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2018 Downieville Race Report by Adam Pressman

August 09th, 2018

Like I explained many times before, I’m no mountain bike racer.  I quit last month after Weaverville, and as my knees were shaking and my teeth were rattling, I swore I would never do it again.  But I had signed up for the Triple Crown, so I was committed to the gravity oriented pilgrimage that is Downieville.  It was right out there in the middle of God’s country, like the map said it would be.  Friends, let me tell you, this is no ordinary mountain bike race.

FRIDAY: I pre-“rode” the downhill course with Jed and a couple unpainted members of the insane clown posse, and knew I was in way over my head.  In fact it was so nutty that my good friend – “myself” — abandoned.  “I’m out!” I heard myself say after about 500 yards.  “Dude, c’mon.  We’ll just cruise it … walk the hard stuff, let the crazies pass … don’t bail on me!” I pleaded with myself.  “Nope.  You’ve already written more checks than your skill level can cash.  You’re gonna be overdrawn, and I’m not picking up the tab.  Good luck.”  And with that, it was down to just me.

Saturday: The race starts on a side street in Sierra City, which means a straight up alle way clogged with 800 other riders all squeezing into their start location about an hour or so before the start – it’s part chaotic, part chill.  799 folks with five-inch (+) travel bikes, flat pedals, multiple sleeves of tattoos, mustaches and hairy legs, plus me.  I was in for a sound drubbing.

The climb wasn’t too bad.  The congo line would get a bit congested in some places, but otherwise, I consider the Gas Can climb much harder.  At the top, Amber and Isaac Pope are there to offer encouragement and a banana, which was much appreciated.

The previous course crested at Packer’s Saddle, and then rolled along a fire road before descending the “baby heads” (see below).  Apparently feeling that this was not “enough,” the good folks at Sierra Buttes threw in a new section of singletrack, which climbs for a bit from the top of the gravel road.  At the highpoint of the course the whole agenda changes, and it becomes, as the Sierra Buttes folks say, “rowdy.” This means twisty with rocks, rocky with drops, and some do-or-die lines over (more) rocks.  In fact, there are so many rocks that they used rocks to mark the trail over slabs of rock.  Without having myself along to whine in my ear about the dangers, I feel like I actually rocked (pun intended) this section.   Note: this is not to say I was fast – I was passed by multiple freight trains of riders who all seemed intent on testing the limits of their Aflac policies.

The new section empties out at a section of trail referred to as the “Baby Heads,” which, as we all know, means more rocks, supposedly the size of a baby’s head (duh).  I don’t know what kind of babies they had in mind when they named this, because it wasn’t just the human baby head variety.  There were also baby dog heads, baby alligator heads, baby bear heads, baby dragon heads, baby megalodon heads, etc., all conspiring to force you onto one line, which ultimately leads to a two foot ledge or a three foot ledge. This went on for several miles.  Again, more freight trains passed.  I started to get rather weary/depressed through here.

Eventually, the course crosses a bridge, and things let up a bit, though it is still rowdier than almost anything we (used to L) have around here.   We cross another bridge and crawl up a short climb.  At the top is a guy in a pink gorilla suit, guys filling shots of Fireball, and a stretcher.   I fist bump the pink gorilla, contemplate a shot but decide the better of it after looking at the stretcher, and descend over much smoother terrain.

After this descent, the course flattens out, and there are a few miles of gentle singletrack before dumping out on the streets of Downieville and the eventual finish.  In the last section a big ol’ bear ran across the trail 15 yards ahead of me.  That’s another story.

Jed was waiting at the bottom, having already jumped in the river, and was looking really fresh.  Jed was 23/103 in the 31-40.  He rocked (haha, another pun) the DH the next day and was 5th, netting him 11/63 overall in the All Mayhem division.

I achieved a rather lackluster 22/40.  If my math is correct (and I have never been very good at math), I’m sitting in 3rd in the Triple Crown, one point ahead of 4th.  I’m counting on you all to help at the Grinduro!

Thanks to Owens and all of y’all for all the awesomeness.  Special thanks to the Popes for hosting me in Club Jed, and another shout out to Amber and Isaac for their help with shuttling and generally making life very easy.  (Ask Jed about the results of the cornhole game.)

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August 09th, 2018 09:44:26
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