Grinduro California’s Final Finisher Reflects on Her Adventure

grinduro california laterne rouge
Grinduro CA’s Final Finisher Reflects on Her RaceGabe Ortiz

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For the second year in a row, Grinduro and the Siskiyou Recreation Outdoor Alliance partnered to bring the perfect “Party to race ratio” to the stunning foothills of California’s Mount Shasta. Riders chose between the Grindurito, a less challenging 37-mile route, or the full Grinduro, a 70-mile route experience.

Signing up for your first event can be scary. Between all the logistics, training, and managing your life, road-tripping to your longest ride ever might be daunting. When Lisa Ranieri originally registered for the event a few months ago, she planned to ride the Grindurito. Having trained and mentally prepped, she decided at the last minute to go full send. She then went out and completed the Grinduro course, two hours and thirty minutes after the cut-off time.

The Lanterne Rouge has a long respected history and is earned by cycling’s toughest riders. It exemplifies resilient determination to the core. Though Ranieri finished DFL (Dead F**king Last), she came across the line with nothing but a smile on her face.

I sat down with Ranieri for insights on how her Grinduro unfolded and her thoughts on the experience.

Name: Lisa Ranieri
Age: 38
Hometown: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
What kind of bike did you ride? Juliana Quincy

grinduro lantern rouge
Lisa Ranieri (right) and Brian Preetz, pre-race and ready for some Grinduro fun.Gabe Ortiz

You finished almost 2 hours after the cut-off time. When the crew asked if you wanted to get pulled what went through your mind?

I was super sad when I thought I wasn’t allowed to finish the course. Right before the timed stage 4, the crew told me and some other stragglers we’d missed the cut-off. Several tears of disappointment ran down my dust-caked face. It definitely made the crew guys uncomfortable!

Was this event your longest ride?

Yes, Grinduro is my longest ride to date. My husband and I did a handful of training rides, one with similar mileage and elevation gain that gave me the confidence to switch my registration from Grindurito to the full Grinduro. Grinduro was so much harder than that training ride!

Throughout Grinduro’s Mount Shasta route, were there any moments you wanted to quit?

I had some fantasies about quitting for sure, but I wanted to finish. Near the end of the last timed section, another rider waited for me (Alfie) taking the last 15 miles pedal by pedal.

What made you keep going?

It took A LOT of work to make it to the race. We have three young children, and coordinating childcare for training and race weekend was difficult. I wanted to finish Grinduro for me.

What was your favorite part of the ride?

The first half of the ride was lovely with gorgeous scenery and perfect gravel. I wasn’t ready for the second half to be death.

What was your least favorite part?

The heat, feeling dehydrated and defeated. I also disliked that big gravel uphill maybe 2/3 through the singletrack.

Now that you finished the California route, is there any chance you will travel to another Grinduro destination?

Anything’s possible!

Any shoutouts you want to give to family, friends, or sponsors?

Yes, a big shoutout to my husband Brian Preetz for encouraging me and giving me the confidence to participate in Grinduro and for being my bike B. Shoutout to Alex, Doug, Ben, and Eric for cheering me home at the finish line! And to Alfie from Berkley for completing the last 12 miles with me! Alfie could have finished probably an hour or more before me, but he waited for me through the challenging single track and we hit the downhill road together.

Is there anything you would like to share with others, a bit of wisdom or advice that will help illuminate a path for others?

My only advice is to keep pedaling. A few days out from the race, I already forgot how terrible my body felt during the last 12 miles, and remember the pride of finishing is a memory I’ll cherish for a lifetime.

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If you are on the East Coast, join Bicycling’s staff June 16-18 for Grinduro: Pennsylvania. Registering for the event is super easy—click here. Located in Central Pennsylvania, an area known as the endless mountains, Grinduro PA has bountiful singletrack trails, along with tall forest canopies and crushed slate-grey gravel roads. We hope to see you all there!

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