“You guys should put on a mountain bike race.”
That simple statement from a Monterey bike shop owner in 1990 was the genesis for the Sea Otter Classic.
Co-founders Frank Yohannan and Lou Rudolph hosted the inaugural Laguna Seca Challenge on April 6 & 7, 1991. There was a total of 350 athletes and 150 spectators. Today the event hosts over 9,600 athletes and 72,500 fans. In 1993 the event was renamed the Sea Otter Classic and is now universally regarded as the world’s premier cycling festival.
Known as a sprawling and energetic “celebration of cycling,” Sea Otter is cycling’s North American season opener. Professional and amateur athletes alike make the annual pilgrimage to Sea Otter to participate in some of the sport’s most competitive and enduring events. Hundreds of pro cyclists, including national, world, and Olympic champions, attend Sea Otter to race and meet with fans.
Most of cycling’s racing disciplines are represented including mountain bike cross country, downhill, dual slalom, and short track racing. Road cyclists compete in circuit, criterium, and road racing. Also offered are a number of non-competitive recreational events for riders of all ages.
The Sea Otter Classic also hosts the world’s largest consumer bike exposition in North America. The Expo holds hundreds of vendors who display new products, distribute free samples, and offer great bargains. The four-day, action-packed festival includes an international food court, entertainment, bike demos, stunt shows, and activities for children.
The Sea Otter Classic is located in Monterey County, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
Future Sea Otter Classics are scheduled for the following dates:
May 20 – 23, 2021
April 7-10, 2022
April 20-23, 2023
April 18-21, 2024
April 10-13, 2025
April 16-19, 2026
Sorry, dogs are not allowed in the Festival-Expo-Sea Otter Village, including the racing areas. This will be strictly enforced.
The only area at Laguna Seca Recreation Area where dogs will be allowed—although not recommended—is at the owner’s campsite and owner’s specific (reserved) campground. Dogs must be leashed at all times. For details, please refer to the Dogs at Campsites—Rules and Regulations page under “Camping Adventure” in the “Camping and Lodging” section of our website.
Kennels. Non-residents attending the Sea Otter Classic may wish to take advantage of one of the many local kennels that offer boarding for your pet.
Pet-Friendly Lodging Providers. Non-residents who prefer to lodge with their pet, and are seeking an alternative to camping at Laguna Seca, will be glad to know that some lodging providers who offer discounted rates to Sea Otter visitors are also pet-friendly, including Hyatt Regency, Monterey; Los Laureles Lodge, Carmel Valley; and Mariposa Inn and Suites, Monterey. Beyond those lodging providers, you will also find this resource helpful: the SPCA of Monterey County’s list of pet-friendly lodging providers.
Playing Around Monterey County. If you are looking forward to also visiting other Monterey County recreational areas during Sea Otter week—perhaps including a walk on the beach with your four-legged friend—check out the SPCA’s list of pet-friendly recreation areas. You’ll learn which beaches allow leashed dogs, which allow them to run free, and other useful information. Hot tip: If Carl and Daisy are hoping to make some new canine friends, they’ll find Carmel Beach is dog heaven!
1. Is Sea Otter on social media?
- You bet…and tell your friends! They’ll likely appreciate your tip, especially if they win some of the cool swag we sometimes give away via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook: Click Here
YouTube: Click Here
2. Where do the race events take place?
- An overview is below, but the most of the action takes place at Laguna Seca, 1021 Monterey Salinas highway, Salinas, CA 93908. If you are a registered athlete, please also refer to pages for individual race events for the most accurate, specific location information. If you are a spectator, please respect any guidelines provided on-site as to appropriate viewing points; safety first!
Mountain Bike Races
- Cross Country (XC) – is on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property, Fort Ord National Monument. XC starts on the racetrack at Laguna Seca and finishes on the racetrack or on the Swale at Laguna Seca Recreation Area.
- Downhill (DH) – is on Laguna Seca property and runs parallel to B Road. Finishes at the bottom of B Road below the Gun Range.
- Dual Slalom (DS) – is on the Swale at Laguna Seca.
- Enduro – is on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property, Fort Ord National Monument.
Road Bike Races
- Circuit – takes place on the racetrack at Laguna Seca.
- Road – takes place mostly outside Laguna Seca (i.e., on Bureau of Land Management/BLM property). Starts on the racetrack at Laguna Seca and finishes on Barloy Canyon Road.
- Gran Fondos & Tours
- Gran Fondo Pacifico and Gran Fondo Carmelo – All Gran Fondos start at the Tire Bridge and finish in the Raceway paddock.
- Mountain Bike Tour and Gravel Grinder Tour – All Tours start at the Tire Bridge and finish in the Raceway paddock.
3. Is there any bicycle valet parking?
- Yes! Please refer to “Complimentary Bike Valet” on our “Getting In and Around” page for bike valet location, days, and hours.
4. What are the festival hours?
- Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Thursday, May 20 through Sunday, May 23, 2021.
These hours include the Expo with one exception: on Sunday, the Expo closes at 4 p.m.
5. Festival? I thought Sea Otter was about racing!
- The Sea Otter Classic is “A Celebration of Cycling”! It’s a festival for anybody who enjoys or appreciates the bicycle, for any reason.
That even includes a tot on a trike who’s only looking forward to a bike! This is a festival for tweens, teens, and twenty-somethings. It’s for Gen-Xers and Boomers and the Greatest Generation.
Whether a cyclist or a spectator, folks of all ages can share in the excitement and camaraderie of the Sea Otter Classic. If you love the idea of being part of a cool scene with active people who all share a passion for bicycles—people who are all a part of the cycling community—come!
Sea Otter is for road and mountain bikers. It’s for commuter bikers and recreational cyclists, and, yes, the Sea Otter Classic definitely draws the very best racers—both amateurs and pros!
6. What’s the cost of a Festival Pass? Any discounts?
- Please refer to the Sea Otter Classic shop page. Athletes will receive one Festival Pass with their registration. Do not order Festival Passes for athletes. (Note: Athletes do not receive additional Festival Passes with additional race registrations.)
7. Any activities for kids? What’s it gonna cost me?
- Yes, this is a family event with lots of special activities for boys and girls ages twelve and under. Please refer to our “Kids’ Stuff” page. And better yet, most of those kids’ activities are free.
You’ll be happy to know that all children ages twelve and under also get a free Festival Pass. Be sure to write your child’s name and your contact phone number on the inside of the wristband.
A popular activity for girls ages eight to 14 is the Little Bellas Day Camp.
8. Where’s the schedule for all four days?
- 2021 Event Schedule will be posted in January 2021.
9. Any transportation choices besides driving there?
- Yes! Please refer to our “Getting In and Around” page for specific tips on:
Biking: Some SOC attendees bike all or part-way to Laguna Seca. Our “Getting In and Around” page includes bike route suggestions, where to park your bike at SOC, links to local bike rentals, and links to other local biking resources.
Riding the local bus: Some SOC attendees make use of the Monterey-Salinas Transit Service (“The Bus”). Our “Getting In and Around” page includes bus schedule info for reaching Laguna Seca (limited days and times).
Bike-and-ride: As suggested on our “Getting In and Around” page, if you can’t bike all the way, or take the bus all the way, consider doing the bike-and-ride. For example, make use of bike racks on personal vehicles or on MST buses to bike part-way and ride part-way.
Lots of tips on taking your bike on an MST bus, along with info on some additional bike-and-ride options, are found in the bike-and-ride section of the BicyclingMonterey.com website (an info resource for visiting and local cyclists).
We encourage you to consider these and other alternatives to the car whenever feasible.
10. What’s the traffic like going into Laguna Seca?
- Traffic tends to be a little slow, especially on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. To be sure you reach your specific Sea Otter destination by the desired time:
- If traveling by motor vehicle, allow yourself an extra thirty minutes to get through traffic, beyond your normal driving time.
- If traveling by bicycle, you can zip past most traffic jams! Check out the biking tips (as well as tips on using the local bus system) on our “Getting In and Around” page.
Whether arriving by motor vehicle or bicycle, refer to our “Getting In and Around” page on our website.
11. How do I enter Laguna Seca Recreation Area?
- Please refer to our “Getting In and Around” section of our website for directions by all modes of transportation.
12. How much does it cost to park?
- Parking is free all week in Wolf Hill, our general spectator parking area. If you would like to park closer to the action, Parking Passes are available for designated areas inside the park. Please read the details on the “Getting In and Around” section of our website.
13. Will there be ATMs on-site?
- Yes, there will be ATMs throughout the venue. Their locations are marked on the festival map.
14. Will there be official Sea Otter Classic merchandise for sale on-site?
- Yes, we will have event merchandise available at the official merch booth. Look for “Sea Otter Boutique” on the festival map.
15. I pre-ordered merchandise, where do I pick up my stuff?
- Please pick up your preordered merchandise in the Athlete Registration building, also known as the Hospitality Pavilion. Look for “Athlete Registration” on the festival map.
16. What type of food is offered at the event?
- There are plenty of yummy foods available for purchase at Sea Otter along with refreshing alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Food choices range from fresh salads made from Monterey County produce to other vegetarian options to chicken, traditional American hot dogs, and barbecued meats. Refer to the “Brews & Eats” page.
Outside of event hours, when you’re off-site, you’ll find food choices ranging from farmers markets to fine dining.
Are you bringing or renting a bicycle? On Sea Otter’s Opening Day (as on Thursdays year-round), people who bike can get discounts from elegant and casual restaurants, coffeeshops, wine rooms, and more. (Discounts are also provided on lodging, educational attractions, entertainment, and related places.) How? Through the HER Helmet Thursdays project at BicyclingMonterey.com.
17. What are my options for lodging?
- Camping right at Laguna Seca is a fun way to experience the Sea Otter Classic! For information, see the “Camping Adventure” page.
For hotels and other lodging, check out our list of hotel partners. These provide special discounted rates to Sea Otter Classic visitors. Please refer to the “Lodging Comfort” page of our website.
Camping outside of Laguna Seca? You may wish to refer to the “Campgrounds and RV Parks” section of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau/See Monterey website: SeeMonterey.com. Camping info is also found at BicyclingMonterey.com.
More hotel/lodging options: If you’re bringing a bicycle, or renting one in Monterey County, you can get a discount on your Thursday night stay (Sea Otter’s Opening Day–as on Thursdays year-round) from lodging providers in the HER Helmet Thursdays project. See “How to get a lodging discount” at BicyclingMonterey.com.
Still more lodging options are provided in the “Lodging” section of the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau website, SeeMonterey.com.
18. What are the hours of camping check-in?
- The camping check-in hours are posted on the schedule.
19. Are dogs allowed at the Sea Otter Classic?
- Please see “Dog Policy/Local Resources” located above on this page. The Dog Policy will be strictly enforced.
Dogs are only allowed in campsites, with restrictions. If you will be camping at Laguna Seca and want to bring your dog, please carefully review “Camping Guidelines” in the “Camping Adventure” section.
20. What will the weather be like?
- May in Monterey is typically a lovely month. The mornings and evenings are often brisk, and the afternoons tend to be sunny. Laguna Seca is far enough inland that fog is not usually a part of most Sea Otter events.
While Laguna Seca is less likely to experience fog, other parts of the county will at times. It’s most common to find the fog in Big Sur, Carmel, Marina, Pacific Grove, and Pebble Beach. Monterey and Seaside usually experience less fog.
Inland locations, such as Carmel Valley and Salinas, typically get the most sunshine.
21. What type of clothing should I bring?
- In Monterey County, at every time of year, it’s smart to dress in layers. Why? If you travel around the county, you’ll find many different microclimates. Beyond that, from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep, you may experience weather changes repeatedly throughout the day.
A Monterey County day may include chilly morning fog, warm temps after the fog burns off, then cool temps again when fog rolls back in. And that pattern isn’t necessarily predictable! It’s not even uncommon to have 90-degree days in December (our winter) or cold days in July.
Although May weather here is usually quite pleasant, the weather is unpredictable. Anticipate a great day that may include a variety of temps—dress in layers!
Packing a rain jacket is a good idea. While winter months usually bring the most rain, it is possible to experience April showers.
22. I lost something! Where’s Lost and Found?
- Lost and found can be found at one of our information booths shown on the map. Please refer to the “Lost Items” tab above on this page for more information.
23. How do I sign up as a volunteer?
- Thank you for asking! Please contact Jeff regarding volunteer opportunities. Jeff Lindenthal may be reached via email at: email@example.com.
You may also wish to refer to the “Sea Otter Classic Foundation and Volunteers” tab on the “Our Community Involvement” page.
24. How can I contact a Sea Otter staff member?
- We’d be happy to hear from you! Contact us, by email or phone, with questions or comments.
The “Contact Us” page contains information on how to reach out.