Downieville Photo Gallery, Race Report and Results

Race Coverage
Downieville Write-Up by Menso de Jong

The podium was backlit by the setting sun…

Eight years ago, I had just started mountain biking seriously and rode a couple of times with Francis on the local trails (Fremont Older) and in Santa Cruz, where I was slowly figuring out the downhill part of mountain biking. That summer (2005), Francis offered to take my buddy Pierre and me to a race in this place called Downieville. After meeting my mom to assure her that this stranger could be trusted with some 15/16 year olds, we headed up the day before the race. I remember peeling my white knuckled finger off my bars multiple times during our preride, and then suffering through the race on the single speeds we were riding at the time, in around three hours.

After that, mountain bike racing became my passion. I won the Junior X all mountain the next two years (2006, 2007), and standing on the podium in 2007, I figured that was the last time I’d get a medal at Downieville, since the big boys go so fast! Those results set me up for a future of collegiate and national series XC racing, with a two year foray into road riding culminating with 2012 on Jelly Belly, which served to build my fitness and remind me that I really just want to ride my mountain bikes.

This year, thanks to generous support from Clif Bar, I’m back on the mountain bike circuit while I work towards my MS Geology degree at CSU East Bay in Hayward. I’ve been flying out to all the ProXCT for the last two months, and originally was planning on calling it a season after nationals two weeks ago, but a broken chain five seconds into the race led me to sign up for Downieville a week ago in hopes of a better end to the season.

 
Fun ride with Jaclyn (my patient girlfriend) in Truckee on Sunday to reward her for sitting in town all morning Saturday waiting for me.

I did my traditional warmup, leaving the car in town with my sleepy girlfriend and riding up Hwy 49 from Downieville, and then did my best to represent the brand by giving my extra Clif Shot to a late arriving rider that forgot to bring ride food. Confident in my pack skills, I lined up in the middle of the pro women, chatted with some friends, and then snaked my way to the from as soon as the race started. Two things played to my strength for the climb this year: compared to the ProXCT’s, this was the mellowest start all year, and also Levi Leipheimer showed up. Normally, the road part at the start is relatively chill until suddenly everyone goes nuts trying to be in the top ten onto the fireroad. This time, Levi started grinding out the watts two minutes in, and it instantly went to single file, with everyone riding their own pacing, knowing that following the leader was futile. After five minutes on the dirt, I was already alone, with Levi in the distance, Adam Craig and Carl Decker a minute up, and Los Gatos local Alex Wild dangling fifteen seconds up. And that’s how it stayed until I finally caught Alex before the last climb to Packer Saddle. I slurped a Clif Shot as I went past the feed zone, and switched to my second bottle maybe ten minutes from the top. We crested the top together in about 51 minutes, just one minute down on the Giants duo and a whopping five or so on Levi.

Alex let me have the lead into Sunrise, and unfortunately had dust problems knock out both his contact lenses, shit-canning his race, and leaving me alone on the mountain. Opposite the experience of basically everyone else at the Classic, for the top ten pro men raceday is the one day all year where we don’t have to pass anyone at all, and I was in for a long and lonely descent. I didn’t know how far ahead I was of fifth, and knew I had no chance of catching the three in front, so I erred on the side of caution and rode a very mediocre descent for most of the way down. For example, I went a full 30 seconds slower down Baby Heads than I have in the past.

I probably should have ridden with more urgency, but out in the solitude and having kind of mentally checked out after XC Nationals, I was having a hard time convincing myself that I was in a race. As a result, about a mile before the bridge to the Third Divide climb I got caught by Macky Franklin. Since I’m not a dick and also wanted some karma points before passing on the climb, I let him go by, then found my race mode and went after him. At the bridge he had about ten seconds on me and Jason Moeschler was just about on my back, but I threw it into gear and stormed the climb in less than three minutes, passing Macky and putting at least forty seconds into the cramping riders behind me.

From there on, I was in full race mode, pedaling out of every turn with the knowledge that I was really racing for a podium place. Levi gave me a “go Menso!” as I passed him pumping his tube at the entrance to First Divide, and by the time I hit the pavement I was well in the clear and could coast in to town. This was a marked departure from passed years, when I used the short road section to pass a few more riders with my roadie power, even getting a silly Strava KOM for my efforts back in 2011. With the 3rd in the bag, I enjoyed my ride into town, swerving through the hay bales and high fiving people along the way.

Relaxing at Donner Lake after a good weekend.

Levi may have the KOM, but I successfully defended my 180+ pound title.
STRAVA

Continue reading for Race Results.

Downieville Photo Gallery, Race Report and Results Gallery
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Riders strung out for miles.

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Overall Winner Carl Decker always has a smile on his face! Congrats dude!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Joe Lawill ripping the DH!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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I'm not sure if they were supposed to be casting while the guys were jumping

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Carl crushing it on the climb!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Larissa Fitchett

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Karin Edwards happy to be climbing 4K in the sun!!! SAWEEEET!!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Larry Sussman was all smiles!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Watching the droves coming toward us!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Gettin some!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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McLovin going HUGE as always!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Shimano casting comp!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Downieville Godfather Greg Williams having a blast!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Levi Leipheimer was at least 3 minutes ahead of the next rider at this point.

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Adam was just trying to stay ahead of Carl at this point!!! Painful!!!

Adam Craig is always a favorite to win here at Downieville. It's awesome that this race is attracting such talent. Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Menso DeJong wasn't even winded at this point in the climb.

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Jason Moeschler is always a threat to win this event!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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5th Place AM finisher and Santa Cruz Fox Team Rider Ryan Chandler!!!

Watch out for this kid! Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Cling Classen killing it on the climb!!! He has a full time job;)

Clint races and rides every weekend. He gets better and better each race!!! Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Cody Kaiser!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Riley Howard with a big ass pack!!!

Riley is going to be a threat at this race very soon. Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Uknown French GT rider!! He was super stoked when he flew by us!

He was RAD for sure! Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Overall Winner of the 2013 Downieville Classic Katerina Hanusova!!!

Katerina is so awesome! She is beating many of the top men!!! Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Scott Chapin chasing down the Katerina and Kelli!!! Motivation!!!

Scott would have bonked has he not been staring at Katerina the whole climb:) Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Kelli Emmet raging up the climb as always!

Kelli, was going for it this weekend! She has won here a few times! Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Glenn Fant

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Shane Bresnyan having a blast chasing down his homies!!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Dejay Birch!!!! Legend!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Yuri Hauswald is always in contention to win the SS class!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Tsering Alleyne from Marin Bikes going for it on the climb!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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The Angry Single Speeder AKA Kurt Gensheimer!!! SS madness!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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John KOS Koslovslky from CVC is needing a drink at this point!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Chris Scierholtz is always smiling! Such a rad dude!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Santa Cruz Marketing Honch Will Ockelton making it look easy!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Haley Cutter having a blast as always!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Katie DeClerq leading the charge for team Juliana!!!

Katie didn't even know she was racing until Friday afternoon!!!! Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Christina Probert Turner stoked to be out there!

Christina has been doing this race for as long as I can remember, she is amazing!!!! Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Even the hikers were stoked!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Team Juliana getting by on the outside!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Curtis Inglis

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Crashing was common at this spot! It's a HUGE climb!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Charging past!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Young Rider. Unknown

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Cyclefest!!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Garry Mcleod making sure he got the shot:)

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Unknown rider!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Sean Holifield got cut off and had to walk!!!

Bummer for him, but he was still stoked!!! Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Adam Craig

Adam was looking super fast this year. Many people thought he was going to take it but Carl was the man!
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Levi killing it in the DH!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Shimano's own Joe Lawill

Joe has a full time job at Shimano and still manages to stay super fit and fast!!!!
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Young Yeti Rider

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Santa Cruz/Fox Super Star Marshall Eames!!!

Marshall did really well and had a blast this year! Congrats!!! Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Duncan Meyers crushing! Duncan rules!!!!

Photo: Forrest Arakawa
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Truckee Ride

Fun ride with Jaclyn (my patient girlfriend) in Truckee on Sunday to reward her for sitting in town all morning Saturday waiting for me.
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Podium

The podium was backlit by the setting sun...
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Donner Lake

Relaxing at Donner Lake after a good weekend.

About the author: Gregg Kato

Gregg Kato studied journalism and broadcasting in college while working many different jobs including deejaying, driving a forklift and building web sites (not all at the same time). Kato has been the Site Manager of Mtbr.com for over 12 years and enjoys riding local Santa Cruz trails. Besides being an avid mountain biker, he is also a motorcycle fanatic. Two wheels, one Passion.


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