Sea Otter Classic 2024

Harry Johnson

Active member
Sep 13, 2023
Spreckels, Ca
PART 1- Wednesday and Thursday:

Not a huge trip for us since we live about 15 minutes away from the race track, but we still pack up the motorhome, grab a campsite and stay out at the Sea Otter Classic for 4 days every year.

Why do we pay too much for camping and spend 4 days at a bike event that doesn't even have really big mountains(Ft. Ord doesn't have a lot of vert) to ride down? Pre kids my wife and I used to travel around racing downhill back in the day. During that time we met some awesome race friends, worked with some really cool companies in the bike industry, and generally had a really good time.


my love for tundra's originally came from how many people and bikes we could fit in my old gen 1 for shuttles... and that roll down back window was down more often than up.

Sea Otter is like a class reunion for all our dirt bag mountain bike friends, and so we go, try to get some racing in, see all the homies, and teach our kids how to be dirtbags as well.

This year was pretty special for me because my 6 year old told me he wanted to race DH. If he's in, I figured I better show him the ropes in a proper way, so Wednesday night, we did a track walk while the course was still closed.


Sea otter isn't known for their gnar gnar DH track. It's a 2 minute air dh type run that requires you to be a pumpertainous pedal masher to be fast. My riding style is more "monster truck with a 22re motor installed", so I had no delusions of grandeur , but I did have my sights set on having a good time.

Thrusday morning the fun started at the Kids Zone. Since we've had children, we pretty much spend 70% of our Sea Otter time here. They have bike demos for kids, a plastic pump track of doom that breaks little kids off if they don't know how to go around a berm, and a pretty fun dirt pump track. There's also a grassy area setup to corral the little ones with some toys and shade.

My 6 year old got some "Dad Time" with me Thursday morning so he could take off of school and practice DH while my wife was teaching a class and my youngest was still at pre-school.


After that, we had some time before DH practice officially kicked off for the "youth" classes, so we went hunting for free stuff. First on the list was getting our bikes cleaned up at the muc-off booth

It turns out Shimano had paid to have some barristas come in and make coffee for anyone who needed it. 6 year olds definitely DON'T need caffine, but they DO need fancy hot chocolates, even if it's shaping up to be a hot day at Laguna Seca.

Just before practice, we met up with my wife, youngest, and some other local little buddies to cruise around with. The dudes from Hyper Bikes were putting on a pretty good show:

Being the largest dad in the group, I became the designated bike stand any time the kids needed to put their bikes down:

Post-schwagging, we got on course for some practice laps. Not a lot of pictures, because to be honest, I was nervous as heck that my kid's first DH practice was a good experience. I even screwed up the gopro angle I strapped to my helmet because I was more focused on getting him dialed in to ride. We had a solid crew of little buddies all racing for their first time and their associated moms and dads.


Post kid practice, I handed my son off to my wife and it was my turn. I haven't seriously raced anything in probably 10 years, so shaking the cobwebs off was going to be.. interesting. Luckily Thursday's practice was combination of Expert(not sure how I am still in this class) and Pro, so it's not like there was any stress of rolling down a race course for the first time in 10 years with a bunch of really fast dudes. Gee Atherton's redbull helmet bobbing in line 4 guys in front of me definitely didn't make me question what I was doing or anything. Turns out all my butterflies were for nothing. There was enough people on course for that one hour Thursday practice that we all pretty much rode down in a congo line sitting on our seat the whole time. I'm not sure where the traffic jam started, but it was pretty much the whole course.

After that, it was back to camp for a fire, and some stacyc shenanigans
Last edited:
PART 2- Friday and Saturday (Kid race day😬)

Friday morning, my kids got up early. Like... really early. Like, the hot chocolate stand and the rest of the venue were not really open yet early. So we grabbed some electric bikes and decided to rip a lap on the famous Laguna Seca race track:

coming down The Corkscrew:

After that, a short kid's zone sesh went down. My son figured out he could convince the Woom bike people that he was tall enough to test ride their 24" ebike.

That was cool and all, but I was really excited that the juniors had an epic 3 hours of practice carved out for them on the DH course. Again I sucked at pics/vids, but the crew we had got bigger and the kids were more comfortable ripping laps... and oh boy did we rip all the laps.

View attachment 23639

Due to our youngest falling asleep in the RV and napping for waaaay longer than anticipated. I spent most of my practice time meeting up with another DH kid dad to watch him while I tried to get at least one lap in. Luckily the line was smaller and the pace was faster, so I got to actually hit the course at speed.


One new thing, that I kind of like about Sea Otter is that now your overpriced race registration also comes with free food. Due to all the kid practicing and napping and running around trying to find a back up DH dad to watch my son, I missed lunch. So the free food and beer in their fancy racers only tent was appreciated. While my kids spend all sea otter trying to run around and get free stickers and hats, I spend most of my sea otter trying to run around and get free beers. The black tallboy in the background was a Maxima oils IPA. They branded the beer can to look just like one of their bottles of lube. Beer wasn't half bad either.


Everyone headed back to our camp for a fire and dinner and we found out about a sea otter tradition that has been happening since the otter started in like '96 or something. Up in campground B, people gather at the view right across from our campsite with conch shells and beverages at sunset and blow the shells until the sun goes down. Pretty rad ending to the day:

Saturday morning it was race day for the kiddo. He busted out a some solo practice laps before the race with his buddies, and figured out that the crazy shirt he wanted to race in over his body armor was a bit too hot. My wife did get a picture of him in practice leaving the gate with it on tho

We headed back to camp, grabbed some snacks, and water, and a whole cheering section, and the headed up to the start.
First race:

I also had a chance to give him some last minute dad advice:

"If you care if you win, everywhere it's hard to pedal, pedal as hard as you can. If you just want to have a good time, forget all that and pull up for every jump and don't forget to smile." He was a 6 year old racing 10 year olds with bigger wheels on a pedaly course, but I figured if he wanted to try to put in a heater, I'd at least tell him how to go about it.

He had a blast, didn't win or anything like that, but finished mid pack with a bunch of older kids. Cool! He told me later he wants to go to other DH races... so, that might be a thing we do now. I tried to make sure his little bother and I gave him our best DH dirtbag spectator yells as he passed. Next year I need to remember cow bells

PART 3 Coming Soon.


  • 1714496387503.png
    2.9 MB · Views: 2
PART 3- Saturday Dual Slalom, Sunday I tried to ride a bike fast.

Now for those of you that don't know much about sea otter, there is something that happens on Saturday that is vastly more famous than the kid's DH race (as cool as that was). On Saturday afternoon/evening, the pros battle it out on one the last dual slalom races in existence. The racing is freaking awesome to watch, and I wish more venues would bring it back. It's so cool and such a priority for me to make sure my kids get to see it, that I built a special bike (very shitty bike) out of old parts in my garage just to haul kids and snacks and jackets and sunscreen and(most importantly) beers up to the DS course each year. Both of my kids have been going since they were born.


Previously I talked about how Sea Otter was a reunion for all my dirt bag mtb homies. Well, if you missed any of the homies the rest of the weekend, you definitely saw them here. I'm stoked the kids are already building those racing buddy bonds:

I think I might have hit peak dadness here:

One of the local firefighters on standby for the race is a local shredder as well, so the kids got a pretty rad spot to watch most of the race:

Post dual slalom, we loaded up the kid bus and headed back to camp


Dad campsite supervision in full effect.



Grom built track is also for toy trucks

The final Sea Otter 2024 blowing of the conches
View attachment 23720

Sunday all the pressure was off! My kid had successfully raced and loved it, my wife was ready to goof off in the venue, and I just had to figure out how to ride my bike down the hill without embarrassing myself... but first, we had to hit the kid's zone, because kids.

After THAT though, I went to get a few practice laps in, and go race. Somehow there were less people in line for practice than any other day of the week, so I ended up getting enough party laps to even grab my gopro and record one. I was cracking up because the song that came on in the start gate is the same one my buddy would belt out at the top of his lungs on a long downhill whenever he gets a chance. (note: I never figured out that rhythm section at the end, thought I had it that last time and them went straight into the one tiny mud hole and lost all of my speed.)

No good race footage of me, but the wife did snap some pics and my boys got to watch, so that was cool.


Also there was another dude on course taking pictures with a fancy camera. He caught the difference between practice run jump fun and race run mode. Same jump, different lines for sure.


I got smoked pretty good by most of my class, but I was shooting for not being more than 30 seconds slower than the top pro time on a 2 minute course, and I came in 29 seconds slower, so uh.. win? All in all, a pretty rad sea otter.



  • 1714501686996.png
    2.6 MB · Views: 0
Last edited:
I’m pretty sure my uncle had one his class there at that race his name is Victor Sheldon and he also runs the quick and dirty races