MONTEREY, CA (BRAIN)—The Sea Otter Classic will host one of the most important races on the U.S. mountain biking calendar this year. With the highest cash purse, and as one of very few UCI-sanctioned races in the U.S., the Sea Otter cross-country race will be essential to elite athletes looking for points to earn them participation at the Olympics.
The race is a part of the U.S. Cup, a new mountain bike competition comprised of an eastern and western series, giving its podium spots even more cachet. Expected to draw the best professional mountain bikers to races around the nation, the U.S. Cup will crown a champion at a series showdown in Las Vegas, the weekend after Interbike.
"Sea Otter is the shining star of the U.S. Cup," said Tom Spiegel, director of west coast operations for the U.S. Cup. "Its high-caliber racing has been making it one of the most important events on the calendar for years. We are thrilled that we can include it in this new national series."
According to Manuel Prado (Team Sho-Air), 2008 California State Champion, the Sea Otter Classic is the greatest mountain bike race in the U.S.
"It's even more important now that the cross-country race is part of the U.S. Cup series. With higher stakes, it makes the competition better and a podium spot more valuable," he said.
Gravity lovers will have their pick of great courses, including what is known as the best dual slalom in the world. And with more than 1,200 racers in 2008, the downhill competition is consistently one of the most popular downhill races in the U.S. More than a few endurance or road cyclists take advantage of Sea Otter's full schedule to test their technical skills on the downhill course.
Endurance specialists can race a short, high-intensity Short Track race one day, and one of the longest cross-country courses of the season on the next. Combining elements of both endurance and gravity races, the Super D is another great option for athletes looking for a new high-adrenalin event.
In their downtime, athletes can test bikes and accessories in the Product Demo area, or perfect their handling and jumping skills on the test track in the Ride Zone.
"There is no limit to the fun and surprises that can be had if you take advantage of all the cycling activities that Sea Otter has to offer," said Mark Davidson of Scotts Valley, CA who has participated at Sea Otter for 10 years as racer, camper, volunteer, and cycling advocate. "And the festival atmosphere and all the kids' activities make it a great family experience for all of us."
At no other event will industry VIPs and Olympic racers hobnob so closely with amateur athletes, cycling enthusiasts and children just learning to ride the trails.
Even the professionals enjoy the event's exhilarating buzz. "The Sea Otter Classic makes me feel like I'm at a World Cup," said Prado, who has raced at championship events around the world.