After a three-year hiatus, the iconic Downieville Classic returns this summer, just in time to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The Downieville Classic Mountain Bike Race and All Mountain World Championships, presented by Santa Cruz Bicycles, will take place July 13 to 16th in the historic Gold Rush town of Downieville in California’s northern Sierra.
The weekend-long race and festival is one of the biggest events of the summer in Downieville, and brings thousands of people into the town and to local businesses. It’s also one the biggest annual fundraisers for our nonprofit Stewardship, and helps us continue to maintain and enhance the Downieville trail system year after year (the Stewardship organizes the Classic in conjunction with Oregon-based race promoter Breakaway Promotions). The Classic was last held in 2019 before pausing during and in the wake of the global pandemic. While the race was away, our trail crews continued to work on the ground in Downieville, spending hundreds of hours keeping the trails clear and running smoothly throughout the network, including those utilized in the race: Sunrise, Gold Valley Rim, Pauley Creek, Butcher Ranch, Third Divide and First Divide. This year, crews will be building brand-new singletrack connections at the top of the Big Boulder and Pauley Creek trails.
The race’s return in 2023 will bring back all the time-honored traditions for which the Classic is known. Racing starts with Saturday’s 26.5-mile cross-country race—one of the last remaining point-to-point XC races on the calendar—which begins in Sierra City, then leads racers on a rugged route up to the crest of the Sierra Nevada at 7,469 feet, before descending 5,700 feet into Downieville. On Sunday, All Mountain racers head up to Packer Saddle, and descend 5,000 feet from there on the famous Downieville Downhill course, using the same bike they rode in the cross-country race. This year, the Classic is also the last stop of the new Singletrack Series of four XC mountain bike races.
Race registration opens on Sunday February 19th, and all the details on courses, fees and how you can earn your entry fees back by fundraising for the Stewardship can be found here.
The Classic is a bucket list race for many mountain bikers, but its draw goes well beyond the racing. The festival has a reputation of its own as one of the best on the calendar with its world-famous river jump into the Yuba, the log pull down main street and live music and dancing, all in the name of hanging with good people in the mountains.
Downieville is where it all started for the Stewardship—our organization was born in 2003 out of the need to support the Tahoe National Forest in maintaining the Downieville trail system. At that point, the Classic was already eight years old, and had played a pivotal role in revitalizing Downieville and bringing in a whole new economy based around trails and recreation. Since we formed, the Stewardship has built 176 miles of new trails throughout the Lost Sierra region, maintained more than 2,300 miles, and completed more than 100 different trail projects with some 122,713 volunteer hours.