The Origin of Mountain Biking

What Outside Magazine considers one of the ten best mountain bike races is called the Downieville Classic. Reason being, it’s pure and unadulterated. Once you look into the history of the town and the region you begin to understand why the race feels this way.

Image Taken by: Ben Fish (Flickr Account: benjaminfish)

Image Taken by: Ben Fish (Flickr Account: benjaminfish)

History of Downieville Classic – Where it all began

Image Taken by: Stephanie Ruff

Image Taken by: Stephanie Ruff Flicker Account: thewoolydaisy)

Many of the bike trails that are used today were created way before mountain biking was even an invented. Some of them go as far back as the gold rush era of 1849. For all you football fans, this is where the San Francisco 49’ers got their name. The trails were built to get miners into the gold fields that were in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Now, instead of striking it rich by finding gold they are prospecting for adrenaline.

How Downieville got it’s name

The town was originally named “The Forks,” but after William Downie, a Scottish prospector led the first group of miners into the region it was changed to Downieville. The first year not a lot of gold was discovered. One day, a guy named Jim Crow fried up a trout and found gold lining the pan. They’d found where the gold was. From that point, so much was found in the region it became the fifth largest town in California! It even almost became the capital of the state, but lost to Sacramento by ten votes.

Decline and Rebirth

Image taken by: Pat Thompson (Flickr Account: I2smp)

Image taken by: Pat Thompson (Flickr Account: I2smp)

In 1853, the population was over 5,000 and some claims were yielding up to $12,000 in eleven days! That’s $80,000 in six months. Once mining became mechanized the valuable ore disappeared and the population began to leave for other more fruitful places. By 2013, there are now only 300 people that permanently reside here. Without gold or logging it became one of the poorest counties in the nation. Then in the 1980’s and 90’s mountain biking transformed this sleepy town into a hot bed of downhill biking. Even though people like Gary Fischer, the owner of Fischer bikes, had been riding this region since the 70’s, it wasn’t until the Coyote Adventure Company began offering shuttle service into this region that it became more popular.

Coyote Classic becomes the Downieville Classic

Image Taken by: Ben Fish (Flickr account: benjaminfish)

Image Taken by: Ben Fish (Flickr account: benjaminfish)

Like all hotbeds of alternative sports there is a sense of camaraderie, but competition is key to pushing the sport to the next level. It makes sense that the owner of Coyote Adventure Company, now known as Yuba Expeditions changed the Coyote Classic event to a more formal race, the Downieville Classic in 1998.

 

 

One mountain bike for all terrain was born

Downieville Backflip - Stephanie Ruff

Image Taken by: Stephanie Ruff Flicker Account: thewoolydaisy)

Originally, the race was two events:

  • Day 1: Cross country

  • Day 2: Exclusively downhill

Then in 2005, due to a horrific issue on the downhill race the decision was made to combine these two events into one and called it the “All Mountain Biking Championships.” The basic rule was as follows:

Ride the same bike both days

It was so serious that they weighed them in and marked their parts each day. That was when the concept of one bike that could do everything was born. Being the originator of modern mountain biking it makes sense that the event is so popular that it sells out all 700 spots overnight each year.

Image Taken by: Mike Riepe (Flickr Account: mikeriepe)

Image Taken by: Mike Riepe (Flickr Account: mikeriepe)

Event Schedule

The four major days to check out the event are as follows:

Thursday August 3rd

10am – 4pm: Yuba Expeditions Trail shuttles, rides and swimming
5pm – 8pm: 3rd Annual Volunteer/Industry Rep Trifecta Competition
5pm: BBQ : Hot dogs and sides brought to you by Hangtown Electric at Yuba for purchase
5pm: Beverages: Brewing Lair Beer and drinks at SBTS Merch Booth for purchase
8pm-10pm: Live music by Joy & Madness (Nine piece soul and funk explosion! Check out their music)

Friday August 4th

10am – 4pm: Trail shuttles, rides and swimming
3pm – 7pm: Registration in Downieville Community Hall
5pm – 8pm: Food trucks and Sierra Nevada beer for purchase
8:30pm: Santa Cruz movie night Yuba Theatre in Downieville – The Blues Brothers

Saturday August 5th

7am – 9am: Registration at Sierra City Community Center
7am – 11am: Coffee, bacon, and avocado toast brought to you by Paul Component
9:30am: Cross country race start in Sierra City
10am: Downieville Classic Expo and Marketplace
12:00pm: Rider food feed by Fire Dept and Sierra Nevada beer flowing for purchase
Afternoon:
Ron’s House of Big Air brought to you by Red Bull
SBTS drawing
Cross Country race award ceremonies
Log Pull Competition brought to you by Shimano
8:30pm – 10:30pm: Downieville dance party and live music by The Nibblers (7 piece rocking soul funk explosion!)

Sunday August 6th

7am – 11am: Coffee, bacon, and avocado toast brought to you by Paul Component
7am – 3pm: Rockin Nannies childcare – call Barbra Anne at 707.696.3248 for details and rates
9:30am: Downieville Downhill race start
10am: Downieville Classic Expo and Marketplace
12:00pm: Rider food feed by Fire Dept and Sierra Nevada beer flowing for purchase
Afternoon:
Cosmo’s Wild Island
Downhill and All Mountain race award ceremonies
SBTS drawing

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