Known as the ultimate “celebration of cycling,” the Life Time Sea Otter Classic, a four-day event held at Laguna Seca Recreation Area in the rolling coastal hills near Monterey, brings more than 10,000 athletes and 65,000 fans together for an action-packed series of road racing and mountain biking contests. Everyone from Olympians to fearless kids take part, with events ranging from tensely contested criteriums to mud-splattered recreational mountain bike rides for all ages and abilities.
This spirited event, held roughly 10 miles inland from the coast, includes just about every kind of cycling contest, including cross country, downhill, dual slalom and short-track racing events for mountain bikers, and circuit, criterium, and road events for skinny-tire racers. Also offered are cyclocross, open-to-all grand fondos for road and mountain bikes, and assorted noncompetitive recreational events. It all attracts not just cycling enthusiasts and competitors but celebrities of the sport, from current champions to legends of the sport like Thomas Frischknecht, Ned Overend, and Gary Fisher. Gearheads also zero in on the event’s massive consumer bike expo, with vendors selling bikes, parts, clothing, and more.
As much as there is for serious cyclists, the Sea Otter Classic also has plenty to visitors not participating in races. There’s an international food court, and aspiring kid cyclists can hone their two-wheeled skills on pushbikes or pedal bikes at the Specialized Kid Zone, an entirely enclosed area with a course dotted with obstacles appropriate for various ages and riding abilities (helmet required). Bike-free activities include the Sea Otter Egg Hunt, open to kids 8 years old and younger, and the Sea Otter Carnival in Sea Otter Village has games, arts & crafts, and scavenger hunts.
In addition to numerous hotels in the area, visitors can also opt to camp or rent a family RV in the Laguna Seca Recreation Area’s campground.