‘Cross bikes, ‘cross bikes, ‘cross bikes…
Look. I love cyclocross bikes but I was beginning to get a little Grinduro’d out. After a weekend of shooting, talking, riding and basically living bikes at the event, I wanted a recovery day. Decompression. Detachment. Whatever you want to call it. I needed a vacation. Ok, not really. I just wanted to ride mountain bikes and be out of cell reception for 24 hours.
Luckily, we were already in the midst of some incredible mountains, so it was literally a no-brainer to hop on the road and book it up to Downieville. That place has always carried such a mystique for me. I’d never been before, for various reasons, but had ridden all over California so I was familiar with the terrain. But still. There’s something about that trail network that had been beckoning me for years.
It was my friend Andrea‘s birthday on Monday and she too wanted to ride there one last time before the season ended. She’s been numerous times, so it worked out perfectly. Sunday morning after Grindruo, we would leave Quincy, drive an hour or so, get to town, pass out, wake up for a morning shuttle, take it super chill, shoot photos, eat gummy worms, sip the flask and barrel along the downhill line, ending at the river…
There was one detail we were missing: bikes. ‘Drea and I were on Grinduro-ready rigs, not 6″ trail bikes.
Luckily Yuba Expeditions had rental bikes for around $100 a day. I scooped up a Ibis Mojo, Andrea got a Santa Cruz Nomad and we were good to go. Oh and tubes. Oh and I needed knee pads. Now we’re good to go.
After a 45 minute shuttle, our driver Jake dropped us off at the top, told us to be respectful, stop at all stop signs, yield to hikers and have fun.
All completely doable. It was on.
Agenda: Sunrise to Butcher, Butcher Extension, Butcher Ranch, Third Divide, Upper First and Lower First. This, if you’re like me, didn’t mean anything at all until the ride was done. These photos capture some of the moments, but the best parts were spent ripping down some of the funnest singletrack I’ve ever ridden.
Downieville lives up to its rep. Sure, it’s a challenging place to ride and not for beginners, but I was amazed at just how easy it was to land a place to stay, rent a bike and get a shuttle. The fall is a great time to visit and we didn’t see a soul on the trail. Go. Just go. Need more convincing? Just flip through this gallery!
Thanks to Yuba Expeditions, Andrea and everyone in Downieville that made those 24 hours so memorable. See ya again real soon…