Leaving the Nebraska farm, I had few expectations of Grinduro and my new Speedvagen rugged road. I'd seen pictures from previous events, I'd ridden another Speedvagen, so how much better could it get? I learned a few tricks for anyone thinking about going next year. (P.S. You definitely should)
1. Northern California is amazing. I'm lucky enough to have been to Arran as well (not for Grinduro) and Quincy was just as scenic. Seriously, parts of the roads looked straight out of Lord of the Rings. The trees were huge, the vistas were scenic, and there were great things to look at around every turn. It's a limited cell service level of remote, and totally worth not being able to upload to instagram.
2. In addition to the big trees, there were big pine cones. You wouldn't think this is remarkable enough to make a top five list, but they were HUGE. I thought I knew a lot about trees, but damn. I took one home, and its rad. Go to Grinduro for the pine cones.
3. In what is likely the harshest burn I've ever received, my wife ridiculed me (correctly) about not being able to turn my handlebars past 10 degrees. Even on a sweet new custom steel racing machine, that's basically true. I was acceptably close on the uphill and flat segments (even the TTT one that I solo'd), but did really bad on the descents. I mean, BAD. Given that 2 of the 4 segments were downhill and I can't turn, I considered it a success that I kept it upright.
4. Like most time trialists, I don't really care for anything other than riding fast over a given course. If someone puts a rock in the middle of the course, I'm trying not to crash, and slightly annoyed. Spoiler alert, MTB courses have a lot of rocks. Some on the side of the trail, some in the middle of the trail, and sometimes the whole trail is rocks. As someone who doesn't get along well with rocks, I find MTB super hard. *mumble positively about the view* MTB is hard, but the climbing makes up for it.
5. In one sense, I didn't properly focus on enjoying Grinduro. Along the course I took approximately 2 pictures, had 0 shots of jameson, 2 SIS gels, and 1 beer. In another sense, my goals were to enjoy the view, get a good training ride in (World Cups are almost here!) and not crash, of which I did all 3. Fortunately, the gravel community is awesome, and no one cared how I decided to do the race! I met a lot of amazing cyclists, saw lots of cool bikes, and drank at least some whiskey (after the ride, of course). It was a great event, and I look forward to attending year!