01 Nov Grinduro! – A Californian bicycle event with the perfect ratio.
Grinduro – a Californian bicycle event with the perfect ratio.
I just worked out that I have been participating in off road bike events for 27 years! In the first years when I was a teenager mountain biking events were fun. You arrived early, partied the night before, and the party really all hinged on how competitive you wanted to be the next morning. Sometimes we raced slalom or downhill as well as cross country, but always on the same bike. It was a great format and was as much about the time you spent with your mates as it was about the race itself. It was the right ratio of fun to competition.
It's been 20 years since I have been to bicycle event that was as fun as Grinduro.
As the years went by and the sport developed, the ratio began to change. Equipment changed, clothing changed, competition became more and more important. The ratio changed, and progressively as the sport diversified into the various disciplines that we have now it became all about the race and not about the weekend. The nail was in the coffin for me the day I arrived at a national MTB race where some of my junior category counterparts were warming up on rollers on road bikes.
Fun events have never gone away and I continue to do a couple every year, but they are few and far between and the “race to fun” ratio only really works when most of the attendees participate in the “fun”. Cyclocross can be fun, it’s inclusive like mountain biking used to be, you don’t have to have the most expensive bike to compete at the top level, but it’s still only a one day affair. Not a lot of time for fun. The ratio is still hard on the race side.
It’s been 20 years since I have been to bicycle event that was as fun as Grinduro.
Prior to arriving I was honestly struggling to see how the ratio could be tipped in the favour of fun even with the offer of gourmet food, free beer, fantastic scenery, and brilliant live music, all in a sleepy, sunny Californian town. The fact remained that on Saturday I’d have to ride 65 miles and climb 8000 feet off road – primarily in one 16 mile continuous off-road bastard. However when Saturday dawned, and I’d ridden 8 miles up that bastard climb, I realised this event was already the best fun I’d had in ages. Chatting to friendly people that I’d never met before, meandering up into the Sierra Nevada Mountains I almost forgot the grind of ascending so far! This wasn’t a competition, it was a day out with great people, on fantastic terrain that took in fire road, singletrack and a little bit of road. It was undoubtedly physically tough, and there were four timed sections where you could compete. However they only made up a small proportion of the ride and comprised of one climb, two long descents and a road section where you could pit yourself against your mates and the rest of the field. . Four sections of ten to fifteen minutes of competition kept the ratio just right. Especially when I was in the saddle for over 6 hours!
Beer at the feed stations, a gourmet lunch in the woods halfway around the course, and the aforementioned amazing location and trails undoubtedly made for far more smiles than grimaces on the ride itself, but it’s all about the after party right? And the team at Giro know how to do that, live music, open fires, more gourmet food combined with the signature Californian weather and relaxed atmosphere, made for a weekend to remember.
The ratio was perfect – and I’ll be back.