Racing events have been canceled left and right this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However that won’t exactly be happening to the 13th annual Original Growler, which takes place at Hartman Rocks Recreation Area south of Gunnison.
Thanks to TerraQuest and its founder, local resident Derrick Nehrenberg, the Original Growler is going virtual. Competitors will track their times and distance online — 61 miles for the Full Growler and 31 miles for the Half.
“Derrick and TerraQuest have been nothing short of amazing getting this race together, complete with turn-by-turn directions, in less than two weeks,” said Tim Kugler of Gunnison Trails. “And it’s a first for them utilizing the turn-by-turn directions feature, which is super helpful for the Growler, as the course has a lot of intersections and trails to navigate.”
The Original Growler is a two-day bike race scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, showcasing Hartman Rocks and its tip top trails. The Full Growler is offered for endurance riders and the Half Growler for the speedier competitors.
But with the race going virtual, mountain bikers have significantly more time to complete the challenge that started on Saturday, May 23, and will end Saturday, Oct. 31.
To participate one must first download the TerraQuest App on their phone and create an account. Then, log in to the app and select Organizations. Join the Original Growler, and then select challenges for the Original Growler — either the Half or the Full Growler.
Once ready to compete, start at the base area of Hartman’s, hit record and follow the turn-by-turn directions in the app to ride the course (you can also link your Strava, Fitbit or Garmin).
As one hits the final turn and is ripping down Collarbone Alley to the finish line, remember to hit save and one's time will automatically be displayed on the leaderboard.
“Using the TerraQuest app, it’s easy for anyone from out of town or locally that may not be familiar with the trail system to follow the race course,” said Kugler.
There's no signage marking the course, no volunteers stopping traffic along the roads, no aid stations or medical help on course and no greasy bacon at Skull Pass.
Gunnison Trails would like to remind participants to “keep it classy out there” and respect other trail users, pass safely and with consideration and always yield to those going uphill.
Make sure to bring plenty of food, water, sunscreen, and safety gear to get you through a big day on the bike.
As part of the event, three lucky participants will be chosen at random to receive a free entry into next year's Growler.
“This effort is less of a fundraiser for Gunnison Trails and more of an opportunity to showcase the amazing trails and terrain at Hartman Rocks, give riders a reason to duke it out with one another and give visitors one more reason to come and visit our valley once Gunnison County is open again,” said Kugler. “We expect a lot of in-state visitation to the Gunnison Valley this summer, and hopefully this virtual platform makes it an easy choice to come and visit Gunnison, ride the course and support some of our local businesses that have been so supportive to Gunnison Trails over the years. It’s been important for us as an organization to adapt as best we can and continue to provide the best trail experience possible.”
(Brandon Warr can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)