sea otter classic gravel race title

Sea Otter Classic Gravel Race & Family Off Road Tour Roundup

Year three for me of the Sea Otter Classic may seem like it’s old hat, but reasons to return continue to expand

Being named an ambassador this year made my participation a no-brainer, though it also aided other incentives as well.

To start, my focus was the revamped Gravel Race that had improvement in year two, but this edition looked to go a step further with adjustments I approve.

The most notable change was the reduction of milage from 60 to 48 that allows more racing allowing to use up your energy better when needed and leaving far more time to enjoy the festival.

Also, the two lap format was again left in place which is a good compromise for beginners that may just want a shorter effort.

Probably the most talked about change was the elimination of single track which irked some riders wanting more swivel action, but I felt some of these trails were too technical for a good faction of the racers while also creating bottlenecks.

My largest issue racing was the fog leaving me to lose my glasses early on making eyesight on the descents tenous.

The geography of Fort Ord doesn’t allow for the longer, sustained climbs of other events as I’d describe the pitches as punchy with the on/off switch always flickering.

It was easy to meter my exertion level out there save for the Rock Cobbleresque bump on mile 4 that it would serve you to walk rather than go into the red this early.

My biggest mistake was handling the final two and a half mile climb to the finish treating it with an all out effort instead of conserving energy on the the flatter sections and saving it for the final quarter where it gets noticably slanted.

Sea Otter Classic Gravel Race 2024

Overall, I was happy to finish 13th in my age group and hope the race stays similar to this going forward.

Scanning the festival, it was hard to find ground breaking innovations within as looking at the smaller brands specializing in their own field is where I found the most interest.

Redshift Sports new Top Shelf handlebars have literally been flying off the rack while Ortlieb’s Front Pack is a light and easily attachable system that could come in handy.

In terms of bike dynamics, no major shifts with Sava’s Dream Maker the largest eye catcher as I’m still questioning the fork design though it is reasonably priced.

A lot of swinging on the Sea Otter Classic Gravel Race

Central to this trip was having my family join for the first time specifically for Sunday’s Family Off Road Tour.

Initially billed as an all ages ride, my radar went off when the released route notched in at 10 miles and 1,500 ft of gain that looked like a bit much for my 11-year old daughter.

The allure of starting on the racetrack definitely held, but after the climb where most of the kids walked headed out, we went off-course to avoid some of the tougher sections.

Avoiding the finish, we ended on the sweeping curves on the racetrack which was a big highlight, but seeing how the gravel race has adjusted its course over the years, I’m hoping for more of the same on this route.

Bottom line, the gravel race is a keeper and my family enjoyed the festival enough that they’re eager to come back for year two, so what more can I ask?