The Sea Otter Classic in Monterey, California, is the biggest cycling gathering in North America drawing some 74,000 people from all over the world to the Leguna Seca Raceway venue.
Part industry show, part racing festival, the four-day event hosts thousands of athletes as they compete in some 300 pro and amateur events, including the first round of the Life Time Grand Prix off-road series.
Held since 1991, just about every bike racing discipline is on offer, including gravel, cross country, downhill, dual slalom, short track racing, circuit, criterium, and road racing — all held in high regard.
But, in a recent petition on Change.org, female bike racers claim that in the gravel and xc mountain bike events, “Sea Otter's high standards are not upheld.”
With exception of the pro event, every women’s age category was started behind the men’s, often of lower categories.
“This is massively disruptive for female athletes' races because we are forced to deal with passing hundreds of men throughout the entire course, most of which is single track,” states racer Hayley Yoslov of the Branson Mountain Bike Team.
“It ruins the racing experience, and shifts the challenge of the race from a physical challenge to simply navigating other racers. There is absolutely no reason why capable young women should be starting behind 70-year-old men.”
With the petition, the women are presenting the organizers of the Sea Otter Classic with two potential solutions.
One, to sort riders by their category in addition to gender and age. Or two, start the men and women's categories at significant larger intervals to reduce passing issues.
"We urge the Sea Otter Team to create a more equal system of categories and start times that give athletes of any gender the opportunity for a fair race," Yoslov states.
Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Cycling Weekly's North American Editor, Anne-Marije Rook is old school. She holds a degree in journalism and started out as a newspaper reporter — in print! She can even be seen bringing a pen and notepad to the press conference.
Originally from The Netherlands, she grew up a bike commuter and didn't find bike racing until her early twenties when living in Seattle, Washington. Strengthened by the many miles spent darting around Seattle's hilly streets on a steel single speed, Rook's progression in the sport was a quick one. As she competed at the elite level, her journalism career followed, and soon she became a full-time cycling journalist.
Power vs aerodynamics: what is the best balance and how can I achieve it?
Watts and aerodynamics are two cornerstones of our cycling performance - but favoring only one will see you going slower than a more balanced approach. Here’s our guide to better optimising your speed
By Andy Turner • Published
Even Wout van Aert can lose his nerve: Five things we learned from the CX World Championships
Even with the absence of Tom Pidcock on the world stage, British cyclo-cross is in a good place
By Tom Thewlis • Published
Sea Otter organizers change race start times after student project causes a stir
Race organizers to amend start times to decrease passing issues
By Anne-Marije Rook • Last updated
Imagine having to pass 218 riders from different fields in order to contest your own race
In a recent petition on Change.org, female bike racers call for change in the Sea Otter Classic's gravel and xc mountain bike events
By Anne-Marije Rook • Last updated