Confessions of a Downieville Virgin: Interview with Myself
Why are you going?
Now that I am badass after riding the North Dakota Badlands in June, I am ready for anything! Well, not quite. Truth: I've heard about Downieville as a biking destination for nearly 20 years and haven't ridden there yet. In particular, this bike festival, the Downieville Classic, is supposed to be a blast! At last, I will go check it out! Kind of like how I heard about Burning Man for ages and finally made the pilgrimage to Black Rock Desert, Nevada in 2007.
Photo credit: from Downieville Classic website
Karen, what event did you register for? The one where you ride your bike into a lake?
I finally signed up because my friend Winona wore me down with her repeated invitations to join her at this race. But she went to Japan instead. (Thanks a lot!) No lake jumping for me, instead just hours and hours of rocky, hot climbing and descending: yeehaw! From the website:
"The Downieville Classic cross country race is one of the last remaining point-to-point bicycle races in the United States. The 29 mile course follows a rugged "Gold Rush" era route that departs the mountain town of Sierra City (elevation 4,100'), climbs to the crest of the Sierra Nevada (elevation 7,100'), and then plunges 5,200 vertical feet into downtown Downieville."
Where is Downieville?
A long, solo drive from Santa Cruz! Downieville is on California Highway 49, and is just over a two-hour drive from Sacramento. The drive from Reno or Lake Tahoe's North Shore takes just under two hours.
Where are you staying?
In a small cabin with a guy I hardly know.
Have you been training for this cross country race?
Karen negotiates dangerous descent through grass in Maah Daah Hey, North Dakota.
(Mom, I am kidding!)
Photo Credit: Jereme Rauckman
What do your friends say about Downieville?
"Oh my! EEEK! Be careful-- it is challenging especially in a racing situation. I am very proud of you-- I'm ready to ride there, but not race unless I am comfortably at the back! Can't wait to hear your report!" — Henrietta Stern
"We rode most of the cross country course - very difficult course. I suggest bringing extra food, water and clothing as it will probably take a long time to get through the whole thing. Good luck!
— John Caletti, Caletti Cycles
Custom Bicycles Handmade in Santa Cruz, California
* "I am impressed that you're riding Downieville."
— Dwight Follien, survivor of many broken ribs and concussions from mt. bike riding/racing
* Dwight being "impressed" makes me more nervous than anything. Except maybe for the red-lettered note on the Downieville Classic website:
"Be prepared for adverse trail conditions, including deep and fast moving water crossings and snow drifts. We will be removing all downed trees from the course and installing drainages, however we will not be shoveling snow from the trail. This year will be Classic!"
Wish me luck and feel free to send me advice here!