DOWNIEVILLE, CA (BRAIN)—The Downieville Classic has become the “it” event to go to on the industry calendar.
Look no further with Downieville’s rise than Trek, which was one of the main sponsors of last weekend's event, showcasing not only its new 6-inch travel “all-mountain” Remedy, but also its elite mountain biking squad. It’s no coincidence then that Trek rider Ross Schnell took home the all-mountain pro crown.
“We wanted to be part of Downieville because the race has really turned legendary,” said Michael Browne, mountain bike brand manager at Trek. “The energy that Wayno [Wayne Hoffman of Yuba Expeditions) and the crew put into the race resonates in the community, and that’s reflected in higher participation and phenomenal buzz. These guys are doing it for all the right reasons to have a great time, in an awesome place, amidst even better people.”
But Trek was hardly the only company that had a significant presence, and a good time for that matter. WTB, as it always does at Downieville, had a large presence in the form of racers and product.
“It's all about positive brand impressions and the best impressions have an emotional attachment, whether it's conscious or not,” said Dain Zaffke, marketing coordinator for WTB. “If you're a beginner rider proud to finish the rugged XC course under four hours and you're walking through the expo eating your free lunch and drinking your free pint of beer and you just had a laugh watching the pixie cross race, then chances are you're having a good time. Now all of the people and brands that were present during your good time will likely be associated with good times. And more importantly, mountain biking will be associated with having a good time.” Zaffke had a darn good time, placing 8th in the all-mountain pro standings.
Scott USA North American marketing director Adrian Montgomery said Downieville is special for many reasons.
“No cell reception, great riding, excellent event promotion, music, big raffle, fun stuff like pixie races and lake jumping, opportunity to camp and experience the outdoors equals happy people,” Montgomery said. “I would say the reason this event is ‘the’ place to go is because mountain biking has evolved back to its roots. Build a fine trail network and they will come. And we did.”
Trek wasn’t the only touting some new product. Santa Cruz was there in full force as the title sponsor showing off its newly redesigned and popular Nomad.
“The Downieville Classic has always been a beast of its own making,” said Mike Ferrentino, marketing project manager at Santa Cruz. “It has always been a very unique event, and the people that put it on have grown into this extended family that make it feel like a very real, very accessible, human kind of thing. Which is good, because it's a pair of crushing races held apart by a pretty raucous party.
“People still gripe though. That is part of the race thing—there will always be someone to complain about the timing, or the entry fees, or the start order for the DH, or the limited number of entries (1,000), or the beer that got sprayed on them. That kind of comes with the territory,” he added.
For more on what these and other companies had to say about this year’s Downieville Classic, be sure to read the Aug. 15 issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.
—Jason Norman (PHOTO by Zack Vestal)