Cross Country and the “Sea Otter Course”
Every year, eager cyclists wait for the March 1st release of cross country Sea Otter course. This date is established by the Bureau of Land Management to minimize the impact on the trails that would come from athletes riding the “Sea Otter Course” year-round. For the same reason, Sea Otter rotates the amateur XC courses every three years.
For 2019, Sea Otter has responded to requests from professional athletes to include both short and long pro cross country courses. Short course cross country racing is the preferred format of international professional mountain bikers—courses that average 3-5 miles in length. Short courses are spectator-friendly—easy to watch the action and the racing is closely contested. Longer cross country courses are what Sea Otter has been known for over it’s 29 year event history.
The 2019 schedule includes both short and long courses. The Thursday pro-only race is a four-mile circuit featuring steep climbs, a couple of rock gardens, and parts of the famous Laguna Seca Raceway. Sunday’s long-course cross country harkens back to the days when professional and amateur athletes raced together on the same course. Sunday’s cross country race features close to 30 miles of Fort Ord National Monument trails which will certainly challenge racers of any age and ability. Sandy climbs, flowing singletrack, and gravel road climbs are all staples of the Sunday Sea Otter cross country race.