I first read about the Grinduro last year while reading all time adventure trenders the Radavist.com, a 60+ mile gravel stage race with mostly social riding and mixed with 4 furious timed stages. A swirling frenzy of bikes, beer, sun, gravel and good times, my attention was caught but due to reality (money and location) the feasibility of actually ever entering were between slim to day dream.
Fast forward to the end of March and out of the blue Grinduro announced that they would be holding a round on the Isle of Arran in 2017. This was it, my day dreams were answered. Friends were rallied, tickets were bought and either boldly or stupidly the single speed category was selected.
For better or worse I have often been a preacher the best bicycle is the bicycle you enjoy riding the most so here is my Surly Steamroller Fixed Gear Grinduro setup.
The Surly Steamroller has a bit of a cult following and from the first time I swung a leg over it was pretty clear why. The frameset seems to hold a certain shred-ability quality on what ever surface you are riding, a hard to describe energy that flows through you and tells you to get cranking. I had to have one and after some searching this one is now mine. Bought 2nd hand this frame has a beater quality about it but it should just be seen as personality.
Drive duties are handled by SRAM Omniums, a standard choice for anybody looking for a track crank and to be part of that true rounder #144bcdmasterrace. I am running 48×19 which I hope will be tolerable for all but the steepest inclines but still allow for some top bombing without exploding my knees. A couple of proof of concept rides have yielded positive results with minimal moaning or unnecessary sweating. Shimano XT Trail pedals will hopefully give me a little more chance to clip back in quickly if things get too radical.
To follow the beater theme I’m running an old Velocity V front and Open Pro rear rim laced to BLB track hubs which I already had lying around. Old bearings were banged out and new ones put in and have held up well so far. Tyres are 35c Panaracer Gravel King SK’s which provide smooth and comfortable rolling plus impressive and predictable grip in anything but greasy or sloppy mud.
Finishing kit consists of a classy mix of Thomson 4X stem and a seized layback post. Luckily the previous owner was a very similar height as me. Handlebars are Bontrager flat carbon jumble sale finds and I will be sitting on a tatty Fizik Saddle. #brakesaredeath however riding brakeless off-road is madness so I have a Tektro road caliper to give some indication of stopping and to collect all the mud.
I could have chosen gears, I could have concentrated on finishing my Pompetamine Cross Monster build* and had a bike that would actually be really suited to the Grinduro. But I was already in a fully committed love affair with my Surly and racing on another bike would just be a wasted day that I wasn’t riding the Steamroller. Will I regret this? Most likely, when I am gasing on the climbs or ruined with arm pump on the descents there will be under the breath curses as people cruise past but knowing that I crushed that last section of singletrack or that my skids are true and pure it will be hard to understand why everyone else burdens themselves with complicated superlative bike gizmos. At least that is what I am telling myself right now
Dont call this allroad or a gravel bike, an adventure bike or a CX bike. It is all these things and less. In what will be a field of sculpted carbon, precision disk brakes and confusingly ugly Lauf forks it is unapologetically happy go lucky, free of expectations, practicality and industry hype.
It will prove that you do not have to come first in a race to feel that you have won…..although you do have to finish.
MAKE FIXED GEAR GREAT AGAIN
*More on this slow burner build another day.