When you think of sea otters, you conjure up the image of an adorable aquatic mammal with a penchant for floating on its back like an overweight tourist in a casino pool. Unless you’re a cycling fan, in which case you’re probably aware that the strangely named bike race and trade show in Monterey, California (where a population of sea otters happens to live) has become a hub for brands looking to launch hundreds of new bike products for spring and summer.
The Sea Otter Classic has been taking place at the Laguna Seca Raceway since 1991 and has grown considerably from a small mountain bike race to a four-day festival with world class road and mountain bike racing as well as hundreds of brands exhibiting.
Unlike other trade shows, Sea Otter offers the opportunity to ride bikes on great trails in the sunshine. That makes it infinitely more fun than trade shows housed entirely in vast convention centers, where the only light is fluorescent, and the closest thing to single-track are the aisles between booths. The riding in Monterey isn’t only good, it fosters camaraderie among attendees; for instance, I pedaled the 150 miles from San Francisco down to the show with a gang of current and former pro cyclists.
Suitably exhausted, I’ll be hitting the open-air show floor (and nearby trails) and updating you on the latest and greatest in cycling gear under the California sun.
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