I’ve gotten out of the habit of writing blog posts about our travels and what we’ve been up to! Blogs seem like they’re kind of out of vogue these days, you know? Seems like everyone’s over on YouTube or listening to podcasts— or getting their outrage fix watching/reading the latest news and politics. It’s okay though, writing is rather therapeutic for me, whether or not anyone’s out there seeing it. Someday I’ll have it to look back on; and with my awful memory, I’ll be grateful for the record!
Sea Otter Classic has been such a fun annual excursion for James and me. It combines both our loves—RVing and cycling— so how could we not want to attend?! Even better, Winnebago has been a sponsor as long as we’ve been going, so thanks to them, we’ve been able to score one of the best campsites in the area each year.
With something like 7,000 campers attending the 4 day event, the 60 or so sites available at the Chapparel campground are VERY competitive and next to impossible to get. Everyone else sets up camp in the various parking lots or grassy fields around the raceway. Though honestly those aren’t bad either.
The rolling hills around the Laguna Seca Raceway (just outside Monterey CA) make it one of the most scenic raceways in the US. It borders the breathtaking Fort Ord National Monument, which is a bucket list worthy destination itself.
So, what exactly is Sea Otter Classic?
Sea Otter is a huge cycling festival, where 70,000 people attend over the 4 day fest. You can sign up for all sorts of cycling races, but the majority of attendees don’t actually race.
Most are spectators at the races or they just go to check out the fun vendor area where hundreds of cycling-related booths are set up. If you want to take bikes out for test rides, just leave your drivers license and take a spin! The cycling vendors host lots of events during the 4 days, too. Scavenger hunts, friendly group rides, happy hours, things like that.
It’s such a blast to camp right on site during the event! It changes the whole Sea Otter experience compared to just going for the day. I especially love how you can hear the announcers excitedly giving play by plays carrying up to the campsite, and the crowds cheering. It sets such a cool vibe being there, surrounded by fellow cycling enthusiasts.
One of the differences this year was that Sea Otter happened in the fall instead of spring. That worked just fine for us, and really, the weather was pretty much identical too— mid 60’s for highs, cold overnights, with lots of sunshine. We arrived a few days early so James could set up and work his pesky day job.
Since we were there early, we got to watch the Sea Otter setup happening. Getting any behind the scenes look is always interesting, and it was fun seeing the area before the crowds showed up.
Since I just got a new Orbea Gain bike, we used the pre-Sea Otter time to do some riding and test out the new whip! Riding into Monterey from Sea Otter is such a scenic, awesome ride.
The climb back is no joke, but so worth it for the scenic views and fun downhills on the way out. I was bummed that Orbea didn’t make it to Sea Otter this year, as I wanted to tell them how much I loved my new bike! COVID made travel hard for the European manufacturers, so it wasn’t just Orbea that was a no-show. Hopefully next year will be better.
Winnebago sets up a large booth in one corner of the venue, so, like every year, we made that our basecamp during the day. We got to talk RVing, meet up with friends and followers, and do some awesome people (and bike!) watching while hanging in the booth. Plus their booth is right along the track, so it’s a great place to catch various bike races happening out on the track.
There were two RV salespeople from RecVan working the booth. They were both cyclists, and they mentioned to James they had signed up to do a circuit race. James, being James, had immediate FOMO. So, with 30 minutes before race registration closed, James rushed up to the registration building, signed up…
…and the next morning at 9:25am, was racing.
MOST people who participate in bike races train for months. They eat right, they watch their data, they roll to the start with the right bike and a tuned-up bod. James had done none of these things. So! How do I say this nicely. Well, he had fun!
I do have to give him props for being brave enough to enter a race spontaneously like that. That takes a level of bravery and adventure-seeking I don’t have. And if anyone had fun, it was his little-but-enthusiastic cheering crowd that had gathered to watch him do his laps on the track!
So, that was probably the highlight of Sea Otter amusement for us both, his race. We also Ubered into Monterey twice during the event and had dinner with friends, which was lovely. That was probably the other highlight. Though is that weird to say a highlight of Sea Otter was leaving Sea Otter?
Perhaps that’s what I love so much about Sea Otter Classic. It’s not JUST Sea Otter that’s so special. It’s the other stuff too. Biking into Monterey, seeing the sea lions and seals, oceanside dinners, time with friends, hiking Fort Ord. So really, Sea Otter is the catalyst that makes the rest of it happen, too.
We hope to attend next April, but with our crazy schedules, who knows. Fingers crossed we can make it work! If not, we better be doing something just as amazing or I’ll be the one with some major FOMO this time around. Be well, all! Go exercise! ❤️