Downieville Bachelor Bash

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Cirrus shreds the downhill

I was waffling on the whole idea of going to the mountains. There were many projects and things to do around town. Yet when Auriah called, the temptation was too much. I loaded up the CRX and left around noon on Friday. There was no specific plan. Cirrus had decided to let the chips fall where they may. He had announced the plan some weeks earlier and simply left it to fate as to what might occur.

What happened was a raging party that didn’t slow up for three days. The Milanes brothers convened to make it a Mt. St. Helena reunion. Although having lived in Hawaii for many years, Davie was on hand to rejoin the Montesol contingent. Also making the scene from Hawaii was Chey. Austin and Cirrus drove to Sac and met the rest of the crowd. They arrived in Downieville early in the afternoon. They made arrangements to get to the top of the down hill. Meanwhile I was driving across the Central Valley.

By the time I got to D-ville, the gang was on their way to the top. I found Austin’s truck. I debated what to do. After a short while I decided that I would simply ride uphill as opposed to trying to drive the twenty five miles to the start and trying to catch them. I had all day. It was a beautiful day, a great day to be outside in the Sierra Nevada. Immediately upon riding, I felt great joy and benediction set in. I felt like one of the chosen few. The mountain streams were running full and strong from the winter snow melt. Ravens and other birds added to the cacophony of outdoor noise. It was a treat to be out there. I felt a strong sense of teetering on the brink of a great time. I wouldn’t be disappointed.

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Traveling along the wild route

At the top of the First Divide, the grim scene of a ride gone bad was being played out. The was an ambulance, fire dudes and another pick-up at the trailhead. I stayed on the road and continued up the Third Divide route. The smooth jeep road was easy riding. It gained altitude into the folds of the rugged Sierra Nevada. For a couple of miles the road climbed in earnest. Eventually it dumped into the Butcher Creek Ranch. From that point it became single track.

Although it was a grunt, the climb wasn’t any worse than most others. It seems a little incongruous to be going up a famous downhill. But I was enjoying every pedal stroke. It had been at least forty five minutes since I passed the First Divide trailhead. I heard a helicopter. I pedaled for the better part of another hour up the scenic, wooded trail. I passed a couple of bikers. They passed along the information that my mob was coming, something else about flats… I knew I was getting close to the bridge.

Finally I crested a steep pitch that led to a ripping downhill. Within two hundred yards I met the motley crew. By this time the eight riders had experienced eight flats! I had climbed a lot of altitude and was ready to turn around. All the work paid a giant dividend as the same trail suddenly became a radically different experience. The eight other riders were primed from the previous many miles. They shot downhill. The combination of high speed and high fun resulted in massive time fragmentation.

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Group hook-up


Once back on the jeep road, the speed increased further. Now one could travel as fast as the average jeep. The miles sailed by quickly. It was getting late in the day. The sun was still up, but the hour grew long. All of the rescue action at the First Divide had left. The trail was open and clear. It does contain some spots where one simply would not want to go. Auriah tried at one point, but his Guardian Angle, while nearly dislocating his shoulder, was able to pull the lad back from the teetering brink of a major league hospital visit. Everyone eventually made the transit to the lower First Divide. This rolling single track dumps out just at the edge of town. By this time Cirrus has mangled his derailleur and would have to single-speed the next event.

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Downieville is not a big place. There are not many food choices. One of them is God’s gift to hungry bikers; pizza. The sweet serendipity of a party going right occurred when Dan was able to convince the already-closed pizza place to hang long enough to serve nine hungry bikers. They saw a nine-top and said; “Sure!” It was worth it all around. They made some good bank and the bachelor party gained steam as the beer and pizza kicked in.

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Ahh, Stephan, could we see an I.D., please...

The primitive campsite near the start of the ride was great. Despite the “No Fire” signs all over the place, the party was able to achieve a massive conflagration from dead wood nearby, since apparently, every one else obeys the rules. It was not yet fire season up here. The ground was still wet from the melting snow. The riders stood around the fire and exchanged endless rounds of laughter. Then a gallon of Tequila appeared. The laughter went to volume ten while the entire bottle was drained. I set up my tent and prepared to pack it in for the night. To my amazement the party dogs turned in early (mid-night). It was a crystal clear mountain night. The stars were brilliant. Owls hooted in the woods.

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No dearth of fun

The morning required a difficult problem to be solved. How best to get a car to the finish and get every one and every car back together at the end of the day? Eventually it was decided to take the CRX and one truck to town. Somehow everyone ended up in town, and everyone drove back to the start. Jonah’s rental pick-up would be called upon later to haul the nine bikes and nine riders back to the start of the downhill.

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Top of the Downhill

The day’s riding was superb. There were flats, but not as many. The second straight day of downhill had the riders slightly subdued. Cirrus continued with the single speed doing OK. However a bum decision to take the Second Divide trail made life hard for everyone, especially the bachelor boy. The Second Divide climbs and dives, unlike the Third Divide which is all downhill.

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Idyllic forest riding

After another day of raging downhill the group returned to the top of the ride, collected the vehicles and drove to South Lake. Tony had made the unfortunate offer to host the group at his cabin. He had been informed that the number of people would be small. However he got ‘bum rushed’ with this crowd. Before the night was over, there would be more than a dozen, giddy, celebrating friends of Cirrus who would rage until daylight. The guys made every effort to bump the funnometer into the red zone. Starting with a pass through the casinos, the group partied into the night.

I was about dead upon returning from the clubs. For me it was curtains for the night. However, the rest of the group was just getting started. As I tried to sleep in my tent in the back yard, I was awakened often during the night to sounds of a party on the brink of calamity: “Wooo!” Laughter continued unabated, interspersed with whoops, hollers and more laughter. “Wooo!”

When only daylight was able to quell the action, I finally got a decent hour of sleep. Then my internal clock said; “Wake up!” I arose to a landscape of devastation rarely seen. Tone’s cabin had the look only a terrorist might appreciate. Bodies littered the area. My first thought was; “We’ll never get invited back here!”

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Tone's place the morning after

As the morning unfolded, life began to slowly reappear. Tony and Bob were up early and began to work on the fence, their whole reason for being at the cabin. Others slowly came back to life. Small clean-up groups began the task of getting Tone’s cabin back into ship-shape. Others helped with the fence project until it was time to head to the sports bar to watch the World Cup final.

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Davie, down for the count

The weekend/reunion, party was a smashing success. It contained the confluence of great bike riding, beautiful mountain scenery and life long friends. It was a grand sendoff for the bachelor guy.