GRAVEL PARTY – 8bar team at Grinduro Scotland
A race with high speed, adrenaline and thrills paired with the relaxed vibes of a coffee ride with friends? No Way! What sounds incompatible is the Grinduro series programme. Stefan Schott and Manuel Porzner from the 8bar Team, usually known for Fixed Crits and Urban Cycling, took part in the third edition of the Grinduro Scotland. A story by Manuel Porzner about adventure, trails, whisky and above all, lots of gravel.
Grinduro 2019 – off to “Miniature Scotland”
It is Friday afternoon when we push our bikes with the full bikepacking bags onto the CalMac-Ferry from Ardrossan. Push? Right, cycling is unfortunately not allowed on the ferry ramp. After having fortified ourselves with the Scottish national dish Steakpie in the canteen, we go to the deck. A cool westerly wind blows. In the twilight in front of us lies an island, which already from a distance lets assume breathtaking nature and exciting trails. It is the Isle of Arran, also called “Miniature Scotland” and the venue of the Grinduro Scotland.
After arriving at Brodick harbour we get on our bikes and drive the 10 km to Grinduro Village in Lamlash. Careful, because the left-hand traffic is unusual and the legs are a bit heavy after the long journey. The Lamlash Highschool, where the Grinduro Basecamp is located, was converted for the event, as well as the football field of the local club. This serves as a campground and the sports hall as a location for the Art & Bike Gallery. Participants may choose the best custom bikes made especially for Grinduro. We pitch our tents and let the day end relaxed, so that we can start the coming Grinduro event day rested.
Grinduro race day
Raceday. It is 08:30. We finish the typical British breakfast with bacon, beans and porridge with an espresso at the Rapha truck. Then we go to the starting line. The majority of the 254 starters ride on gravelbikes, some on MTB’s and very few on crossers. Singlespeed bikes are also there. The 83 km long track is divided into two sections and several segments. On these the time is measured at the beginning and at the end with the help of transponders. One track is completed in the morning, the other in the afternoon. Accompanied by loudly whistling bagpipe music we start the approximately 35 km long morning round. After a short warming up the first segment starts after 10 km. We get a lot of pace and accelerate to the 3 km full speed.
We ride slightly downhill at 50 km/h on a narrow gravel road and get the first KOM (“King of the Mountain”) of the day with teamwork and a lot of lactate in our legs! Afterwards it goes further 10 km to the next segment. The following 2.5 km uphill with a lot of mud are tough. Luckily the first food station with local specialities and homemade lemonade is waiting shortly after. When we finally arrive at the Grinduro Basecamp again, we have lunch and a short time to relax.
On gravel and epic trails
One hour later we start fortified on the afternoon loop, which with 2 sections and 900 hm on 50 km length requires a lot of leg work. The third segment is similar to a 5 km mountain time trial on gravel – by far the hardest stage of the day. Then follows the longest “transfer” over almost 40 km to the last segment. Now the real spirit of the Grinduro becomes apparent: We set our own pace, can cruise, talk and enjoy the beauty of the island to the full. We recharge our batteries at the last refreshment station and then head for the last section. On this section are some of the best trails I’ve ever done! A bit bumpy it goes over wild meadows and trails covered with roots downhill to the finish.
„What’s your party to race ratio?“
At Grinduro Basecamp, ice cream, dinner and beer await us. Perfect! Finally, when we took part in the Award Ceremony freshly showered, we could be happy about some awards. Stefan is second in his age group in the expert category, Manuel takes third place in the pro category. As prizes there are trophies, custom saddles from Fabric and… of course whisky. The latter comes in handy for the afterparty. The mood is good and true to the Grinduro motto: “What’s your party to race ratio? We get into conversation with other participants and it quickly becomes clear that most people don’t just drive the Grinduro as a race and for good results. Much more important is the shared experience and the meeting of like-minded people. And that is an important message that we take with us from this little adventure – experience before result!
The Grinduro is a one-day event and the journey there can sometimes take some time. Therefore we planned some time to explore the beautiful Scottish nature during a bikepacking trip. And it’s definitely worth it, because the west coast of Scotland has deserted beaches, crystal clear water and idyllic landscapes. More about that trip soon on 8bar-bikes.com.
The Grinduro series made its debut in Quincy, California in 2015 and was an instant success. For 2019, the organizers have expanded their repertoire with additional editions in Canada and Japan.
start fee 165€
participants 254 from 11 nations
All pics by Joshua Meissner.