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April 19-22, 2018: 28th Annual Sea Otter Classic, a Celebration of Cycling

Check out a Bicycling Monterey special feature story, Scenes and Tales from the 2017 Sea Otter Classic.
Then SAVE THE DATE for the 28th Annual Sea Otter, April 19-22, 2018.

Earth Day is April 22, and SOC encourages making use of refillable water stations to reduce the use of single-use plastic. Many people bring their own tableware too; see “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” in SOC’s Brews & Eats section.

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.

The 28th Annual Sea Otter Classic is April 19-22. SOC 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 2017 SOC had  480 exhibitors registered. For a glimpse of the Expo, see some past years’ scenes on, e.g., here and here, or just type “Sea Otter Classic” in our search window.

Short link to this post:
Find helpful tips on this website? Make a contribution.

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

Advisory: was redesigned for the 2017 season. As a result, 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. If so, type + whatever you’re searching for.

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

* * *

Sea Otter Classic

Monterey County’s world-renowned

Celebration of Cycling!

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

 Below, dozens of tips
to make the most of your
Sea Otter Classic experience!

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

Short link to this post:

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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 males and females who bike. That includes on Sea Otter Classic’s Opening Day!


Check out the list of participating businesses and organizations:
HER Helmet Thursdays – Quick Reference Guide – as of 4 April 2016

HER Helmet Thursdays 5th Anniversary poster JQ2

Kira, Aaron, Sieg 2000 SO racers

Things to know

about Sea Otter Classic 2016

  • 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 Sea Otter 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.

HER Helmet Thursdays 5th Anniversary poster JQ2

Hundreds of Monterey County businesses and organizations—participants in The H-E-R Helmet Thursdays Project—encourage bicycling by offering discounts, on Thursdays year-round, to males and females who bike. And you bet. That includes on Sea Otter’s Opening Day. We wouldn’t think of making that day a restricted date! We’re thrilled all the extra cyclists are here.

Download the list of participating spots: HER Helmet Thursdays – Quick Reference Guide – as of 4 April 2016 (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:

Who ya gonna call?

For questions about Sea Otter activities, contact the Sea Otter Classic team.

For general questions about biking in Monterey County, contact Mari Lynch, (831) 375-6278, a Monterey County resident since 1981.

Can’t reach Mari immediately and have an urgent question? 

Other reliable help is available from Jan Valencia and Frank Henderson (below), plus contacts listed on Bicycling Monterey’s Main Resources/Monterey County Bike Community page.

Jan Valencia

Velo Club Monterey Answer Man Jan Valencia.  On Twitter – @jvalen – or email Jan via the Velo Club website.

Frank Henderson
Golden Helmet Award Winner: Frank Henderson

League of American Bicyclists instructor Frank Henderson.  Phone (Mon-Fri, 9-5), 831-755-6738 or email,

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

Local news sources

What’s the buzz? 

Looking for live music venues or other nightlife suggestions?

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.

Want recommendations on where to go?  Start here: “Best of Monterey County Bike-Friendly Award Winners.”

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 Media publication.

Gannett publishes the Salinas Californian and the weekly Off 68, along with the Spanish-language newspaper El Sol.

Carmel Magazine is popular with visitors, along with 65 Degrees.   These and more periodicals, including the Herald’s weekly GO! magazine and Carmel’s weekly newspaper, the Carmel Pine Cone, are available free on newstands.

Most of the above also have online editions.

Additional Monterey County Visitor Information

The Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s See Monterey website is useful, and their provides timely MCCVB tips.

Monterey Bay Adventures, from the Monterey County Herald, features additional things to do.


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 has been updated, again, for 2016.

Feel free to contact Mari with questions.

The Bicycling Monterey website and projects were established May 2009 and remain an entirely volunteer gig for Mari. They are provided as a public service, in collaboration with the community.  Contributions and volunteers are welcome and appreciated.

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