Photography by Jake Stangel
Next year, when you go to Grinduro, what bike are you taking?
Think about it, you’ve got about a year to decide.
Then, when you are lying there in your tent, freezing your ass off and not wanting to get out from under the protective extra layer of clothing — think about it again. Listen to the sounds of your peers. Aren’t they all better at getting up in the morning for these things than you? It seems like they don’t even notice the cold. Don’t go out there. Not even to pee. It’s too cold.
When you get up hurry and grab a breakfast burrito and get your shit together. Not literally though, you should have done that a while ago. The toilets, they’re stuffed to the gills by now. No problems there, the ride is already rolling out. If you're lucky someone will accidentally kick your coffee straight over, it will go skittering across the parking lot to remind you that you do not deserve these creature comforts, they are not for you. “I’m sorry!” she will say as she leaves you standing there looking at an empty cup. A camp cup that now has some distinctive markings on it. Scratches, pavement scratches. “But you’re not ready anyway" she also adds.
Keep your eyes on the prize, as they say, when the ride is ready to roll off. Remember, it’s not a race. Not for you. Maybe for some, but not for you. You’re too worried about whether or not you got everything that was on your list. That you brought the extra tubes and the pump and the snacks (because you effectively missed breakfast, snacks are going to be important.)
Wait, you’re not a morning person are you? Oh you are? Then, you’ve probably got all this dialed. Right down to the pooping. No need to worry about you. You’re so on it.
When you’ll really start to question yourself is when you exit the fairgrounds and make the right hand turn onto the access road. The one that runs right in front of those big piles of timber. That is when you’ll think to yourself that none of this makes sense. The cold. The short shorts. They definitely do not go together and even though you read that one blog about how it’s going to get real warm later in the day, after the first climb even, this is the time when it won’t make sense. When your fingers are too cold to even shift. Just keep going.
You’ll get to a hill climb section soon. This is timed, so give it your all. Even if you haven’t been able to use to the bathroom. That doesn’t matter, you can poop when you’re dead. For now, just climb like your life depends on it. Also, because it will be over more quickly this way.
After this first climb, things should start to normalize. You’ll be warm and everyone will be smiling and laughing. There might even be some of those new Nut Butter Filled Cliff Bars if you are lucky. Breakfast doesn’t even matter at this point. Fun has taken over. And the light! Did you see the light coming through the trees back there? You almost forgot about how cold you are. But that is all in the past and now the fun has really started to take hold. You’ll know when it happens.
At some point you might look over and see some professional cyclists in your group. Or former professional cyclists. They may have even grown out their Grinduro mustache for the weekend. Do not be goaded into feats of strength with these characters. You will lose. However, marvel at them if you do spot them in the woods. Their mere appearance are significant in all this. They mean that you have come to the right place. That you’re on the right track. Certainly there will be a number of them that will be way up and off the front. You won’t see them until the very end when you’re sitting around staring at your chalky, dust covered legs and they are running around like a bunch of 15 year olds. They’re like that — ageless.
It will go fast, time flies as they say, so try and pay attention to what is going on around you. Don’t eat too much at the food stops. Unless you want to. Don’t drink too much the night before, unless you’re having a really good time. And remember not to get caught up in all that other stuff up there on course. Make sure to look around. Smell the redwoods. That's redwoods smell right? Before you know it, you'll rolling back towards home. That last little bit of pavement, the very same ones with the piles of logs off to the side, that's when everything that was a pain, or was painful, will melt away and your little brain will kick into overdrive and begin your plotting for next year.
Just make sure you bring the right bike.