Grinduro Wales – Pushing The Limits Of Gravel

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Last week Amanda attended her first gravel bike race in Machynlleth, Wales. Grinduro aims to be the best elements of a mountain bike enduro with a gravel-style road race. Did Grinduro Wales deliver?

Walking through the event village to collect the Canyon Grizl gravel bike I had arranged to borrow, I looked around to see what everyone else was riding. Rigid flat bar singlespeeds, XC bikes, gravel bikes and hardtail mountain bikes. Not sure what to expect from the trails, I collected my bike and was handed a couple of spare tubes. Assured the bike was tubeless, I stuffed them in my pocket and didn’t see them again until I handed the bike back after the race.

Borrowed bike

Rumours of ‘unrideable steep chutes with drops in’ were buzzing around, but instead of getting worried I just decided to see how far I got. I’m not precious about having to push down something I don’t feel like riding, and I had turned up expecting a challenge. Well, I didn’t push my bike down anything. Instead I discovered the seemingly unlimited limits of a gravel bike!

The ideal Grinduro course should mean that whatever bike you take is perfect for one stage, good for two and unsuitable for one.

Chipps

I’ve never done a gravel bike race before, so I consider myself very fortunate to have done Grinduro as my first. On the day I couldn’t stop smiling. Every inch of trail from the stages, the transitions and the noodling around Mach felt rewarding and somewhat heroic on a gravel bike. Long fireroad climbs, rutted singletrack, steep shale chutes, boulders, loose rocks, fast grassy descents… it had everything.

The event combined the best sections of trail in the area, the biggest scenery, excellent food and drink, and good vibes. Outdoor Provisions fuelled the feed station and put a smile on everyone’s faces with their squirty nut butter and fruit. High5 Energy pre-prepared huge jerry cans of hydration. There was music as we set off, live music in the evening, and everyone was catered for.

Official Press Release:

Grinduro first landed in California back in 2015 and set an immediate benchmark for what the future of gravel events could be. Rather than being solely a race, Grinduro set itself apart from rivals by being a combination of race and party. The initial event proved to be hugely popular and has now grown into a six-event world series, with rounds in 2021 in locations as diverse as Switzerland, Japan, Canada and Australia, as well as its spiritual home in California, USA.

Grinduro, Wales

Last weekend saw the inaugural running of Grinduro Wales, with the purple Grinduro party machine arriving into Machynlleth, mid-Wales. Luckily the doom-laden long range weather forecasts proved to be wildly inaccurate and the whole weekend was blessed with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine bursting through to light up the arena, set-up close to the heart of this small, but vibrant town.

Nearly 500 riders took on the challenging course, which comprised a series of non-timed ‘liaison’ stages and chip-timed race stages. The route included everything from lung-busting fireroad climb, to flowy singletrack to some demanding technical descents including the final series of drops back into the arena. The course had been designed so that different cycling abilities & skills were required – fitness for the climbs, technical competency to overcome some of the challenges the trails threw up and most importantly – the ability to smile and enjoy the ride, no matter how steep the climbs were that the course designer had shoehorned in.

After the success of Grinduro Scotland events held between 2017 and 2019, which was loved by so many riders, Wales always felt like it might be that difficult second album. Luckily the atmosphere all weekend was incredible and the course was unreal. We’ve managed to continue Grinduro’s reputation as an event which pushes the boundaries of what is possible on a drop bar bike. With so many happy faces, I think we nailed it… See you back in Mach in 2022!

James Deane – Northern Consultancy Co.

Steep. Loose. Technical. That describes the course at Grinduro Wales in a nutshell. While the riding was epic, these events are really all about the people. With an inclusive and welcoming environment, events like this really highlight cycling at its best.

Event hosts, Canyon

Initial feedback from riders at the event was that they found it a challenge, particularly some of the exposed slate sections, but that they really enjoyed the feeling of being pushed and that the combination of great venue, fantastic weather and a super friendly atmosphere made the event a huge success. Plans are already being hatched to come back to Mach in 2022.

Grinduro Diversity Pledge

Diversity matters to us and we relish being an event made up of the widest range of people! We are committed to ensuring our events are welcoming, safe, and inclusive regardless of gender, race or status. Starting this year, all GRINDURO Global events will invite 25 riders from underrepresented communities to participate each year with free, sponsored entries.

Event photos credits: Stephen Smith


Comments (4)

    All the pics I’ve seen make the event look amazing and I’m well up for going next year. However, were there any ‘normal’ punters there? I know images will be biased by media coverage, but it just seems to be full of media types and people from the bike industry? (Think I’m just jealous, it looked ace!)

    A group of blokes from my street went and they certainly aren’t media types.

    Cool! It looks like a mix between old fashioned marathon/xc riding and ‘enduro’ stages, but with beer!

    I did this even and it was awesome. There were 5 times stages (4 official and one by sponsor Zipp) across two routes, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Of the official stages there were two uphill and two downhill, with the last downhill being MTB orirentated.

    I didnt see any media types as such, mainly everyday punters. There were around 20 “pro’s” in total. Highly recommend it. Looking back, you wouldn’t be disadvantaged on a MTB at all. I didnt see stage 2 as someone had an accident and it was closed off for the day.

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