Arizona’s Original Gravel Grinder: The 1921 Tucson-Phoenix Bicycle Race

Arizona Rebublic Headline: Tucson-Phoenix Bicycle Race ‘To Be Real Try-Out The Tucson to Phoenix bicycle race to be held May 1, 1921.

The Tucson-Phoenix Bicycle Race was held on hilly roads of the old Borderland Highway over a course of 140 miles and was claimed, at the time, the longest bicycle road race in the US. This event was considered to be the most grueling trial for bike riders ever staged and was strictly an amateur event. The Phoenix Bicycle club staged the race and business men of Phoenix, Tucson and the cities through which the race passed donated merchandise to be given to the winner and runner up. Hube

The rules were as follows:

– No outside mechanical help or support but riders could assist each other.
– All riders must check in at Florence for one hour’s rest, repairs can not be made at Florence during that time.
– Pacing, riding or Hanging on passing vehicles will not be permitted, riders can pace each other.

Sixteen riders started in Tucson at daybreak from the corner of Congress Street and Stone Avenue. The riders proceeded directly to Florence using the old Borderland Highway, a washboard gravel path, which partially followed what is now State Route 79 north to Florence. Each rider carried a large canteen and they needed it as the temperature soared into the 90’s. Hubert Yates took the lead from the start and set a grueling pace; dropping many riders before the halfway point in Florence.

Yates was the first into Florence with a time of 3 hours, 54 minutes and 20 seconds. After the mandatory hour break he took off where the route merged with the Superior highway then turning off to the Gilbert and Chandler road and down the rough grade into Mesa and finally along the pavement through Tempe into Phoenix finishing in front of the Arizona Republic office. Not a single accident occurred during the entire race, the riders dropping out because of the pace set by the leaders and not from accident. Automobile and motorcycle patrol kept in touch with the riders along the route, ready to render assistance if needed. The autos picked up the riders who dropped out and transported them Into Phoenix.

Hubert Yates easily won the event with a time of 8:50:45, including the mandatory hour stop in Florence. On a single speed road bike! Only two other riders finished the entire course, Rorex and Lyall more than an hour behind. All three were riding Iver Johnson Trus Bridge Racers. Pre-race favorite Warren Stone went out of the race 15 miles from Florence and local cycling greats Bill Friend and Stuart Treadwell were eliminated 12 miles from Mesa. Stanley Feuerriegel, also figured as a possible winner, dropped out at Mesa. Yates won $125 in merchandise, James Rorex won $75 in merchandise and Lyall won $50 in merchandise. 1910s_iver_johnson_09

The Arizona Republic reported that “Yates finished strong, showing little evidence of fatigue after the long hard grind.”

Partial start list (missing two riders) with the bike manufacturer:

1. Warren Stone, Iver Johnson
2. Stanley Cronin, Iver Johnson
3. Harry Feuerriegel, Indian
4. Harold Wheeler, Iver Johnson
5. Sid Newman, Indian (14 years old!)
6. Emile Lyall, Iver Johnson
7. William Rosser, Iver Johnson
8. Norman Stoddard, Excelsior
9. Hubert Yates, Iver Johnson
10. Willie Priest, Iver Johnson
11. Jerry Rozine, Indian
12. Stuart Treadwell, Yale
13. Bill Friend, Pierce
14. James Rorex, Iver Johnson

Hubert Yates went on to represent Arizona at the World Bicycle Championships held in New York that same year and won three state championships in the 1920’s. He became a City of Phoenix Firefighter and in 1931 he received the Carnegie Medal of Honor for rescuing a man from the flooded Salt River. The book “From Thunder to Breakfast” by Gene K. Garrison covers the unique life of this Arizona original.

Landis Cyclery circa 1921

Landis Cyclery circa 1921


Landis Cyclery
Phoenix Cycle
J. M. Stewart
King Brothers
Bird Tailoring
White and Wesley
B. F. Goodrich Rubber
Monrad Cycle
The Berryhill Company
Pinney and Robinson
Palace Hardware
Sheldon Jewelry
City Cleaners
Ford-Lew Company
Leon R. Gass
Phoenix Hat
Sanitary Cleaners
Vic Hanny Company
Chocolate Shop
Bear Drug Company
C. and H. Taxi
Talbot and Hubbard,
Funk Jewelry company,
J. C. Penny company,
D. M. Johnson Shoe company.
Ramona Drug company.
Valley Clothing company,
S. Ballsum Clothing company,
Vaughn and O’Conner.
American Cleaners,
Empress Cleaners.
El Paso Store,
Star Clothing company,
L. Rosenzweig.
Mitchell Candy company.
Kimted Drug company.
Arizona Cigar and Lunch

Posted in bikes, Chino Grinder, dropbar mountain bike, gravel, gravel grinder, gravel racing

Preparing for a Gravel Event

This post was written for AZ Gravel Rides by guest blogger Kata Skaggs, a pro mountain biker and cycling coach. We hope you will find these tips useful as you begin training for the May 5th Chino Grinder! 


If you haven’t ventured out yet, do it!  I highly encourage the experience.  Men and women both young and old can participate.  Specifically, the Chino Grinder held in May allows for everybody to find their place.  The course offers 25, 44, 62-mile options.  Most want to conquer the full 115-mile race and the 10K+ of climbing.  It’s a special type of crazy that we all love, admire, and bow down to as they cross the finish line.

AZ Gravel Rides has asked me to prep my thoughts on what it takes to train properly for such an event.   I extend these thoughts to all distances.  No matter how much time you have to train.

  1. Training and its Specificity:  Many of us have ridden a road bike, we may have raced it, we may have raced mountain bikes, we may be familiar with one, both, or none.  This type of riding and racing combines the two.  It takes us to a new level of technical awareness.  It is practically riding a road bike on dirt and this is exactly what it feels like!  I’m a huge believer that we should be training what we will be racing.  Therefore, your training at least once a week should be done on dirt roads with your gravel bike.  No matter what distance you will train for.

I believe that training for a gravel grinder can be accomplished very simply with 3 types of workouts.  Anybody can find success if the following workouts are done each week.  Although not required, I prefer them done back to back in order to accumulate fatigue, then allow the body to recover before starting the next 3 workout cycle.   By doing so, we give the body an opportunity to understand how to work under fatigue and distress.

  • The sweet spot workload day (it’s the range of 83-97% of FTP), working your body for specified durations followed by specified rest. For example, starting with 3 x 5 minutes of sweet spot by 5 minutes of off sweet spot totaling 15 minutes of work would be a great beginning point for any athlete.   Increasing the duration that we hold the sweet spot and/or the number of intervals we complete by 10-20% throughout the training plan until 2 weeks before the event is ideal.
  • Your muscular endurance day to build strength on the bike. This is your hill day, specifically working hard steep inclines and/or long duration hills.  Preferably seated in order to play with pedal efficiency under hard workload.  A sample workout here would be 2 to 3 hill repeats lasting 7-10 minutes with a recovery of 2 or 3 minutes between.   The idea is to place load on our legs.   Working at making us efficient by practicing a full fluid pedal stroke.  As the training plan progresses, the hills get steeper, the repeats get longer and/or the number of times you complete the repeat gets larger.  Progress 10-20% throughout the training plan until 2 weeks before the event.
  • Your last training ride is your endurance ride. It is done with the time you have for a long ride day. Your goal is to be on dirt roads and terrains similar to what you’ll be racing on.  For example, the gravel roads around Prescott are plentiful and offer.  The goal here is to ride at your endurance pace gradually increasing to about 80% of the duration you anticipate it will take you to complete the event.  You’ll want to hit your longest ride about 2 weeks out.  For example, the average Chino Grinder last year was done in around 8 to 9 hours.  Knowing this, I could tell you that about 8 weeks out from the event your long ride should probably be about 2.5 to 3 hours anticipating that you would increase this duration 10% each week to reach a 6.5 to 7-hour ride by 2-3 weeks out.  If your time crunched, spending as long as you can on your long ride day is beneficial.


  1. Mental attitude:  Things come to people who want it and work for it.  You must give yourself a purpose, the purpose of completing a hard day on hard terrain and sometimes in uncooperative weather conditions.  If you are able to find purpose, then your training has a better chance at being successful, and ultimately, you’ll be standing at the start line ready with a smile on your face.  There will be ups and downs training for an event of such magnitude, and there will be highs and lows during the event.  I always feel that if you have consistently put forth at least 85% of your best effort, success is inevitable.  Don’t get caught making chronic excuses as to why you can’t do something, instead get caught exercising positive thought as to why you want to accomplish what you’ve set out to accomplish.
  1. Nutrition:  Your body will be accumulating fatigue and stress and burning a lot of energy.  Treat it right by putting the right things in it and you’ll feel optimal through your training plan and in life.  Not only are you making sure to consume the number of calories you burn on a daily basis, but you are pre-planning your training days with what you will need for the duration of the workload ahead of you.  Plan and play with your fuel source you will use during the event in your training.  This is the best way to make sure that your body will digest effectively what you give it.  For example, are you lactose intolerant?  Don’t fill your bottle with powders containing whey products!  Do you know how much water and electrolytes you will need per hour? Good things to understand so you can train and race to your maximal potential.  Quite simply, the body just cannot work for you if it’s not properly fueled.  This is an endurance sport, you’re out there for long periods of time, be nice and take care because this body needs to last you a lifetime, not just this race.


  1. Active Recovery and Sleep: My last piece of advice is to always manage your recovery cycles.  No matter how hard you push your body, you will not experience fitness gains without pulling back and allowing for rest.  The body enjoys full days of rest combined with active easier days.   Spinning casually, going for a walk, or jumping into the pool.  Clients that work with me that have a background of different sports find themselves being asked to do these on their active recovery days.  The gains we see are incredible. The body also needs a certain amount of sleep to fully allow for fitness gains.   How much rest the body needs, whether active recovery, full days off, or sleeping, is particular to each athlete.   Be true to yourself and take rest when you feel is necessary.

Last year, while I was training for the BC Bike Race, which is a 7-day stage race in Canada, I used the Chino Grinder event and trainings leading up to it to prepare the endurance aspect of this race.  I fully belief that if you adhere, understand, and incorporate the above points of discussion, you too will find success in your gravel grinding adventures.  As did I by finishing 5th overall female and 1st overall female duo at BC Bike.  If you have any questions relating to training for Chino Grinder, please do not hesitate to reach out to or you can contact me through my website at

Safe trainings!

Posted in bikes, Chino Grinder, cycling events, dropbar mountain bike, gravel, gravel bike tires, gravel bikes, gravel grinder, gravel racing, nutrition

Surviving the Chino Grinder








1. Train – the fastest folks will finish in just over 5 hours but the rest of us will be on the bike for 7 to 8 hours. Ride your bike, concentrate on getting one long ride in per weekend. Try to pre-ride the course, if you can’t do the full course at least take in the dirt section. Bike Prescott and Riding AZ Gravel do numerous rides on the same roads used by the Chino Grinder.

2. Tires – Don’t ride anything smaller than a 32mm tire, the 35mm seems to be the most common tire run at Chino. Personally, I like running a 40mm up front and 35mm in the rear. Do a few training rides on the tires you plan on running at the event!

3. Pace – Don’t over do it! It’s going to be a long day on the bike, 108 miles with nearly 10K of climbing. Every year we have a number of experienced cyclist get to the paved climb (30 miles from the start) and abandon because they started to fast.

4. Ride on gravel/dirt – Be sure do some training on dirt and gravel roads. 64 Miles of the 108 mile Chino Grinder are dirt and gravel roads, being comfortable on the dirt sections will pay dividends come event day.

5. Be prepared – master chain link, spare tubes(2), multi tool, chain break tool, tire levers, pump/ CO2, cell phone, sun screen, patch kit and warm gear (course goes above 7800 ft at highest point!).








6. Eat and Drink – There are five aid stations. Take advantage of them. You’ll need to consume 200 to 300 calories per hour. Nothing worse than that depleted feeling in the final miles before the finish line.

7. Chain lube – Don’t skimp on the chain lube. The usually dry dusty conditions of the dirt sections wreak havoc on your chain, if there is mud even more so.

8. Bottle cages – This is not the event for a super light flimsy cage. Do some research, I use a stainless steel cage made by Delta Cycles and have never lost a bottle let alone broke a cage.

9. Your rig – Make sure you test your setup before May 6th. Proper bike fit is essential as it increases comfort, speed and efficiency. Check out the section “Lessons Learned” of Kit Plummer’s experiences at the 2015 Chino Grinder. If you haven’t had a bike fit you might consider contacting one of our sponsoring bike shops for an evaluation.










10. Enjoy the experience – Look around and take in what’s around you. You’ll notice some really awesome scenery and ride with some extraordinary people and above all make time for the bacon and Untapped waffles and syrup at the aid station at Elk Ridge Ski Area.




Posted in Uncategorized

Recommendations for Bradshaw Grinder Bike Setup


In gravel cycling a bike set up for one event may be less than optimal for another. This is case with the Bradshaw Grinder and the Chino Grinder. Although just miles apart, the roads encountered in the Bradshaw course are radically different than those found on the Chino course.

The Chino course is wider, with few twists and turns, and 40% of the course is paved. Although containing nearly 10K of climbing over 106 miles it would not be considered a true climbers course. Bradshaw on the other hand has over 11K of climbing in just 59 miles, with all but three miles on dirt roads. The roads are narrow and twist and turn as they snake through the southern Bradshaw Mountain Range. Thus, the two most important areas of set up are tires and gearing.



Tire choice is critical and for a cross/gravel rig and we recommend a minimum width of 35mm, for a mountain bike nothing wider than a 45mm. The profile and width of a tire similar to the Panaracer Comet Hardpack 38c is perfect for the front tire and a good choice for the rear although a better choice for the back would be a tire similar to the Panaracer Gravelking 40mm. Experiment with the psi but a typical 175lbs rider would use 36psi in the front and 40psi for the rear. This combo seems to hook up well on both the descents and the climbs.




The Bradshaw Grinder course contains numerous climbs that would be rated Hors catégorie (beyond categorization) or incredibly difficult climbs if this was a “road” cycling event. For us cycling mortals these climbs need to be given some special consideration. The Chino course contains several long sections where you could spinout a 50X11, the Bradshaw has only one short section just before the finish. For a Cross/Gravel bike, assuming a 50/34 compact crank, the optimal cassette range would be a 11X36. Wolf Tooth Components has an excellent article on this subject ( and luckily they make the Roadlink which can save you the need WT-RoadLink_with_bolt_1024x1024to swap out the rear derailuer to accomodate the taller gears on the cassette (up to an 11X40!). No worries about needing taller gears for mountain bikes, as I mentioned there are no long stretches where you could spinout.

Any of the sponsoring bike shops (Exhale Bikes, VeloZoom and Spur Cross Cycles) of the Bradshaw Grinder are familiar with this setup and can offer advice or assistance in setup. Hope this helps and if your are looking for a test ride check out the first 10 miles of the Bradshaw Grinder. There are two major climbs plus a third that is off the charts!



Posted in Uncategorized

Bringing the family to the Chino Grinder?

As promised there will be plenty to do for everyone.

We are also thrilled to announce the United Phoenix Firefighters Charities and the Chino Valley Rotary club will be on-site grillin’ and serving lunch along with New Belgium beer in the beer garden, All proceeds will go to to these two fine charities. APS Special Events staff will be providing on-site entertainment and Prescott Valley’s Freedom Station will be providing adventure exhibits (including a harnessed trampoline and a rock climbing wall).

Bike Prescott will be holding a bicycle part swap meet at Old Home Manor so bring parts that you want to sell or SwapMeettrade. These events are in partnership with 20+ local and national non-profits organizations, 15+ local businesses in what we anticipate to be the biggest event in Chino Valley this year. Bring the family for a weekend of fun!

After two very successful years of the Chino Grinder, the Town of Chino Valley has decided to create the Extreme Spring Fling! In addition to the Chino Grinder, this extremely fun day will also feature the Chino Mudder, a non-competitive, 5K adventure run with more than 20 fun and unique obstacles to challenge the body and spirit of all fitness levels from ages 7 and up. All proceeds from this event benefit the expansion of Town of Chino Valley parks’ facilities and recreation programs. Information at:

But that’s just the start of what is happening! There will also be the All-Day 5K, presented by the Mountain Milers. This is a 5K race to begin on the hour, every hour until 50 kilometers is achieved! Run all or part, that is up to you.

***Remember that there is unlimited dry camping at Old Home Manor Park for only $5 per night***

Posted in Uncategorized