Sea Otter 2009
By Gary Boulanger, US editor | Thursday, April 16, 2009 5.51pm
There's something for every bike fan at the annual Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California April 16-19, including professional and amateur dirt and road racing, new product demos, and a huge consumer expo with 300 exhibitors. Where else in the world can you see the goods, meet the stars, and ride the bikes?
Racers have been making the annual pilgrimage to Sea Otter for 19 years, participating in cycling's best competitive and non-competitive events. The mountain bike events include an epic Cross Country, Dual Slalom, Super D, Downhill and more. Road cyclists enjoy road racing on the former Ft. Ord property. They can also compete in criterium and circuit racing on the world famous Laguna Seca Raceway. For those who want to take a less competitive route, Sea Otter also offers recreational road and mountain bike tours. Cyclingnews.com and Procycling Magazine contributor Bruce Hildenbrand is one of the race announcers, always entertaining and never boring.
The Sea Otter Village - the central hub of the event -- is alive with the activity of free bike demos, stunt shows, kids' playhouses, an international food court, beer and BBQ garden, and live entertainment. Free to kids 12 and under are Sea Otter egg hunts, bike rodeos, kid's races, and much more. The Sea Otter Expo holds hundreds of vendors who display new products, give out free samples, and offer terrific bargains. Hundreds of professional road and mountain bike athletes come to Sea Otter to race, sign autographs, and share their racing techniques with the fans. The daily Expo runs from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
A few years ago, after many requests from fans and exhibitors alike, Sea Otter added a Product Demo Area to the list of ways to interact with this cycling-centric audience of consumers, athletes and spectators. Over 25 exhibitors will set up shop where the public can try out new products. Last year over 2,000 people tested products on roads designated for demo use as well as on bumps and jumps in the MTB Ride Zone.
Nearly 300 companies exhibit each year at what is widely accepted as the most important spring consumer tradeshow for cyclists in North America. With nearly 50,000 athletes and spectators walking through the expo, it is a perfect opportunity to show new products, interact directly with consumers, offer samples, sell closeout items and build brand awareness.
The USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour presented by Sho-Air (Pro XCT) is gearing up for the second event on the nation’s premier cross country calendar at the Sea Otter Classic on April 19. The Pro XCT men’s race is slated for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday afternoon while the women’s Pro XCT will begin at 1:45 p.m. Both races will start and finish at the Sea Otter Bridge. Dozens of the world’s top riders are expected to fight it out for the series lead on this classic course.
Big name riders
Following the first event on USA Cycling’s Pro XCT, the Fontana City National, Canadian Geoff Kabush (Team Maxxis Rocky Mountain) and Australian Max Plaxton (Sho-air-Specialized) lead the men’s standings ahead of Americans Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Subaru-Gary Fisher), Sam Schultz (Subaru-Gary Fisher) and Adam Craig (Team Giant). On the women’s side Luna teammates Georgia Gould and Catherine Pendrel claimed the top two spots while Heather Irmiger (Subaru-Gary Fisher), Emily Batty (Trek) and Willow Koerber (Subaru-Gary Fisher) round out the top five.
The 2009 USA Cycling Pro Mountain Bike Cross Country Tour presented by Sho-Air (Pro XCT) is also tracking the top male, female and mixed teams participating in the series. With one of seven series’ events completed the Sho-air-Specialized squad leads the men’s team standings while the dominant Luna squad is tops on the women’s side. Another powerful and well-balanced team, Subaru-Gary Fisher, is the current leader in the mixed team rankings.
A Category One UCI cross country event, this weekend’s Sea Otter Classic will feature international stars such as Specialized teammates Burry Stander and 2008 World Champion Christoph Sauser battling it out against series’ leaders Plaxton, Horgan-Kobelski and Craig, among others such as Leadville100 reigning champion Dave Wiens.
The Western hemisphere’s top women, including all the series’ leaders as well as Katerina Nash (Luna) and Catherine Vipond (Norco), are also expected to be in attendance at Sea Otter, making it one of the most competitive cross country mountain biking contests in the world.
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On the gravity side, multiple World Cup and World Champion downhillers Brian Lopes (Ibis), Steve Peat and Josh Bryceland (Santa Cruz Syndicate) lead the way in what will surely be an electrifying weekend of spills, thrills and gadget introductions.
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