Last weekend the WTB Van Tour headed back home to its roots in Northern California to participate in the Coveted Downieville Classic. This one of a kind bike event takes place in the tiny and historic town of Downieville, California. This old mining town found tucked away deep in the Sierra Mountains was once one of the most significant towns in California and is now home to just about 300 people in the summer and even less in the winter months. The town is beautifully placed along the Yuba River and is home to not only breathtaking views but spectacular trails and historical architecture.
Although Significant, the town isn't the only iconic part of this mountain bike race. Celebrating its 24th anniversary, the Downieville Classic was one of the first mountain bike races to combine cross-country and downhill into one all-mountain event. This format has played an essential role in the evolution of mountain bike racing. The classic to date lets around 400 people race and registration fills up within minutes of opening with a long waitlist of riders eager to get their chance of competing. The first day is a brutal 26.5-mile cross country race followed the world-renowned Downieville DH race on Sunday. For a rider to win the overall, he and she must be insanely fit, fast, and strong. This race brings in stiff competition, world champions, and indeed shows who the ultimate mountain bikers are.
The Downieville Classic isn't all about business and bikes though, the best part of this race is the large crowd of rowdy spectators, river activities, live music, and an all-around sense of fun around every corner. All-day long people are riding bikes, floating the river and checking out the local scene. Main Street fills up with booths of all your favorite bike companies ready to show product and talk tech. All weekend people stopped by the WTB booth to spin a wheel for WTB swag, prices, and cold beverages.
One of the best parts of the race is Saturday afternoon's river bike jump contest. After a hot day of riding and racing, all the spectators and racers head to the river bridge to wade in the water to watch people ride bikes off a jump into the water in spectacular fashion. Judges watch for the biggest air and best trick to crown the river jump champion. There are tons of food vendors and some small local shops to grab some grub for the day as well. If you were lucky, you could have found WTB and mountain bike legend Mark Weir grilling up a fresh pizza on the river bank all afternoon. After the bike jump contest and everyone has cooled off its back to the streets for live music and a dance party late into the evening.
Being a Northern California bike company, the Downieville Classic holds a special place in the hearts of WTB owners and employees. The trails and events are put on by the Sierra Trail Stewardship, which is a nonprofit that works extremely hard to keep the trails up and running for everyone to use. We help support the Stewardship whenever we can and are proud the be apart of such a fantastic event and trail system. We highly recommend you come to check out the Downieville Classic as an athlete or spectator. Visit this little town and experience for yourself the history and uniqueness of this place and trail system.