Sea Otter in the bag

DSC08711The 2013 Sea Otter Classic lived up to its reputation as a staple of the yearly cycling calendar. The formula is almost guaranteed:  racing at all levels, in all genres, on a closed down auto race course. Add in an expo with manufactures from all segments of the industry. And finally, sprinkle in a little camping on site to make the entire 4 days nothing but cycling goodness for the whole family.

This year – while perhaps a little hot and dusty for some tastes – didn’t disappoint. The vendor expo itself could easily fill a full day with products ranging from hardwood helmets t0 on-board, electronic controlled tire pressure regulator systems. There were handmade carbon builders next to crafters selling jewelry made from upcycled bicycle parts like chains, sprockets and tubes.

New meaning to the word "blockhead"??
New meaning to the word “blockhead”??

While I’m not sure what I think of the hardwood helmets just yet, I was pretty impressed with with tire pressure system from ADAPTRAC – something I’ll be writing about here shortly.

The racing itself would have been enough to fill 4 or 5 weekends itself. Road, MTB, CX… it was all there. There is nothing quite like watching the peloton come flying around “The Corkscrew” in the road circuit races.

DSC09169The event does an especially good job at the family-oriented activities. The vendor swag alone would be enough to keep many treasure-hunting children active. However, IMBA and Specialized teamed up to host a dirt track for kiddos of all ages – complete with a large compliment of bikes available for loan – from gliders to fully geared youth mountain bikes.

For those slightly older, There was a full-size BMX ramp complete with inflated crash pad allowing kids of all ages to push the boundaries of their ariel stunts in a safe manner (more photos available here). After enjoying a beer and watching the ariel acrobatics I found myself seriously jealous about not having a BMX bike of my own to give the ramp a whirl.

About the only thing lacking from this years Sea Otter was the much hoped for conversation between USA Cycling, UCI, event promotors, team representatives and pro racers regarding USAC licensed rider participation in non-sanctioned events. While the UCI has since backed down from enforcement of the rule essentially banning licensed riders from participating in unsanctioned events, they have nonetheless left open the possibility of enforcing the rule next year. Unfortunately, USAC decided the issue was up to the UCI to discuss, and the UCI declared no discussion was necessary, so no such meeting of the minds ever manifested at Sea Otter. Perhaps it is for the better, as it allowed me to focus my time on some great bike racing in a festive atmosphere while sharing the time with my family.

Note: VeloReviews Fitness Editor Al Painter was also in attendance this year. Look for stories from him, and others, in upcoming blog posts and on the next episode of the VeloReviews Podcast.