Up North: Mountain bikers battle muddy conditions in 5th Giants Ridge GRIND

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: August 19, 2020 11:02 PM

The daily grind can get tedious but the GRIND mountain bike race at Giants Ridge is anything but that. Cyclists are tasked with tackling miles of challenging trails and terrain.

"The rugged scenery of northern Minnesota, then the terrain in general makes it hard. Especially the long course, it's an incredible amount of climbing, over 4,000 vertical feet of climbing in 35 miles, it's a very challenging race," said Benji Neff, the director of mountain sports at Giants Ridge.

That wasn't the only tough aspect of this year's GRIND. In Biwabik Giants Ridge rain gauges collected over 2.5 inches of rain over 24 hours last weekend. The trails, however, weathered the storm ahead of their 19 mile short GRIND and 36 mile long GRIND on Saturday.

Ahead of the 9am start time Neff and race volunteers checked the trails.

"We all broke down the course up into sections and we went out and checked every inch of the whole course," said Neff. "We had to do a small reroute in one area, but we wanted to make sure that the course was ready for all the participants."

Their hard work, and a competitor pool of about 130 riders, proved a little mud is no match for determined mountain bikers. 

"Some places there were very big mud puddles that completely slowed you down, but other than that you just got a little muddy," said Preston Kohl, a short GRIND competitor.

"I started to try to go around the puddles but then I ended up just like blasting right through them because right towards the end I tried to go around a puddle and I hit the side of it and then fell," said short GRIND racer Elizabeth Yray.

Staggered starts every three minutes with 10 riders for social distancing meant a steady flow of racers were crossing the finish line. 

"It was a fun bike ride out there and tiring," said Kohl.

GRIND stand for Giants Ridge Iron N Dirt, tough competition and fun.

"It's like more fun when it's muddy," said Yray.


Alicia Tipcke

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