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Downieville Classic gravel grinder registration is open

Registration for the 25th annual ride of the original Sierra gravel grinder opened Feb. 17.

Bar ends, V-brakes, three front chain rings and sub-par suspension with 80 millimeters of rubber elastomer travel; this was the mountain bike technology of the day when the first annual Coyote Classic was held in Downieville in 1995.

Since that time, the event changed names to the Downieville Classic and stands today as one of the most recognized events in the sport of mountain biking, from a Patagonia-produced feature film about the event called “Dirt Magic” to being named by Outside Magazine as one of the Top 10 best bike festivals.

As one of the only point-to-point mountain bike events remaining in America, the Downieville Classic, which takes place July 30 to Aug. 2, has become stuff of legend for good reason: No other event requires a special concoction of equal parts climbing fitness, descending skill and a little bit of luck to finish the race, let alone make it on the podium.

But even more legendary than the race is the post-race celebrations. The only bar set higher than the event itself is the celebration bar, whether that be watching Ron’s House of Big Air River Jump World Championships, the Log Pull World Championships or shooting bull with locals at the St. Charles Saloon, it’s the highest bar of them all.

What to expect

This year’s Classic is promised to be a full weekend of semi-organized anarchy in the mountains.

Events kick off on Thursday, at 5 p.m., outside Yuba Expeditions bike shop with a volunteer appreciation barbeque brought by Hangtown Electric, followed by the Volunteer Trifecta Competition at 6:30 p.m.; a fun way to party down our invaluable army of volunteers.

Volunteering has a long list of perks and is one of the best ways to experience the Classic without having to race.

After the Trifecta, a DJ will spin tunes into the night, with the notorious Downieville Dance-Off from 8:30 to 9 p.m.

Friday is generally a great day to pre-ride the downhill, catching a Yuba Expeditions shuttle to Packer Saddle, then refueling in town with a host of food trucks to choose from.

From 3 to 7 p.m. is registration packet pickup and All-Mountain bike weigh-in; a great time to catch up with friends.

At 8 p.m., Santa Cruz Bicycles presents its movie night at the Yuba Theatre right in the heart of Downieville.

Saturday is the Cross Country race leaving Sierra City at 9:30 a.m., first fueling up in Downieville with Paul Component Engineering’s breakfast before heading up the hill.

Festivities kick into high gear Saturday at noon when the Sierra Nevada Brewing beverage garden opens so folks can grab a cold frosty while cruising around gazing longingly at the latest bling from biking expo partners.

Awards are followed by the world famous Ron’s House of Big Air river jump and the head-to-head Cast-Off presented by Shimano along the banks of the Yuba River.

Come back to Main Street to watch or participate in the feats-of-strength and chug-a-log challenge of the Fox Shox Log Pull.

At 8 p.m., the booty-shaking starts, with party crowd favorite Mojo Green taking the stage in “downtown” Downieville.

Sunday is the big day, the Downhill, with the first rider taking the course at 9:30 a.m., followed by Cozmo’s Wild Island and Kid’s Big Air River Jump presented by ClifBar at 12:30 p.m., a must-attend event for kids and families.

Over the last quarter century, the Downieville Classic has evolved wheel-to-wheel with mountain bike technology, and presenting sponsor Santa Cruz Bicycles has been an integral part since the beginning.

The only year the Classic was not held was in 2004, when event founders Greg and Heather Williams had their first child, but that very year Santa Cruz still gave event sponsorship money. That money was put toward establishing the 501c3 nonprofit status of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, the beneficiary of the Downieville Classic.

For more information on the Downieville Classic, visit downievilleclassic.com.

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