Even if you’re not riding a bike, the razor sharp rocks above Downieville can slice flesh with ease. My co-worker Jake, aka Biscuit, was out on a four wheeling adventure near Poker Flat when he got out of the truck to scope a trail. While scurrying down a rocky slope, he lost his footing and fell backward on his hand on a razor sharp piece of shale. Jake’s hand was fileted wide open, requiring 10 stitches to close up.
Despite the perils of Downieville, every weekend we shuttle folks to the top of the mountain with no clue of what they’re getting into. Take for instance two guys I dropped off at the top of Packer Saddle dressed in tank top T-shirts, no gloves and helmets that looked nearly 10 years old. Not only did they not know the 15-mile route back to Downieville, but I also noticed they had half-empty water bottles, no packs, no saddle bags or any gear to get them out of trouble.
When I asked if they had extra tubes, they shook their heads. I turned to grab a couple tubes out of the van when I asked if they had a pump. One of the guys shook his head and just said, “No man, we’re just gonna wing it.” Wing it, he said. I laughed out loud at his naivety and responded, “Well, if you don’t have a pump, you don’t need any tubes, so good luck,” and left them to deal with fate.
Three hours later I bumped into my buddy Aussie Bob. I asked him how his ride was and he said it was great, that is until he encountered two guys with four flat tires between them and zero tubes, no pump or anything else. Like a true good Samaritan, Aussie Bob babysat the two Downieville neophytes all the way to the bottom of the mountain.
There’s good reason why bike industry companies such as Santa Cruz and WTB have made Downieville their second home for two decades; the trails above town push the limits of tires, wheels, suspension and frame materials of all types. The combination of warp speed and baby head-size rocks that last for more than 15 miles make Downieville the ultimate R&D testing ground. And those who show up to Downieville unprepared are in for a rough go.
Editor’s Note: The Angry Singlespeeder is a collection of mercurial musings from contributing editor Kurt Gensheimer. In no way do his maniacal diatribes about all things bike oriented represent the opinions of Mtbr, RoadBikeReview, or any of their employees, contractors, janitorial staff, family members, household pets, or any other creature, living or dead. You can submit questions or comments to Kurt at [email protected]. And make sure to check out Kurt’s previous columns.