"What age group are you in?"

The question came from behind me on lower First Divide trail in the last few minutes of the Downieville Classic cross-country race. I knew I was in for a sprint one way or another.

"I'm not telling you," was my coy response.

"Okay then, we'll take it to the line," said the chasing rider.

Before Cash Crash

Cleaning the inside line and not cleaning the inside line. Photos by Daniel Kuhns

Every year I end up duking it out with someone in the final mile of pavement before the finish, and this year was no different. I accelerated full throttle into the final downhill section of First Divide before the pavement and glanced back. My chaser was still there. We approached the last speed-check turns on First Divide before town, but instead of riding the turns, I took a straight line over the rocks, turning inches before a giant boulder on the outside of the corner. I heard tires skidding and looked back to see my adversary piled into the giant boulder. I put my head down and disappeared. Turns out we weren't in the same age group after all.

The next morning while warming up for the downhill run, my pedal suddenly gave up the ghost, with the pedal body separating from the spindle. After putting two giant holes in my rear tire two years ago only 100 meters into my downhill run, I saw flashbacks of a DNF playing out once again. In a minor case of panic, I rode straight to the Industry Nine van parked right near the start line. By the grace of Jah, Dave Thomas was there and had a spare set of SPD pedals. He saved the day and I ended up finishing second on the weekend in my class.

The Anti Single Speeder as first loser. Photo by Elisabeth Johnson

The Anti-Single Speeder is your 2016 first loser. Photo by Elisabeth Johnson​

For the first time in a decade I did the Downieville Classic on a geared full-suspension bike, and full disclosure here, it was far more enjoyable. Some mocked me as the "Content 20 Speeder", but I prefer ASS: the Anti-Single Speeder. Speaking of singlespeeds, perhaps the most astonishing and crazy performance of the weekend came from Steven Mills, the 2015 Downieville Classic all-mountain singlespeed champion. For whatever reason, Steven never took advantage of his early entry option and showed up out of the blue the day before the event wanting to race. Considering the Classic completely sold out this year, he was up the proverbial sh*t creek without a paddle.

Steven Mills rode TWO laps of the XC Course. Photo by Ibis Cycles

Steven Mills rode TWO laps of the XC course. Photo by Ibis Cycles​

No matter. On Saturday morning, Steve got on his rigid singlespeed, rode 12 miles from Downieville up to Sierra City and proceeded to ride the entire 28-mile cross-country course a half-hour ahead of the pro category start. Two hours later Steve made it to town. The pros never caught him. But it gets better. Steve decided he didn't get enough of a workout on that 40-mile loop, so he did AN ENTIRE SECOND LAP. That's right. Dude is mental. Why did he do this? Because he can. Good thing he didn't race this year. He would have embarrassed every other singlespeeder, not to mention more than half of the pro class.

Another standout singlespeed performance came from Allie Donovan, the only female singlespeeder in the Classic this year. Her time of 2 hours, 43 minutes would have placed her eighth in the men's singlespeed class. She wins all the podium prizes for that beast mode performance. Speaking of beast mode, pro rider Menso DeJong was first to the top of Packer Saddle and was leading on the downhill until he crashed hard, injuring his wrist. He still finished third - and to everyone's surprise, injured himself badly enough that he couldn't race the downhill on Sunday. How he was able to hold onto a third place on Saturday with such an injury is a testament to his toughness.

For the record Kelli Emmett and Colin Daw were this year's all-mountain winners. You can check out full results here. Also a shout out to Mtbr contributor Leilani Bruntz who took first in the women's expert under-30 field.


Each year there's a "That Guy" award which goes out to the man (because women never seem to make a bigger ass of themselves than men do) who clearly drank too much and couldn't maintain a shred of common sense. Previous winners included a guy who got tazed and arrested; a guy who dove head first off the very top of Durgan Bridge, broke his nose and back, then got arrested; and a guy who heckled the Sheriff by saying, "You're not the Sheriff. I'M the Sheriff," and almost got arrested.

Although I heard of no arrests this year, it seems there was an incident at La Cocina De Oro, the Mexican restaurant, sometime over the weekend. As the story was told to me, the meat prep cook arrived at 5 a.m. and discovered the front door wide open. Upon entering, an unidentified male (of course) was completely passed out on the ground with empty beer cans, spilled beer, and mud all around him. He was wearing red socks with no shoes, long sleeve shirt and long pants. That's as far as the description I got goes. How he got into the restaurant is a mystery. This person's identity is also mystery, as the prep cook picked him up and shooed him out of the establishment before asking for identification.

Continue to page 2 for more of the Anti-Single Speeder's 2016 Downieville Classic report »



The weekend started off in proper fashion with a Thursday evening Pixie Race obstacle course beer chug thingy, followed by the intergalactic Crud World Championships at Yuba Expeditions. For those not familiar, Crud, or Curmudgeon, is a game of Canadian origin that involves trying to sink the eight ball with a cue ball by hand, without sticks, in a round robin fashion.

30+ contestants at the intergalactic Crud World Championships.

30+ contestants at the intergalactic Crud World Championships.​

The game is truly addicting and completely chaotic at times, as was evidenced by more than 30 participants, by far the biggest Crud game in Yuba Expeditions history. After more than an hour of boisterous crazy people running around a pool table, Jon Palmer (Yuba Expeditions ace wrench) came out on top as the 2016 Crud World Champion. I again was first loser.

The Weir-do trying to chug down a Coors Light in the Log Pull World Championships.

The Weir-do trying to chug a Coors Light in the Log Pull World Championships.​

In other debauchery, after a five-year hiatus, the Log Pull World Championships returned to Downieville. Competition was fierce with more than 20 contestants. The finals came down to a "Mark-Off", with Mark Landers and Downieville legend Mark Weir going head to head. Although Weir had a strong pull of the log, his beer chugging performance, especially in the final round, was rather underwhelming. Weir claimed he showed up last minute, not knowing the event was even happening and had just eaten a bunch of 10-layer dip, which explained the corn coming out of his nose. He was last to go in the qualifying round, and with the final round immediately after, he had to chug two beers without much recovery time. Sounds like a lame excuse to me, but there you have it. Mark Landers is the 2016 Log Pull World Champion.

Mark Landers, your 2016 Log Pull World Champion.

Mark Landers, your 2016 Log Pull World Champion.​

Ron's House of Big Air River Jump World Championships always delivered, with some serious bike acrobatics from defending champion Mitch "McLuvin" Nuyens and Downieville locals Henry O'Donnell and Tyler Marshall. Marshall edged out McLuvin with a nicely executed no-handed backflip in the final round. Although McLuvin did a backflip and literally chucked his bike clear across the North Yuba River, judges were going for technique and gave the nod to Marshall.

McLovin went big, but came up short. Photo by Daniel Kuhns

McLovin went big, but came up short. Photo by Daniel Kuhns​

However, it must be noted that first-time river jumper Chris Reichel, aka "Dirty" of Drunk Cyclist fame, was robbed in my opinion, as he is the first river jumper I've ever seen who actually cracked and consumed a beer in mid-flight. And a shout out to Shanna Powell for representing the ladies as the only female river jump participant this year.

Seen at the top of Third Divide.

Seen at the top of Third Divide.​

Of course the Downieville Classic could never happen without an army of volunteers and spectators. Some of those spectators dress up in colorful costumes. I think the theme for this year had something to do with Hell, as the top of Third Divide was lined with costumed devils, both skinny and morbidly obese. I think their outfits were only created because they had a bunch of Fireball to hand out, so they figured the devil costumes would pair well with the drink.

Scot Nicol reliving memories on his old family mining claim.

Ibis front man Scot Nicol reliving memories on his old family mining claim.​

By Monday morning, my legs, lungs and voice were completely spent; a clear indicator of another proper Downieville Classic weekend. Before leaving town, Scot Nicol, founder of Ibis Cycles, wanted to show me his old family mining claim on the North Yuba River near Indian Valley. We cruised out to the junction of North Yuba and Cherokee Creek, and he immediately scrambled down to the river as if he was 12 years old all over again, spending every summer of his childhood on the claim. He even spent a summer in his early 20s on the claim, camping and panning for gold.


It was then I realized part of the reason why Ibis has been such a big supporter of Downieville and the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship. Scot's roots here run deep, virtually all of his life. And much like the dozens of kids I saw playing in the North Yuba River this past weekend, each one of them will hold a very special place in their heart for Downieville as they get older. Their experiences in Downieville on the North Yuba will stick with them for life, and they will keep coming back for life, keeping the magic alive deep in the Lost Sierra for generations to come.

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.