Stop Interrupting My GRINDING: A Snapshot of Giro’s Grinduro

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Grinduro = YES

Words by Laura Winberry @winbraker

Portrait by @jordan_clark_haggard, all other images by @jakeszy 

Kind of like Beyoncé, there was NO interrupting my grinding at Giro’s Grinduro this past weekend. Especially on a motherfuckinGOLD bike. Which is to say: I had one of the THE BEST WEEKENDS I’ve had in awhile. Skidding around on 40z in Quincy, California with some people I know + some people I now know was, to be cliché but honest, E-P-I-C. If you went, hopefully you’re now finding yourself in a similar situation of post-Grinduro glow. If you didn’t, that sucks but it’ll be alright. Just stop ‘gramming, put a reminder on your phone, and when reggo opens up elbow your way in there like a Cat 3 at the results board (I heart U Cat 3z). Because that’s what I didn’t do this year and it’s why I almost didn’t go. Almost. But for reals, get ON it. 

Alright, now let’s get into it here for a second. 

Every person’s experience with the spectrum of human emotions is different. There’s also a lot of overlap. I mean, we are all human beings. And it almost goes without saying, the more we air shit out (communicate), the more we recognize this overlap and feel, maybe, that much less alone. So, for those of you reading, I’m about to air some shit out. For my own selfish reasons and because yeah, some of you folks out there will see the overlap and run with it. Or take a few steps with it. Whichever works for you. And because this world can be massive and tumbling. And, because y’all ain’t alone, Kids.

Let’s Talk About Feelings

So, I’ve been pretty sad recently. Maybe I mean something more like sadness + anxiety + overwhelmed. Which isn’t necessarily anything new or profound or foreign to the human experience. But rather something some of us are apt to go in and out of from time to time, often for no apparent reason and just as often for very real, tangible reasons. Ones you can taste.

To save on space here, I’ll just note that in order to take the initiative that would spur the impetus that would then snowball into the beginning speck of a shift, I started allowing myself to stop. I did something that most of us probably aren’t that good at, myself obviously included: I exercised my right to self-care. While self-care can and does look different for different folks, for me it looked like breathing. It looked like letting myself experience acupuncture for the first time, and like reaching out to a few therapists in town and returning to yoga and riding my bike very gently or not at all. It looked like listening to what I needed and didn’t need, and like a slow-gaining traction that’s still unfolding (right now) into its own cumulative effect. That is, it’s not over (because that’s not how these things work). But there has been a palpable shift, however glacial or subtle or yet to be fully realized.

So what the fuck does all this have to do with Grinduro? Well, while Grinduro didn’t magically make me feel like the Defender of the Crystal Castle again, getting the email a week prior that some lady from Santa Cruz could no longer attend and that I could adopt her entry was definitely good timing. I hadn’t been on the bike much at all, and had been slowing it all down and processing and practicing. It felt like I was tending to myself as a whole human, as opposed to just a person who races bikes. And while I love the circus that is the Cross Crusade season opener, saying no to Alpenrose and yes to Grinduro felt damn good. And continued to feel damn good as the Grinduro weekend slowly revealed itself. 

It’s All About Consent

Sometimes we have to say no for a little while before we can say yes and mean it. That’s what this past weekend was. Saying yes and meaning it. I know you get it, I do. When just the act of riding your bike feels good again, when you are genuinely smiling from the inside out after having been under some kind of kelp-filled water for some minutes. And no, I’m not about to say that I didn’t try during the timed Grinduro sections simply because it wouldn’t be cool to admit. Because fuck that. I did try. And it felt good to want to try again. For me. But I’m SO glad that Grinduro wasn’t actually a race, or rather that it had race elements but mostly just ride your fucking bike and talk to people and eat food and laugh and be a fucking human elements. Without those, it would not have been the Radness it was.      

I know there will be pockets when I don’t feel awesome again. Same goes for all of us. That’s life. But the thing we want with each transition or juncture is to have more (better) tools than we did the time before, right? Otherwise we’re just looping and curling in upon ourselves like smoke. When what we really want is to have another go at rebuilding, at moving through not around, at tinkering until we find some surface again. Or some other depth that allows us to find NO or YES, and mean it.  

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming: GRINDING

So some of us do this thing where we meet in the woods and set up camp and ride bikes and share meals with friends. This thing literally happens all over the map. Everywhere and all the time, during any season we can get our hands on. Preferably when the dirt gets real heroic. But mostly whenever and because why the fuck not.  

What Grinduro does is take these plentiful yet scattered-peanut moments of feral rendezvousing and funnel them all into one concentrated moment. Yeah, Grinduro takes all our rad-little-hipster-bicycle-band-camps and allows them to converge at one topographically and aesthetically stimulating location. It then adds in some good eats + dope beats + art (is important) + coffee and fire and stuff + some timed stages to flex your lats and calves on. All of which ends up = YES.

As it turns out, things that are fun on the micro level (you know, inside each of our own pea-sized worlds) are also fun at the macro level. While this multiplication doesn’t always work out, and while there’s gotta be a tipping point, 700 participants didn't seem to be it. From an outsider’s perspective, this event woke itself up, drank itself to sleep, and rallied whole-heartedly over the course of two-ish days. So, to all you behind-the-scenes string pullers who made this shit happen: Bra-Va and thanks and let’s do this every month.

An Incomplete List Of Things I (Definitely) Liked From Grinduro

Because what’s an event snapshot without a few sordid details or collected highlights. Which is to say, here are some clutch Tetris pieces from the Grinduro weekend to rotate and slide into your gorgeously expanding minds…

  • 8am start-line harmonicist (who slayed it)  
  • relatively early rollout meant it was #totescold, but witnessing a gang of horses in an adjacent field startle at the sound of 1400 wheels spinning by was well #worthit
  • subsequently seeing the breaths of said horses as they plumed into the morning gold that had laid itself all over the Sierra-cold air: also worth it 
  • having intellectual conversation about art immediately following the timed road section (where else can you go from almost puking to let’s talk about craft, aesthetic, and artistic impetus?)
  • might as well have been unicorns in that field
  • that guy who was also really into the horses
  • the woman cruising the fire roads in a pickup with a rifle perched out the window 
  • riding with Leave It On The Road's Mr. Tabtabai + Jake + others
  • Sunday’s Spanish Trail singletrack ride with the Squiddies and other neat folks
  • bombing gravel roads and rowdy singletrack + keeping the rubber side down

More Things On The List

  • my motherfuckingGOLD bike + the tubeless ENVE dope-show setup with the deep rimz and the 40z
  • peanut M&Ms (all you can eat)
  • salty chips (ditto)
  • Coca Cola + bacon (ditto?)
  • campfires at breakfast = winning
  • smiling + seeing other people smile (all day)
  • watching other women SHRED
  • rallying the final timed downhill with Brubaker
  • sleeping
  • Smokey the Bear photo ops
  • Smokey’s sweet, high-waisted dungarees
  • disc brakes
  • that barn with the paint splattered all over it
  • dusk + changing leaves
  • dirt and pine loam and gravel roads for days

Thanks, Internet. Thanks, bike riders. Thanks, Speedvagen Family Racing. And thanks, World. Until next time.

To learn more about Laura make sure to check out her video.

Posted on October 13, 2016 .