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Grinduro Race Report

October 14th, 2016

Grinduro #2 Race Report

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I left Redding about noon on Friday to get to the Grinduro this past weekend. Brought my boat so I could visit a lake and relax before hand. That was nice.

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About 6 pm, I got to the fairgrounds in Quincy and registered. Met Jones who was with his family and hanging out with his cool dude pro friends.  Turns out there were a lot of pros and ex-pros making it to Grinduro #2 – Duncan Riffle, Geoff Kabush, Carl Decker, Barry Wicks, Jones of course, Matt Fox, Adam Craig, Laurens Ten Dam, Karsten Kroon, Meredith Miller, Helene Drumm, Emily Kachorek, among the marquee names.

Despite his high and mighty status among the beautiful people, Jones was nice enough to invite me over for socializing later in the evening and I totally gave him the “California acceptance” and said I might see him later. I never did. I ate my dinner alone and went to sleep early on a cot under the stars. Brought the tent just in case it got too cold or windy but it didn’t.

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Woke up the next morning to 32 degrees and ice all over my sleeping bag. I was surprisingly warm and toasty in my bag.  Even though it was sunny and beautiful that morning, I was not much more than 40 degrees at the 8 am start and we were all really cold. Some folks’ arms were shivering so bad, they could barely keep their bikes going straight down the road.

At the start line, I was surprised by the distinct change in equipment choices this year for the Grinduro.  Many of the big guns were on fully suspended MTBs, or front suspension cross bikes with flat bars. Lots of dropper posts – even on cross bikes.  A few, like Jones were on unsuspended cross bikes with flat bars. For example, like this and this:

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Those bikes probably makes sense for the downhill sections.  I see the reason for flat bars and I know they’d be more stable.  But something is off-putting in the aesthetics.  I like drop bars on my gravel/cross bike. In my mind, the most fun bike for this race would be a cross rig with a Lauf fork and a dropper post. It would still be slower than a MTB, but it would look monster cool. 

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(This guy needs to shave. Freaking hipste)r.

Anyway, my plan for the day was just to stay with the front group for as long as I could. I knew I’d get smoked at every time-check except for the road TT.  I wanted to be in a fast group for that one partly to make it go faster and partly so I wouldn’t have to work so darn hard.  The only way to do that was to stay with the fast guys all day.  So at the roll out I stayed with the top group but when we hit the first uphill timed section, the Hough ’n Puff, hammers were being dropped. I kept my hammer safely in its tool belt. It was not dropped.  I was not warm, I was shivering, and i did not feel like going that hard, so I didn’t. Turns out the cold must have affected everyone.  Last year I did a 6:14 on this section. This year I did 9:09. (Honestly I didn’t think I tanked that bad, but apparently did I).  But I wasn’t the only one to have a worse time than last year – for example Jones did 5:28 last year and 6:38 this year, so….just sayin’…it was cold and hard to ride fast.

After the first section, the front guys regrouped and headed to the Big Grizzly gravel downhill section together.  The pros took a break before heading down, so I took off ahead of them as one of the first guys. About halfway down, a train of them came flying past on a corner, rocks and gravel flying everywhere. I was still cold, but I felt like I rode it well (for me). Last year: 16.37 and this year 16.59. So pretty close. I think the cold was the reason I was slower. I felt more comfortable and in control, I just didn’t bother to pedal hard on the straight sections, because, well who cares how fast I go really? 

 After that, we regrouped once again and rolled to the Indian Creek road TT section as a large group. There were maybe 30-40 guys (and girls) in this posse.  I wanted to see if I could hang in there and if so, then maybe see if I was capable of flying the blue flag at the front. It was fast. There were a lot of guys working. There were a few attacks, but no one broke off the front. Near the end, I was just starting to feel like my power was coming on so I got in position to move up to the front. With about a mile to go, Jones found himself taking a pull at the front, he pulled off and Wicks took a turn, and I followed him. I didn’t stay long because right around the corner was the finish and I got swallowed up by a sprint for the line like this was a crit or something.  I was at the back of the group across the finish, but that was fine with me. Last year 13.41 and this year 12.22.

So then it was the lunch break. I was being generally social and talking to all kinds of folks about everything under the sun, when our friend from last year, Scott (from Scott and Becky fame) found me and asked where the rest of the team was. I said you were all still recovering from last year.  He said Becky had been so excited to see us again and she had been lifting weights extra hard for her right arm extra so she wouldn’t tire out when shaking margaritas for us.  She would be disappointed that you weren’t there.  We had a good time reminiscing and he said to say hi to all y’all.  BTW, he took our advice and got himself a Giant cx bike that he couldn’t say enough good things about. 

Aside from the good conversations, I did not manage the lunch break well. I ate far too heartily and was all bogged down when I started the climb up China Grade to the top of Mt. Hough. I took off before the cool group because I knew I was not going to feel like going as fast as they were. I expected to be passed by them at some point on the climb and that was OK with me.   All the blood was being diverted to digestion and not to spinning the cranks. This climb hurt.  The route was slightly different this year. It was advertised as easier…but it wasn’t. It was still super steep and my 36×28 was, in a word – inadequate.  Dudes were passing me and shaking their heads – Them: “is that a 28 on there?” Me: “Yeah” Them: “Idiot! I stuck a 32 on this and it’s still not enough gear!”   You know you are in a group of serious bike weenies when they can accurately ascertain your gear teeth  while riding past you.I suppose the fact that I was turning approximately 2 revolutions per miute might have given them a hint. 

Even so, the pro group never reached me. I was one of the first to get to the final Mt. Hough downhill and had relatively clear sailing. Not too many people in front, and I hoped no one too near me behind me breathing down my neck. I had a great downhill for me. I went just above my comfort level and as fast as I wanted to go. It felt all right. About 2/3 of the way down, Decker on his MTB ripped past me like I was tied to a tree.  With out 100 m to go, Jones came around me, then I finished and just stayed ahead of Wicks. Glad I didn’t hold those guys up. Last year I ddi 15.53 and this year it was 14.34 – so that’s improvement to be proud of.

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After the end of this final section, I rolled back to the fairgrounds by myself, packed up camp, and headed home.  The race was great. The company was friendly. But it wasn’t the same as having y’all around. Missed you. Turns out I got 25th in the old man’s group which is not super-impressive as there were only 125 of us to start with in that category. Still – I love this race and let’s try to do it as a team again next year.

 

 

JONZ

 


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October 14th, 2016 08:47:57