Recreation as a Resource: The Sierra Buttes Lost and Found

“The Forest Service deals with resources and we need to convince them that recreation is another resource.” This quote, from Lost and Found founder Chris McGovern really resonated with me the entirety of my stay in the Lost Sierra. Is recreation a resource? Can it be? Should it be? Over the years, the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship has been fighting the good fight, working alongside the US Forest Service, a subsidiary of the Department of Agriculture, who deals with our nation’s resources, from wood to minerals and even water. The federal government monitors how each state manages its resources.

This race is a fundraiser. All proceeds go to the SBTS, so they can open more trails and maintain existing trails in the zone dubbed the “Lost Sierra” in California. From Downieville to Quincy, Graeagle and beyond. It’s part of the Triple Crown race series, including the Downieville Classic and Grinduro. Competitive cyclists train to take on these three events and win, or at least come close to, the Triple Crown. This year, I’ll be documenting the Triple Crown, working with the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship on stories and riding their new trails to show you, the racers, participants, and party people where your money is going.

Lost and Found is under special use permit with the Plumas National Forest. Over the years, the SBTS has had to spend countless hours working with the USFS on events like the Lost and Found. Inside the Plumas National Forest are nesting bald eagles, yellow-legged frogs, and other protected species, all, that I might add, are affected by all usage methods, not just bike races. Yet, the SBTS has had to work their asses off to make events like this happen. While the public-facing voice might not acknowledge this, it’s been a difficult struggle, requiring hours upon hours of work. The Buttes have done their best to convince the USFS that events like the Lost and Found bolster the local economy and, let’s be honest, uses the National Forest land in the way it’s been consciously set aside for; public use.

But can recreation be a resource? Especially ones like Lost and Found, which boasts a 1000+ entrant registration? What about each of the underlying themes in events like this? Competition, socialization, partying, and good times. Are all those themes a resource? Well, not to be a book nerd, but Merriam Webster’s first definitions of resource are as follows; “a natural source of wealth or revenue,” or “a natural feature or phenomenon that enhances the quality of human life.”

Hell yeah, Lost and Found is a resource. Excercise enhances the quality of human life!

The thing is, it takes a certain sort of human who wants to pedal their bike on the dusty and rutted roads of the Lost Sierra on a warm Spring day. While under physical duress, participants of the Lost and Found essentially lose their mind and find their inner strength. I know it sounds cheesy, but plenty is lost and found on those Lost Sierra dirt roads!

With three course lengths and numerous categories, there’s something for everyone. While many choose to bite off the grueling 100 miler, plenty of people take on a leisurely pace on the 45 and 65 courses. My intent this year was to cover as much of the event as possible, taking on a combination of the 100 and 65 mile routes, resulting in a 70-ish mile day, skipping the top loop around Antelope Lake because, well, that climb looks like it sucks and I’d rather make more photos than drag my ass back to Lake Davis in full-on bonk mode.

We all have something to not only gain but to give to these events and it’s these resources that allow them to happen. For many, it’s their entrance fees, and for me, it’s sharing the experience of the race, through photos, to perhaps pursued you, the readers of this site, to get your ass over to the Lost Sierra for one of the most enjoyable – in a type 02 fun sort of way – times I’ve had on a bike!

This experience, not just the race itself, but camping, hanging out, cooking over a fire, and soaking in the Lost Sierra amidst the Plumas National Forest, is one resource we can all identify with.

Enjoy the Gallery and if you’d like an image for personal use, find this gallery at my Dropbox.

If you’d like to give money to the SBTS, you can do so by buying a lottery ticket from the Builders for Builders fundraiser!
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Follow the Seirra Buttes Trail Stewardship on Instagram.

  • Jordan Muller

    I’m waiting for the documentary that dives deep into John’s process for coming up with captions for all the photos. It’s kind of the hidden gem of the site. Pew Pew Pew!

    • It’s not as glamorous as you’d expect! Me sitting at my computer drinking coffee. hah

  • Ryan

    “It was a busy day for rescue workers, with one death and two airlifts. :( ”

    Wait, what?

    • Yeah. One gentleman passed due to a heart condition. Two other people got airlifted out; one with a broken arm and the other concussed. It was rough!

      • Brian Condrey

        Did I miss that quote in the story, or was it later edited out?

    • Jesse Passafiume
    • scmomof2

      My friend was riding the 65 when he came upon the poor guy. He’s a physician and spent 20 minutes trying to revive him. There were three other doctors riding too, and they all worked to help him. Sadly he didn’t make it. Thank you, kind riders, for using your skill at a critical time.

  • patrick

    oh hey!
    It was rad meeting you my dude!

  • Chad Roffey

    Rad photos & write up, John! The gradient in that diving shot is 🔥🔥🔥

    • That’s my favorite photo from the trip for sure!

  • Adrian Randal
    • haha Nice!

    • Adrian Randal

      early morning photobomb as the pro 100 rolled out

  • Scott Sattler

    That dog with stick ! Pure elation

  • Josh Becker

    Rad photos and write up! Thank you so much for the option to download!!!

    • I try to do it for events like this!

      • Josh Becker

        As a photog myself, I know that not everyone would do that. So thanks again! I posted a few up on the insta & gave you photo cred, hope that’s all good with you

        • For sure! All I want is to spread the stoke and get as many people out to these events. :-)

          • Josh Becker

            Awesome. Keep up the good work! And see ya at Grinduro!

  • B.A.R.27

    Nice article, quick correction though, in first paragraph- Forest Service is part of Department of Agriculture not Interior. DOI has national park service, bureau of land management, fish and wildlife service, and a few others ;)

  • nothingfuture

    I’d love to see a full shoot/writeup of that Rock Lobster tandem, if that’s in the cards…

    Wonderful article and photos, too.

  • These photos are sweet and I can barely remember how hard of a day that was anymore! Such a great event.

    • You looked pretty shelled when we drove past you on the way out of town! Glad you made it through the whole thing!

      • Yeah, 100% cooked! Couldn’t have made it without Cam dragging me through. Sorry we didn’t get to say bye, hope Cari is feeling better!

        • She’s still pretty sore, but doing better! Rest up!

  • Toby Martin

    Am I the only one intrigued by the tyres on Chris Riekert’s bike…

  • Pascal K

    This photoset has everything. Fantastic job covering the vibe. Also, Vans shoe covers? What the hell?

  • scmomof2

    Every year, our group gets bigger and this year we were on the podium thricely! We are 8th grade through middle age (57+), men and women, moms and dads and kids. The camping, the ride, the after ride lunch! We already have two more ready for next year. This is such a special event, and we love this part of California.

  • Nico Sanchez

    This is such a fantastic write-up and the gallery captures the essence of that weekend really well!

  • Tom Millar

    What kind of bike is Cam on? Falcon?

  • Dave Whiteway

    John, you need to shoot the bike you wish you had. The young lady’s leg is obscuring the downtube. Does anyone know what it was? It looked amazing!!