Our friends at Giro Cycling set out to create an event full of fun, excellent riding, camaraderie and a fresh perspective. The Giro Grinduro combined the timed segment element of Enduro racing with the “new” gravel road adventure cycling into one, all inclusive event. By all indications it was a great success.
Arriving Friday evening to the Plumas county fairgrounds, I quickly scoped a sweet camp spot by a large Pine tree and pitched my tent. Turning in at 8:30 was early, but I slept soundly enough that when I awoke at the pre dawn hour of 6am I was surprised to see 20 additional tents surrounding mine from those who had arrived in the night. Making coffee while still swaddled in the warmth of my sleeping bag as I watched the smallest sliver of a moon set was a great way to start a day of excellent bike riding.
Rolling off the start line at 8am, the fall chill still lingering in the air had my fingers pretty cold, but the course quickly turned up, and the sun finally crested the mountains and bathed us in its warmth.
The first stage came quite quickly at the 7 mile mark, and was a short, very painful 1 mile sprint uphill at maximum effort. The breakfast burrito I had eaten an hour before began making its continued existence known quickly, but I held back the dry heaving and crossed the line only a handful of seconds behind some super strong climber kids.
The next 12 miles ticked by as we made our way across and up to a mountain pass via logging roads to the start of stage 2. This was a 5 mile gravel road descent, and things got pretty hairy. Sprinting out of tightening gravelly apexes on skinny, minimal tread tires was fun, and kept the heart rate sky high all the way to the finish chicane. The highlight of the stage was passing a media dirt bike that had stuffed it into a ditch attempting to stay ahead of the heard of riders thundering down on him.
After a quick pit stop at aid one for some riders to replace tires and their shorts, we began the next transfer to stage 3. There was discussion of strategies, as the next stage was a rolling, paved road. We decided to ride it as a team time trial, and did just that, holding a high average speed and setting a time that would not be touched by any of the subsequent waves of riders behind.
As we powered into the finish of stage 3, a catered lunch awaited us, along with a mandatory hour long break to allow the race timers to get out ahead of the group again.
The cafe legs where in full effect as we remounted for the big climb of the day straight out of the gates. The first mile of the 3000ft climb hurt a lot, but eventually the blood started flowing, and we crested the hill and went straight into stage 4, a 4 mile single track rip all the way back to town.
I had done some calculus on the climb, and thought I had blown my chance for victory by not taking more advantage of my curly bar bike on the pavement. My friend and WTB product manager Jason Moschler had ridden his hard tail maintain bike, and somehow we had over looked him as a threat and given him a free ride across the pavement of stage three. I was convinced he would take a huge chunk of time out of me on the final Singletrack stage, so just focused on staying smooth, fast and safe to try and secure second place on the podium.
I dropped into stage 4, and gave it what I could. Descending Singletrack on a CX bike at high speed gets pretty exciting. Many moments of high pucker where observed, culminating in an extended nose wheely after forgetting my bike didn’t have suspension going through a large g out. Somehow I held onto it, and skidded across the line in one piece.
After all was said and done, I had done the improbable, and only lost 40 seconds to Moschler and his mtb on the stage. That combined with the handfuls of seconds I had gained on the pedal heavy stages one and two gave me enough to claim the overall victory. Sweet!
The night wound down with a huge gourmet dinner, live music from Mike Watt, and much dancing.
I guess we can now say that #grinduro is a thing, and a great thing at that. I can’t wait for the next one!
Thanks to all our sponsors for providing the best gear one needs for this type of event, and allowing us to all keep living the dream.