I’m planning to ride Downieville on Friday, and I’m a little anxious (in the “feeling anxiety” more than “anticipating” sense) about it. Yesterday, my son and friend and I rode the Feather Falls trail loop, a nine-mile trail with about 1300’ of descent on the way in, and the same up on the way out. It was pretty tiring, but I didn’t have brakes (which, UPS willing, I’ll have for Friday).
So how hard is Downieville? Have people ridden it who consider themselves “enthusiasts” as opposed to experts? How steep is the average grade? So steep as to be difficult to walk, or not quite that bad, or not nearly that bad? Pictures tend to be taken in places that make for good pictures (ie on the extreme side), so I’m trying to get a better sense of what I’m getting myself into. I’m a fairly decent rider, but my biggest downfall is that I’m not the bravest when facing something that looks intimidating.
I’m wondering if anyone else feels this way about Downieville, or if anyone has suggestions to calm my nerves!
You will be fine it’s mostly not that steep it’s quite a bit of vertical but remember it’s 15-17 miles long, how steep can it be? I rode it at the 2003 muni weekend and I took the short version which is 14 or 15 miles because I had broken my ankle the previous year and it was no problem. The brake will help but I would be more concerned about sadle soreness 17 miles is a long time in the sadle. bring baby powder and consider wearing two pairs of cycling short. You’ll have a blast!
I’ve never been a very aggressive downhiller, and I went down it on my moutan bike in 2000 and don’t remember anything so steep that I’d have trouble walking down with a comfortable pair of sneakers. I do, however, remember plenty of rocky technical sections, which you could always walk if you’re tired or don’t feel like tempting gravity.
I’m a little anxious about it too, but only because I don’t have a brake–at least I have 165 mm cranks. Am I correct to assume that most will be riding 24" MUnis?
I have 165s on a 24" and I suspect that most will be on 24" munis. I think I remember John Foss (or maybe someone else) saying they’d ridden it once on a 29er, and would never again–because of tire size. The wider the better, I understand.
Anyway, thanks for the words of encouragement–I feel better already! And I’ll pack the baby powder!
Uhhhh, well, I am filled with anxiety as well. So, I will stand up.
My goal is to just “survive”. I know I don’t get out there enough to get in the condition I should be - I just don’t have the time. I plan on pacing myself, for the remainder of the weekend. I haven’t ridden Downieville, but I do know from previous MUni weekends, that the group stops a lot. You can watch a group or play on a set of rocks yourself. It builds in a rest. I can’t ride continuosly, or my knees start hurting. So, the stops help recover. I know I can always walk the distance,too. Generally, there is always a group of walkers at the back. A rider too weak to continue riding, can always find this group and enjoy the talk on the way down. The walkers are always a nice group of folks. I will be taking the short option.
Also, there is the MUNi mob mentality as Scott Wallis calls it. It kind of pushes you along, just cuz there’s others out there doing the same thing.
The baby powder is a really good idea, thanks Dan! I might suggest that riders also store a reserve water container in their back packs should the water bag go dry. I ride with a tiny water bottle - usually a kids size that you can get in packs in a grocery store. I keep that as my reserve. It’s come in handy at times. Also, keep water in your car when you return so you can lie drained on the ground spread eagled, panting, then drench yourself with a bottle and drink hardely from the stored cool bottles in your cooler. Throw a toast to the UNi Gods for letting you stray from harms way and exult in the success of conquering such a vast distance on one wheel.
That would be nice, but the downhill parts are also the technical parts. Somebody with your skills might pull it off though.
Peter, Downieville is not as steep as that Feather Falls Trail, at least ridden the way our group rode it that one time several years ago. That descent was a major leg beater-upper! The beginning of the Downieivlle ride is no loger the steep paved road it used to be. There is now a legal singletrack to cover that part of the ride. Though sections of the overall ride can be steep, mostly it’s just down, and down, and down. And a little up, but mostly down.
Yes, my 29" MUni was very wrong for this ride, as the first half contains most of the downhill as well as most of the technical parts. I popped my tire as a result of mostly having too-narrow a rim. Now my 29" has a KH rim, and I hope to use it for the second half of the ride, if we indeed have a driver to come up Lavezolla road to meet us. This driver will also be there to pick up tired riders who don’t want to beat themselves up too much. Problem is I can’t guarantee yet that we’ll have the driver, and I don’t know how many seats will be in the vehicle. This can also be a drop-off vehicle for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the massive part of the downhill and technical ride but would rather do the second half which is more rolling and 29er-friendly.
Because it’s a long and strenuous ride, it’s important to bring plenty of fuel. The last time I rode the trail, it was a very hot July day and water alone just wasn’t cutting it. I was pretty pooped by the time we were halfway. So this time I’m going to have a full Camelbak (100 oz), plus a bottle of Gatorade or similar. Then I’ll have some Power-Gels (they work for me), and lunch! A sandwich, banana and some fig newtons or something. I hope. Bring lots of food/water and you’ll feel better!