Aug 08.17 – Grinduro Race Report

When we got a call asking if we’d be up for building and racing a bike at the first ever Grinduro Scotland we jumped at it. There’s something really cool about building a bike for a specific purpose and when it’s a race it’s even more exciting. You ever seen that scene from Days of Thunder where Harry is in the barn talking to the race car? Well thats basically the dream.

Grinduro is a unique event in that it is a kind of combined gravel race/ride that takes its inspiration from an MTB style enduro event. Essentially it’s a 60 mile ride over various terrain; gravel, fire roads, single track and tarmac with 4 timed sections along the way. The timed sections only counting towards your final place. It’s a great concept and with food, music and beers its kind of like a mini festival too.

On arrival on the Isle of Arran and the Grinduro venue we were met by a grand Scotsman playing the bag pipes in the rain. The rain didn’t stop until Sunday when the race was over and everyone was headed home. It was something we all somehow reluctantly grew to enjoy by the end of 60 miles of it through forest, over hills and down glens. 

Tent up, it was through to registration and the exhibition hall and to see what the other builders had come up with. Yes there was a little mini custom bike show there, with a handful of select custom frame builders, all of us going head to head, not only on judging of the bikes, but we would actually be racing them too.

Dropping the bike off, while it sat on its plinth, it was time for some beers and food and a little bit of bench racing. At the event there was a lot of talk about which bike would be more suitable and as the weather changed for the worse this subject became more and more important. With 3 flat out gravel sections and 1 tech’ single track downhill, which with the weather worsening was going to be more a case of getting down with the least mistakes, I still felt that a dedicated gravel machine was the right choice, for the timed sections at least. A lot of people were calling a hard tail MTB as the weapon of choice however.

When it came to race day, the rain was still pouring and there was something really satisfying about pulling a bike off a plinth and taking it out for a severe thrashing in appalling conditions. The bike rode great. Running the Clement MSO 40’s soft on the awesome Zipp Firecrest wheels meant the bike flew over the gravel up the first long climb stage. Although coming down the tech DH stage I was definitely under tired, with the shallow tight tread of the tires not giving me much to cut into the loam and mud. In the atrocious weather my brakes had started to fade by this time too, but I dropped my saddle and hung, had a couple of slip off’s getting offline trying to pass people, but couldn’t complain for the conditions. After a lunch break there were two more stages, a fast fire road decent and steep punchy climb. Plus some amazing cliff top single track between stages.

I only saw the results for the top 35 but think I bagged 6th fastest over the tech’ stage, and would be interested to see how many CX/Gravel bikes were in front, it was proper MTB territory through there!  All in at the end of the day I finished 10th overall and 4th in my category, frustratingly only 7 secs behind 3rd!

It was such a cool event, getting to race and hang out on the same ride, then party in the evening too. Sure Scotland delivered some of its famous weather when we were all hoping for a break, but it only bought everyone closer together. Thanks to Giro, Columbus Tubing, SRAM, ZIPP, Clement Tyres, Fabric, the Grinduro family, the Bicycle Academy, all the frame builders  and everyone else who we met and partied with over the weekend. Good beers, good bro’s, good racing!

Photography – Russell Burton, with bike photo by Satchel Cronk.