STORIES FROM THE 2016 GRINDURO

Holy smokes…Grinduro was one heck of a party. From the bike racing to the late-night dancing and all the good vibes in-between, Grinduro delivered everything you could want in a perfect weekend of hanging out in the Sierra. The levels of stoke that this event creates are simply off the chart, and since we’ve been home, we’ve all spent countless hours reminiscing and telling stories about our amazing weekend in Quincy. Here are a few of our favorite stories from our friends sharing their Grinduro experiences.

Meredith Miller has spent most of her career on drop bars as a professional road and cyclocross athlete, and she’s no slouch on a mountain bike either. That’s all to say that this lady can ride a bike, which she proved by winning the women’s field at Grinduro…

"As a former roadie and cyclocross racer (and some mountain bike), I have a lot of experience on different types of courses, but getting to pull all the different aspects of road racing, cyclocross and mountain biking together in one event was truly unique and powerful. Each stage presented a distinct challenge – you have to be able to climb like a mountain goat, descend like a banshee on loose gravel, suck wheel in a peloton (if you wish) and go balls to the wall on wicked fun singletrack to excel at Grinduro. All of it was right up my alley. All of it.

And then there’s the party of all parties to bring everyone together in celebration of our passion and love for bikes. And beer. And good people. Whether you race or just ride along, there are many stories to be told and songs to be sung and dances to be danced until the wee hours of the morning."
It takes a well-rounded rider to win Grinduro, and Duncan Riffle is just that. He used to be focused on racing the World Cup Downhill circuit, and these days he enters the pavement pain cave on his daily road rides. Not only is he one heck of a bike rider, he’s also the MTB PR and Media Coordinator for SRAM, one of Grinduro’s key partners. Duncan finished 2nd in the inaugural Grinduro last year, but this year he came looking for more...

"I would be lying if I said I didn’t show up to win. I wanted it, and I wanted to do it all on drop-bars, the way it was intended. The thing is, no one expects a guy like myself “ex-WC DH racer” to be able to hold his own amongst some of the fittest dudes in XC, CX and Road racing. Not to mention I punch a keyboard for a paycheck now…But let’s be honest I haven’t raced WC DH since 2012 and I was always one of the guys focused most on my fitness, one might say obsessed. So yeah, I love proving that all wrong, and I plan to continue on that route. I have been a pretty serious “roadie” for years now and love going out to crush myself on a daily basis…

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t
show up to win. I wanted it, and
I wanted to do it all on drop-bars,
the way it was intended.”

After the inaugural year in 2015, the success we saw in the format – epic all day-on-the-bike fun/party factor, camp vibes and general good-time –I knew SRAM had to get further involved. This is true cycling, what it used to be and what it's evolving into again. Going out and getting lost in the backcountry on dirt roads and finding killer singletrack was “cycling”. Now with the introduction of SRAM HRD (Disc brakes) and 1x (CX1 & Force 1x) suddenly you can take a full rigid road, cross or mtb bike anywhere and not break down. I am all for it…go exploring, go further, keep going…and do it all again. That’s the spirit of this event to me and I fully support it. #GRINDURO!"
There’s an iconic image of Laurens ten Dam from the 2011 Tour de France. He suffered a bad crash in one of the stages, landing face-first in a ditch, but it didn’t stop him from finishing the day with a bloody face and a bandage wrapped around his head. That’s the kind of grit it takes to race the Tour, and that’s the type of racing he’s used to. Grinduro certainly provided a new kind of experience for LTD…

"Compare the Grinduro to the Tour de France. It is as different as you can get indeed. I can assure everyone that I had way more fun 'racing' the Grinduro than that 21-day race in France. The stage idea was genius. In that way I could ride all day together with my friends, race the segments and enjoy every rest stop to the max. You get the same adrenaline kick racing down the single track segment as riding steer to steer in a bunch sprint. The parcours was as challenging as a mountainous stage in the alps. So it was more than challenging enough. I’ve never ended a pro race sitting at the river chatting, swimming, drinking cocktails and beer. In that way the GRINDURO is unique and way more fun."
At Grinduro, some people chose to race a cross bike. Others chose to race a mountain bike. But Ian Stowe, Giro’s Marketing Content Intern, chose to race a fixed gear bike. Read that again: a fixed gear. This kid bombed down gravel roads and rallied technical singletrack on a FIXIE! Why anybody would choose to do that is beyond us, but it isn’t beyond Ian…

Riding a steel fixed gear bike with knobby tires at Grinduro was not about being hardcore, or about trying to manifest my dream of riding like the Mash SF crew. It was about deliberately putting myself in a place where I would discover new feelings while riding a bike. When I crashed on my face on the singletrack descent, I knew I had achieved what I set out to do. Grinduro changes the way we think about bike racing, and I think it has had a big impact on how we purpose and repurpose our bikes. What if the fixed Schnozola had turned out to be the ideal bike for Grinduro?
Campbell Steers is not only a badass bike racer—she’s an incredible artist as well. While at Grinduro, she split time between racing the women’s pro field and exhibiting her artwork in the Bike & Art Gallery. And why wouldn’t it be like that? Because to Campbell—and to us, too—bikes and art are one and the same…

In my driveway in Santa Cruz, I strapped down the contents in my Toyota pick-up bed and took mental inventory of what I had packed for the Grinduro weekend. Camping gear? Check. Artwork? Check. Bike? Check. Racing kit? Oh yeaa.. I kept forgetting about the racing part of this adventure! The Grinduro weekend is packed with so much goodness like the nights laughing around the bonfire pits, dancing with friends to the music on the lawn, Quincy’s long golden valleys and pine-encrusted mountain passes.

“Cycling and art are
the two driving forces in my life
and they are constantly
giving each other high-fives.”

That’s because the race is not really where the spirit of Grinduro lies for me. While participants spend most of Saturday’s daylight atop their bike saddles, when you add up the four timed race segments, most people are clocked in the pain cave for less than an hour. The rest of the day you are enjoying yourself, pedaling with friends, stopping to soak in the altitude-thinned air and take full advantage of the aid stations (Paul Components, how can I thank you enough for that BACON?!). And when you return to the fairgrounds, you don’t all get in your cars and drive home. You keep on chillin’! You exchange battle stories and selfies with your camping neighbors and people next to you in the shower line.

There is a thread of camaraderie and community woven through the few hot days and starry nights that participants spend together in Quincy. It is because of this atmosphere, where no one is in a rush and everyone wants to make friends, that I feel incredibly grateful I’ve had the opportunity to showcase my artwork. Cycling and art are the two driving forces in my life and they are constantly giving each other high-fives. I do a lot of artwork including bicycles—because I think they are the sexiest things ever—and it is natural for me to showcase at a bike race. But I get especially excited to show at Grinduro, because so much of my art is inspired by the “smelling the roses” moments while on a bike ride and the ecstatic sensations of moving my body, which I know Grinduro participants can relate to.

Perhaps my next woodblock print will be about the jostling experience of that last single-track descent on 32mm tires. Sore smiling muscles? Check.
Grinduro would be nothing without the amazing crew of volunteers that come out to help with everything from serving coffee before sunrise to pouring beer late into the night. Of all those volunteers, Sasquatch probably stands out the most. He can be found hanging out at rest stops and handing out podium prizes, which for a guy who generally likes to stay out of the spotlight, really says something about how special Grinduro must be…

I never thought I’d make a public appearance, especially two years in a row! That being said, what’s been happening in the mountains outside Quincy has definitely got my attention. All of these crazy people charging up the mountains and then proceeding to haul ass down narrow singletrack trails on these tiny knobby tires, let me tell you, it’s pretty awesome to watch. If I could ride I definitely would be out there on wider tires. In the past I have been recognized as a freak show that pops up here and there in your local woods, but now I have moved into the spotlight, as actually existing. Not a Photoshopped picture of a mythical creature that looks like a very hairy hippie. That’s right, I’m real and here to tell you Grinduro is the best time in the mountains I have all year! (Other than scaring the hell out of hikers’ – my second favorite.) Thank you to all the participants, volunteers and spectators for humbly inviting me into your core group. GrinduRRRRRO is where it’s at!
Jordan Haggard has a pretty special view of Grinduro. He’s the guy behind the lens in the post-race portrait studio. Sure, it might sound more glamorous to be out on course, but think about how stoked people are when they come back from an epic day on the bike. Jordan is right there to experience all that stoke first-hand…

It is pretty rad to capture people’s portraits moments after crossing the finish line. Grinduro is a special event; the racing finishes a few miles out, before the racers return to the fairgrounds. By the time the participants get to me, they have reminisced about their day, soaked in the positivity, and consumed a beer or two. Everyone comes into the studio in great spirits. They tell me how hard a certain section of the course was, sometimes showing off some battle wounds. It is special for me to have a brief moment to interact with the majority of the riders who take on the Grinduro course.

It was really nice to come back for the 2016 event and build on what we started last year. Our studio setup and system were refined allowing us to offer the subjects a curated moment. While making prints is a lot of work and means a late night, it is a pretty special experience. As a commercial photographer I don’t usually have the opportunity to offer my subjects something tangible they can hold. It is great to revisit everyone Sunday morning and hand them a small memento to remember their day. I hope that year after year the racers come back to see me and gather a collection of 4x6 prints on their refrigerators or bulletin boards.
In his spare time, Dain Zaffke is the Marketing Director at Giro, but more importantly—he’s the GPS captain. What’s GPS? The Grinduro Planning Squad! He’s one of the masterminds behind this whole operation, and typically he can also be found rubbing elbows in the pro field. This year, however, was a little different… “I went to Grinduro with a badly broken hand and couldn’t ride. Normally there’s nothing worse than seeing other people enjoy a bike race that was supposed to be your main focus of the year. The feeling of missing out can be all consuming. But I drove home from Quincy filled with more stoke and optimism for bike riding, the bike community, and humanity in general, than I’ve ever felt before. I saw 1,000+ smiling faces at Grinduro. People of all ages and backgrounds were united by a love of two wheels. It was a weekend free of attitude, with no drama, no road rage.

“We should all be proud to be a part of
the bike riding community. Our
community is something truly special
and Grinduro really showcases that fact.”

As one of the creators of Grinduro, of course I’m proud of that. But we should all be proud to be a part of the bike riding community. Our community is something truly special and Grinduro really showcases that fact.”

The 2016 Grinduro has come and gone, and it left us with so many great memories and stories that we’ll be sharing until we toe the line at the 2017 Grinduro. We’re already looking forward to all the new stories that we get to tell next year!

To relive some of the good times:
View the full collection of post-race portraits here. View the gallery of event photos here. View the results here. Until next time…#GRINDURO!

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