sunday was the grinduro at the madarao ski resort
it was a chance to ride with 3 years consecutive japan national CX champion Kohei san!
an offroad event
gravel, single track, mud, grass and sand!
two stages AM & PM
two timed segments SS1 & SS2
the fastest combined segment SS1 + SS2 time is the winner
for team imeZi
Kakeru kun, Ito chan and Andy
we do rides like this every weekend
so if we ride like always
we should be able to get a result
before a road race or hill climb
it’s nervous energy before the start
no pinning on numbers
no warming up
no lining up bikes for a gravel race either
you can start out easy
☆STAGE 1 START
after a steep climb
it’s mostly descending on gravel and single track to iiyama city
some of the single track is steep and slippery
a few riders crash
reopen the stitches from 2 weeks ago!
the doctor will be angry if I go back again!
luckily it’s just superficial damage!
borrow a hose
the usual drill
iiyama is a beautiful city
the first segment is an amazing ride around iiyama castle
the castle gate is the starting point for a 1km individual TT
over a few bumps
into the carpark
head down, bum forward
I’m going to crush this!
but then we enter the castle grounds…
a series of 90 degree bends
I can’t see far enough ahead
how I wish I’d done a “walk through” reconnaissance!
there are steep climbs too
off the bike for steps
medieval castle steps!
up and down!
this kind of stop and go is my weakness
but it’s CX top category Kakeru kun’s strength!
first place in SS1!
☆MY RESULT: 5th
from iiyama it’s a 10km gravel climb back to the start area
not too steep
if this was a segment, I could do a good time here
instead it is zone 3 all the way
150 HR / 80rpm
keeping something for SS2
a quick feed, change of clothes, bike clean
and it’s stage 2!
this time it’s up and down
gravel and single track
towards lake nojiri
the race has several time cut check points
we are worried we might miss the cut
so we push harder on stage 2
the long descent to lake nojiri
some big rocks
if I puncture it will be here…
by the lakeside
the usual sealant and mud cocktail!
the sealant plugs it quickly
but with more gravel to come
I decide to plug it
the whole process takes 1 or 2 minutes
we make the last checkpoint with time to spare
another long climb back to base
steeper this time
as a segment, this would be a good climb for me
at the end comes the death climb
20% wet sand!
on any section that is easier to walk
I need to keep something for the last secret segment
SS2 is a secret
before our eyes
the steepest sand section of the death climb
I ask the guy “how long is it?”
some guys are running it
I decide to ride it as far as I can
the sand kicks up steep
I unclip but manage to keep momentum
push and push till I can no more
then it’s time to run
push the bike to the peak
jump on and pedal for the goal!
but where’s the goal???
the trail drops into the forest
the “400m” was the climb only
the full segment will be 4km!
it has everything!
first single track in the forest
rolling up and down
this is my chance to make a difference
a last chance power drive!
thinking it was just a climb
I put my glasses in my pocket at the start
a flie in my right eye
sand in my left eye
a ski field
no chance to take hands off bars!
like rapid changes in levels on a video game
I have no idea what is coming next!
I have no idea when this is going to end!
finally onto tarmac!
but this ain’t the goal!
there’s a mini hillclimb to finish!
what a segment!
it doesn’t suit me at all
but at the end of a brutal day
it’s last man standing stuff!
☆RESULT: SS2 1st place in age, 2nd overall
will that be enough to win it?
onsen and a thimble of beer as we wait…
Really happy with the win!
thank you to team imezi
and thank you to grinduro staff
it really was the best event I’ve ever ridden
the next grinduro is november
watch this space!