When writing blog posts and race reports, I often struggle with how to start off the post. Well, this time it wasn’t so hard. This race was the hardest two days of bike racing that I have ever done, both mentally and physically. Here’s how it all went down.
Day one at the Downieville Classic was the cross country race. With nearly 30 miles, 4,000 feet of climbing, and relentless descents, the race would be won by a true all around rider. I knew coming into this race that the biggest challenge would be the first 8 mile climb. Also called the Trail of Tears, this double track/fire road climb brings on pure suffering. I am the kind of rider that can start quickly off the start line, but needs an easy section in order to recover. This is a problem at Downieville since there are no breaks on this climb. I was cursing ever part of that race by the time I reached the top, but things started to get better for a little bit.
Moral increased at the top when I received a feed of cold water. Splashing it on my face and cooling my body off made me feel instantly better. I charged to the first singletrack of the day. Next was a few miles of a hilly fire road. I also found some nice power and made good time on this section.
However, at the top of the first major descent my luck changed for the worst. Somehow I bent a chin link on my Sram 1×11 system. I was baffled and filled with disappointment. One thing was certain, I definitely did not want to DNF. So I was left to coast/hike the second half of the race. This mishap put me second to last.
Day two was the downhill race, and I was hoping to get a bit of redemption. The race was almost an hour, but it was so demanding that it is all a blur now. The trails were super beat up from the day before, which made some section extremely rough. This, paired with a fatigued body only made matter worse. However, I do fell like I gave it all I had in my current state. I ended up finishing 6th out of a field of 10 super fast riders. I am proud of this and know where I can make up time.
I ended up finishing 7th overall. Not exactly where I want to be, but it could have been worse. I definitely believe that I could have made the podium if every thing went my way, but sometimes we need times like these to remember that anything can happen. Now that I know how demanding this race is, I will only come back stronger and smarter. Even though I swore that I would never come back to this race while walking with a bent chain, something tells me that I will DEFINITELY come back and race next year because Downieville is awesome!