Monday, June 23rd, 2008

MTB: Three Days of Downieville


We took a three o’clock shuttle to Packer Saddle and did a DH run: Sunrise, Butcher Ranch, 2nd Divide. Sunrise is a very flowy single track. There is almost no obstacles. Butcher Ranch has some technical sections. You can see in this youtube video how the rock garden topples many racers. After that, don’t forget to check out how Mark Weir styles it like it’s nothing.

Mudworm gets ready for the thrill. She puts her elbow and knee pads on first.
Going off trail is not recommended.

Mud looking tall.

One of the few rocky sections on 2nd Divide Trail. A few people we talked to say they will avoid 2nd Divide because it’s exposed. For the most part, it’s a sweet single track. There are a few very short hike-a-bike sections, but it’s not that bad.


We planned on doing the Downieville Classic Cross Country Course, which involves 8-10 miles of climb with 4000 feet plus of elevation gain followed by a 5000 feet plus descent. Also, the course includes the notorious baby heads. I walked at least half of that section last year, so, when I cleared the whole section, I was quite excited about it.  Never fast, I was able to pick my line through the littered rocks. When we got back to Downieville, Erik hitched a ride to Sierra City, 12 miles up the road, to fetch our car. And then we made two mountain bikers happy by giving them and their bikes a ride all the way back to the camp. We were all impressed how we all squeezed into my small SUV, a Honda CR-V. We crashed at the MTBR gathering site, and we attended the evening event, a raffle with a lot of weird contests. They gave out good prizes including frames and forks. Some people took the contests very seriously.

The breathtaking view on the climb up.
Our rare together shot on this trip.

Rock Garden (some sections on the “baby heads” have loose rocks bigger than these)

Some interesting looking tree.

Four bikes and four riders, all inside the CR-V.

Various drinking contests, boys’ and girls’.

And then there was this contest.


Initially, we were going to drive to Downieville, get a shuttle, and only ride the downhill, but when we drove through Sierra City, we couldn’t resist the calling of the Sierra City Public Restroom because it marks the start of the cross country course. So we geared up and started our ride uphill. This time, we did not stop to take pictures and just kept riding pretending we were in a race. Half way, Mud dropped me by maybe a few hundred feet, but near the end I caught up with him. We topped out at Packer Saddle one hour and thirty seven minutes after we started. I got off my bike twice to push through some loose sections, which was a improvement over yesterday. We then took Sunrise Trail down, and then a fire road led us to the “baby heads” — we did not want to miss any excitement. After that, we were planning on riding Big Boulder Trail, but we ended up doing an out and back on a jeep road that didn’t really lead anywhere. There was a group of four that got lost with us. When we finally were assured by two dirt bikers that we were on a wrong part of the country and turned around, we’ve lost more than two hours and were running low on water. Big Boulder will have to wait. So we followed the cross country course back. When we got back to town, it had been almost seven hours after we left our car and we were starving, so the two of us finished an entire 12-slice pizza.

Mud waiting for his GPS to sync up with the satellites.
Mud must have been tired after that climb because he just lay almost in the middle of the road while eating his bar.

Although three guys were looking at the map, we all still ended up on a wrong road. To be fair though, the map sucks.

Even Mud had to come off and push at one of the many creek crossings.

At that point, I no longer care that my shoes would be soaked.

That jeep road was a narly climb, which means the way back was a sweet downhill ride.

We finally see the sign for Big Boulder Trail, but it came too late. They didn’t put the sign up at the turn off of the main fire road.

The mountain is very green there.

Our proof of accomplishment.

For all the pictures from Downieville, please visit our gallery.