Photo Epic: 2014 Downieville Classic

Aug 6, 2014
by Brad Holmes  
Last weekend marked the 19th annual Downieville Classic. The event starts with a point to point cross country race followed by a 18 mile mostly downhill race the following day. Points are awarded for each of the two days and so decides the winner of the All Mountain.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Sierra City 9:00AM point to point races like this take a lot of preparation and commitment from a number of volunteers. The Downieville mountain bike community delivers this one of a kind event once again.

The face of pain the towering Sierra Buttes. For the XC racers this looming dome of granite simply destroys the unprepared. The 3000 vertical foot climb from Sierra City is completely exposed to the sun.
  The face of pain: the towering Sierra Buttes. For the XC racers, this looming dome of granite simply destroys the unprepared. The 3000 vertical foot climb from Sierra City is completely exposed to the sun.

Teal Stetson Lee of Luna Chix getting her grin on for weigh in at the start of the Downieville All Mountain race. The rules are simple to race the all mountain category--meaning you get to race the Downieville Classic DH course on Day 2 of the Downieville Classic you must race the XC race on Day 1 and your bike must weigh the same both days.
  Teal Stetson Lee of Luna Chix getting her grin on for weigh in at the start of the Downieville All Mountain race. The rules are simple: to race the all mountain category--meaning you get to race the Downieville Classic DH course on Day 2 of the Downieville Classic, you must race the XC race on Day 1, and your bike must weigh the same both days.

Nathan Riddle getting ready for the pain of the XC course right out of the gate it s an 8 mile 3000 vertical foot punch in the gut from Sierra City up and over Sierra Buttes to Packer Saddle. There s no where to hide on the climb--literally and figuratively--the trail is fully exposed to the beating sun and riders without the fitness to tackle that climb soon discover why it s called the Trail of Tears .
  Nathan Riddle getting ready for the pain of the XC course; right out of the gate it's an 8 mile, 3000 vertical foot punch in the gut from Sierra City up and over Sierra Buttes to Packer Saddle. There's no where to hide on the climb--literally and figuratively--the trail is fully exposed to the beating sun and riders without the fitness to tackle that climb soon discover why it's called the "Trail of Tears".

The repeat racer s smart pills--salt tabs for the brutality of racing in the beating Sierra heat.
  The repeat racer's smart pills--salt tabs for the brutality of racing in the beating Sierra heat.

3 1 2--Ryan Chandler Carl Decker and Jason Moeschler. These veterans of the race were the first off the line for the XC race on Day 1 in Downieville.
  3, 1, 2--Ryan Chandler, Carl Decker, and Jason Moeschler. These veterans of the race were the first off the line for the XC race on Day 1 in Downieville.

2014 Downieville Classic
Only a few miles out the gate and Levi Leipheimer is out of sight of the rest of the field.

2014 Downieville Classic
Colin Daw and Jay Kiangchaipaiphana lead the chase.

2014 Downieville Classic
Levi Leipheimer first in sight at the top of the 9 mile Butte's climb.

2014 Downieville Classic
It would be a race to see who could close the gap Levi had put on the field at the top of the climb.

2014 Downieville Classic
Colin Daw trying to catch Levi at the top of the climb, he would soon be overtaken by Carl Decker and Jason Moeschler.

2014 Downieville Classic
Billy Damon putting the pressure on Colin Daw at the top of the climb whilst rocking out to the metal that was blasting.

2014 Downieville Classic
Jason Moeschler, Carl Decker and Jay Kiangchaipaiphana on the hunt.

But the first racer to hit the single track was former Tour De France rider Levi Leipheimer. Say what you will about his checkered past in road cycling the retired professional is still a hell of a cyclist coming home first on the XC track.
  But the first racer to hit the single track was former Tour De France rider Levi Leipheimer. Say what you will about his checkered past in road cycling, the retired professional is still a hell of a cyclist, coming home first on the XC track.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Billy Damon in second place briefly flying down Sunrise Trail before being overtaken by Carl Decker, Jason Moeschler and Colin Daw.

EWS Managing Director Chris Ball digging deep to power through the dust on the Sunrise trail.
  EWS Managing Director Chris Ball digging deep to power through the dust on the Sunrise trail.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Carl Decker and Jason Moeschler will keep there #1 and #2 plates for next year after a repeat first and second respectively in the all mountain overall.

Brian Estell leading out Jason First heading into the singletrack on the Sunrise Trail just below Packer Saddle--the top of the XC climb. At 7 100 feet above sea level and full gas after a 3000 vertical foot climb it hurts to push it on the gently descending track.
  Brian Estell leading out Jason First heading into the singletrack on the Sunrise Trail just below Packer Saddle--the top of the XC climb. At 7,100 feet above sea level and full gas after a 3000 vertical foot climb, it hurts to push it on the gently descending track.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Michael Hosey cruising to a 10th place in the all mountain.

Jamie Busch of Juliana bikes taking one of the loose blown out corners up top.
  Jamie Busch of Juliana bikes taking one of the loose, blown out corners up top.

Former Pro XC racer and now EWS racer Liv-Giant s Kelli Emmett dominated the Pro Women s field in the XC race.
  Former Pro XC racer and now EWS racer, Liv-Giant's Kelli Emmett dominated the Pro Women's field in the XC race.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Dropping into the last scary exposure on the first divide trail. If you stop and look along a few spots below the cliffs on the divide trails you can see abandoned bikes and moto's from less fortunate riders.

2014 Downieville Classic
  If you look really close in the top right hand side of the picture you can see that Jason Moeschler had Levi Leipheimer in sight with the last few miles to go. Jason Moeschler may be known as an all mountain or enduro racer, but coming home a mere 28 seconds behind Levi Leipheimer in the 29 mile XC race is proof positive just how good the Cannondale WTB rider is, even when he's coming back from injury.

2014 Downieville Classic
  After this section of First Divide your chances of falling off a cliff decrease greatly. Cody Kaiser and Scott Chapin in a battle with only a few miles to go.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Pretty good weekend for Macky Franklin of Taos, NM finishing 5th overall.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Veteran Expert racer Jesse Smith finishing the cross country with a time that would have him inside the top 12 in pro.

2014 Downieville Classic
  In the heat of the day dropping into the last section of single track before the sprint through town to the finish line.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Conner Kuhns with giving XC some style.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Combine high average speeds with rocky terrain and it makes keeping tires inflated challenging.


2014 Downieville Classic
  Gabriel Anez cruising between third and first divide.

The men s XC Podium minus fourth place XC racer Colin Daw Carl Decker 3 Jason Moeschler 2 and Levi Leipheimer 1 . Leipheimer donated his winnings to the local trail stewards.
  The men's XC Podium (minus fourth place XC racer Colin Daw): Carl Decker (3), Jason Moeschler (2), and Levi Leipheimer (1). Leipheimer donated his winnings to the local trail stewards.

Day one s XC Pro Women s podium Carolina Gomez-Villafane 4 Erin Alders 3 Larissa Connors 2 and Kelli Emmett 1 .
  Day one's XC Pro Women's podium: Carolina Gomez-Villafane (4), Erin Alders (3), Larissa Connors (2), and Kelli Emmett (1).

Michael Lemus downing a cold one after the 29 mile XC race. I used to be a lot faster said Lemus with a wry grin as he sipped his beer.
  Michael Lemus downing a cold one after the 29 mile XC race. "I used to be a lot faster", said Lemus, with a wry grin, as he sipped his beer.

2014 Downieville Classic
  The Yuba river is very inviting after a day in mid 90 degree heat.

The bike jump into the Yuba River... always a good time

2014 Downieville Classic
  McLoven with the best seat in the house.

Single Speed All Mountain competitor Yuri Hauswald soaking it all in post XC race at the river jump...
  Single Speed All Mountain competitor Yuri Hauswald soaking it all in post XC race at the river jump...

In between rounds of the bike jump into the Yuba River comp Shimano put their fishing gear to work with a casting competition. The guy on the left was absolutely deadly.
  In between rounds of the bike jump into the Yuba River comp, Shimano put their fishing gear to work with a casting competition. The guy on the left was absolutely deadly.

Jaon Moeschler watcing the weigh in of his Cannondale Scalpel before the start of Day 2.
  Jason Moeschler watching the weigh in of his Cannondale Scalpel before the start of Day 2.

Downieville dirt oftern times as loose as can be but always with mines waiting to destroy tires.
  Downieville dirt: often times as loose as can be, but always with mines waiting to destroy tires.

Nathan Riddle pinning it towards the lowere Butcher trail.
  Nathan Riddle pinning it towards the lower Butcher trail.

Kind of nice to know that Dane Zaffke the marketing director for Giro Bike Helmets can ride a bike eh And ride it well--mid pack in a pro field ain t bad when you re not being paid to ride.
  Kind of nice to know that Dain Zaffke, the marketing director for Giro Bike Helmets, can ride a bike, eh? And ride it well--mid pack in a pro field ain't bad when you're not being paid to ride.

The Waterfall feature on the Downhill is the make or break feature of the downhill portion of the all mountain race. In wet years it quite literally is a waterfall with minimal line choice. But on a dry year guys like Scott Chapin can take full advantage of the inside line.
  The Waterfall feature on the Downhill is the make or break feature of the downhill portion of the all mountain race. In wet years, it quite literally is a waterfall with minimal line choice. But on a dry year, guys like Scott Chapin can take full advantage of the inside line.

Former all mountain winner Carl Decker just below the waterfall feature on the trail.
  All Mountain winner Carl Decker just below the waterfall feature on the trail.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Cody Kaiser looking fast through sunrise trail.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Marco Osborne less than 4 seconds back from Carl Decker taking second in the DH.

The tree variety on the course was simply amazing here we see just three of the evergreen trees that dominated the upper portion of the trail but lower down it was all about California Oak trees.
  The tree variety on the course was simply amazing: here we see just three of the evergreen trees that dominated the upper portion of the trail, but lower down it was all about California Oak trees.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Manuel Ducci rounding out the top 20 in DH and 21st in AM.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Specialized's Sean Estes inside the top 30 with a day job.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Giro's Dain Zaffke testing out their new helmet under extreme heat.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Chris Ball sends it down into the gully on Butcher Ranch trail.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Will King on the rocks.

Where s Waldo
  Where's Waldo?

2014 Downieville Classic
  Jed Pope weaving through the fields before the rough ride begins.

2014 Downieville Classic
  Butcher Ranch is where the downhill course really starts to pick up speed. Joshua Moberg looking especially fast for so late in the day.


2014 Downieville Classic
  Ron Shevock splitting the single speed pack with a 5th place in the downhill.

Luna s Teal Stetson midway down Butcher.
  Luna's Teal Stetson midway down Butcher.

Kelli Emmett again dominated on Day Two of the race.
  Kelli Emmett again dominated on Day Two of the race.

Pro Men s Podium Levi Leipheimer 4 Marco Osborne 2 Karl Decker 1 and Jason Moeschler 3 .
  Pro Men's Podium: Macky Franklin (4), Marco Osborne (2), Karl Decker (1), and Jason Moeschler (3).

The pro women s podium Teal Stetson Lee 2 Kelli Emmett 1 and Jamie Busch 3 .
  The pro women's podium:Teal Stetson Lee (2), Kelli Emmett (1), and Jamie Busch (3).

2014 Downieville Classic
  Cozmo's wild island looked like way too much fun to pass up. Thanks to Ryan Helmuth for snapping this. (I won my category!)

For full results visit www.downievilleclassic.com


52 Comments

  • 5 0
 Great coverage guys. I was there, rode both days, and I certainly couldn't be everywhere at once. Thanks for the great photos and the write up. Almost certain Levi was not on the podium on Sunday. Nor did he compete. He's also one of the shortest riders I saw the entire weekend, so pretty sure the guy in the yellow is not him.
  • 10 0
 Levi did compete on day two. He took the outside line on the waterfall section, and ended up 26th in the pro DH.
  • 3 0
 He also put in the weakest performance of the day on the wall. Fortunately for him, the bare-ass treatment went to Decker.
  • 1 0
 That pic looks like the DH podium, so no Levi, as the caption says. He got 20 something DH.
  • 2 0
 @emericandream, the wall is so hard, I'm glad i was able to find a line that allowed me to use the bottom part of it as a lip and jump all the way up to the top. Were you posted up there for the DH?
  • 1 0
 @connerkuhns, Yeah, we had a crew up there. Beers went to injuries and mechanicals. Cheers and jeers to the rest. Nice work! The line on the right was definitely the way to go. Few were able to boost straight up to the roots.
  • 1 0
 @emericandream , thats awesome, I would have loved a beer! Yeah, I was surprised how much faster it allowed me to get up there! Any notable guys not manage to do it? Any of your crew snap photos?
  • 9 2
 The climb is the easy part. The descent is a beat down. Phenomenal event.
  • 14 0
 I totally think of it the other way around. Climbing is not my thing. But the DH is a blast.
  • 12 4
 65 photos total and only 8 of women. Bummer.
  • 12 0
 You make a good point. For fairness there should have been 15 photos of women to match their ratio of entrants (29 out of 154).
  • 3 0
 Hey Tara, I wanted to get more photo's of the top of the women's xc pack on Saturday but couldn't manage to stay any longer at any of my locations before having to moto to the next. So for the XC I only was able to catch the first 5 or so to pass by at each location. I was hoping this one was going to make it into the article though www.pinkbike.com/photo/11258421 I think its my favorite pic of the weekend!!!
  • 1 0
 Don't get me wrong...the shots of the race were wicked as was that last pic of Kelli. Thanks for the explanation though. ;-)
  • 1 0
 I was thinking the same thing, so little about the women's race. Great photos though!!
  • 3 0
 My all time favorite race! Very cool to see that Chris Ball raced the Downieville Classic. At least two European EWS regulars, Manuel Ducci and Valentina Macheda, did too. It would be interesting to hear their thoughts on this race compared to the EWS format.
  • 5 0
 Jason Moeschler's Scalpel weigh in looks more like the new Trigger 27.5 just by the suspension linkage
  • 3 0
 Good eye. The Trigger 27.5 is what he rode according to the WTB blog.
  • 2 0
 Some superb photos, looks like a great event. Not so sure about Leipheimer. Obviously a lot of the top road riders from that period were up to the same stuff, but people are still angry about it. Hopefully his infamy didn't put a downer on this event.
  • 2 3
 Sorry to break it to you but pretty much every elite-level athlete uses steroids; be it testosterone enanthate, stanazolol or EPO - they're using it. I don't even understand why people give a shit anymore. The only cycle sport that wouldn't benefit much from them is downhill, but it wouldn't surprise me if some were using.

Brook McDonald put on a lot of size these past two years for example.
  • 1 0
 How would downhill not benefit from PED?
  • 2 0
 @MangoSentinel the point about Levi is that, rightly or wrongly, he's very controversial and that his presence at an event like this could overshadow everything else that's happening.

I'm not naive about PED, but road cycling has demonstrated that there's a point where it becomes absurd. You can't get rid of it but if you can peg it back to "micro dosing" and grey area bending of the rules then it does make for a more realistic spectacle. If you just de regulated it and stopped caring then all sports would look like complete nonsense (I.e Bjarne Riis on the Hautacam in the 96 TdF)
  • 1 0
 Good luck getting athletes to use micro-doses. Their sponsors will do anything it takes for an athlete to win, even at the cost of future health problems and hormonal imbalances. It honestly doesn't take anything away from the sport though: the steroids allow the athletes to train harder and recover effectively so it's anything but a short-cut.

You don't have to de-regulate it. The current system is almost pointless anyway; it only detects if the athlete has made a huge mistake in their PED cycle.
  • 1 0
 Nah, there's plenty of evidence to show the system is improving, at least in road racing. Comparing times with years gone by isn't necessarily completely accurate but how is it possible that riders 20 years ago were ascending the same climbs 2-3 minutes quicker, despite 20 years worth of progress in sport science and bicycle design? It's obvious they're doping less, even without factoring in how the riders look etc. see: www.climbing-records.com/2014/07/new-hautacam-top-100-nibali-close-to.html

Just because you can cheat within the system it doesn't mean that it's pointless. I don't doubt doping is happening all over the place in all sports, but by managing it you can improve the sporting spectacle, or at least stop it from becoming a total farce like the mid 90s TdF or East German shot putters of the 1980s. There is a point where it ruins the sport completely so you gotta keep fighting it.
  • 2 0
 To be honest, the views I have stem from olympic weightlifting, and I see athletes dropping out just before a comp citing 'injury' and promising new guys getting caught like (Liao Hui and Hysen Pulaku). I suppose in the TdF you are all watched closely by the UCI, but the IWF is more fractured and inconsistent in its monitoring of different countries. Conversely, it seems like the UCI/ASO have started to regain control.

Sill, it's unfair and short-sighted to lambast and slander an athlete just because he got caught though when it's his/her sponsors and coaches that pressure them into taking PEDs, especially when their rivals are treated with respect. Don't hate the player; hate the game.
  • 7 2
 Great coverage. Looks like a fun event. On the bucket list for sure.
  • 3 0
 That was a super fun gnarly weekend! Best way to spend four days in the mountains. Despit a crash and 12 stitches on day two I can't wait for next year!
  • 2 0
 "Say what you will about his checkered past in road cycling, the retired professional is still a hell of a cyclist"

Quite the understatement with respect to both parts of this statement about Levi!!!
  • 1 0
 Levi might be a hell of a cyclist, but he has no business racing these days. His doping days are still benefiting him today: www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-24730151. Him racing now sends a bad message to clean racers.
  • 4 0
 Wow, great report!
  • 3 1
 Badass trails, awesome competition and free cold beer...glad to have been a part if this race!
  • 3 0
 Way to make SCB proud Chapin!!
  • 2 0
 Amazing coverage crew!! I'm bummed to have missed it this year but next year for sure!
  • 2 0
 Im the one in the air on the bike jump competition. Superman! haha awesome race too.
  • 4 2
 Great story, awesome pictures!
  • 2 0
 One of my favorite places in the Sierras. Thanks for the awesome coverage!
  • 2 0
 I'm pretty sure that Cannondale is a Trigger not a Scalpel.
  • 2 0
 BIlly! Lookin fast bro..put the pressure on that roadie!
  • 2 0
 NICE
  • 2 0
 looks interestingļ¼
  • 1 0
 Awesome photos from a great event - so glad I made it this year.
  • 1 1
 First time I see lefty doing right turn at ease.
  • 1 0
 THE RIDDLER!
  • 4 4
 Sick bikes
  • 1 2
 how i wish someone organize these kinds of race here in PH
  • 10 4
 Definitely don't try organizing it yourself. Someone else needs to do it.
  • 3 0
 priceless
Below threshold threads are hidden

Post a Comment



Copyright © 2000 - 2019. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.029262
Mobile Version of Website