The Sea Otter Classic is a bicycling and outdoor sports festival and exposition held each spring since 1991 at the Laguna Seca Recreation Area in Monterey, California. The four-day event is considered the world's largest cycling festival, drawing nearly 10,000 professional and amateur athletes and 65,000 fans. The Sea Otter Classic is named in honor of the southern sea otter, an indigenous mammal which flourishes along the neighboring Pacific coast.
The Sea Otter Classic charts a history loaded with significant developments in North American cycling. Since its beginning, the Sea Otter Classic has been the springboard from which companies launch new products, ranging from sports nutrition to state-of-the-art bicycle components. Spurred by the high level of competition, pro racing careers have gotten a boost by competing against international fields of racers that arrive at Sea Otter from around the globe.
The event has evolved from a handful of bike races held on a weekend to a four-day festival featuring a vast spectrum of activities ranging from road and mountain bike racing, recreational rides, a kids' carnival, and special outreach activities for women and girls. The Sea Otter Classic boasts the largest consumer bike exposition in North America. More than 450 vendors representing nearly 800 brands display new products and offer samples and bargains in what has been deemed the unofficial cycling season opener in North America.
Bicycle racing is still central to the event. Thousands of amateur athletes make the annual pilgrimage to participate in competitive events in various mountain and road bike disciplines. Hundreds of professional cyclists, including national and world champions and Olympic athletes, come to Sea Otter to race, sign autographs, and share their racing techniques with fans.
The Sea Otter Classic was founded by Frank Yohannan and Lou Rudolph. The inaugural event was held April 6–7, 1991. The first two events were held under the name Laguna Seca Challenge. The event name was changed to the Sea Otter Classic in 1993.
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