The Red Granite Grinider recently took place with a full weekend of gravel events in Wausau, Wisconsin. Beautiful fall colors, private property segments, and gravel community all came together for a great weekend. Here Seeley Dave shares the Northwoods Ramble Podcast Ep. 9 with interviews recorded right from the Red Granite Grinder alongside a few other northwoods updates.
Words, photos, & podcast by Dave Schablwske from Life Above Eight.
And just like that the midwest gravel race season is over and let the fat bike races begin! My gravel season began early in May with the Hungry Bear in Cable, and it ended in October with my first Ironbull Red Granite Grinder in Wausau. See some of my photos from the 144 mile race and check out the post-race interviews I recorded for the Northwoods Ramble Episode 9 below. I really enjoyed seeing the Red Granite Grinder and might sign up for the 89-mile route next year.
The race has 12, 50, 85 and 144 mile options. The longer courses include a nice mix of pavement, gravel, two-track, and even a little single track. The race starts in downtown Wausau with a police lead out where the 144 and 85-mile racers then grind 800 feet up Rib Mountain and white knuckle (or hike-a-bike) a technical downhill. That monster climb really separates the wheat from the chaff. The 50-mile course is more pavement than gravel, but does include a section that goes through a corn maze!
The courses seem to change a bit each year, and this time the long routes went through some private land that you can only ride during this race and on narrow land bridges between some beautiful minnow ponds. In keeping with the typical gravel race ethos, riders are responsible for any mechanicals, but the race does include some aid stations, and even a drop bag locations on the two longer courses. The aid stations were manned by local volunteers who brought a little something special to each rest stop. There were even grilled cheese sandwiches at one aid station!
Wausau’s famed Redeye Brewing taps a special One Lap Pony keg of their yummy craft beer for the event. There was live music at the finish and something I have never seen at a race before: an automated bicycle chain wash and was machine, The Vonbuckinator! There is a video of the machine in action in the podcast below at around 25 minutes 30 seconds.
Something else that made the Red Granite Grinder unique was the option to sign up for two free women’s clinics the Friday before the race. The clinics were run by ultra specialist Laura Weismann-Hrubes, who races for Broken Spoke but and also works for Embark Maple Energy, made in Viroqua where she lives.
It rained most of the day Friday, which resulted in a number of women who signed up as no-shows, but those who were there seemed to get a lot out of the clinics.
The 2024 gravel event calendar on The Nxrth is already filling in, and the fat bike calendar is full of fun winter races. Josh also added a couple cool new pages to The Nxrth with the global Winter Fat Bike Ultra page and the Fat Bike Trails map page that shows locations for all the groomed fat bike trailheads in the midwest.
Although is is another rainy fall day as I write this post here in Seeley, I am enjoying the fact our precipitation remains in liquid form as we move look forward to Halloween. I’m pretty happy to still have fall colors in the trees and wet, butlau unfrozen gravel forest roads to ride. Winter can wait a bit yet this year!
Also in this episode, I catch up with Ben Welnak at his cool Seeley Oaks A-frame Airbnb about this year’s Acorn Mast, deer hunting, and fishing Slab Crappies on Moose Lake with Drew from the Sawmill and recants a tall tale or two about wolves. The intro and hyperborean update on Life Above 8 is recorded in his ‘Merica garage for a change of pace.