Rolling into Quincy, CA at the base of the Sierra Buttes, I entered a new dimension of the bike world. It was an amalgamation of Seattle grunge, Portland hipster, San Francisco bike messenger, lycra-clad weekend warrior and padded downhiller. Truthfully, I don’t believe the sleepy logging town of Quincy, CA (population, 1,728) knew what they had signed up for. That being said, neither did I.
This was Grinduro.
Touted as “a new kind of bike race,” Grinduro is exactly like it sounds—part gravel road race and part mountain bike-style enduro. Now add in one part road and three parts festival bike culture and you indeed have a new kind of bike race. Four timed race segments make up just 17.5 miles of the 62-mile ride, giving the 400+ riders plenty of opportunity to indulge in casual summit beers, safety meetings and lively conversation while taking in the route’s picturesque granite walls, rolling ridge line views and high forest canopy.
The variation in terrain coupled with wide-ranging October temperatures in the high Sierras created a bit of packing conundrum. Do I bring the cross bike or the hard tail, thermals or just a light shell, hydration pack or bottles? Lucky for me, there were a few things I didn’t need to think too hard about since they would be provided for me upon arrival. (Thanks Giro!) Like any overzealous, pre-race stressball, I brought it all twice, but hey, at least I WAS prepared.
Based off Giro’s DND (Down And Dirty) gloves, the Grinduro glove featured knuckle tat printed lettering with G-R-I-N on the right glove and D-U-R-O on the left, in case you at any point forgot what brought you to this insane place. On the eve of the race I considered the rough terrain ahead and my rigid carbon cross bike before opting for a more padded race-day glove. That being said, after a week of riding under my belt back in Park City, the glove’s AX Suede™ palm has proven durable and tight fitting without being constricting, offering a good mixture of padding and grip for riding trails, jumps, berms and just about anything else I could throw at ‘em.
The bottom line is that a simple cotton cycling cap is not just for hipsters who ride their fixie to the corner store to buy free range Coors Light. Believe it or not, a snug cap may actually be the most versatile accessory a rider can have. During Grinduro, I garnered shade from the sun, cover from wind, a layer of insulation during the cool mornings and even benefitted from the sweat wicking technology (read - cotton) when it got hot.
*Editors note: Classic cycling caps are most useful when worn under a helmet, not instead of one.
Sitting atop the pile of purple was the Grinduro Empire VR90 off-road shoe. With a lightweight, lace-up, one-piece upper made from Evofiber™ synthetic, the shoe provided a good balance of protection and breathability. And, while laces may seem a regressive step for such a high end shoe, the 7 points of contact—in comparison to 2-4 for the average ratchet buckle bike shoe—resulted in a much more form-to-your-foot feel. All that beautiful purple is mounted atop a stiff Easton EC90 ACC Carbon sole and molded Vibram® rubber tread. Coming in at just 315 grams, the VR90 definitely sets the bar in both performance and comfort.