Images courtesy of Claire, Stephen Smith and Olly from

Rolling into the Grinduro Wales (24 July 2021) campsite after a long drive up from the South Coast, I felt like I was arriving a a festival rather than a bike race.

Tents were pitched, BBQs lit and the DJs already playing at the main arena as I queued up for the first race number I’ve collected since early 2020.

The Welsh town of Machynleth was the location of this years Grinduro, an international Gravel event now in its third year here in the UK. The new location is significantly more accessible than its previous Isle of Arran incarnation and it certainly seemed to pull in a crowd.

The format is part gravel sportive and part mountain bike enduro, with as much emphasis on fun as there is racing. The 80km loop is split into a morning and afternoon session with just 4 timed sections, totalling about 15-20 minutes.

Some big efforts were made between the timer gates but once the section was over friends gathered, refuelled and took photos.

It's a social ride with some friendly competition to keep you on your toes - like a massive group ride with your mates (i.e. the competitive ones who will always to race to that road sign or to the top of the hill!)

Partly routed along gravel fire roads, partly on sections of the Mach 1 and Climachx MTB trails, this is more than just a standard gravel ride and the bike choices at Grinduro reflected this. There was everything from carbon aero gravel bikes on semi-slick 35mm tyres to full suspension mountain bikes. No bike that was 100% suitable for this ride but that’s part of the fun right?

I chose to fit my Bokeh with a set of Hunt 650b Adventure Carbon Discs and Teravail Rutland tyres and it was a brilliantly capable all-rounder.

I was happy that I'd erred towards the burlier end of the gravel bike scale. The more technical downhill sections brought a massive smile to my face and we were fast enough on the uphill sections to pick up a podium spot.

All in all it was a great weekend. Catching up with old friends and making some new ones while easing myself back into the world of racing.

I hope to be back for more next year!

- Claire Frecknall