Only 5 Weeks Until The Chino Grinder….

This post was written for AZ Gravel Rides by cycling coach and former Canadian professional road cyclist Scott Price. We hope you will find these tips useful as you prepare for the Chino Grinder!

Okay, here are some of the important areas you will want to address or consider as this really cool event approaches.


The Chino Grinder demands endurance and sustained power. This type of fitness cannot be crammed into a few weeks but with 5 weeks you can aim for getting in 1-2 longer rides of 3, 4+ hours each week. Another crucial energy system is your tempo engine, not how long you can ride but how long you can sustain the power needed to stay with a group and benefit from draft. Here are 3 workouts that will benefit you.

Endurance ride

2-3 rides each week greater than 2 hours is ideal but if you can only go long one day make sure you do it!

Tempo ride

Blasting out the door and riding a high average speed ride (predominately Z3) for 60, 90 or 120 minutes prepares you for the overall pace and effort of the race.

Threshold work

A time effective way to increase your ability to climb and put out the power when the grinding is tough is long intervals. 3-4x 5 minute efforts at or slightly below time trial / threshold pace are great. Do 8-10 minutes recovery between each effort to make sure you can go hard on the next one.


Each event has its specific demands and this one really pimps out 2 things. You need to be on the gas the entire ride with the combo of climbing, wind and gravel so there is nowhere to hide. The other is to make sure you spend lots of time riding on gravel and on the bike you are going to use. Many riders suffer riding gravel when training mainly on the road.

MIND: Mind

Know why you signed up! Personal challenge, exploration, put in your best ride on the day, help a teammate or go for the BIG WIN are all possibilities. Set your own personal goal, my personal favorite is to simply do your very best on event day. Adapt to the wind, riders, mechanicals, dropped bottles, tactics and your energy levels. If you arrive spent and knowing you did your best, you win SATISFACTION.


How much fluid and how many calories and when? Well hopefully you have had plenty of experimentation and experience for rides this length so stick with what works. Here are some general goals.


A bottle of fluids each hour unless really hot is a minimum goal. I like to use 1 water bottle to 1 energy drink mix which I mix weaker than as suggested on the label (2/3rd strength)


Don’t go crazy and golden corral the night before the race. Upset digestion promises misery. Eat what normally works the morning of a big ride. When racing we burn more blood sugar so we need to take in calories every 30 minutes. 200 calories per hour is a minimum. Make sure any solid food leaves your stomach before guzzling water or your stomach can shut down.



Do you know the course?

What distance and how long will it take you?

Who are you competing with?

What bike will you be riding?

Which wheels, which shoes, which tires?

What is the start time and drive time to get there?

What will the wind and weather conditions be?

Where is the finish line?

Knowledge is power, get on it!


Lastly, if you really want to CRUSH your time for next year or expand your cycling knowledge and really prepare for a future goal, message me on Facebook for a free coaching evaluation or email me Scott Price at

Scott Price – Professional road cyclist for 18 years, cycling and high performance coach for 15 years.

Major career highlights:

  • Canadian National Champion
  • 104 Career Cycling Victories
  • 3 times Ironhorse Classic Champion
  • 2 times Tucson Bicycle Classic Champion
  • 2 times La Vuelta de Bisbee Champion
  • Multiple Climbing Course Record Holder
Posted in bikes, Chino Grinder, cycling events, gravel, gravel bike tires, gravel bikes, gravel grinder, gravel racing, nutrition

What’s New in 2016: Chino Grinder

After reviewing the feedback and data collected at the 2014 and 2015 events, the AZ Gravel Rides crew has made some changes to for the 2016 Chino Grinder taking place on May 7.


If you’ve participated in previous years or have registered this year based on reviews from friends, you may want to check out the new additions and changes before heading out for a pre ride. (Some folks are planning an informal pre ride for March 26, if you’re interested.) [LINK]

New for 2016:

ADD: 3 Fluid Only Aid Stations. In addition to the aid stations located at Perkinsville (mile 21 outbound, mile 85 on the return) and the half way point at Elk Ridge Ski Area (Mile 53) there will be three fluid only stations stocked with water, sports drink, pop, and ice at the following locations: AID STATION LOCATIONS



Mile marker 18 (16 miles from the start)

Mile marker 31 (29 miles from the start)

Mile marker 174 (43 miles from the start)



ADD: 2 Neutral Support Vehicles for a total of 5 Neutral Support Vehicles.

ADD: 2 Roving Mechanics – Sprinter Cycles and VeloZoom will be at Old Home Manor and out on the course to assist with mechanicals.

Sprinter VeloZoom






ADD: Added extra 42 Mile Course categories:

New Categories for Men:

  • 50 to 59
  • 60+
  • (Awards 3 deep, Age the rider shall be December 31st current year)

IMAG1846 IMAG1857

New Categories for Women:

  • 50 to 59
  • 60+
  • (Awards 3 deep, Age the rider shall be December 31st current year)

ADD: Tandem (42 and 106 mile courses).

ADD: Four Person Team (Awards three deep, 106 mile course only). Click here for rules.

This year the Chino Grinder will offer a free team competition to 106 mile registered riders. Teams will be composed of four riders (you are still eligible to for an individual award in your age category).

ADD: *‘cycliste extraordinaire’

A prize will be awarded to someone in the peloton for their outstanding efforts or behavior – a bold reaction to an unexpected situation such as helping another rider or overcoming a particularly tough day. The key element is that it expresses the spirit of camaraderie of gravel riding and of the Chino Grinder.

Not new but we are excited to have Kaolin Cosmo “The Captain” Cummens (owner of the world famous Flat Tire Bike Shop) back as the official event announcer after taking last year off. One of the best in the biz and definitely adds to the festive atmosphere of the event venue.

The Interview


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The Return Leg of the Chino Grinder

This post was written by John Camoriano about his experience as a member, along with his teammate Phil Panipinto, of a two man relay team at the 2015 Chino Grinder. John is an accomplished cyclist and triathlete who currently rides for Two Wheel Jones Racing.


Start of the 2015 Chino Grinder 106 mile and relay groups.

After watching the hordes of cross bikers, single speeders, and mountain bikers take off with my buddy Phil at the start of the Chino Grinder in the Town of Chino Valley I moseyed back to my car sipping a black cup of steaming coffee.  I was grateful that I was able to take in the clean, cool air north of Prescott instead of the gravel dust that my partner was taking in at that very moment en route to the City of Williams about 50 miles away.  How ironic, I mused, that I grew up in Nebraska and Minnesota yet my first gravel race was to be in Arizona.

100_0266Hitting the GPS button on my phone I eased the car east before tooling northward in the grasslands of upper Arizona where, literally, the deer and the pronghorn antelope were playing.  Having never taken that back route to Williams I was amazed at beauty of the region and wondered briefly if the Arizona Highways Magazine would pay me money for the iPhone photos I was taking from my car window.

It was about an hour later that I entered the parking lot of the Elk Ridge Ski Area in Williams Arizona, just up the hill from that quaint town with its collection of Harley Riders, local eateries and the train station to the Grand Canyon rail tours.  The place was empty except for a few short wave radio guys and some food vendors who were setting up to support the throngs of riders still more than 30 miles south of us.


Elk Ridge Ski perched high above the City of Williams in an alpine setting.

I set up my laptop in the sunlit dining hall of the Ski resort and made small talk with the proprietress/owner who was lamenting the lack of snow in these last few years.  Eventually another rider with her jersey and number entered the hall and we made eye contact.  It turned out she was the only other duo team member of the only other duo relay team to be awaiting her incoming rider.

We sat dumbfounded that such a well-attended and well-run race had so many people willing to ride the 100+ miles of round trip gravel when there was a perfectly suitable alternative; the one we had picked of the relay team.  Realizing that she was on a coed team and I was on a men’s only team we both relaxed knowing that we were not really competing with each other.  We chuckled at our good fortune of riding the return leg of this Century given that the bulk of climbing was on the inbound leg.  Little did we know at the time that there were some formidable hills on the return leg too.


Jamey Driscoll and Kerry Werner of the Raleigh Clément Professional Cycling Team

After a lazy morning of bagels, more coffee and tinkering with my bike the first riders started emerging from the pines and entering the turn-around point in the parking lot. Two members of the Raleigh Clément Professional Cycling Team were the leaders but within 5 minutes, our local fast guys (and gals) started showing up.  My friend Phil, a strong rider in his own right, was not in the same league with this lean group of overachievers but then I began to realize that Phil was about to finish his day on the bike whereas these folks were all turning around to go back to Chino.  Phil would not be saving anything for the return trip but they would.  I hurried up to snap on my bike shoes and take a GU Energy Gel and it was none-to-soon.  Phil rounded the corner and passed his baton to me which I grabbed and started my own journey down the mountain.


The local fast guys arrive at Elk Ridge Ski just minutes behind the leaders.

I felt like a god among mortals at this point.  The dirt and grime and sweat encrusted riders who were turning around to head back were in stark contrast to my crisp and clean jersey and fresh legs.  I began to pass folks right and left and noted an endless stream of others still on their upward trek, faces strained with hope and fear that the turnaround was either close or farther than they wanted.  They say that “Pride comes before a fall” and that was my undoing.  I had a flat tire on the pavement.  I fixed it got rolling again and then flatted the other tire.  Thanks to the excellent support of the race promoters a bike shop truck just happened by me as I had my second flat and they provided me with the support to get going again.

SouthRoadEventually I paired up with a strong rider who took turns with me drafting and pulling down the amazingly car-less, stretch of paved road heading 15 miles downhill before turning into gravel.

Not having ridden longer than 2 hours in training for the previous 4 to 5 months, this choice of a one-way half-century seemed perfect for me.  I anticipated remaining strong for the entire route.  I was mistaken.  Soon, the gravel started and the punchy hills that were all supposed to be downhills started hitting me in the legs.  We crossed a sizable river on a suspension bridge and cattle were wandering across the road in places.  I became more and more amazed at the beauty of the region but also of the strength of those who had just endured the pain of coming UP this route before turning around.  My lips became parched despite the ample water I brought.  The hills began to wear me down and just as I was beginning to bonk a couple in a Volkswagen Jetta waved me down and gave me an ice-cold coke that I gratefully guzzled down providing renewed legs to trudge on.


Final climb up Wildcat Draw

Towards the last 5 to 10 miles I passed Larry DeMik from the Gilbert Two Wheel Jones store who seemed shocked that me, a man 20 years his senior had caught him.  I did not let on that I was only doing half his distance.  I pulled away from Larry and thought I had been done with him when I spied his intense face bearing down on me from behind.  We had both hit the last stretch of flat gravel that arcs westward to the finish just as a prairie tail wind picked up and literally blew us back to base.  The wind was so strong that despite our speeds of 35 mph there were tumbleweeds that rolled by us as if they too were racing for a podium spot. I was no match for Larry’s young legs and he eventually caught me but I grabbed his wheel as we careened towards Chino and the cold beers that awaited us. Later we each were blessed to get Strava KOMs on that stretch of windswept roads, me first and then when Larry downloaded his data he edged me out.

This was my first gravel race.  Hell, this was actually only my second gravel ride.  I was hooked and decided the Chino Grinder needed to be on my yearly calendar…. as long as I got to do the return leg of a relay team.


106 Mile Relay Male – 6:59:07.7 – Two Paisans from Two Wheel Jones

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106 Mile Course Preview



Flat section of road just after the 1.5 mile climb out of Perkinsville.

This entry covers the 106 mile course from north of Aid Station 1/3. For a synopsis of the first 21 miles of the route read the previous blog entry titled 42 Mile Course Preview. Immediately after Aid Station 1/3 is an almost continous climb for next 23 miles, starting with the steepest grade (mile 21 to mile 22.5) of the remaining 8.2 miles of dirt before hitting the pavement. From mile 22.5 the rest of the dirt section contains some rollers and some sharp corners as you gradually climb towards the start of the pavement.


Alpine meadows where you can see Bill Williams Mountain looming ahead.

Mile 29.2 is the transition from dirt to pavement. A welcome sight at first until the realization hits home, as you stare ahead, that this climb seems to go on forever. Finally at mile 44.2 you reach the summit. From here starts a two mile downhill section where you can push the biggest gear you have and make up some time. With mile 46.3 begins a relatively flat section through an open area of alpine meadows where you can see Bill Williams Mountain looming directly ahead of you, the ski resort is on the north side of this mountain. Remember that these open sections of road can be windy and finding a group to work with and share pulls can be very beneficial.




Turn onto Ski Run Road at the 183 mile marker of the Perkinsville Road.

Mile 48.1 starts a brief climb to mile 49 and then its back to flat and slightly downhill to the entrance to Elk Ridge Ski and Recreation Area at mile 51.6. From there its just 1.5 miles to the Aid Station 2 hosted by Absolute Bikes where you can stop and rest and take in the scenery and the many amenities of Elk Ridge Lodge while preparing for your return journey to Old Home Manor Park and the Town of Chino Valley.



Aid Station 2 at Elk Ridge Ski Area is hosted by Absolute Bikes

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42 Mile Course Preview


From the start at Old Home Manor Park in the Town of Chino Valley there is a slight steady climb for the first 8.7 miles. The remainder of the out portion of the 42 mile out and back course is almost all downhill to the turnaround at Aid Station 1/3.


Washboard section just after start.

The first 1.25 miles after the start is pavement. When the pavement ends you transition into the worst section of washboard of the entire course. After 3/4 of a mile this section is over and from mile 2.0 up to the cattle guard at 5.7 miles their are some spotty sections of washboard along with some smooth fast sections. After crossing the cattle guard the texture of the road noticeably changes and continues to get smoother. At mile 7.5 you will pass by Blissful Path road, this signifies just slightly over one mile to the crest of the climb. At 8.7 miles into the course you will cross another cattle guard. This is the start of the almost continuous downhill into Perkinsville and Aid Station 1/3. There are some rollers that you can easily power up keeping your momentum.


Sweeping right turn 16 miles into the course

13.5 miles from the start begins a very fast section. Big ring full out for almost the next three miles. At mile 16.3 you’ll come up on an off camber sweeping right turn. Stay to the inside on the turn, smoother and if you go wide to the outside it is off camber hardpack with a coating of marble size loose rock. Remember that roads are open to cars so stay on your side of the road! At mile 16.7, while descending a steep downhill, there is a very hard left turn with some rough stuff. From that point its all out to the STOP sign at mile 20. After making a right continue on for 1 mile crossing the Verde River (rough slight right corner just before river) to AID 1/3.

For the return to Chino Valley keep in mind that the Perkinsville Road has mile markers posted for each mile. Mile marker 10 denotes the crest of the climb. Once you hit that cattle guard as mentioned previously there are just 8.7 slightly downhill miles remaining and you will have finished the Chino Grinder.


Entering the home stretch on the return to Old Home Manor Park.

Posted in bikes, Chino Grinder, cycling events, gravel, gravel racing, Uncategorized