11am. We had to be in Downieville by 11am for a special ride. A VIP ride if you will. Paul Components bought a morning shuttle to do the classic Downieville Downhill shuttle. There were 12 spots and Kyle and I had to boogie ASAP from Northstar. Luckily, long nights and early mornings were the norm on this trip, so we loaded up the ‘Cruiser and headed to Downieville.
Now, the Downieville Classic is a race, unlike any other I’ve been to and I’m saying that post-event. The allure of events like this is that it’s a fundraiser marketed as a race and it’s a damn tough course. There are two days, filled with two different kinds of courses. Saturday is the XC race and Sunday the DH race. Who ever gets the best place in both gets crowned “All-Mountain.” But there’s a catch. To do the DH race, you’ve gotta do the XC race and you’ve got to use the same bike. They weigh them each race to ensure you didn’t swap out anything!
Back-pedal a bit, to our VIP Ride. Paul invited myself and Kyle, along with many of his close friends to take on Butcher, to 3rd Divide, to 1st Divide. It’s an amazing ride, filled with plenty of rowdy moments and lightening fast descents. Downieville is a technical trail network, but you can ride it on anything, as evident from our group, ranging from a singlespeed cross bike, to a rigid singlespeed mtb and a full sus. Kyle and I were on our 150mm travel Stinner hardtails. We all had fun, at our own speeds and stuck together for the entirety of the ride.
The next morning, we awoke to a very full and alive town of Downieville. Everyone was racing around, prepping for the 9am start time in Sierra City. This includes multiple shuttles to the nearby town where 800 racers would take off, up a gnarly, hour long climb. Kyle and I decided to ride to lower 1st divide, so we pedaled up our own route with Scot from Ibis. Thanks, Scot!
There we sat for over an hour, waiting on the racers to come through, but don’t fret, we found a great swimming hole to bide our time.
When the racers finally came through, what I witnessed was a glorious scene. Everyone was shelled! Hell, I didn’t see a single smile until the finish line, where I walked around taking portraits and hugging friends. Even the locals were stoked on the positivity that spread through the town like a head cold on the NY Subway.
All that was left in the day was the river jump, where spectators became the spectacle as they flung themselves high in the air and into where the Downie and the Yuba rivers converge.
It wasn’t until late in the afternoon that we decided to skip town for a mountain top campsite. I was exhausted from bike talk and wanted to get away from it all. Sleeping in my truck that night, I realized just how moved I was at being in Downieville. These days, any time positivity like that gets injected in your day to day life, it really resonates with you.
The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship keep the trails in the Lost Sierra rideable and they do it because of YOUR support. The Downieville Classic is part of the Triple Crown series, featuring Grinduro, Lost and Found and the Downieville Classic. ALL proceeds from these events go to the SBTS and if you’ve ever ridden MTB trails that they’ve worked on, you know they deserve it.
Thank you to everyone who made this race such a magical experience!
The trip home was amazing too!
If you’re in this gallery and want a photo for your personal use, here’s a link to a Dropbox Folder.