20th July 2017
Grinduro | After-mud.
"We're gonna miss the ferry. Sorry lads".
Our friends at HUNT were taking our bikes up to Grinduro. They'd got to Birmingham before realising they had forgotten Pete's bike. You can only imagine the cussin'. Sarah from HUNT brought the bike-left-behind to the halfway point to make up the time but northern traffic put any hopes of catching the last ferry to rest.
No worries, we'll get ready first thing and catch you guys in the morning, it's just our bikes so we can grab them just before the ride. See you tomorow.
"...Oh and we have your camping stuff too".
Shit. They've also got our tents, sleeping mats, sleeping bags, shoes, helmet, packs. Hmm.
And so began our Grinduro experience.
Ardrossan Harbour was fairly grim. It's obviously a relatively active ferry port but you can imagine even on the finest summer's day it still reeks of decades ol nostalgia. A bit like a Boards of Canada album, it's a retro-grade journey.
We focused on making sleeping arrangements and soon retreated to the warmth of the dated ferry port. Fortune favoured us, our travelling friends from The Bicycle Academy offered to put us up in their capacious tent for the night and Chipps had 2 spare sleeping mats in his car.
Saturday, Race Day.
When you're grinding your saddle sores with grit and pulling stones out from your eyes, tasty food makes it all worthwhile. Food at grinduro was excellent. Thanks, Podium Catering.
Breakfast started with a killer-filter from Break Fluid. Shortly after were blueberry pancakes - with bacon and maple syrup and a porridge side.
Our friends at Bikerumor had dispatched Watts who introduced himself to us over breakfast. In the previous post to this one, we mentioned that he was visiting Arran to ride Grinduro, tying the trip into some downtime with his other half. It was super cool to meet this couple, meetings like this make you grateful for being in this industry.
As we were discussing the ride ahead, through the window of the food hall I spotted the familiar Boattail profiles of 2 Bokeh rear triangles - HUNT had arrived with minutes to spare. So, Watts and I made our ways to gear up our Bokehs ready for the race.
We don't often spot other MASONs 'in the wild'. It was therefore a rare sighting and real pleasure when The Racing Collective rolled up on his Bokeh 105 Hydro having ridden 300km over the previous 2 days planning the next Crossduro.
Tom and Pete of HUNT; The Racing Collective; Mike Wardle of Biketreks, Watts of Bikerumor; and I of Mason. We had 6 Bokehs in this race which is an awesome turn out for a small brand like ourselves. It's really inspiring that riders are making the effort to travel from so far to make these events and trusting our bikes as the best tool for the job. All MASON bicycles are stable and sure-footed rides; over the fast, loosely surfaced corners tipping it over the edge was never more than a gracefully-rad two wheel slide.
The wheel gurus from HUNT applied some circular thought to their set ups, opting for mud plugging 2.25" Schwalbe ThunderBurt up front, and the same tyre in 2.1" out back.
The Panaracer Comet Hardpack tyres we spec are super versatile and excel in these grimy conditions, I've still not punctured on them either. Perfect. These tyres were sweet and SRAM 1X 42T:42T gearing was ideal.
Sectors - Timed sections of the course.
I think it's fair to say that the first timed section crept up on you. Well, at least in my regard I hadn't actually looked at the course map to know where it was.
Around 3km into the course Sector 1 revealed itself to all riders. Starting in the trough after a descending fire-road, Sector 1 was a twisting fire-road climb, a real burner.
A long climb, too. Infact WAY longer than I had expected and the congretion of bent-over-hungouttodry-being sick riders at the top concurred. An awesome warm-up and the hardest sector of the day.
What was probably sweet singletrack in drier conditions, Sector 2 was anything but after the heavy rains. Mud-plugging through through the forest. Wiping out off the drop. Feet a foot deep in the mud and wheels not turning. Dabbing in the mud. I've not felt so inept at riding a bicycle in years.
I should have just ran.
PHOTO CREDIT: RUSSELL BURTON 2017
A negative gradient downhill fire-road section. You'd think that this would be a blast but it was horrible. Headed straight down into the valley, a tempestuous wind made it hell to get to the bottom. Nearly the hardest segment of the day.
Placed at approx. 60km into the ride Sector 4 was placed on the outskirts of Brodick Castle. The last climb, shorter than expected and I was caught out by the shortness of it. Nothing more than a basic fire-road ascent with a few corners. No 500M sign. Caught out and came up short.
To the right is Mike Wardle, 7th placed finisher and manager of Biketreks. It was great to catch up with him at Grinduro. They're our only UK stockist and really support what we're doing at Mason.
Mike was flying around the course on his Bokeh with HUNT carbon and a slammed cockpit.
PHOTO CREDIT: RUSSELL BURTON 2017
See slider opposite.
After the timed sections - the 'duro' parts of this ride, all that remained was a social 15km route to lift the red mist and give us a fresh sense of perspective, a sense of place.
Riding on the coast. Taking it easy along the cliff-top, still sliding like a rag doll and descending with minimal poise. I keep my foot out because there's a BIG drop.
Meandering through sheltered grassy singletrack and bridleways I wondered who still uses these routes and natural passages. Some small rocky climbs and a bike-over-shoulder climb took us to an exposed trig point. A marshall stood watch atop this point, warning us of a few sketchier sections of the route ahead.
A final 2km test of maintaining vertical position in glassy, sloppy mud on exposed parts of the cliff top, forced you not to stay off the front brakes and keep the front wheel going kinda where it should!
PHOTO CREDIT: REVOLTING COGS 2017
Whether going up or downhill, it was my legs and lungs that limited speed. Never did the Bokeh come into question, it ate up everything and left me picking the gravel out of my eyes.
Its versatility shone throughout this singular event. Tom pinned it downhill with his 2.25” tubeless tyres. TRC rode 300KM routefinding an exciting event over the preceeding days on his 700C x 35mm GravelKings.
We used Grinduro as a proving ground for the third part of our Format kit. We have extended the range of our Format kit with a fully-featured gilet. Paired with Morvelo arm/knee warmers I was toasty in the constant rain.
Grinduro Scotland offered chance to experience a “halo” event that we wouldn’t get this side of the atlantic. Social/Competition mix that is lacking in road riding and opens up timed off road for less gnarly mtbers.
Everyone involved went 100% into making it work, sponsors; organisers; attendees alike. Levels of stoke were super high and that was a grand omen for the current enthusiasm for this type of FastFar riding in the UK.
From what we could tell the locals were totally behind Grinduro and their support was obviously crucial to the massive success of its UK debut.
We had a blast and we'll be there again next year.