea Otter came from Loren Mooney, Bicycling Magazine, in a story titled "So What's Sea Otter, Anyway?"
"With something for everyone, Sea Otter is what you make of it. If you want to know what it's like to attend the Sea Otter Classic bike festival in Monterey, California, start by recalling the last big-venue rock concert you went to... Mud paths show where the mini village's inhabitants have walked... People enter the world of Sea Otter, and they're in 'bike land.' For four days straight."
The most creatively displayed advertising slogan at Sea Otter was caught by media team ace Wendy Booher who noticed an inscription on Geoff Kabush's (Maxxis) left shoe that read 'DOPERS SUCK.'
Sea Otter's 'Path To Sustainability:
As we have mentioned in several announcements it is of utmost importance to the Sea Otter organization to leave smaller and smaller footprints on the Laguna Seca Recreation Area and the surrounding Fort Ord land. We're happy to report that after several days of cleaning up, seeding, reseeding, and vegetating the land, the Sea Otter team is well on its way to restoring the land in a better condition than it was received. Our close coordination with the Bureau of Land Management throughout the rain-soaked event, daily land maintenance, and lack of course impact on trails all received high marks.
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 Cycling' 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.