Downieville is a sleepy little town in the Lost Sierra. It was first known as “the Forks” due to its geographical location at the confluence of the Yuba and Downie rivers. Like many towns in the area, Downieville was founded in 1849 during the Gold Rush. Later, it was named after the town’s founder, Major William Downie. As you might imagine, this place has a sordid history during the lawless heyday of gold mining, including being the location for the only hanging of a woman in California history. Josefa Segovia was a pregnant Californio resident of the town and was lynched by an angry mob, accusing her of killing a miner in July 1851.
Nearby, in the Sierra Buttes, the largest gold nugget in California history was found in 1869. It weighed a whopping 109.2 pounds. Gold has always been on the lips of those who flocked to Downieville. Still, to this day, don’t be surprised to see active mining claims and people panning for gold at the confluence of the Yuba and Downie rivers.
Since 1995, the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship has thrown a special little event in this town. The Downieville Classic features an XC race on Saturday and a Downhill on Sunday. The terrain is rocky, steep, and silty, making for a tough day on the bike no matter what you’re riding. While they’re by no means rare, seeing people riding and racing hardtails always causes a stir. So this year, I set out to photograph some of these bikes, including Curtis Inglis from Retrotec‘s own Funduro, a shining, gold nugget of a bike.