Last weekend, the Sea Otter Classic, an annual event in Monterey, California, that celebrates the arrival of bike season, held the first-ever large-scale eMTB race. Participants rode motorized whips around a 1.5-mile course for 60 minutes and competed either in the men’s (by age), women’s (by age), or industry category. All the bikes had to be pedal-assist (no throttles), with just one battery (no mid-race swaps). Some riders took the event seriously and tried for the win, while others donned costumes and just tried to finish. In the end, Christoph Sauser, a former mountain bike world champion, landed on top of the podium. “It was something completely different,” he says. “It was as hard as any cross-country race I’ve ever done. The pacing is just a little… different.”
Photo: Two riders rip the big S-curve leading into the finishing straight.The event felt a lot like a laidback cyclocross race, with costumes, a lot of heckling, and beer hand-outs.“Turn up the turbo!” was the spectators’ favorite chant.Haibike had a fleet of bikes on hand for anyone who needed a loaner.Yuri Hauswald, from GU, sported his full Yeti getup as he raced in the bike industry category.Fans line the start of the first climb.Riders had to weigh the benefit of boost with the threat of running out of battery before the finish.Winner Christoph Sauser.None of the fruit podiumed during the first-ever eMTB race at Sea Otter, but they still seemed to enjoy the experience.Not Now
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