Australian cycling enthusiasts and industry members will have to wait another 12 months for the Sea Otter Bike Expo to come to this country, with organisers announcing the maiden Sea Otter Australia will now be held from 28th September to 2nd October 2023.
However, spin-offs of the cycling extravaganza will begin to appear later this year.
Bicycle SA originally announced in 2019 it was staging an Australian instalment of Sea Otter in 2020, only to postpone the event in 2020 and again in 2021 because of the COVID pandemic.
Organisers were then on track to hold the inaugural Sea Otter Australia in Canberra’s Stromlo Forest Park from 29th September to 3rd October 2022 but have put it on hold for another 12 months to allow enough time to deliver a world-class event.
“This wasn’t a decision we took lightly. We have big goals for Sea Otter, and we believe that this additional time will allow us to debut as a wholly new, world-class event format,” organisers said in a statement released on Tuesday.
“We have been working full throttle behind the scenes to re-shape the event so that Sea Otter will provide a more contemporary and more impactful experience. Our commitment to design and deliver a truly unique community cycling festival is resolute.
“Since the first industry consultations in 2019, we have been looking at ways to extend the
life of Sea Otter Australia beyond the weekend festival.
“We believe the capacity of Sea Otter as a national event to drive positive change can be carried throughout the year, and it’s this work that we’re kicking off in 2022.”
Organisers said a new program of regional engagements would be released in the coming weeks.
“Sea Otter Australia will work with community cycling clubs and regional events to drive greater access and equity for everyone who wants to make cycling part of their lives,” the statement says.
Bicycle SA and Sea Otter Australia CEO Brett Gillett said as a springboard to launch the event in 2023, Sea Otter aimed to support local cycling communities as they bounce back from the exceptional challenges confronting Australian communities in recent years.
Sea Otter pop-up events will form a national network of activities that will build excitement for the festival and, more importantly, help local clubs get more people on bikes.
The original Sea Otter expo, held annually in California’s Monterey Country, is widely regarded as the world’s largest celebration of cycling, attracting more than 9,000 athletes and 74,000 fans each April.
It started life as the Leguna Seca Challenge mountain bike race in 1991, changed its name to the Sea Otter Classic in 1993 and is now part of the Time Life corporation.
Its events, expo and demonstrations now cover many cycling disciplines, including mountain bikes, gravel, road, touring and urban riding.
Organisers of Sea Otter Australia say they aim to incorporate a similar gamut of disciplines, to provide a complete celebration of cycling.