Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Downieville Classic Cross-Country

For the past four years the Downieville Classic has been the race I looked forward to the most and this year was even more special as it marked the twentieth anniversary of this rugged and gnarly mountain bike race.  The Downieville Classic All-Mountain World Championships is comprised of two days of racing, the absolutely brutal 29 mile point to point cross-country race on Saturday and the long very demanding downhill race on Sunday. 

My new Specialized Camber Expert Evo did great on the courses at Downieville.
This year I was able to get a position in the front of the huge field of Expert racers, a group of around 100 racers that all start at the same time.  I had a good start and tried to hang with the top 5 racers in my category but was soon dropped only 1.5 miles into the 8 mile 3000 foot climb to Packer Saddle. However, I did not loose hope and kept up a consistent pace making it to the top in roughly one hour my fastest time ever.  I was able to pass several racers on Sunrise Trail and was not over taken on the long fireroad traverse to the section known as "Baby Heads".  This fast and loose jeep trail is where the course begins to cater to my strengths and I was able to rip down Baby Heads and over take a few other racers.  After I crossed Pauley Creek I began to catch up with a few racers in my category and was even able to pass a few of my competitors.  The end of Butcher Ranch Trail went well and I caught another person in my category on the climb to Third Divide Trail.  With only a few other racers on Third Divide who let me pass I was able to really let loose and make up some time on this surreally fast plunge of singletrack.

Powering along First Divide.  Photo by Rhianna Roush.
At the bottom of Third Divide it is time to spend time in the pain cave all the way to the finish in Downieville.  First there is a flat to downhill fireroad and then First Divide Trail a mostly flat and slightly rocky trail that follows a gold rush era ditch grade to main street in Downieville where racers have one more hard sprint on pavement into the finish.  I felt good on First Divide and tried my best to put power into the pedals even though I was totally exhausted.
Looking how I felt after the hard Downieville Classic XC.
On the final sprint along Main Street I caught one of my racers in my category right as we crossed the finish line but was not able to cross the line ahead of him missing 4th place and a podium spot by only one second.  Even though being so close to podium was slightly disappointing I had my best time ever of 2:12:40 on the XC course and was happy to do well against such stiff competition.
I came in 5th out of 35 super fast racers and was only one second off of 4th.

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