Nevada City is located in the western Sierra foothills in California. If you were to drive from San Francisco to the sleepy little mountain bike destination town of Downieville, chances are you’d roll right through Nevada City. It’s this gateway location that prompted Jay Barre to open a new bike shop, named You Bet.
Freehub Magazine and Patagonia pulled together an exceptional project showcasing the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship‘s efforts over the years to pull the town of Downieville up from the dust to a pure golden mountain bike destination.
A few towns over from Downieville, California, where John works at Yuba Expeditions during the summer months, is Quincy, California where Cameron Falconer‘s workshop is. John and Cam knew each other back when they both lived in the Bay Area and since relocating to what is called the “Lost Sierra,” John really wanted a road bike that could handle the area’s veritable Sierra chunk.
Hardtails. Antiquated examples of mountain bike technology to some but to others, they’re liberated and simplified machines. Each year, I plan on riding a full suspension in Downieville, yet I always end up bringing my hardtail for one reason or another so this year, I took a look at just some of the bikes that were rolling around this Gold Rush town.
[WARNING – please read with enunciations of the Queen’s English spoken with a harsh American accent leached with dry monotone and finished with a slight southern drawl.]
[NOTE – All persons are mixed and mashed conglomerations of friends masked by pseudonyms as to respect their identities.]
[FICTION –It actually may be close enough to nonfiction. Every tale is drenched with truth, maybe not all the truths belong to me, I might not even be the eyes telling this tale.]
With another eight to nine-hour drive ahead of me, this time solo because the polluting toots of my automobile fill me with joy—just kidding, hell, felt like an asshole—I had to figure out a way to fuck with my perception of time in order to maintain some level of sanity. Although being a fellow cyclist, y’all get that the bar is set real low when it comes to sanity. So, to risk sounding like a surface-wannabe-cultured-erudite, I tried hooking myself onto classical music with this grandiose nisus of increasing my attention span. Hear me out: not only would being able to melt into a forty-five-minute score enable me to complete long intervals with ease but enduring an entire classical score would help me get through the long drives to get to the long and arduous races those said and absolutely supposed intervals would prepare one for. Leave it all on the trail and go baroque.
When I was an architect, a few clients came to us with project proposals, revolving around a key object like a doorknob, a bookcase, or some other heirloom piece. In essence, they wanted us to design a house around this object. Believe it or not, this happens a lot with bikes as well in what I call “Genesis components.” Someone has a stem like a Ti Grammo Art or a crank like a Kooka and wants to build a complete around that part. More often than not, it’s that heritage piece that really ties a build together. These unifying pieces don’t have to be vintage and they don’t have to be the Genesis piece. Take Spencer’s 1956 Schwinn cruiser build for example.
Spence is an employee at Yuba Expeditions, the shop and shuttle company in Downieville that’s an extension of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship. Everything sold at Yuba and every shuttle run purchased goes right back to the Buttes. It’s a solid system and gives dudes like Spencer and the rest of the team at Yuba, a great job in an even greater town.
Downieville isn’t a hilly town. It’s pretty flat along the main drag, so Spencer wanted a beater bike to kick around on. That’s when he pieced together this 1956 Schwinn cruiser, which fit a nice knobby tire, a modern unicrown fork, a Brooks Saddle, and yeah, the Genesis piece – the bar that really tied the build together.
A few years back, S&M introduced a new handlebar to their MUSA lineup. The Husky High MX bars are replicas of 1972 – 1977 Husqvarna Motorcycles High Crossbar. Once Spencer saw them, he knew where they needed to go.
Genesis components aren’t always the beginning of a bike build, but they do make a build unique to the owner. The context of this bike made it so unique to me, as it sat next to multiple $10k+ carbon full sus builds. Thanks to Spencer and Yuba for making my last trip to Downieville so much fun!
If you look for information on Blue Collar Bikes on the internet, ya won’t find much. Robert Ives likes it that way. He builds bikes, enough to pay his mortgage, and lives a fine life in Sacramento, where he’s been building Blue Collars since 1998. Robert came from Ventana before branching out on his own, where he builds steel bikes, made to take a beating, with the flashiest thing on them being that fancy head badge. I look forward to the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship events because I know someone will have a Blue Collar.
This trip, it was Darren, a good friend of Robert and Paul from Paul Components. Darren began building this frame in Robert’s shop one day and left it incomplete. As he got busy with life, little did he know, Robert was slowly completing this frame. At last year’s Grinduro, Robert handed it over to Darren, who’s been riding it ever since.
After we took on the Classic Downhill shuttle, I grabbed this bike, a Nigel XL, to shoot it behind the Downieville Hardware store. Ya don’t get more Blue Collar than that! If you’d like to read more about Robert Ives’ career and life for that matter, head to Dirt Rag, for a damn interesting read! Check out Blue Collar on Facebook too.
The Downieville Classic has been a work in progress since its inception in 1995, yet most recently the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship – the trail organization that throws the race and maintains hundreds of miles of trail in the Lost Sierra – made a massive leap in progress, but not without a lot of persistence, a little luck, and yes, tons of practice. Whatever mountain biking is to you, be it sport, hobby, lifestyle, or all of the above, it requires practice. The SBTS has logged over 25 years of practice working with various Forestry departments: learning the ins and outs of trail stewardship, including but not limited to the politics and practices of making and maintaining mountain bike trails.
This is the eighth layout of the Radavist 2018 Calendar, entitled “Going Down in Downieville” shot with a Canon 5D and a 24-70mm lens in Downieville, California.
“We’re here in Downieville, soaking in the lost Sierra dirt and trying to keep the dust out of our camera, which is hard when people keep cookin’ it down the trails!”
For a high-res JPG, suitable for print and desktop wallpaper*, right click and save link as – The Radavist 2018 Calendar – August. Please, this photo is for personal use only!
(*set background to white and center for optimal coverage)
The mobile background this month is also from Downieville, on First Divide. Click here to download August’s Mobile Wallpaper.
We’re here in Downieville, awaiting the crowds to ascend upon this sleepy little mining town for the Downieville Classic. Expect reportage to follow but if you’re headed this way, make sure to say hello! What’s the Downieville Classic? Check out our Reportage from last year’s event!
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.
Let me start by saying that if you haven’t been to Downieville, you’ve gotta go.
And if you haven’t raced the Downieville Classic, well then you’ve gotta do that too.
It’s one heckuva weekend.
The 2016 Downieville Classic happened Aug 6-7, marking the 21st edition of this race. Most people are there for the Classic Cross Country race, but the lucky few who clicked “Register” faster than anybody else compete in the prestigious All Mountain event—it sells out in seconds. The AM racers not only do in Saturday’s XC race, but also the famous Downieville Downhill on Sunday. Here’s the catch: you have to use the exact same bike for each event—don’t even think about changing your tires because they’ll catch you at weigh-in. Choose your gear wisely.