800 Racers Can’t be Wrong. Downieville Classic Does Not Suck.

In: ADVOCACY, Just Riding Along, NEWS, RACING By: Maurice Tierney On: July 15, 2010

Let’s just say this writer has a bit of an attitude problem when it comes to racing. Like why pay to ride your bike with your friends? I have not paid to ride with my friends in many years, and I didn’t want to start now. But I am in Downieville at the Downieville Classic, so maybe I aught to…

Poach the course? Punk.

Yea, that’s what happened. Unwilling to fork over the cash, I got through the day with 2 or 3 juicy rationalizations. One, that I was “Press”, and did not need to throw down since I was going to be writing something and needed to “Observe” the goings-on. Two, that I was a “Volunteer” and that I would hand out water and otherwise help others on the course (Which I did). And three, that I wouldn’t be in anybody’s way and was just a guy out for a ride that day. Yea, right.

Despite all this I was left with bad feelings toward myself, especially after riding the course, seeing how incredibly awesome it is, and learning about why these trails are here. I spoke apologetically with Greg Williams. He is not only the race director, but the director of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship group. That’s the group that builds all the trails around here. (Here being the Tahoe National Forest) Around $30,000 of this weekend’s race fees were to be given to SBTS, to support the building and maintenance of this mountain bike mecca. Get this: SBTS has a paid trail building staff to the tune of $50,000 in payroll PER MONTH, thanks to some aggressive grant-writing and some “Recovery Act” funding. That is large cash, anywhere, but here it’s a boon to a county struck hard by recession to the point of 20% unemployment. More and more trails are on the docket, including a hut to hut system destined to bring mountain bike tourism to the area.

After hearing all that I felt worse. But I am glad to get that off my chest here. Aaaand, my disillusion with racing in general is greatly decreased by the whole event. Much of my disillusionment came from watching high level mountain bike racing turn into a physical endurance event, rather than the test of bike handling skill it should be. This course proved me wrong. It is gnarly. Point-to-point, starting in Sierra City with a 3000 foot climb followed by a 5000 foot descent into Downieville. Never a dull moment, always a surprise around every corner. Somehow Carl Decker (Giant Bikes) was able to run this 27 mile course in 1:50. I am flabbergasted at this. I don’t know how anyone could go that far that fast. Guess I am new to this scene.

But the even cooler thing about this event is the all-mountain category…That’s the whole XC course on Saturday followed by the downhill course on Sunday. There’s 200 spaces in this category, and it sells out quick. Here’s Adam Craig after his run. This is the only race pic I took, he he.

The best combined time won the event. Here’s a snapshot of the top ten men…

And the Pro Women…

I was too busy having fun to get you much more in terms of race coverage. Downieville Classic is also a sweet festival, with the River Jump World Championships going on, as well as the WTB Pixie Cross World Championships, and the Swobo DERBY! Here are some of my better river jump pix…

Then Seth from Camelbak helped yours truly prepare for Saturday night’s Derby with his 845 ounce Camelbak o’ margaritas. Developed for military, the Squadbak is used for refilling smaller Camelbaks in the field.

Ahhh yea, Derby. That’s Eric Highlander on the left. He ran the All-mountain class on a Santa Cruz Tallboy BTW …

And WTB Pixie cross was a big hit too…

On Sunday Morning Chris King made us some pancakes…

With all the fixins…

And we got to check out Santa Cruz’s new V-10 Carbon prototype…

And a new Ritchey 29 inch carbon fork…

While enjoying some New Belgium beers to raise even more money for Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship!

There you have it, one fine weekend in the Sierras. Big thanks go to Yuba Expeditions for putting this on and making Downieville a destination; Fox Racing Shox for the crash pad; New Belgium for the beer and sunhats; Camelbak for the Margs; Swobo for bringin the Derby; Santa Cruz for letting me ride the Tallboy; Ellsworth for helping me Guerilla market a few magazines; Chris for the pancakes; and all our Nor Cal pals! Great company.

PS: First comment with the correct movie quote wins a Dirt Rag prize!

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