WAUSAU –IRONBULL’s Red Granite Grinder bike race started in 2019 and has already nearly tripled in participants. The event offers 12, 50, 85, and 144 mile route options for all ability levels. Racers start and end on the 400 Block in downtown Wausau with some riders going into Lincoln County. This year’s race has drawn racers from ten states. Women comprise a quarter of the field which is double to triple of many gravel bike events. This is up from 15% in 2019 and 20% in 2020.
“Word has gotten out for this epic race featuring Rib Mountain State Park, private lands, and several local trail systems,” said Shane Hitz, race director and course designer.
“This course throws it all at the rider,” said David Hill. “The Wausau area has some great gravel to ride with challenging terrain. Big climbs, fast gravel, challenging ATV trails, and of course, Rib Mountain with its hike-a-bike section.” Hill travels throughout the country each year to several gravel races.
“The inaugural IRONBULL Red Granite Gravel Grinder immediately resonated with me as a solid challenge, but doable with effort and perseverance,” said Kelly O’Day, 2019 and 2020 finisher.
Aside from the epic gravel riding in Wausau, racers enjoy plenty of pre- and post-ride off bike activities. Hill and his wife especially like spending the weekend in the Wausau area partaking in hikes at area parks and stops at local breweries.
This event has “featured sections” which include areas not normally ridden by bikers such as Rib Mountain State Park. This is the only day of the year bikers are allowed on trails at Rib Mountain State Park and is a draw for many riders.
“Climbing Rib Mountain brings mixed feelings,” said O’Day. “It definitely adds to the sense of accomplishment and is fun bombing down, but increases the total effort expended through the day.”
Despite the hilly course, many first-time gravel riders participate in the event. In 2020, 45% of riders had never done a gravel bike race outside of this event. Not only does the course challenge riders, but in 2020 the snowy conditions added an additional test. But that shouldn’t be the case this year, which may have the event’s warmest temperatures yet plus peak fall colors. With the ideal biking weather, course records are expected. The 12 mile recreational ride showcases downtown Wausau’s bike amenities and is free for all children.
The IRONBULL Red Granite Grinder will be held on October 16, 2021. All routes begin and end on the 400 Block in downtown Wausau in order to draw more attention to the biking community. Spectators are encouraged to send off riders and welcome them back, with a finish line festival including live music from Lila Bomber Band from 3 pm to 5 pm open to the public. More details at: https://www.ironbull.org/red-granite-grinder-details
We are happy to accommodate interviews and updates throughout the event. Contact us at [email protected]org or 715-574-4440.
IRONBULL is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that promotes outdoor adventure sports in Central Wisconsin. IRONBULL aims to drive economic development, benefit community organizations, and attract and retain a talented work force through the production of high quality races and events that promote healthy living in our community.
High resolution or more pictures may be provided upon request.
All kids ride the 12 mile route for free. Photo credit: QCWilly Photography
Routes feature several hills including Billy Goat Hill in Maine. Photo credit: QCWilly Photography
Left: Several featured sections on the course take riders to places normally not open to bikes, including Rib Mountain State Park. Photo credit: Gary Barden Photography
The 2020 edition of the Red Granite Grinder especially challenged riders with snowy conditions. Photo credit: QCWilly Photography