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April 11-14, 2019: 29th Annual Sea Otter Classic, a Celebration of Cycling

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The 29th Annual Sea Otter Classic is April 11-14, 2019. Grab tips below. Registration opens November 1. Register at

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For a preview, see a 38-photo feature story from Bicycling Monterey, “Scenes and Tales from Sea Otter Classic.

Sea Otter Classic is Monterey County’s world-renowned Celebration of Cycling that includes pro and amateur racing plus so much more!
For example, if you like to shop by bike, or on foot, and you’re looking for something bike-related, head to Sea Otter’s Expo. It’s North America’s largest bicycling exposition; the 2018 SOC had over 500 exhibitors. Locate specific exhibitors at Sea Otter Classic by looking up their booth number on SOC’s exhibitors list, then locating that on the SOC expo map. (The map is normally accessed via  the SOC website’s “Getting In and Around” page; once there, scroll down to “Festival & Expo Maps.”)

SAVE THE DATES: April 11-14, 2019.

Check back later for 2019 updates to this post.
New in 2018 regarding Sea Otter’s primary venue (where most events take place):

“Hey, I thought we were going to Mazda Raceway!”

“Nope. It’s WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.”

What’s up with that? Effective April 2018, “Laguna Seca Racetrack — home of world-renowned bicycle, motorcycle, and automobile events —was renamed WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

10 Tips for SOC 2018 was redesigned by their new IT team last year. Links in these 10 tips have been updated for 2018 and were current as of April 4, 2018.
  1. SOC schedule:
  2. Directions? Refer to
  3. The SOC “About” section for 2018 includes FAQs, as well as history, weather, lost and found, child safety, dog policy and resources, and will-call info:
  4. Stroll through North America’s largest bicycle exposition, where you’ll find over 500 vendors in 2018. Look for these exhibitors.
  5. Of course! Participate in or watch racing, from amateurs to world-class professionals. In 2018, SOC races includes: Pro Racing —Cross-Country and Short Track, Downhill, Dual Slalom, Enduro, Road, Circuit, Criterium, Cyclocross, and eMTB. For Amateur Racing—Cross-Country, Downhill, Dual Slalom, Enduro, Road, Circuit, Criterium, Cyclocross, eMTB, and on April 21, 2018, the Brompton World Championship USA.
  6. Enjoy a fully supported recreational ride—SOC’s Gran Fondo options. For 2018, choose from four: the 49-mile Coastal route, 91-mile Carmel Valley route, 19-mile Mountain Bike tour, or 29-mile Gravel Grinder tour. Details:
  7. Bringing a daughter age 7-13 to Monterey County? Consider a one-, two-, or three-day camp experience like no other: Little Bellas Day Camp at the Sea Otter Classic. Sabra Davison and Sarah Schreib head up the group of mentors leading the 2018 camp.
  8. Boys and girls twelve and under find plenty of activities for kids all four days at the Sea Otter Classic. Start with:
  9. Sea Otter Classic includes everything from yoga classes to a beer and BBQ garden. Here’s a sampling of some of the festival fun:
  10. To contact an SOC team member:

Earth Day is April 22nd every year.

On Earth Day or any day at Sea Otter…

Bike valet stations are available for those who bike or bike-and-ride. See “Directions by Bike,” “Complimentary Bike Valet,” and other transportation tips in SOC’s “Getting In and Around” section.

Sea Otter Classic encourages making use of refillable water stations to reduce the use of single-use plastic. (Need some motivation? Check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s info on plastic pollution.)
Many people bring their own tableware too. Reduce, reuse, recycle bicycle, love your planet!
Find helpful tips on this website? Make a contribution.

Welcome to bike-friendly Monterey County!

One way Monterey County shows its bike-love is by the hundreds of spots countywide that provide discounts, on Thursdays year-round, to people who help HER / Mother Earth by biking. That includes on Sea Otter Classic’s Opening Day!
Check out the list of participating businesses and organizations: HER Helmet Thursdays Guide – 8th Anniversary Edition – Participants as of 30 Nov 2017

Image below © 2018 by Sea Otter Classic

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Why walk your bike in the pedestrian bridges and such at Sea Otter Classic? Because approximately 75,000 attendees are typically expected.

Advisory: was redesigned by their new IT team for the 2017 season. On this and many other websites, links to SOC’s website may now lead to pages that first appear irrelevant, or to “no longer found” results. How to deal with that?
(1) If using the search window, you may find that—as with the example directly below—a search hit there first appears irrelevant. However, if you scroll down the “hit” page, you’ll usually find the desired info on a subpage.

For example, the page formerly known as “Visit Monterey County” was now under SOC’s “Riding Your Bike” info. Once there, it’s necessary to scroll down to the subpage dubbed “Riding Monterey Trails & Backroads,” where you’ll find SOC’s tips formerly titled “Visit Monterey County.” 

(2) Instead of SOC’s search window, you may get better results using a search engine, such as Google or Duck Duck Go. If so, type + whatever you’re searching for.

For example, if you’re looking for info about dogs at Sea Otter Classic, type: dogs

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Sea Otter Classic

Monterey County’s world-renowned

Celebration of Cycling!

Sea Otter Classic isn’t just about racing. Far from it! Read on…

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For some of Bicycling Monterey’s posts from previous years at Sea Otter Classic, click here. You must might see someone you know!

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Are Sea Otter Classic’s festival passes beyond your family’s budget?

Contact the Sea Otter Classic Foundation about volunteer opportunities. Wonder if they have enough volunteer spots? A Sea Otter Classic 25th anniversary newsletter stated, “People who donated their time to volunteer at Sea Otter in 2014: 2,000.”

Throughout your stay in Monterey County, when you’re looking for bike-related resources, start with Among this site’s 600+ posts and pages are a 33-section Monterey County Bicycling Resources directory and a 20-section Tips for Bicycling Monterey County guide.
Monterey County does not yet have a bicycling coalition, and the Bicycling Monterey site serves as the county’s bike information hub. See About Bicycling Monterey to learn more about this grassroots effort. To contribute, and for FAQs, click here.

Who ya gonna call?

For questions about Sea Otter Classic, contact an SOC team member:

Questions about biking Monterey County?

Contact Bicycling Monterey founder Mari Lynch, a Monterey County resident and local business owner since 1981. Phone Mari anytime with questions or for additional info.

Can’t reach Mari immediately and have an urgent question? Other reliable help is available from Jan Valencia, the Velo Club Monterey Answer Man. Contact Jan via the VCM website: You can sometimes catch Jan on Twitter too: @jvalen – 

Jan Valencia

For additional contacts, refer to Monterey County Bicycling Resources and Bike Community Leaders.

Local news sources

Besides Bicycling Monterey, where else to look for bicycling and other news?

What’s the buzz? 

The solar-powered, local, independent Monterey County Weekly is the largest circulation newspaper in the county. It comes out late Wednesday nights and is available free at newsstands, on the Weekly’s website, and in a mobile edition.

Voices of Monterey Bay is nonprofit, multicultural news source launched by veteran local journalists Mary Duan, Joe Livernois, and Julie Reynolds Martinez in October 2017.

Monterey County Herald is a daily, a Digital First paper in print and online.

The Salinas Californian is a Gannett paper, in print and online; Gannett also publishes the weekly Off 68 and the Spanish-language El Sol.

Carmel Magazine65 Degrees, and the weekly newspaper Carmel Pine Cone are available free on newstands. They also have online editions.

Additional Monterey County Visitor Information

The Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau provides the See Monterey website and As their “Top Ten Bike Rides” post indicates, “For more information on bicycling in Monterey County, visit Bicycling” (a.k.a.

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NOTE: Although most of the information below is relevant for any year, it has not been updated for 2018.

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Sea Otter Classic week is a fantastic time to visit Monterey County, and for locals as well as tourists to feast on the biking scene! You’ve heard about the county’s Car Week? Well, this is Bicycle Week, with Sea Otter Classic and Bicycle Leadership Conference both taking place this week.
You thought Sea Otter Classic was just about racing? Incredible races, sure! And Sea Otter is much more than just racing. It’s a bike fest, with festival activities for all ages (yup, kids too), Gran Fondo recreational rides, North America’s largest bike exposition, and more. With about 75,000 attendees, you might think of it as one big bike party!
That’s right, an estimated 75,000 bike-lovers attend Sea Otter annually—about 10,000 pro and amateur athletes and 65,000 other bicycling enthusiasts. Sea Otter Classic is a Celebration of Cycling for people of all ages interested in all types of bicycling.

Below are dozens of tips for Sea Otter Classic as well as tips on CA bike laws, Monterey County sidewalk biking ordinances, and much more to help make SOC week a great time for all!

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For the latest information, visit —including SOC’s newsletters in the media section. Sea Otter is also on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Tips below were for 2016, but most will still remain relevant for (keeping in mind the advisory above about SOC’s website redesign resulting in broken links).
Click here for a few Expo scenes from April 17, 2015.
Below: “Thanks, Dad, and I can see just fine:  I see the world will be a better place when more people bike!”

Anneka Esborg often comes with her father, Erik Esborg. People for Bikes will again be in the same area in 2016. Look for them at Booths 204, 205, 206, and 207.

Find useful info here? Contributions in any amount are appreciated.

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Kira, Aaron, Sieg 2000 SO racers

Things to know

about Sea Otter Classic

Advisory: The list below was last updated in 2016. In addition to any changes in activities, etc. for subsequent years, be aware that—as mentioned earlier in this post—SOC redesigned their website in 2017, resulting in many broken links on this and other websites. Make use of the updated list above, 10 Tips for SOC 2018.
  • Sea Otter reports that one of the top SOC hotline questions is “How do I get there.” Here ya go: directions, parking, and tips for those who prefer to ditch the car.
  • Festival hours, including the Expo, are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thurs, Fri, and Sat; and 9-4 on Sun. A very few Sea Otter activities may be scheduled to begin shortly after 5; click here for detailed schedules on the Sea Otter Classic website.
  • A new smartphone app debuted at SOC in 2015. Read about it in the 3/19/15 Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN). See “Sea Otter goes high tech with smartphone app,” and note the closing remarks about Monterey County Parks infrastructure updates and public WiFi. (To save time and data, it’s recommended to download the app before coming to Laguna Seca.)
  • Races? Oh, yeah! Amateurs as well as pros may register to participate in most races. You may be curious to read some stats about the evolution of Sea Otter racing; click here.
  • Not a racer? SOC races are exciting for spectators too. Check registered riders lists, such as Women’s Downhill, to watch your favorites–both amateurs and world-class professionals. You can see who’s participating in the Gran Fondo recreational rides too.
  • Recreational riders: Participate in Sea Otter’s Gran Fondos,   fully supported recreational rides. The Gran Fondo is for adults, and, when accompanied by parent or guardian, all routes may be appropriate for riders ages 12-17 as well. 
  • Recreational riders: New in 2016 is the Raleigh Open Road Tour.
  • Girls age 8-13 can register for one, two, or three days of Little Bellas Day Camp at the Sea Otter Classic, led by pro rider Lea Davison and her sister Sabra Davison.  Scholarships available–don’t delay.
  • Women’s outreach has become integral to Sea Otter. Click here to stay up on 2016 outreach to girls and women who bike.
  • Boys and girls age 12 and under find plenty of free activities for kids all four days at the Sea Otter Classic. Check the Kids Outreach section.
  • The Festival & Expo section of the Sea Otter Classic website includes everything from free yoga classes to the Sierra Nevada Beer & BBQ Garden.
  • Dog Policy and tips on kennels, pet-friendly lodging, and dog-friendly beaches are included on the Sea Otter website.
  • Have questions? Sea Otter has answers.
  • If you are participating as an athlete for the first time, see Lee McCormack’s  tips, “Your First Sea Otter:  What to Expect.”
  • SOC recognizes the growing interest in electric and electric-assist bicycles. New for 2016 are e-bike races. (And if you’re riding an e-bike elsewhere in Monterey County, refer to local regulations in Bicycling Monterey’s bike rentals section; click here, then scroll to “What about non people-powered bikes?”)
  • In 2016, SOC races are not all about lycra! Check out the Brompton World Championships. Men and women will race “in sport jackets, ties, and collared shirts (or the equivalent).” Also new in 2016 is the first-ever at SOC eBike racing.
  • As of 3/24/16, there are already 419 exhibitors registered for SOC’s Expo.

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  • Volunteers: Want a free 4-day Festival Pass, and other benefits? Contact the Sea Otter Classic Foundation about volunteer opportunities. Wonder if they have enough volunteer spots? In 2014, for example, there were two thousand volunteers! 
  • Children: Sea Otter very much welcomes children; besides the fun of outreach to kids activities, children 12 and under are free every day.
  • Military: Are you a military veteran recovering from a service-related disability, a retired veteran, or active duty personnel? Check out Sea Otter’s Veterans Program regarding discounted or complimentary passes for you and your family members every day.
  • Athletes: If you’re registered as an amateur or pro racer at Sea Otter, or to participate in a recreational ride (i.e., Gran Fondo, Mountain Bike Tour, or Open Road Tour), your admission is free every day.
  • And of course, you may purchase a one-day or four-day Festival Pass.

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Help Sea Otter walk more lightly on the land, and sea

Sea Otter encourages you to reduce, reuse, recycle–including by bringing a reusable mug, cloth napkin, etc. to reduce use of disposables.  See the  Food Court and Sierra Nevada Beer & BBQ Garden pages.IMG_0076

In case you missed it in the Expo notes above: Bring a reusable bag to haul your swag. Single-use plastic bags are no longer allowed in most of Monterey County, including unincorporated areas of the county, e.g., Laguna Seca. This reduces litter and helps keep plastic out of the Monterey Bay and other waterways. (Hey, we don’t want any sea otters choking on plastic!) Ask local White House Champion of Change Sarah Mae Nelson of the Monterey Bay Aquarium if you’d like to learn more. Sarah is on Twitter @snelson4618.

Sea Otter wants to help you bike to or around Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, if your schedule and stamina permit.  How? Visit SOC’s Ditch the Car webpage for tips.   And the Parking page includes tips for bikes as well as vehicles. 

Every mile of biking beats a mile of driving! That’s true for the health of our planet, as well as for personal health.  Like Sea Otter, the City of Monterey and other local cities encourage transportation alternatives.  Check out Monterey’s info on the environmental impact of cars.

If you’re able, please bike or bike-and-ride as much as possible throughout the four-day festival and your entire time in Monterey County.  Sea Otter knows:  This is an especially fabulous time for bike-lovers to visit Monterey County, including enjoying the bikeability of the neighborhoods surrounding many popular attractions.Vera of VCM 12 Nov 2012 2439 (2)

While your biking is benefiting the Earth, there are other benefits to you, among them:  Visiting history spots, farmers markets, and shopping districts by bicycle means you can avoid any traffic jams, get free and close parking, and have much more fun.

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Monterey County support for people who bike

One way we show our love for people who bike is providing Tips for Bicycling Monterey County.

Another way is by providing additional resources to help you and your buddies stay safe and legal while having fun!

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And remember: Monterey County’s special “red carpet” for people who bike will be out on Thursday, Sea Otter Classic’s Opening Day.

Hundreds of Monterey County businesses and organizations—participants in The HER Helmet Thursdays Project—encourage bicycling by offering discounts, on Thursdays year-round, to people who bike. And you bet. That includes on Sea Otter’s Opening Day. We wouldn’t think of making that day a restricted date!
Download the list of participating spots: HER Helmet Thursdays Guide – 8th Anniversary Edition – Participants as of 30 Nov 2017-2 (For the most current list anytime, visit the Listings/FAQs page.)
What’s The HER Helmet Thursdays Project? It was created and launched in Monterey County, as a public service, in 2009. This long-term ecology-economy sustainability project is also appropriate for other geographic locations. It is the first such discounts-for-bicyclists project in the U.S. and remains the nation’s largest. Click here to learn more.


Overnight lodging and camping, plus showers for day visitors:

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Coming early? Staying after? More things to do

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Tips for Bicycling Monterey County–a comprehensive guide

Refer to Tips for Bicycling Monterey County, a 20-section guide, including these and more:

Sea Otter Classic is for all ages

Sea Otter Classic is for singles, couples, and families of all sorts. It’s for a gal pal getaway, for hanging with the guys, for rallying your fitness buddies for renewed inspiration, or for kicking back with your neighbors for some party time. Many even make it a family reunion destination. Why not? Locals know SOC promises an action-packed four-day festival, and bike-loving visitors find it a great time to visit Monterey County!

SOC has activities of interest for toddlers to elders. Examples: Sea Otter Village activities. Click here for pictures of children at Sea Otter, and click here for moms and babies at Sea Otter. What? You think elders don’t bike? Monterey County has plenty of evidence to the contrary. Click here for examples–and know that you’ll find many of those faces at SOC too.

Make Sea Otter a part of your family’s history

The local family pictured below even made racing Sea Otter part of their homeschooling graduation requirements.  Dad also helped prepare the track in 1991 for the first Sea Otter Classic, then called Laguna Seca Challenge.

Kira, Aaron, and Sieg Magenheim

At the 10th Anniversary Sea Otter Classic, 2000. 

For an update on the family, click here.

Photo courtesy of Kay Magenheim


Weather updates:

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Bicycle Leadership Conference

We know you’re looking in on the Sea Otter tips, planning to enjoy SOC while you’re in town too! And we have tips for Bicycle Leadership Conference attendees as well.

Some of the info in this post was first published in 2012 and was last updated in 2016. The early portion of this post includes info updated for 2018—included updated links.

Feel free to phone Bicycling Monterey with questions.

The Bicycling Monterey website and projects were established May 2009 and remain an entirely volunteer gig for Bicycling Monterey’s founder. Contributions and volunteers are welcome and appreciated.

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