Bright and early, Saturday morning kicks off a weekend of intense racing and outdoor hijinks for the 600 riders and families who have crowded this small, isolated outpost in California’s densely forested northeastern region. For Team Clifbar riders Menso de Jong, Katerina Nash and Troy Wells, that means rolling out of tents, firing up the camp stove for coffee and breakfast, kitting up and then spinning around to wake the legs. Before lining up at the start, the racers have their first official bike weigh in for the All Mountain category.

The day’s XC race–while traversing some distractingly stunning mountain terrain on historic gold-rush trails that date to the 1850s–is no joke. The 29-mile point-to-point course starts in Sierra City and races through old forests and carved river canyons with over 4400 feet of climbing and 5600 feet of descending….

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Words: Bryan Yates

Images: Jordan Haggard/Crystal Haggard