1,000+ riders and 2,000 spectators expected for two-day event
Granite Bay, Calif. – More than 1,000 high school and middle school mountain bike riders from Northern California – including hundreds from the Placer Valley, El Dorado Hills-Folsom and Gold Rush regions – will compete in the annual Granite Bay Grinder this weekend (April 1-2) at the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area.
The fast-growing – and fast-moving – race returns after being put on hold the past three years because of the COVID pandemic.
Middle school riders will compete 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, with high school races from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday. About 100 high schools’ and 15 middle schools’ co-ed teams will compete in the Granite Bay Grinder. Boys and girls compete separately, and most riders will race against others in their respective grades, though high schools also have junior varsity and varsity teams featuring the best riders regardless of their grade.
“It’s amazing kids doing amazing things, it’s very inspiring. It’s a family-friendly event and a lot of fun.”Vanessa Hauswald, Executive Director NorCal Interscholastic Cycling League.
The NorCal Interscholastic Cycling League and Placer Valley Tourism partner on the race that could have more than 3,200 people – from racers and spectators to volunteers – over the two days. The Granite Bay Grinder helps boosts business at hotels, restaurants and stores, and sales-tax revenue for the region.
“It’s an incredible race that generates a lot of excitement and support in the community.” “We’re glad to have it back.”Kim Summers, CEO of Placer Valley Tourism.
“Among best courses”
Mountain bike races may have been on hold during COVID, but the sport has continued to grow in recent years. More than 9 million people are active mountain bike riders nationwide, about a 25% increase compared to a decade ago – and many of those new riders are tweens and teens, according to multiple reports.
“It’s a really intense, heavy-duty sport,” said Mark Ferry, Executive Director of Cycling Development in Folsom. The nonprofit, all-volunteer coach organization has 10 teams – from Placerville to Rocklin, including Folsom and Vista Del Lago high schools in Folsom and Whitney High in Rocklin – that will compete in the Granite Bay Grinder. “These kids are in insanely good shape.”
Indeed, many high school teams train at least eight hours per week and the top riders put in a lot more time, Ferry said. The mountain bike season starts in January and runs through May, with most athletes focused solely on the sport.
“It’s a very adventurous, unique sport – and it’s an individual and team sport,” Hauswald said. “We have no bench, no tryouts and no cuts.”
So, racers compete as much against themselves as other riders. Riders will race in a series of waves on the 3-mile course for middle school athletes and the 6-mile course for high school riders. (A “grinder” is a steep climb in mountain biking.)
The Granite Bay Grinder is among the best courses of NorCal Interscholastic Cycling League’s 10-race season, thanks to the challenging terrain and the soil composition, Hauswald said.
“It’s a great course that holds up very well” to rain, said Ferry, whose teams train outside regardless of the weather.
The Granite Bay Grinder is free for spectators. However, there is a $12 per vehicle fee to enter the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. A food truck and merchandise booths will be available during the two-day event.
“It’s really cool and people will enjoy watching,” Ferry said. “There is just so much camaraderie and team spirit.”
About Placer Valley Tourism
Placer Valley Tourism is a Business Improvement District that serves South Placer County and the cities of Roseville, Rocklin and Lincoln. The BID operates to help generate incremental room night stays in hotels within Placer Valley Tourism’s geographic footprint through various conferences and youth and amateur sports events. PVT aims to coordinate community and sports events with the best hospitality options in the region. Placer Valley Tourism is a nonprofit and classified as a 501(c)6. For more information, please visit https://www.placertourism.com/.