Single speed (SS) all mountain was a new category at the 2013 Downieville Classic, something dreamed up years ago but recently made official. The group’s downhill prowess was questioned but the times posted were not, due to a stacked list of experienced racers including a costumed Yuri Hauswald, an army from Team IBIS, and a slew of other super strong athletes who either had a handlebar mustache, huge sideburns, lots of ink, a silver sparkled moto helmet, or all of the above.
All Mountain Second Place: Matt Chappell
With an eight day old baby, my hopes of racing strong were low. One day before the event I could hardly ride across town, open my eyes, or pack a day bag. Luckily, I was given a nod to sleep on the couch and take the night off of diaper duty in order to recharge for two days in Downieville.
From the start of the XC race I noticed my new Felt Nine-C was holding stride for stride with front pack, and when we made it to the dirt (the first mile or so of the race is on pavement) there was no looking back. Even though I was starved of rest, I noticed a certain purpose in my attitude, taking me all the way up the climb in a personal best time. Dropping down Sunrise trail was no different and my flow continued out to Pauley Creek with a lot of hustle and focus on the immediate task – get down trail where I had a shot at technical riding.
The road to Pauley Creek has always been miserable on a single speed 26 inch bike. The 29er really shined here. I was able to lock in and keep riding with spirit all the way down into town. I made sure to sprint all the way past the tennis courts and up the last hill into town (I’ve been caught here before) securing 4th place.
On day two, on the downhill course I had my mind set to ride smooth and fast with bursts of spirit when needed. Unfortunately, I made a minor pre-race chain tension adjustment which lead to two mechanicals on Butcher Ranch trail. Right before the waterfall and once again shortly after, my chain bounced off of my chain tensioner and stuck into my spokes = broken spoke and no chain, crap!
A couple deep breaths and a little mechanical savvy got me rolling soon after. Even though I lost a little time, it supercharged me, and I rode super-speed every chance I could, flying down and still landing in 3rd place in the DH portion of the event in 56 minutes with one gear and a hard tail nonetheless. My combined points bumped me into second place overall to teammate Conrad Snover who took top spot on both days…
All Mountain First Place (the unbeatable reigning champ): Conrad Snover
We’ve never had a singlespeed class at the Downieville All-Mountain (AM) world championships before. In the past, our group of derelicts were (possibly reluctantly) invited to race in Saturday’s cross-country race, but surely we wouldn’t want to race in the AM race which also includes Sunday’s downhill race!? Wrong-o!! I convinced the race organizers to let us in, then helped rally the top 1-speed racers from CA, CO and AZ to participate in what was sure to be the biggest racing event of any kind, that the world has ever seen.
It was like getting (most of) the band back together. The field included legends such as:
- Matt Chappell
- Yuri Hauswald
- The Angry SingleSpeeder
- Dejay Birtch
- Tim Cannard
- Cesar Chavez
- Fuzzy John was even present, but unable to race
This is my favorite race of the year. True test of the overall, All-Mountain cyclist.
- Saturday: Lung-searing 1 hr climb followed by ripping 1 hr descent
- Sunday: White knuckle 1 hr descent
- Combined placing both days determine the overall winner.
The overall scene is great: closed downtown streets, vendors, free pancakes and fajitas served by Chris King himself, free beer from New Belgium, and even free socks from Enve just for racing their wheels. Some of the biggest names in cycling attend to prove their mettle: Carl Decker, Adam Craig, Katerina Nash, Kelli Emmit, and Levi Leipheimer.
Saturday: I lined up at the front, making sure that when the gun went off, I could set my own pace. In previous years I’ve chased wheels for the first mile to the dirt, which is exhausting. This year, I took off, rode as hard as I could without blowing up too spectacularly, and led for the first few miles. My teammate Keith Hillier and a Bear Development team rider joined me shortly, then shot past me when I inevitably slowed. Once to the top, I grabbed a draft whenever possible on the flat sections, then started passing people back on the descent. Surprising myself, I even took back 3 spots in the super rocky “baby-head” section at the beginning of the downhill. Fighting cramps that came on halfway through the race at “cramp hill,” I bit my lip and buried myself to the finish, never ever letting off the pace.
I was excited to hold off the others and finish in 1st! Unfortunately, the awards ceremonies inexplicably take place 6 hours after the races finish, making it extremely hard for racers with families to attend. Thus, like last year, I enlisted the help of a “podium double” to stand in for me, thanks Keith!
Sunday: My legs felt much better than I thought they would, having been attached to my Marc-Pro for 2 hrs the night before, and 30 minutes during the morning’s drive to the race. I felt dramatically under-dressed, when I met up with Yuri at the start:
After struggling to gain my flow and riding the Butcher Ranch descent slower than I possibly ever have, I shook out the cobwebs and sprinted every chance I could, and trying not to over-brake. I guess I made up for it, since I was able to pull out a 1st place DH as well, locking down the All-Mountain overall victory.
The day ended with the sweet reward of sharing the podium with my teammate and good friend Matt Chappell, whose results earned him the step next to mine.
Be sure to check out:
- The Angry SingleSpeeder’s recap of the weekend.
- Katerina Nash’s race report (she won both days, and the overall).
- Mighty Mobile did a funny write up describing the epic battle between two friends.
Videos from the event, put together by Coldstream Creative:
Day 1: Cross Country
Day 2: Downhill