After an all-uphill start, riders are offered a cool drink on the go as they head for the downhill section of the course Aug. 5 in the Downieville Classic. Photo by Mari Erin Roth

22nd annual Downieville Classic draws 800 riders

The little town of Sierra City was filled to the brim Aug. 5 with riders and support crews for the first day of racing in the Downieville Classic. The race allows 800 riders to compete and all slots were sold out.

There are two races that make up the Downieville Classic. The Saturday cross-country 29-mile course begins with an uphill climb from 4,100 feet elevation to the crest of the Sierra Nevada at 7,100 feet. The peak at Packers Saddle is the one place on the course accessible to non-riders and lends a solitary opportunity to cheer riders on along the grueling course.

The first rider crested the peak 48 minutes after the start.

“Nobody listens to me when I suggest they do a gene pool test to see if these riders are part mountain goat,” said a spectator.

An occasional rider would show their spunk climbing the last of the uphill section to the cheering crowd by doing wheelies as they crossed the peak.

Family and friends acted as support staff handing off drinks, power blocks and snacks to riders. Empty backpacks were exchanged with ones laden with water while riders kept their bikes in motion.

Leaving the cheering fans of extreme sports behind, the riders rifled by following the course down in a plunge of 5,200 vertical feet to arrive in Downieville.

Sunday’s event omitted the uphill climb from Sierra City and was all downhill starting from Packers Saddle. Look for more details and photos in next week’s sports section.

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