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Sea Otter Classic to rebuild downhill race course

Melissa Buhl (KHS) races to victory in the downhill at Sea Otter.

Melissa Buhl (KHS) races to victory in the downhill at Sea Otter. (Image credit: Dave McElwaine/

The downhill race course at the Sea Otter Classic at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California, will get a comprehensive makeover in time for the 2011 event in mid-April. The race has partnered with Truvativ and bike park builders Momentum Trail Concepts on the project.

Momentum Trail Concepts is designing and implementing the course renovations while Truvativ provided a trail maintenance grant, helping to underwrite the course upgrades. The two-week course build is slated to begin on April 3.

The proposed changes came about after a joint site visit by the three partners on the project. Located on the Laguna Seca Recreational Area in the Monterey County Parks system, the existing course was exhibiting signs of wear and tear causing impacts to the course's flow.

Late last year, Truvativ's Benny Cruickshank, Morgan Meredith and Tyler Morland approached Sea Otter's operations team with a proposal designed to enhance the quality, sustainability and fun factor for the track. The project gained momentum with the additional involvement of Momentum Trails Concepts. Thoughtful design and meticulous building practices will be employed to address rider safety concerns.

"Truvativ's parent company SRAM has never failed to creatively add to the event - for over a decade their partnership has made Sea Otter a better experience for attendees and competitors alike," said Sea Otter president and CEO Frank Yohannan, "Their contribution on the downhill course project and the high bar they've established for what success looks like maintains that tradition. Their efforts will make the 2011 course better for athletes in all categories."

The Sea Otter Classic annually draws top cross country and downhill racers from across America and the globe. At the festival, there is racing for many disciplines including downhill, dual slalom, cross country and short track.

"We love what the festival has come to mean to the cycling community and we're exited that we've been able to help coordinate the downhill, course project," said Truvativ's Morland, "We wanted to make an impact on the gravity side of the event that would benefit everyone. To Sea Otter's credit, they were in 100 percent agreement. The addition of Momentum Trail Concepts provided us with a partner that understood the history and the issues, yet brought practical-minded solutions to address them."

Progress on the course will be documented on the Sea Otter Facebook page.

In other Sea Otter downhill changes for 2011, a dedicated spectator shuttle with service between the expo area and downhill finish. Secondly, a beer garden will be installed at the finish. The move should attract more spectators to venture out to the downhill course, which is located far enough away from the main expo that in recent years, few spectators have ventured out to watch the pros action.

Melissa Buhl and Jared Graves won the most recent Sea Otter downhill in April of 2010.