Held on October 17, 2020, a layer of snow added to the racers’ challenge at the 2nd Red Granite Grinder cycling event. Riders began the race in downtown Wausau early in the morning with the season’s first snowfall blanketing the course. Courses were already designed to test riders’ limits and many riders were forced to end the day short of the finish line.
All photos in this article by Cheryl Hall. Article and photo reprinted with permission from Ironbull.
Riders in the Red Granite Grinder had the choice of racing courses with varying degrees of difficulty. A 12-mile recreational ride was family-focused with the entire route taking place in downtown Wausau. The rest of the riders left downtown Wausau with a police escort at dawn competing in either the 50, 85, or 140-mile routes.
Race director and course designer Shane Hitz logged 1200 miles designing the race’s courses. Hitz masterfully led riders to iconic hills such as Rib Mountain State Park and Billy Goat Hill and wove in off-the-beaten-path gems including Edgar’s Scotch Creek Preserve and privately-owned Managed Forest Lands. Several of the trails featured in these sections were opened to cyclists for the first time.
“Nine Mile Recreation Area and the Wausau School Forest was super fun,” said Allan Schmitt. Schmitt covered the 50-mile course in just over six hours.
For some, the challenge proved to be insurmountable. Only 2/3 of the racers that started the 140-mile route finished the route before the finish line cutoff. Two riders continued on after the cut off – spending dawn to dusk on their bikes.
“I never really contemplated dropping out … it was more about mustering the determination to complete the race, no matter the setbacks,” said Mark Badger. Badger was the last person to complete the 140-mile route, but missed the official finish line cutoff after 12 hours out on the course.
“I’ve been racing for 20 years, and today’s race was the single hardest event I’ve ever done,” said 2nd place 140-mile finisher, Dan Teaters. Teaters was plastered in mud by the finish, collapsing exhausted at the finish line.
IRONBULL Red Granite Grinder 2020 Results – Full results and pictures
140-mile: Vince Dinkel 9:09:50
85-mile male: Kyle Demerath 4:57:30
85-mile female: Chloe Thomas 6:17:54
50-mile male: Andrew Arends 3:12:27
50-mile female: Jodi Oettinger 3:57:25
2021 Red Granite Grinder
We held the event in 2020, so we expect to be able to hold the event in 2021. If COVID continues to significantly impact events, we will offer a deferral option in August 2021. For those that raced, the general consensus was that it was still a great event (despite the weather) with the overall experience rating 4.4 out of 5.0 based on the post-event anonymous survey.
If COVID limits events to a maximum of 50 people on DNR properties, we will cap the 144-mile race to 44 people. Only the 144-mile route would include Rib Mountain State Park.