The Sea Otter Classic, produced by Life Time Events, is a classic and the largest festival and gathering of cycling enthusiasts in North America. Picked as one of our best gravel cycling events in California, professional and amateur athletes make the annual pilgrimage to Sea Otter to participate in over 300 events. Disciplines include gravel, cross country, downhill, dual slalom, short track racing, circuit, criterium, and road racing. The event takes place over four days in and around Monterey County, the famed Laguna Seca raceway, and the scenic trails and roads of the Fort Ord National Monument.
Sea Otter’s signature road race includes the rolling hills of Ford Ord National Monument as races do multiple laps (varies by category) of a 7-mile loop. It starts and finishes in the same location, Barley Canyon Road, which includes a steep climb to the summit. Sea Otter also offers Circuit Race options which offer the unique chance to race on the world-renowned Laguna Seca Raceway. Spectators and families get a chance to cheer on their favorite racers as they take on this exciting 11-turn, 2.4-mile closed circuit course with a 108’ elevation change. Finally, Sea Otter offers two Gran Fondos that cover the rolling hills and gorgeous coastal roads of Monterey County.
If you prefer the dirt, there are an incredible array of off-road events for gravel and mountain bikers. The “Fuego” cross counter MTB races test racers by the fire of the Fort Ord National Monument’s rolling hills and gravel trails. The itinerary includes three race distances: Short, 40k, and 80k. The Sea Otter Classic gravel race, “La Graviola,” challenges riders over 50 miles and 5000 feet of climbing. The Graviola course starts at the Sea Otter Bridge, climbs the famous “Corkscrew” on the Laguna Seca Raceway, and travels out to rolling gravel roads and steep climbs complete with rocks and sand.
Race Registration includes a 4-day Festival Pass, feed zone with water, chip timing, complimentary parking, medals to the top three finishers in each category, and race winners receiving a custom jersey.
The Sea Otter Expo, the event’s hub, pulses with hundreds of exhibitors displaying new products, offering free bike demos & samples, and exciting stunt shows. The Kids’ Zone is packed with activities while riders zoom around the Laguna Seca Raceway. The international food court, the Sea Otter Club, the Sierra Nevada beer garden, and the awards stadium are Expo hotspots. Hundreds of professional athletes are present to share their racing techniques and sign autographs. No other event gives you close-up access to your favorite brands and cycling heroes!
Taking part in the Sea Otter Classic not only takes advanced training but also requires advanced planning. The event attracts more than 50,000 people. Fortunately, there is a wide range of camping and lodging options at the event and in the greater Monterey, Carmel, and Salinas regions. If you’ve not visited this area before, you’ve probably heard of its beauty which is simply world-class. The famed 17-Mile Drive, Monterey Cannery & Aquarium, and Big Sur provide incredible outlets for a long weekend or longer.
Life Time Events, Sea Otter’s producer, is a premier US event organizer. Life Time recently announced the inaugural Life Time Grand Prix! The series feature 6 of the most iconic cycling events and the best cyclists in off-road cycling. The challenge combines mountain biking and gravel riding disciplines. The events are all around the country, including the Sea Otter Classic, UNBOUND Gravel, Crusher in the Tushar, Leadville Trail 100 MTB, Big Sugar Gravel, and Chequamegon MTB. The biggest prize purse in U.S. cycling, $250,000, will be split evenly between men and women. Each series event will be streamed live and on-demand on FloBikes, part of the FloSports network.