I must have been going close to 25mph down Big Boulder trail when I rounded a corner and saw a hairy golden brown animal standing on all fours in the rocky singletrack. It glanced up for a second to see me barreling upon on it, turned and took flight down the trail, kicking up a giant roost of dirt. As I chased after it, yelling and whooping like a mad man, I was astounded by its speed and agility over the bowling ball-sized rocks. After about 20 seconds of hot pursuit, I realized chasing a 200-pound bear might not be the wisest idea, so I backed off and waited to tell my co-worker Mason about the awesome encounter. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

After a three-week hiatus from working in Downieville at Yuba Expeditions, I was eager to get back to the Lost Sierra. Per usual around here, with the exception of a guy who crashed a brand new 2015 KTM dirt bike off a ledge on Downie River Trail and left the keys at the general store for a local to go and retrieve for a reward, nothing much happened while I was gone. The recent rains and prime trail conditions made for a particularly busy weekend, clocking nearly 700 shuttle miles driven between a Friday and Monday. During those miles driven I met several new friends, some of whom had fascinating stories.

Todd Barber, founder of the Red Bull Rampage.

Todd Barber, founder of the Red Bull Rampage, showed up in Downieville to ride (click to enlarge).​

One such character is Todd Barber, owner of H5 Events and the man behind the Red Bull Rampage, the legendary freeride mountain bike competition held in Virgin, Utah. Barber came up for the weekend with a crew of friends from Marin, staying in the loft above Yuba Expeditions. Of course, I didn't find out directly from Barber that he was the man behind the Rampage. He was far too modest for that. His friends clued me in.

Out of curiosity, I asked how the Red Bull Rampage came to be, and like most great ideas, it was born while drinking at a bar with friends. As a lifelong skier at Squaw Valley, Barber and his buddies wondered why there wasn't a mountain bike event that mimicked the style points-based freestyle skiing format that has made the extreme terrain of Squaw one of the world's most legendary.

A friend knew of such a place for mountain biking outside Virgin, Utah, and the original Rampage ran from 2001 to 2004. After a couple years of hiatus, the Rampage picked back up again in 2008 and the rest is history. Squaw Valley has helped develop the biggest names in extreme snow sports; names like Scot Schmidt, Shane McConkey and Jeremy Jones. The Red Bull Rampage is yet another product of Squaw.

Swan John conquered her first Downieville Downhill run.

Swan John conquered her first Downieville Downhill run (click to enlarge).​

For other folks, last weekend was filled with milestones. My girlfriend Elisabeth, aka Swan John, did her very first Downieville Downhill run. Working at Yuba I see it all the time - beginner riders who come to conquer Downieville not knowing what they or their spouse is getting them into. By the time they reach the bottom, they're either smiling from ear-to-ear or covered head to toe in dirt and blood, ready to kill their significant other. Considering Swan John is still new to mountain biking, I was cautious about sending her solo down the mountain. She had heard all my stories of busted bikes and broken bones, and was a bit intimidated at the prospect of riding off Packer Saddle.

Continue to page 2 for more from Downieville and a photo gallery »

The shuttle van at the top of Packer Saddle with the Sierra Buttes in the background.

The shuttle van at the top of Packer Saddle with the Sierra Buttes in the background (click to enlarge).​

I told her to treat the trek like an adventure more than a ride. She might have to walk her bike through numerous sections, but there's nothing wrong with walking. "Just take your time, enjoy the beauty of your surroundings and have fun," I said. But as I drove her to the top of Packer Saddle and gave her a good luck kiss, I could tell Swan John was terrified.

Two hours later, she rolled into town without a scratch on her body or bike, ecstatic with her own accomplishment. "It wasn't nearly as bad as you described it being, it was amazing," she said. With beginners riding Downieville, it's all about setting expectations. Better to oversell the perils of Downieville than undersell them.

Josh and Sarah got engaged last weekend in Downieville.

Josh and Sarah got engaged last weekend in Downieville (click to enlarge).​

Swan John's friend Sarah had two milestones this past weekend. In addition to also completing her first Downieville Downhill run, she got engaged to her long-time boyfriend Josh on the top of the majestic Sierra Buttes - perhaps one of the most spectacular places for a mountain biker to pop the question.

There is no shortage of rich history in Downieville.

There is no shortage of rich history in Downieville (click to enlarge).​

Aside from all the interesting people that visit, Downieville continues to reveal little secrets as I get to know it better. Last night my co-worker Jake took us on a tour of the town's underground tunnels. Back in the 19th Century, Downieville used to be 12 feet lower than it is today. But after years of flooding, the town was built up to its present level. The first floor of buildings that used to be at river level are now foundations of the town above, making for a fascinating underground window into the history of Downieville. Old iron stoves, hinged iron doors and walls built with tons and tons of river rock made the miniature adventure feel like a full-blown subterranean excursion.

The shirt says it all.

The shirt says it all (click to enlarge).​

Yep, it was just another shitty day - and weekend - in Downieville.

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.