Drawing over 10,000 athletes and 65,000 spectators, the Sea Otter Classic (SOC) was on the weekend of April 16-19th at the Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Salinas, California. Now in its 14th year, the SOC has become the opening event for the mountain bike season. Located inland from scenic Monterey, the SOC is an event that has withstood the test of time, and has mushroomed into the biggest cycling event on the West Coast.

Consisting of almost any type of bike event imaginable, they offer dual slalom, downhill, cross-country, group fun rides, kid’s rides, ladies’ lounge and, this year, the SOC topped it itself with a new event— the Gran Fondo—92 miles around the “scenic Carmel Valley and Monterey Peninsula.”

The Weird

So much weird here, and that’s why we love the SOC. It’s like the Burning Man of the bike world. New products are rolled out, brews are ingested and folks are flamboyant in their dress and behaviour.

Pro downhiller Amanda Batty’s course walk for her Proving Possible campaign–only because the four women chosen to race the SOC DH at the first DH didn’t show up for the course walk with Amanda. If you had a chance to learn from one of the best, wouldn’t you? Weird!

The Wonderful

Catching up with Ride SFO–a traveling bike shop based out of Potrero Hill—Ride SFO is over 10 years old and has given the Best Coast events like AT’s Showdown, The SF Bike Expo and the Red Bull Ride & Style. Check out their website http://www.ridesfo.net to stay up-to-date on their events!

The Gold Rusch Tour—with an all-star cast of MTB Mama’s that include Lindsey Voreis, Kat Sweet and many others, Rebecca Rusch hosted both round table events and leisurely rides. Lindsey is incredibly inspiring and leads the life she preaches—”Ride bikes. Be happy.”

Girls Rock out of Santa Cruz teamed up with Specialized Bicycles Components, and Olympic athlete Lea Davison was gracious enough to coach the beginners while the intermediate gals trooped around the fire roads.

The Wacky

Consisting of almost any type of bike event imaginable, this year’s SOC topped it itself with the Gran Fondo—92 miles around the “scenic Carmel Valley and Monterey Peninsula.” While there’s a 52-mile road ride and 24-mile mountain bike ride, those 92 miles are placed firmly in the wackiness crown front and center.

Meeting—and flirting shamelessly with—Aaron Chase. While waiting for Amanda Batty, Aaron Chase showed up with a small production crew to film for The World of Adventure. Meeting and exchanging bawdy lines with Aaron was certainly wacky, but worth it.

Lastly, the wackiest thing I saw was a young friend of mine—16-years-old dressed as a Fox Girl. It breaks my heart to see her being valued for her beauty when she has so much more to offer. It undervalues her, and women on the whole. While she was happy to represent, I cried silently behind my sunglasses. Way to go Fox, on minimizing women, and their contributions the sport. There’s nothing wackier than undervaluing a person in this sport, regardless of their sex.

From the SOC website:

Future Sea Otter Classics are scheduled for the following dates:

April 19-22, 2018
April 11-14, 2019

Author Bio

Joh Rathbun, owner of Ride On!, is a mountain bike coach and action sports writer currently based in Santa Cruz, California. To stay uptodate on West Coast events, like her Facebook page.