Well, our first official hosting gig at Sea Otter Classic just wrapped up and I’m declaring it a success!
We’ve camped with friends before at Sea Otter, but never as the official group “hosts”.
If you’re not familiar with Sea Otter, it’s the nation’s biggest cycling festival held annually in the gorgeous Laguna Seca Recreation Area; the rolling hill country just outside of Monterey, California. Not only is there every genre of bicycle-racing to watch, but there are also something like 500 exhibitor booths to visit, group rides rolling out, and bikes to test-ride on the demo tracks set up right on the grounds. Sea Otter is pretty much what every cycling nuts’ vision of heaven must look like.
Plus there are famous people lurking about that you can accost to take photos with you:
Winnebago is one of the major sponsors of Sea Otter. And since, as y’all know, we occasionally take on various projects for Winnebago, hosting a camping group at Sea Otter seemed a natural fit for us. Our two loves in one spot: cycling and RVs.
Here’s a crazy thing about Sea Otter. Camping in the official campground is very competitive and next to impossible to secure. Registration for the premium spots opens in June of the year before and sells out in days… even at the going rate of $120 a night.
Since Winnebago is a major sponsor, they automatically get a handful of the best sites out there. That’s how our jobs as camp hosts came to be.
I pulled in my Travato-driving buddy Staci James to help with the hosting, and between us we spent months planning the Itinerary of Fun for our group, determined not to let it become a sit-in-your-lawnchair kind of gathering.
Being we’re the FitRV and all, we couldn’t plan a meetup without a couple workout classes:
We busted out TRX’s, resistance bands, and mats for some boot camp classes, and I’m proud to say I had the highest attendance percentage (over half our camping group) I’ve ever had at an RV gathering. YAY FOR THESE FIT RVERS!!!
And of course there was riding:
We led a group ride on Friday, and then on Saturday the majority of our group was signed up for various Sea Otter fondos… I did a 50 mile road fondo, James did a 94 miler, and there were also a gravel grinder and a mountain bike fondo happening concurrently. As always, the fondos started SO EARLY! Cold and foggy start thankfully cleared up pretty quickly.
Our camping group had exclusive access to an event building right in our campground. This turned out to be such a bonus. It was a great home base, and got loads of use in the evenings for happy hours, game nights, and live music jam sessions.
We also used it when Trek showed up to reveal their 3 new releases, and allowed us to take them out for a spin. This was extra cool since they weren’t allowing these bikes to be demoed down at the fest grounds… only media and our group got to try them out. So thanks to Trek for showing a little love to our camping group; we felt extra special having this opportunity!
The campground borders the incredibly breathtaking Ford Ord National Monument. So naturally hiking happened a few times:
Beyond all the extra things our camping group did, there was the festival itself:
Turns out not only did the camping sell out this year, so did the festival. People come from all over the world to attend Sea Otter and the crowds were insane. It was SOOO great that we were there camped and didn’t have to deal with the crazy parking and traffic that happened during the fest!
Winnebago had a booth down in the middle of it all that was constantly jam-packed with fest-goers.
Our camping group had their own little VIP section in the back of the Winnebago booth that remained stocked with drinks and snacks and we had exclusive access of it any time during the show. As big as the show is, it was nice to have a space to chill, regroup, and swig something icy cold before setting off again.
So now here I sit, the morning after Sea Otter wrapped up. We’re currently at a campsite few hours south of Monterey, in the Solvang area, here to bike it up for the week. It’s so strange that I’ve spent months on this Sea Otter thing and now it’s over. As I’m sitting here reflecting on it, I’ve got two main thoughts:
One. There’s something indescribable that happens when you attend a group camping event like this. Something special when complete strangers come together over a shared love of something; in this case, biking and camping both. You leave with new bonds formed and the potential start of long-term friendships. There is research that shows having a healthy social life actually extends your life, and the satisfied way I’m feeling right now, I totally get it.
Two. I’m so freaking proud to be driving a Winnebago. Seriously. I have no clue how much money it costs Winnebago to come to a show like Sea Otter, it must be a ton, something beyond my comprehension. And yet they pay it and show up at this event that has nothing to do with RVs. Winnebago has a goal to promote healthy and active RV lifestyles, and showing up here is one of their ways of doing that. I absolutely love that about this company. Sure, they’re in the business of selling RVs and making money, but spending money on an event like Sea Otter shows a higher level of caring about their customer. So yeah, I’m a proud Winnebago ambassador.
Anyways, enough of my rambling, I’m still sitting here in my PJs, with Mel curled up at my feet and James nagging me, “Are you done yet?” He’s itching to put the spandex on and roll out.
If you’re a cycling enthusiast, I hope you’ll put Sea Otter on your bucket list and come join us next year. But be warned: James hosts a crazy Team Trivia night and pulls no punches. So hone up on your cycling and camping trivia and maybe, just maybe, YOU’LL earn the Top Secret Prize Bag.