Main photo and race photos by Colin Meagher.
Which type of rider has the best combination of fitness, bike handling, and racing strategy—roadies, cyclocross, XC, or DH racers—and which kind of bike is fastest over mixed terrain? It’s an old debate that’s never been as salient as it is now. Grinduro’s combination of the enduro race format and the mixed terrain on its timed segments might have produced an answer to this question.
Consisting of four timed stages totaling roughly 40-50 minutes of timed racing stitched together by 46 miles of transfers ridden between stages, Grinduro’s grand total of 63 miles and 8200 feet of climbing (starting at 3500 feet of elevation) are a real test of both rider and machine. Here’s the breakdown: Stage 1 is a 1.2-mile gravel hill climb, Stage 2 is a 6.4-mile rocky gravel road descent, Stage 3 is a 6-mile rolling paved road (drafting legal) time trial that brings road racing tactics into play, and Stage 4 is a 3.3-mile rough singletrack descent. Keeping in mind that no one bike is perfect for all four stages and you end up with a race that anyone could potentially win. Add in a lot of partying, live music, art, camping, and custom bikes on display and you get an incredibly fun event to be a part of whether you are there to win or not. It all went down October 7th in Quincy, CA where Grinduro was in its third year. (To get a better feel for what this event is all about, SRAM produced a podcast about the event that is available to listen to here.)
Firmly in the serious competitor category, but a guy who definitely knows how to have fun, stands retired World Cup Downhill Mountain Biking pro, Duncan Riffle. The Santa Barbara, CA native took the win at Grinduro for the second year in a row, but the competition couldn’t have been tighter this year. After totaling the elapsed time on all four stages, Riffle had spent a total of 40 minutes and 22.6 seconds racing between the timing gates—the exact same time down to the tenth of a second as one of his chief rivals, Carl Decker. As improbable as anyone would have expected in a race this long, it ended in a tie with two first-place finishers.
Riffle had a very narrow 1.4-second lead at the end of stage 3, meaning the race would come down to stage 4—a steep, rough singletrack descent. Decker, on a rigid 29er, had the technological advantage on this terrain, but that technology was no match for Riffle’s descending prowess on a rigid Santa Cruz Stigmata cross bike with drop bars and 700x40c tires. Riffle proved as much last year on the same stage by scoring the fastest time of the day on the same bike setup. But Riffle’s laser focus on a risky, high stakes creek crossing (that he had planned to jump) at the end of the stage would prove to be his undoing. Thinking about the jump as he entered the final turn before the creek, Riffle and his bike hit the deck, hard, and both were enveloped in a cloud of dust. The Stigmata’s handlebars and hoods were knocked out of place and Riffle’s left elbow was torn open. Unable to operate the brakes with the hoods turned inward, he quickly wrestled them back into place as his lead on the stage would be caught by Decker. After a frantic run across the creek and a quick remount, Riffle sprinted to the finish 100 yards away where, you guessed it, he finished 1.4 seconds slower on the stage than Carl Decker.
Riffle and Decker were both awarded first place medals and commemorative ceramic Grinduro jugs. In addition to these awards, Riffle took home a pair of custom painted gold Giro Empire VR90 shoes, his custom gold-painted Santa Cruz Stigmata, and 10 stitches holding together the skin on his elbow.
See below for a detailed look at Duncan Riffle’s winning race bike. All photos below by Jordan Clark Howard.
Shifters/Brakes: SRAM RED® HRD levers with front shifter removed
Rear derailleur: SRAM Force 1 long cage
Cassette: SRAM XX1 XG-1199 10-42t
Chainring: Force 1 X-SYNC™ 44t
Seatpost: Zipp SL Speed
Saddle: Fizik Arione
Handlebar: Zipp Service Course SL-80 46cm
Wheels: SRAM Rise 60
Tires: Clement MSO 700x40c
Frameset: Santa Cruz Stigmata 58cm