Ever since Janna rode the Chino Grinder in May of 2017, I've been wanting to do the event. We've ridden part of the course on our own during May of 2020, but this was its first event since COVID. Without consideration for the fact that we raced a 100 mile singletrack mountain bike the previous weekend, we signed up for this one too. Both Janna and I were exhausted heading in.
We woke up early and drove to Chino Valley, parked, and joined the large number of riders gathering for the day. It was slightly overcast overhead, which proved excellent for heat, but also carried the threat of peanut butter roads all day. It was smooth sailing for the first mile or so before I saw a guy fixing a flat and needing help. I pulled off and helped him change his tire. Then, I raced to catch back up with Janna in my original position. As we careened down to our first SAG, I came around the corner and saw a guy who had crashed head first into the side of the road, smashing in his helmet. I jumped off my bike as people pulled over to avoid adding to the collision. Given my WFR recertification just a month ago, I put it to use for a possible backcountry spinal injury.
The guy wanted to continue racing, but the nature of his crash, his smashed helmet, and large head lacerations led me to suggest otherwise to him. We were able to flag down a SAG/medical volunteer who took him off the route. Janna and I pushed on, now taking a leisurely pace because we knew we were at the back with our multiple stops. We hit up the Verde River on Perkinsville Road where our next SAG station was. We hung out, talked to the volunteers, and then rode onwards to the last SAG which was also our turn around point. I rode an extra few miles up the road to make sure I got an even 60 miles (the route proper was a few miles short).
We hustled back on the route, determined to avoid getting passed by the 110 mile racers where were soon to pass us. We cranked uphill, gaining spots in the race as we passed others. Near the top of the Perkinsville Road climb, the three riders in first place came roaring past us on the 110 mile route. They were cranking insane speed on that hill. Once on top ourselves, we cranked out some speed and rolled back into the finish line.