BadVentures Vol. I
Blood, Sweat, and Beers
So, naturally, we each added a glug to our espressos from the Rapha Wagon. The early morning sun was edging up over the mountains that rimmed the valley, and we were going to need a little help if we were going to do the same.
Photo Cred - Ian Hylands @ianhylands
The reason we were up in the High Sierras was to race Grinduro! - a race so fun that it comes with its own exclamation point. It’s a 63-mile bike race, nearly all on dirt, with over 8000 feet of climbing.
The stats are marginally impressive, but what makes this event stand apart from the rest of the sufferfests is that the “race” part is comprised of four timed segments within the whole ride. Enduro Style.
So you roll along en masse, admiring sweet custom builds, twisting through the pines, keeping an eye out for Sasquatch, and shooting the breeze - then smash a segment for 15 minutes - then casually reconnoiter with buddies and friends-just-made to continue on until it’s time to once again grip it and rip it for the next race stage.
Before we could race up, over, and between the Northern California mountains, we had to get there. Which meant casting-off from home in San Diego Thursday night, and driving overnight with a brief bivy in Lone Pine before continuing on by way of Carson City, Nevada up to the rarified air of Quincy.
Taking the longer route up the eastern spine of the state was warranted because we combined this trip with an invite to attend a coffee cupping event put on by Catalyst Coffee Consults at San Franciscan Roaster Company. More on that in a forthcoming installment of Badventures. Watch this space.
Quincy is a small, mountain town that is defined by its logging operation. Damp stacks of fresh-cut lumber tower in tall piles all around the big mill that is across the road from the fairgrounds that hosts Grinduro! Tent Village. Puffy billows of steam churn out of the roof all day and all night long, leaving the air thick with the pleasing and familiar smell of Home Depot.
Then it was kits on and time to spin the hours of sitting in a car out of the legs.
Photo Cred - Colin Meagher @meagherdude Spencer Rathkamp with loads more style on his pre-ride.
We found some wall rides, some roller coaster drops through the pines, and loads of nice vistas to gander at. Out on loamy trails in the later afternoon sun, the whole scene provokes a romantic nostalgia of setting off towards the rugged edges of Western Frontiers. Plus, we provoked two flats, which proved the worth of a shakedown run because we both added new tire sealant and even bought one replacement tire.
The night before the race and Grinduro! Tent Village was swollen with revelers and the vibe was decidedly awesome. Any pre-race jitters were quickly, frequently, and repeatedly squelched by beers and booze.
All the panache without the braggadocio. World Tour elite and industry pros mingled with common folk, everyone drooling over the purpose-built machines custom-fitted to tackle this unique cycling event.
It’s race morning and, after a few aeropresses of BadSea’s finest for ourselves and our tent neighbors, we doubly capitalized on the La Marzocco the guys in the Rapha Bus brought along and had a couple of espressos topped with whiskey shortly before the starting gun. It’s good to get a little fire in the belly before a chilly start.
Photo Cred - Jordan Clark Haggard @jordan_clark_haggard
Then after 10 miles of more climbing on old logging roads, the second stage was a fast and loose descent on twisting gravel roads. Pace-lining with two other guys was a little sketch, as each bend had you praying that no one’s tire blew mid-slide.
Photo Cred - @satchscratch
The train held it rubber side down and afterward the effort we exchanged smiles of thanks and relief. It wouldn’t be until that evening that we realized one of the descenders was pro-cyclist Laurens ten Dam (accolades include: 8th in the the Vuelta de Espana, 9th at the Tour De France, to name a couple).
Led us to Stage 3 which we hit with reckless abandon. Reckless because instead of stopping to collude with a larger group that could cooperatively attack this 6-mile segment of rolling country tarmac, we charged straight into it and made the classic cycling mistake: thinking a two-man break could out-speed a peloton. Oh, Hubris.
Adding insult to ineptitude, our poor decisions didn’t stop at tactical planning, we also learned that our Rapha buddies were apparently pulling affogatos and we just went rolling right by! Like chumps!
Photo Cred - @cdywyoming
Catered lunch and beers were served after our all-out and all-for-not effort on the road. Then it was a 3000 ft climb to gain some altitude so things could get rad.
Photo Cred - @theradavist
It was an enduro singletrack that was Rippable for all the Full-Squish Homies, but ceaselessly technical for Dropbar Bikes. Steep shale shoulders off the narrow and loose singletrack formed a confluence of high-consequence with tired and timed racers on this, the final descent.
Photo Cred - Colin Meagher @meagherdude
Half of the two of us attempted the direct route off Mt Hough a few times, paying a debt of torn skin, shorn spandex, and busted bike parts.
we celebrated survival. The bike letting bartape stream in the breeze like Hasidic curls while the right-hand shifter gave an indignant one-finger salute.
The race part of the race now done, we checked in at the final pitstop. The party continued at a swimming hole with a shoreline cocktail bar, blankets laid out for chillaxin’, and a rope swing across the river. Here everyone gathered for riverside drinks and food while tired gams and wounds were soothed in the cool waters.
Photo Cred - Emily Kachorek - Squid Bikes @squidbikes
Photo Cred - @dain_zaffke
The willingness of all the photographers to share their images for this little write-up is a testament to the spirit of Grinduro! and the community of cycling adventurers that are drawn to it. We thank them for their generosity, permissions and