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by Marshall Opel
October 9, 2019
Photography by Elliot Layda
One of the final stops of our Endless Gravel Summer was Grinduro, the five-year-old event that combines segmented racing with a fun, party-filled atmosphere, all benefitting a local trail building organization. It’s a special event – but we’ll let Marshall Opel explain why.
Just before 8 am, the hip hop track Jump Around blasted over the loudspeakers.
“Three, Two, One, GRINDURO!!!” We clipped in and slow rolled out of town, I knew I was in for a different kind of bike ride.
Grinduro refers to itself as “half bike race, half party.” It’s an honest assessment. A ride centered on fun more than anything else, Grinduro stands alone in my Endless Gravel Summer season. The “race” part is split into segments, like enduro racing, so you go fast for maybe 15 minutes, then wait up or catch up with your friends and keep rolling. It keeps the vibe relaxed, but lets you hang it all out if you really want to.
Situated in the heart of the Sierra Mountains, Quincey is a small mountain bike haven of good people and awesome riding. Proceeds from the ride go to the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, a group of passionate, motivated mountain bikers with a trail building style that comes from understanding what it’s like to hook ‘knob in a turn.
(“So you’re saying Grinduro is a bitchin ride-party with all kinds of interesting people in a beautiful place and all for a good cause?” Yes, that is what I’m saying.)
In its fifth year, Grinduro is well known on the circuit. Hearing so much good news about it, I had high expectations coming in. They were exceeded. And then I was confused. Why hadn’t other events adopted some of the goodness? They don’t need to “copy” Grinduro’s purple-coloured monster or feature artisan frame builders, or host a late-night DJ dance party, for that matter. Why not simply amplify the fun speaker?
As I rolled into the second aid station at the top of the day’s first big climb, a cold cloudy mist hung on everything and the temperatures hovered in the 40’s. One might expect a gloomy mood. Not the case. Funky music and the smell of hot bacon swirled through a temporary party. There was a table covered in whiskey shots, people were smiling, giving high fives and stoke survived. It was soul-warming.
The Grinduro route is a mixture of old school fire road, great for conversation. It has lots of rolling double-track with a line to be found. And of course, best for last, a well designed ripping single track back to town.
Pack all that into 60 miles (100 km) of riding with over 8,000 feet (2,500M) of elevation and it’s no jokester bike ride. When you reach an aid station, you’re actually hungry and looking forward to bacon-wrapped jalapenos, peanut butter pretzels, gummies, and beer. (They have water and bars, too.)
The rest of the day was meeting interesting people, good conversations, tacky dirt, patchy sun, clouds, groppel. Lots of climbing lots of ripping, lots of fun. What else can I say? Grinduro is my jam.
What did I ride?
A rolled a Niner RIP 9- a hardtail that leans on “fun” features of trail bikes. A dropper post, 800mm bars, 50 mm stem and a 2.6 WTB Vigilante tire- optimized for fun having. This is a gravel event, technically, but the singletrack section makes it pretty well suited to mountain bikes, too. You can be successful on either, but the edge probably goes to a fast XC mountain bike. If an edge is what you’re looking for, which, for most, isn’t the case.
Check out the video above for a look inside this unique and truly excellent event.