Sea Otter Road Race (Pre-2017)

Sea Otter Road Race

Promoter: Sea Otter

Course: There are many options at Fort Ord.  The Sea Otter folks use a nice loop on Fort Ord and then turn off to a finishing climb.  The two Strava Segments shown below are the Sea Otter lap and the finish climb.  I’m ignoring the neutral section from Laguna Seca to the loop where the race officially starts.

Sea Otter Lap:

Finish Climb:


Course Description: This is a classic hilly road race with several fairly major climbs and a whole lot of rollers.

Road Surface: The road is in good condition.

Gearing: Make it easy on yourself and bring the big climbing gears.  You aren’t going to win or lose this race because you do or don’t have an 11t cog.

Facilities: Everything you might ever need for your race is available at Laguna Seca during Sea Otter.

Weather: There have been some famous rain storms at Sea Otter, but they have moved the event a bit later in the year and that has seemed to make a difference.  It can even be kind of hot if you’re lucky.

Feeding: The feed zone is on the Parker Flats climb and they provide neutral feeds.  Usually both water and whatever energy drink is sponsoring at that years race.

Rules Specific to this race: Most of the course should have a full road closure.

Race Advice: This is mostly a race of attrition. The climbs are hard enough to separate the chaff from the wheat, but not hard enough to shatter the field. There are two big obstacles on this course, the Hennekens Ranch climb just after the start of the lap and the Parker “Flats” feed climb.  Add in lots of rollers and some wind from the ocean just in case it’s not hard enough for you.  There are a couple of rolling hills that will make your legs hurt and get surprisingly large by the end of the race. And then you run across MORE ROLLERS. IT NEVER STOPS! You’re pretty much always going either up or down on this course.

This race really isn’t super tactical. The riders will decide pretty quickly whether or not they’re up for riding this one aggressively or not and start riding accordingly. What this usually means is that a few riders will do a lot of attacking and the rest will do a lot of chasing. The 1/2/Pro race is the only one that really long enough where the riders will play tactical games a maybe let somebody go for a while with the idea of bringing them back later. So for most of the races if you’re strong you’ll either have to do a lot of attacking to wear the riders down, or save up and give one blistering attack later in the race when everybody is tired.

This is a classic course for doing the drift. Early in the race start the climbs in the front of your group and go just a little easier than everybody else. Slowly drift back in the pack and save your energy. After the climb work your way back up front and do it again on the next hill. Remember they’re not giving out KOM or stud points for leading the group over the top of a hill.

The finish hill is a pretty long slog and with tired legs it will be tough.  Be careful though if you are in a small group as there tends to be a headwind that can take away some of the advantage that a strong climber might otherwise have.  If there is a headwind, the climb is probably not going to be steep enough to just grind somebody off of your wheel unless you are a LOT stronger than them.

This course  is really relentless. It’s always up and down and will slowly beat you up. You definitely can’t fake it here. You’ve got to have the legs to do well. By the way, I recommend this race highly.

Corrections and additions, please email me!

Kevin Metcalfe


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