What happens at Grinduro, stays at Grinduro.
The Machynlleth dust may have finally settled on this years Grinduro Wales. But the spirit of that weekend, the friendships made, the vistas burned into the retinas, the banter about the racing over a beer around the campfire... Well that all feels like memories that will last a lifetime.
So we caught up with friend of Stohk, and founder of Wild Cycles, Jonathan Heard, to hear some of his stories that are lingering in the memory banks.
Jon is pretty sweet with the camera as well, so when he popped over to say hi over a beer on the Friday evening, we also sent him off into the purple party with an old school disposable camera to capture some grainy analogue good vibes.
Stohk >> Could you introduce yourself? Tell us a little about Wild Cycles and how you got into gravel / adventure riding?
I'm Jonathan, one of the two Jon's behind Wild Cycles, a cycling adventure company based just north of London in the beautiful Chilterns. I've really always been attracted to the exploration side of cycling. It's a means of transport that allows you to find new places, new roads and new experiences under your own steam. It's the independence that it affords you, and the freedom that you can find while out on the trails or roads that is what is so special about cycling. Whether it's a new bridleway in your local area that you've never explored or venturing further to more exotic locations - the feeling of pedalling through these places is always magical.
Niiice! What had you so amped about the opportunity to ride the Mach trails with Grinduro?
JH >> Having discovered adventure riding quite recently, I was stoked to be riding with others who share the same passion. The trails in Machylleneth are legendary and I was keen to experience them without a fully loaded bike - having ridden through on my GB divide journey a year prior to the event. It was a strange but epic feeling, flying around the course on an unburdened bike.
I think the stoke levels were pretty maxed for everyone! Were you riding solo or with a team or buddies?
I'd managed to convince a friend from Brighton to join who had gotten into cycling very recently. Together, we'd built up a 26" retro gravel bike for the South Downs way a month prior to Grinduro. It was refreshing to be cruising with a pal and to be able to share the experience with someone completely new to the cycling scene. There was absolutely no tyre talk, pre-ride faff and bike chat - purely because he had no idea about any of it! We can get so bogged down with all of the frills of cycling and forget about the beauty in its simplicity. Just ride and have fun!
No pre-ride faff! Love that! What were you riding? Happy with your set up for the course?
JH >> I rode a Rondo Ruut gravel bike and was absolutely jealous of all of the jammy gits riding around on their MTB's. But it did surprise me and I made it around unscathed - it's a well built solid bike that can take a knock.
You smashed it champ! How did it live up to the reputation? Tell us a few standout moments for you?
JH >> Arriving at the fest, I had that butterfly moment for the first time in a year - just seeing people camping out in a field together brought back memories of Glastonbury and I'll not forget that. The anticipation was real, and the trails definitely did deliver the goods. Miles and miles of gravel fire roads (real gravel) and super fun singletrack brought endless smiles to my face.
Soooo much vitamin G right?! Grinduro is all about the perfect party to race ratio. Any stories you’re allowed to share from the party side of that equation?
JH >> What happens at Grinduro, stays at Grinduro.
Ha! Until next time!! So the shirt, we have to ask about that shirt! Is this you leading out an alternative path of gravel functional apparel? When will you be releasing the autumn/winter range?!
JH >> Functional cycling workwear - I think this could be the future of anti big brand cycling apparel. My bud Lu found this in a vintage clothes shop in Brighton for a fiver (although I can't disclose which one as it's an industry secret). It was the perfect garment for such an occasion - with a handy camera and snack storage roo pocket.
That roo pocket was pretty rad! Tent or camper?
JH >> The VW caddy provided the perfect spot to kip for the night - although it wasn't glamorous - we didn't really need anything more as we were having such a good time.
Any tips or look outs for anyone planning to ride Grinduro next year?
JH >> Don't plan anything. Just bring your bike, leave your worries behind and be ready to have a flippin' epic time.
Cheers to that! What’s next on the bucket list of places to ride, or anything big we should watch out for from the Wild Cycles team?
JH >> We're going to be riding the West Kernow Way soon and are super stoked to explore Cornwall's hidden cycle paths. We'll be adding this to our roster of adventures next year, with the usual Wild Cycles set-up, local food and good vibes provided.
One of our founders Aled has just got back from riding the WKW. We'll have a write up on that here soon.
We like a few tongue in cheek rules over here at Stohk, #rulesofstohk...do you have any fun rules or superstitions that you can share with us? Any routines pre or post ride? Or any rituals or things you treat yourself to after a ride?
JH >> Go get lost #getlost !! We're huge advocates for just hopping on a bike and going, sometimes it's just what you need and we'll often set off without a pre mapped route - just to get lost. Let yourself be surprised and often amazed.
That sheep was certainly looking at us like we were lost! Will we see you at Grinduro next year?
JH >> You certainly will!
Already working on your outfit?
JH >> We've set the bar high - so will be holding a meeting soon to discuss options.
Cheers Jon. Go you good thing!
Head on over to www.wildcycles.co.uk (and give them a follow here https://www.instagram.com/wildcyclesuk/) for your next adventure needs, the guys there will have you smiling from ear to ear and leave you with soooo many good campfire stories.
See you out there.
Best enjoyed after a while sitting near a