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Celebrating it’s 18th year as California’s premier mountain bike race and festival
August 1-4, 2013
The Downieville Classic celebrates its 18th annual mountain bike race and festival this year. The longevity of this weekend-long mountain bike race/party is testament to its popularity, and this year’s event – slated for August 1st thru 4th – promises to serve up enough excitement and suffering to keep that reputation going strong.
Founded in 1995 by promoter Greg Williams, the Classic started as a 28-mile, point-to-point cross-country race, featuring a character building 8-mile climb to start, and a diversity of technical rocks and high-speed singletrack unlike anywhere else. By 1998, a 16-mile downhill time trial had been added, also a completely unique beast in terms of competition venue, and the Classic settled into a two-day template that continues to this day. Initially envisioned as a way to showcase the riding opportunities available near Downieville, a tiny town nestled at the confluence of several rivers in Northern California’s Sierra foothills, the race featured such a bounty of technical terrain and relentless singletrack that it became an institution unto itself. Long lap or point-to-point races are not easy to organize given the current land use climate, and marathon downhill races featuring 5000’ of descending are virtually impossible to find anywhere. These aspects in of themselves made the Downieville Classic a priority on many racers calendars. Its popularity grew as word of the spectacular terrain spread, along with reports of a less than buttoned down party scene happening each year.
The race today follows the same courses and format as years past – XC on Saturday, DH on Sunday. However, to race the DH now, entrants must be registered as part of a very limited “All-Mountain World Championship” elite field, and are required to race both days of the event on the same bike. The title of All Mountain Badass has been firmly held for the past three years by Carl Decker, but there will again be a world-class field of racers on hand attempting to wrest that crown from him this year.
Aside from the racing itself, there are all the other aspects of the Classic that draw people back by the thousands year after year. The river jump, the log-pull contest, the pixie races, the vendors, the expo, the food, the band, the free beer – this is a weekend packed to the gills with fun, in a family friendly jewel-like setting where people can test their mettle on the high Sierra singletrack and then cool their heels in a clean mountain river.
Since 2005, the Downieville Classic has operated as a fundraiser for the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship. This non-profit was founded in order to preserve and enhance the trail networks and recreational opportunities in Plumas and Sierra counties. There is an abundance of National Forest land surrounding Downieville, with hundreds of miles of singletrack trail, hundreds more miles of fire roads, and dozens of pristine alpine lakes – the goal of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship is to ensure that the quality of the trails remains high, the integrity of the environment is maintained, and that these recreational gems remain accessible for all users to enjoy for generations to come.