The Origin of Mountain Biking

Downieville Classic 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 The 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 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 were 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 in 1998, the Downieville Classic.

 

 

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 in the downhill race, the decision was made to combine these two events into one and call it the “All Mountain Biking Championships.” The basic rule is 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 1st

10am – 4pm: Yuba Expeditions Trail shuttles, rides and swimming
5pm – 8pm: 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: Breakdancing Competition

Friday August 2nd

10am – 4pm: Trail shuttles, rides and swimming
3pm – 7pm: Registration in Downieville Community Hall
1pm – 8pm: Food trucks serving up delicious eats for purchase
8pm: Santa Cruz movie night Yuba Theatre in Downieville – Premiere of Downieville – Patagonia/FreeHub feature film

Saturday August 3rd

7am – 9am: Registration at Sierra City Community Center
7am – 11am: Coffee, bacon, avocado toast, pancakes, & syrup 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 Beverage Garden 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 Mojo Green (Heavy horn funk & soul!)

Sunday August 4th

7am – 11am: Coffee, bacon, avocado toast, pancakes, & syrup brought to you by Paul Component
9:30am: Downieville Downhill race start
10am: Downieville Classic Expo and Marketplace
12:00pm: Rider food feed by Fire Dept and Beverage Garden flowing for purchase
Afternoon:
Cozmo’s Wild Island
Kid’s Big Air River Jump
Downhill and All Mountain race award ceremonies
SBTS drawing

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