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Scenes from 2024 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey County

The 2024 Sea Otter Classic in Monterey County—a Celebration of Cycling—was April 18-21.
Save the dates for 2025: April 10-13.

This lil sweetie pie did not seem happy to be leaving Sea Otter on Sunday afternoon. But as Dad told the three children he’d brought: It’s over, kids. Time to bike back to the car!

First though, the big kids paused to make a chain adjustment. Only a little coaching was needed from Dad.

All those yellow t-shirts at SOC (e.g., below)? Sea Otter Classic Foundation volunteers! They make the busy bike valet station, and so much more, successful.

The couple below, from the Sacramento area, love to ride. Some of their rides have been multiple sclerosis fundraisers, as his t-shirt attests. Often their rides are steep, such as Mount Tamalpais, and they are considering e-bikes for the years ahead.

This duo, representing SOC Expo first-timer Carver Surf Racks, hail from Colorado and Germany. As we told them, we surfed years ago—in our former MoBay town, Santa Cruz, but now leave bike-to-surf to others!

Once upon a time, the world of cycling, especially racing, seemed meant for males.

Ha! Those days are gone.

Panel discussions at SOC 2024 included Women in Cycling USAC, featuring Mari Holden, Crystal Anthony, and Erika Lehman, on April 19. Catch a video snippet below.

On April 20 another panel featured a woman in cycling leader, Marley Blonsky. We first heard of Marley’s work in 2021, thanks to Shimano.

Racing that had our attention included the Elite Dual Slalom, in particular because we celebrate a first-time competitor we’ve known since her childhood: Monterey County native Taylor Merritt!

Above and below: Taylor Merritt competes in her first Dual Slalom at Sea Otter Classic. 
All three photos on the Dual Slalom course provided courtesy of photographer James Short.

Taylor celebrating at the finish with her wife, Sam Merritt.

San Juan Bautista City Manager Don Reynolds (below) was sporting a familiar purple shirt at SOC on April 19 that immediately caught our eye. Like Bicycling Monterey, Don was happy to see the Salinas High School Cowboys Racing Mountain Bike Team members Jennifer Morillo Vega, Jack Denny, and Diana Rivera celebrated on the cover of the April 18-24 issue of Monterey County Weekly. As a former Cowboys coach, Jeff Lindenthal, pointed out: Don dedicates so much time to the Cowboys, and is also an all-star Sea Otter Classic volunteer for many years, helping out with so many aspects of the event.

All three of Monterey County’s current high school cycling teams were represented at SOC.

  • Salinas High School Cowboys Racing Mountain Bike Team, the oldest high school cycling team in Monterey County, is part of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) NorCal League
  • Rancho San Juan High School Mountain Bike Team, the county’s newest, is also a NICA team in the NorCal League, as it has been since the founding of the school in 2019. 
  • Monterey Bay Lightfighters Composite Mountain Bike Team gives students in grades 9-12 from any Monterey County public, private, or homeschool/unschool—unless their school already has its own team—a way to likewise compete in NICA’s NorCal League. Currently Lightfighters is primarily composed of youth from Monterey and surrounding cities.
  • Questions? For contact info, see section 7, “high school cycling teams” in Bicycling Monterey’s 35-section Directory of Monterey County Bicycling Resources and Bike Community Leaders. BTW, see our 2017 post “Champions” for why we so value these teams.
  • All three of these Monterey County teams are co-ed / gender inclusive. We remember when the oldest team, the SHS Cowboys, was mostly boys. Then in the 2013-14 school year, something new happened: of the 53 students signed up to ride, 17 were girls (the prior year there had been only three girls). The women in cycling tide had shifted! And of course that’s evident all over Sea Otter Classic today.
Moots Cycles at SOC

Moots Cycles tantalized us with a preview of the Moots Express. The more that Patrick Clark of Moots told us about the Express, the more we wanted one! Check out FAQs about the Express on the Moots Cycles website. We are sorely in need of a new bike (just ask us), and the Express set us to dreaming of better-than-ever rides for the years ahead. This e-assist’s 100-mile range is something we’d be very grateful to have, for covering our big county. (Monterey County has 3,281 square miles of land!)

Tern Bicycles at SOC

Tern Bicycles was already on our radar, due in part to acclaim by a physical therapist we admire, whose partner and he use Terns to transport their children, do grocery shopping, etc. We stopped by the Tern booth, and soon a Tern model had our rapt attention—thanks to a thoughtful introduction by Dale Aguas, sales director for Stile Products, Inc, an exclusive distributor of Tern Bicycles. Which model? The Tern NBD: We were impressed by the NBD for many reasons! Among those, as Dale demonstrated: NBD’s FlatFold feature, which “makes it easy to fit the bike into trains, buses, RVs, and even smaller cars. Just lower the seatpost, fold down the Physis Handlepost, and the NBD transforms into a low and flat package.”

Park Tools has a steady presence in the SOC Expo. We’ve been especially tuned in to their tool quality since we launched the Monterey County Probation Department Youth Center Bike Classes in April 2012, because nearly all the tools used for the class are Park. That was the brand recommended to us by Joseph Crabtree, a top-notch local bike mechanic whose counsel we sought before Youth Center tools were purchased. BTW, that class has its 12th anniversary in April 2024 only because of faithful volunteers Frank Henderson and Luciano Rodriguez!

Monterey County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Bike Unit photos below were provided by team member Sierra Rad, following our request made at SOC. She responded with speed and precision—hallmarks of a reliable Search and Rescue professional!

Scot Smythe, a member of the SAR team, is also a member of the Sheriff’s Emergency Assistance Team (SEAT). On the day this photo was taken, Scot was riding as a SEAT member but was on his SAR bike. He wears many hats! 
Hitting the trail: Wesley Hayward and Sierra Rad of MCSO Search and Rescue Bike Unit
At Search and Rescue’s SOC booth: Sierra Rad

Maha’s Lebanese Cuisine on Alvarado Street (closed to put family first) is missed by many Monterey visitors and residents. People can again experience some of those flavors—and greet Rashad and other of Maha’s family members—at various local special events, including SOC. Along with dolmas, baklava, falafel, tabouleh, hummus, and other Lebanese foods, Maha’s offered typical festival food at SOC too. They were located across from the Sierra Nevada beer garden.

Kids Zone at SOC has transformed and expanded over the years, thanks in large part to helpers such as Monterey Off-Road Cycling Association (MORCA), a chapter of International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA)

Bowhead, a Canadian company, has bike models that call for a personal intro, and we appreciated our time hearing directly from one of the Bowhead users stationed at their SOC booth. As we posted on @BikeMonterey’s Mastodon account, we also appreciated Monterey Herald reporter James Raia’s article about Bowhead: “Adapting the cycling experience to overcome physical challenges”; check it out at

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This post was published on 22 April 2024. One or more changes last made to this post on 26 April 2024.

  1. Don Reynolds says:

    Thanks for including the Salinas High Cowboys MTB team in your coverage! A salute to NICA as well.

  2. Sieg Magenheim says:

    Wow Mari, nice coverage.

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