Spoke ‘n Words: Reflecting on another Downieville Classic | SierraSun.com

Spoke ‘n Words: Reflecting on another Downieville Classic

The self-proclaimed All Mountain World Championships took place this past weekend in the beautiful Sierra Buttes. The Downieville Classic is a unique mountain bike stage race awarding the best all-around dirt junkies who are able to go uphill and downhill with brass and class.

As many predicted, World Cup mountain bike racer and current US Cross Country and Super D National Champion Adam Craig (Giant Bicycles/Bend, Ore.) came and put on a show of both physical and technical prowess. Craig easily set course records in both the Cross Country and Downhill events.

Truckee local Katerina Nash walked away with the Pro Women’s title, taking both the Cross Country and Downhill events with times most men would die to see (that’s right dudes, own up – you got chicked!)

Our Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries (CWC) team members are well known for our antics on the asphalt, but living in the Sierra, we obviously know how to get down and dirty in the singletrack. We set our sites on Downieville with the plan of laying down some serious dominance in the Cross Country event.

CWC had multiple riders, all ready to win in Pro, Expert and Single Speed classes. When the dust had settled, CWC indeed came away with the Single Speed Title (Conrad Snover) and multiple top-10 finishes to make Truckee proud.

However, more often than not, the most compelling or life-changing experiences at bike races do not happen at the front of the race. After five years of racing at various levels, I have come to learn this fact, although it is still difficult to swallow when things aren’t going as planned.

Instead of crushing the competition at Downieville, I was witness to the road racers entering their first event, the underdog local pro favorites, the young phenoms and the rowdy tandem riders. I also saw the scared riders thinking, “What did I get myself into?,” flat tires to broken bikes crushing hopes of race glory, the beginners just hoping to make it out alive, the bushwackers who didn’t get into the race but still wanted part of the experience, and the course marshals and event promoters who make it all happen.

I did not witness these things by choice. In fact, I was quite angry while viewing. I also experienced the strength of the friendships and “teams,” including our own, come together in the face of challenges.

Anyone see the heli pick up a fallen racer? Yep, that was one of our plaid-wearing CWC comrades. How about the skinny climber dude pulled over and showing everyone his breakfast? Yep, that was me. We’re both fine now, thank you.

The amount of emotion I witnessed on the bike in the forest this Saturday still has me oddly inspired.

Think a bike race is all about the result? Go enter Downieville, or any bike race, and see what experiences are cemented. I guarantee you’ll come back begging for more, regardless of the outcome.

– Team rider Ben Ragains is the author of this week’s Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing column. Cyclepaths/Wild Cherries Racing is a Truckee-based cycling team focused on racing and local bike advocacy. For more information, results and upcoming events, visit http://www.cwcracing.org.

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