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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! ❤️
This seems like a long enough trip to get a handle on the Ekko’s real-world gas mileage. Can you tell us? And, do you cruise along at the speed limit or drive it like you stole it? 🙂
On this trip we’ve been seeing pretty much between 11-13mpg. And we don’t drive too crazy… 70 mph on interstates, and 20 mph on the Lost Coast’s crazy Mattole Rd. 😉
Thanks for the info. It’s disappointing gas mileage is no better than our 20 year old Roadtrek 200. I had hoped in twenty years there would be improvements in engine technology and aerodynamics.
The Lost Coast is cool, and best on a bicycle!
what bike are you racing on, it’s doesn’t look like your new one ?
Is that for me? Its my Trek Domane. It’s about 5 years old now, I think. Unfortunately, I showed up to this race with a compact crankset. Everyone just pedaled away from me on the descent as I spun out!
That’s the newest bike I have. Still love it!
I love blogs and am disappointed so many are transitioning to only YouTube videos. You really have to invest time and attention to sit and watch someone’s video, you can’t skim for the highlights, and it’s harder to do while multi-tasking. Plus … ads!!! Ugh!
So, keep blogging please, and I’ll keep reading! 🙂 (P.S. I do watch most of your videos, because they are so well done!)
Awww, thanks, Donna! Perhaps I will pick it back up. I’ve got lots to say about our adventures since leaving Sea Otter!!!
Barb and I would have loved to meet you. We live in Monterey and missed this year’s Sea Otter. Instead, Barb ran her 8th Boston Marathon. ( 29 marathons since turning 48-she’s 70 now). We do cycling vacations pulling our Micro Winnie but that is about to change because we ordered an Ekko 22A, largely due to your wonderful reviews. Kudos to James’ fearless enthusiasm doing the circuit race. We look forward to more of your helpful ideas with Number One.
Paul and Barb Lee
Congrats to Barb on Boston #8… wow, that’s so stinkin’ COOL! Definitely would have loved to meet you guys. And congrats also on your upcoming EKKO! Hopefully you’ll love it as much as we do. Perhaps we’ll see you next spring at Sea Otter 2022! ❤️
Loved the “Story.” Have been a fan of the Laguna Seca track since my high performance driving in my 1995 M3 BMW Car Club events while living in CA. Now, even though I still have the car, at 80, I am taming down a bit, excitedly waiting for my EKKO to be able to travel the US. I am getting to be quite a fan of your YouTube site and learning so much about the new EKKO before I pick it up at Lichtsinn RV in Iowa. Hope to catch up and meet you two some day on your travels. Good on you both for your energy and positive posts. Cheers and Happy Days, Sandy C
How fun you have history at the Laguna Seca track! So you know firsthand what a lovely area that truly is. Here’s hoping we do meet up someday out there!