The first edition of Sea Otter Australia was clobbered by coronavirus in 2020, but the ultimate cycling festival is planning a comeback this year – with a vengeance.

Set to debut at Canberra’s Stromlo Forest Park on October 1-4, Sea Otter Australia is partnering with one of toughest gran fondo events south of the equator, Fitz’s Challenge.

Fitz’s organiser Ian Ross, said “We’re really excited to align with the festival and announce the hosting of Fitzs’ Challenge 2021 as the Gran Fondo event for Sea Otter Australia. We look forward to all our previous participants returning, and attracting even greater numbers as part of this festival weekend.”

First held in 1989, the 165km Fitz’s Challenge on 3 October is Australia’s longest running gran fondo cycling event. With 2940 metres of climbing in the Brindabella Ranges, including the sufferfest Fitz Hill with 2.4km at 15%, it is brutal.

It is also known for unpredictable weather. In previous editions riders struggled through rain and wind for hours or started in chilly 4C before sweating like pigs in 40C at mid-day!

Riders making it to the finish line within the 9 hour time limit are usually just happy to survive and, if they have any energy left, can barely manage to fist-pumping the air in celebration.

In addition to the gran fondo road event, Sea Otter Australia plans to showcase all things cycling; a consumer expo featuring all the latest product releases, mountain bike rides, gravel rides urban rides demo bikes and much more.

Sea Otter Australia is the latest location for the 30 year-old Sea Otter series, now also held in Europe (Girona, Spain), Canada (Blue Mountain) and United States (Monterrey).

Worldwide Gran Fondo and Gravel Event Calendar