Grinduro is a gravel event organised by California based Giro. Usually held in Quincy, California, the third edition made it’s way to Europe and the remote Isle of Arran in Scotland. Podia was there to witness a new kind of bike race.

Words and Images by Max Burgess

Ever since I heard about the first Grinduro I was desperate to travel to California and witness what everyone had been talking about, but when news came of the Scottish edition it seemed the Grinduro was (almost) coming to me!

 

Part gravel grinder event, part mountain bike enduro race; a 78km circuit around the beautiful Isle of Arran is not timed in it’s entirety except for four segments; a 6km gravel climb, a 2km technical singletrack, a 3km forest descent and a 2.5km singletrack climb.

But, what makes Grinduro a new type of event is that it places as much emphasis on people socialising as it does on racing. This was evident when I arrived at the ferry that took us over to Arran. Conversation was free flowing among friends and strangers alike.

The event ‘village’ was organised in a local school with the football pitch becoming our campsite for the weekend, along with the canteen being taken over by gourmet caterers and the sports hall becoming an exhibition for some of the best frame makers in the UK right now.

 

Donhou BicyclesShand Cycles, Feather Cycles and Mercredi Bikes each built what they thought would be the perfect bike to conquer the Grinduro and they had to back that up by actually racing these bikes. The Bicycle Academy was also present with mini workshops on steel brazing.

Something Different

Unlike a sportive where most entrants are conscience of getting a good finishing time, the Grinduro is a relaxed atmosphere right from the start. This was just as well given my heavy head after sampling the local Arran 14 Year Old Whiskey the night before.

 

Beautiful fire roads and gravel tracks led us around the spectacular scenery of Arran. At least, this was what I saw on John Watson’s recon shots, because the day of the race it was covered in clouds with only brief glimpses of vistas.

Timed segments came and went; muddy singletrack made for tough terrain even for those on MTB bikes, let alone on my 47mm Road Plus slicks. Pushing, carrying or sliding along the ground (Frank) seemed to be the common way to tackle the timed parts of the route. Those with the skills and bravery to stay on their bikes for as long as they can, were the ones competing for stage wins.

The After Party

With dry clothes, full bellies and beverages in hand we got ready for the presentations. Each of the four stage times were added up, those with the best times in a number of categories won some pretty cool prizes. The four framemakers also went head to head with all entrants casting a vote for their favourite bike. Adeline of Mercredi Bikes not only won the best bike, but she also rode it to victory in her race category.

Awards out of the way we were treated to a live performance by Glasgow based band The Van T’s with a DJ taking control of the rest of the nights entertainment.

The Grinduro is about more than a bike race or a bike ride, it is about bringing like-minded people together who want to have fun. Riding a bike isn’t about racing for everyone, although the racing can also be fun. This is why everyone from seasoned racers to leisure riders will enjoy The Grinduro.

Equally the Grinduro is not about just one day and in a location like the West Isles of Scotland, it would be a shame not to take the time and see more. Keep your eye on Podia for a report of what happened the day after the Grinduro (hangover not included!).