Team WTB/Cannondale Overmountain riders Jason Moeschler and Marco Osborne dominate the All Mountain podium at the 2014 Downieville Classic.
Northern California didn't get any rain last winter, must have placed its order wrong in a No Snow for You moment.
What does this mean? Tasty trails of yesteryear are now nothing more than square-edged chunks, sifting unpredictably about in a sea of sharp edges. Sound like last year? Well it's worse. Downieville's already demented climb and torturous descent seemed like a sluice box of slices. The place inhaled tires more voraciously than ever.
Yet somehow, despite heinous heat oppressing the town beneath the staggering buttes and malicious rocks haphazardly strewn, Team WTB / Cannondale OverMountain's Jason Moeschler and Marco Osborne stood proudly in 2nd and 3rd place atop the Downieville Classic's All Mountain podium once the silt settled Sunday.
The calm before the storm... Moeschler prepares for what will turn out to be a 3rd-place DH podium finishing time of 46:21.7.
Jason ran Trail Boss 2.25 27.5" TCS Light (yes, you didn't misread that, the Light ones) front and rear tires, WTB prototype rims, a WTB prototype saddle, TCS selant, and Moto grips to an XC finish nipping at the heals of Levi Leipheimer and a searingly fast downhill time. Jason opted for his 140mm Cannondale 27.5" Trigger - lots of deep contemplation in the bat cave, finely tuning his vessel of speed led to his highly calculated decision - remember, last year Jason raced a 29er for the first time ever at Downieville. This is an event that awards double the points to the downhill's finish time to that of the XC. Read more about Jason and his battle to stay on the Downieville podium, among other things, here.
Marco cranking out the horse power to finish the Downieville DH in second place with a time of 45:59.8!
Marco opted for the same setup but with Trail Boss 2.25 27.5" TCS Tough: Fast Rolling Compound tires. This is a perfect example of the intention and usage of the two new TCS levels - rider preference. It's the same tread, same width, in this case, same compound, you get to choose the thickness of casing and protection. It was readily apparent to all present that Marco's time spent cleaning up the nation's Enduro circuits hasn't been misspent, his blazingly fast second place DH run took his eighth place XC finish and awarded him third overall. Congrats Marco, you are incredibly fast.
Marin Bikes rider Meredith Nunnink won the AM and DH in the Expert Women under 34 class fully loaded with WTB that included KOM rims, a TCS Vigilante front/Beeline rear tire combo, Volt saddle and Tech Trail Clamp-on grips.
Other WTB racers and extended family made stellar showings as well. Anthony Medaglia of Team Ibis-Retro Cellars grabbed ninth in All Mountain wielding his WTB TCS traction weapons, Bobby Zidek, also of Team Ibis-Retro Cellars distinction, took 2nd in the Cat 1 AM, Yuri Hauswald took third in Single Speed aboard Trail Boss tires, Jeremiah Newman of WTB Nevada City took 14th, Meredith Nunnink of the WTB NC crew won the AM and DH in Expert Women under 34 class, while our friend and mountain biking advocacy crusader Julia Violich killed it in the Women's 35+ category, winning the AM and DH as well. Nathan Riddle took 16th on Wolverine 2.2 TCS 27.5 tires, Ryan Chandler of Santa Cruz / Fox took 24th aboard a Vigilante front / Trail Boss rear combo, WTB former Marketing Managers, Dain Zaffke grabbed 26th in Pro while Chris Schierholtz took 11th in the Expert Men 35-44 category, Rad People Who Ride Shredder, all around nice guy, and Bike Peddler employee Shane Bresnyan took 28th in Pro, Santa Cruz X-Fusion rider Colby Pastore grabbed 32nd in Pro running WTB, Jason "Firsty" First took 35th in Pro. Whole lotta Pro. Last but certainly not least, we have to give a nod to the Nevada City young guns Larry Sussman and Liam Ruff for not only finishing in 6th and 8th, respectively, in the Expert Junior Men AM category, they put in a solid day's worth of hard labor out on Sunrise Trail a few weekends leading up to the event.
Keep looking at the list and you see more and more friends and that's just another thing that makes Downieville all the more special, it's a reunion.
Speaking of reunions... Mark Weir makes his annual pilgrimage to heckle, course marshal, party, and ultimately support his teammates, friends, and the DH race he's won eight times. Will there ever be a 9th??? No one but Mark can answer that...
I stopped by the bank this past Wednesday and the kind woman who helped me noticed my WTB hat. She bubbled with delight that a friend of hers had just packed his car and headed out for some race... "where it takes over a small town, it's out there, but it's supposed to be really hard but so much fun." She didn't even ride but her excitement was infectious, "Had I heard of this race?" Of course I had, it's Downieville, is there really any substitute?
And that's just it, ruggedly, punishingly, beautifully fun. The party of the River Jump happened. Marco Osborne proudly demonstrated the sealed bearing beauty of Shimano fishing reels and rods, winning the casting contest into the river. Peter Lucas, also a Shimano man, owned the West Coast WTB TCS Challenge World Championship with a searing time of 33 seconds for a TCS tire change... it goes on, there's no way not to have fun.
A huge THANK YOU goes to the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, many volunteers, and fellow sponsors of the Downieville Classic - so much tireless, generous, thankless effort goes into keeping this event so special for everyone to enjoy. Want to keep it that way? Don't be afraid to donate HERE.
Some parting words on the history of Downieville just because it's kind of interesting and it would be sweet to find gold and ride epic trail all in the same weekend... but you're probably more likely to find some new friends, some rad yet slightly painful memories, and an unyielding desire to do it all again next year. Until then...