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Sea Otter Classic
Monterey, California: March 16-19, 2000
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The big one-oh. It's been 10 years since Rick Sutton and his merry crew of organizers captured our sport's collective imagination when they devised this favorite pre-season event. Ten years since the Sea Otter Classic has been kicking off the bike racing season and giving us all (okay, not all) an excuse to spend a long weekend in Monterey, California.

We'll be celebrating a decade of fun this weekend, when the biggest Sea Otter yet descends on this picturesque Northern Cal seaport and including every type of cycling event you can imagine: BMX, road, and, most importantly for us Zoners, mountain biking. We, our new knobby tires and rear shocks are quite pumped.

Riders and teams around the world have literally been counting down since last year's World Championships to this weekend's pending showdown — the two UCI (Union Cycliste International)-sanctioned events are literally the sport's competition bookmarks. Except this year, because the Olympics mark the season's end, but that's another story. Winter training (or, in the case of many downhillers, Sony Playstation training) has prepared the sport's best for the recently completed training camps and their first test of skill and speed.

"With amateur racing in every category, even out-of-shape guzzlers like reporters can hit the spectacular loop that is the race track and blame the bike later when they DNF..."

The Sea Otter, with its three-stage mountain bike race, legendary dual slalom event and newly added downhill event, is a true celebration of all things bike. The team trucks roll in with new logos painted on their sides, while riders arrive with new uniforms and – as is often the case – new teams as well. It's the place to catch up, sweep out the cobwebs of winter and get ready to tumble.

This year the event returns to the Laguna Seca Raceway, adjacent to Fort Ord. The vast empty lands of the base offer up awesome terrain for racing, while the big paved valley of Laguna Seca makes a great base camp for teams and exhibitors. You can't take two steps without tripping over a refreshment stand, vendor stand or top pro honcho. We can already taste the calamari.

One of the best features of the Sea Otter is that it's inclusive, meaning everyone can get in on the action. With amateur racing in every category, even out-of-shape guzzlers like reporters can hit the spectacular loop that is the race track and blame the bike later when they DNF (Did Not Finish).

The schedule is too full to detail here, but the big pro events take place Friday (time trial), Saturday (dirt crit and dual slalom) and Sunday (cross-country and downhill). There are actually 20 mountain biking events on the schedule, so there's never a dull moment.

Starting lists will feature a veritable who's who of pro cross country racers, all of whom will be tuning their legs up for the following weekend's World Cup kickoff, in nearby Napa Valley. Top downhillers will be there to test new equipment and get their season's first big race out of the way, so bring your autograph books and cameras as they'll all be there. will be covering the pro events with daily updates and photos, so check back on the 18th for coverage and results. And if you're in the Bay Area, come by and visit. We'll meet you at the snack bar.

Ari Cheren, coffee in one hand and travel websites in the other, ramping up for the season and

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