Santa Cruz Bicycles

Downieville Classic

 

Downieville Classic 2019

8月 07 — 2019 | Downieville, CA

The race dispatch from Santa Cruz’s own world-traveling lens-slinger, Gary Perkin who was on the ground and in the mix last weekend at the 2019 Downieville Classic.

How do you sum up a weekend like the Downieville Classic? Well for one, it's way more than just a weekend … it's a way of life for the great people of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship and the Downieville community. They have created a modern-day success story. Not the kind of success where some faceless megacorp behemoth makes an over countable amount of money at the expense of the little man. Nope. The kind of success story where a small town on the brink of collapse is now one of the most revered destinations in all of mountain biking - while at the same time creating jobs, trails and a community striving to do good in this world. 

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Gary Perkin

The world of the High Sierras is a tough one - historically, economically, altitude and trail-wise it's harsh. The prosperous but unsustainable Gold Rush and timber days dried up the area quickly, then slowly, emptied it of people, jobs and potentially a future. But the foresight, passion, and love of the area by Greg Williams, his wife Heather and their merry band of stewards have turned this decline around over the last quarter of a century. When you think about that kind of enthusiasm and commitment to a cause, you can’t help but get swept up in the love for the area. 

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Gary Perkin

The race itself is unlike no other - its very traditional, old school in its All Mountain concept. You do a long point to point cross country on Saturday, then race the same exact bike on the downhill course on Sunday. But that simple definition doesn’t quite seem complete - the cross country shares the lower part with the downhill and some of the early descents on the XC - after the brutal 3000’ climb from Sierra City to Packer Saddle - are actually gnarlier than the ones on the downhill.

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At some 26.5 miles long with some 5700’ of descending, this is not your traditional XC race. Then the next day you get to shuttle to Packer Saddle and do a 15 mile / 5000’ plus descent with a body that feels like it’s been hit by a truck from the day before.

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But if you think that seems like an absolute suffer-fest that is best avoided, you’re sadly mistaken. People come from all over to experience this dirt magic and then chill out - literally and figuratively - in the ice baths that are Downie and Yuba rivers. The après at the Classic is all-time - log pull world championships, live music, river jumping, and so much more. And the best part is all the money raised by the event goes to building more trails so that the recipe for success can be repeated in other communities. 

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After a weekend in Downieville in its surroundings, you just have this overwhelming feeling that it's going to be alright with people like the SBTS striving for a better place for family, friends and mountain bikes. Thanks to one and all.

From the Riders

Tobin Ortenblad
The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship always put on such a good event  - and coming up here with the support of Santa Cruz Bicycles it's like a vacation race really. Everything is just so dialed.  
 

I’d think before I came up here for this I’d been hearing about Downieville all the time … so much hype, so much hype. And then you come up here and go: “Oh I get it!” The race, the event everything together - I get it now.
 

I don’t know why I haven’t come up in the past - but I definitely want to start putting it on the calendar as an event to go to. It's pretty close to Cross season so you have to watch yourself on the descent - but I’ll be back for sure. 

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Chris Johnston
It was a really good event - it’s tough though - I found it really tough. Its a hard event on bikes and body. I definitely got some experience to come back and know what to expect a bit more next time. It's a savage course - both days are just as hard as each other I think - neither seems easier than the other. 

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Nathan Riddle
It was a pretty good weekend - not exactly where I wanted to be - but that’s how it happens sometimes. Sometimes it all goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. My bike ran awesome, my body was right about where I needed to be - somehow it just wasn’t my weekend for it. But it was fun - awesome crowd, awesome people and super thankful to be here.

Scott Chapin
Well, you and I have both been at this particular rodeo many times before and I was excited this year to try it on a different bike and just see what the experience was like. Riding a single-speed hardtail - an aluminum one at that - was punishing - to say the least. I’ve got blisters on both hands. There was a lot of scary moments - moments of just hang on. 

I’m used to riding out here on the Megatower or the Tallboy and you know what that line is - then when coming out here and ride it on your hardtail and you’re thinking you’ll just ride that same line - nope - it's just going to be all bad! It was fun having some moments of terror. Riding one speed is a whole other beast. 

Syd Newsom
Top to bottom - a solid weekend. Super stoked - I love Downieville - I love coming back every year. Racing Singlespeeds is probably the best thing that there is to do here I think. Just pinning it as fast as you can go. I’m happy with my results - 5th overall. I hope to come back and be a couple of steps higher next year and see how it goes.

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Zach Wick
A summary of my weekend: It was hot, the cross country race was really hot. It was really hard to get up that hill on a single-speed. But it was really fun going down. The DH was sweet - I went a lot faster than I was expecting. I still got smoked by Scott Chapin - by like 3 minutes. I was psyched I beat everybody else - the mortals - because Scott is impossible to beat.

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Justin Robinson
Super stoked obviously - I’ve never won the cross country before - so I was really happy to take it to some of those little climbers. Its always tough as I’m a big boy out there - and watching them walk away on the climb and then chase them back on the down is super rewarding. Then the downhill was all about having a clean run - and that Blur is just amazing. It was super fun and I really had a good time. 

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Duncan Riffle
So evidently a few of us checked into Cramp Hotel this weekend - I didn’t sign up for it but I sure found myself there. The XC was brutal - I’ve never cramped like that in my entire career of racing. Never. Full leg lock - I battled it from the middle of the XC race - we’re talking on and off the bike, peg leg walking uphills and eventually realizing you are just trying to get to the finish - which is a whole different game plan than trying to win the race like in previous years. When you set out on the start line you say to yourself: “Ok I got this!”  And then you don’t got this. But that is also the amazing thing about this race. 
 

The downhill was going decent - according to plan - trying to be mature and not blowing everything in the beginning like I usually do. All my successful years here I’ve been mellow in the beginning and then unloaded at the bottom when people forget there’s still a lot more racing to do. And then I decided to take one of the scariest sections to me - the one that wakes me up in the middle of the night before race day  - waking up thinking that would really, really suck if I went off there. In my ten years racing here this was the year I clipped the bar and a second later I found myself like Cliffhanger on the side of the cliff. I was still in race mode and I scrambled to get going again and then I looked down at the exposure and it was about 50 feet to the creek and I had to do a full check yourself and switch to full-on survival mode and just scramble up the cliff. 
 

But again that’s the best part about this race is that it really levels people out. It's a unique thing - you think you come in super fit and it can check you and vice versa! It's an awesome event and I truly love it. 

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Andrea Turner
This weekend was great, the cross country was hard but I felt good. I flatted though and lost time with that. Then at the downhill, I flatted again 15 minutes before the start - but I managed to shove a bunch of Dynaplugs in there and it held all the way down and I won! So it was all good! 

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Erin Bixler
It was really good. It was really, really hard. I didn’t have any mechanicals or crashes - so that was really good. The climb hurt but the downhills were really fun.

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Amanda Schaper
The Downieville Classic is always an epic time - there are times of fear, times of joy - and there are chill times too in the river. It was really fun - its rad to be out here with so many awesome women from Santa Cruz and Juliana. It was rad to get passed by Andrea today on the downhill - and I really tried to stay on her wheel as long as I could to see the crazy lines that she was taking compared to the cautious lines that I take. Super fun, always stoked to be here and can’t wait to do it all again. 

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