Frequently Asked Questions


I’ve never done a gravel grinder before, what should I expect?

You will ride an unmarked course on roads open to traffic. The routes are designed to showcase beautiful scenery along off-the-beaten path routes that may otherwise not be traveled. The race is unsupported meaning you are responsible for your own hydration, fuel, and mechanical on the route.

Why would I pay to ride on roads I can ride all year?

First you get the opportunity to compete for bragging rights and great prizes! The 80 and 140 mile races have several featured sections not normally open to bikes. The most exciting is Rib Mountain State Park. For the first time, bikers will ride trails at Rib Mountain State Park, descending on the Turkey Vulture Trail. Note a hike-a-bike on the Red and Quarry Trails is required to get to this trail. Other sections include private land in Athens, Rib Falls, and Rib Mountain as well as the Wausau School Forest.

All riders, will have several perks listed on the registration page including a free post-race meal, beverage, prize eligibility, and live music at the finish line festival. Note that all riders under age 18 are free for the 12 mile ride.

what type of bike should I use?

Gravel bike racers use a variety of different bikes - often gravel races even have a fat bike or two! Most people racing gravel grinders use a gravel bike with the drop bars set up. With the amount of gravel roads in this race, this would be fastest type of bike.

Each course will have some short sections of trails. The 140 mile route has 14 miles of off road paths and the 80 miles has 8 miles of off road paths. From a comfort standpoint a wider tire mountain bike would be more comfortable for the length of the ride but would be slower overall. For an average gravel racer, 2.5 inch (63 mm) tires are a good fit. That being said, expect to see bikes that range from gravel bikes running as narrow as 1.25 inch (32 mm) tires to mountain bikes and even the occasional fat bike. Note that the dew in early hours on the Rib Mountain State Park section could make for slick conditions.

Our suggestion: use the gravel bike setup with drop bars to gain the speed advantage on the gravel roads and suffer through the short sections off-road sections that are dispersed throughout the course. Choose your tire based on what you are comfortable and used to riding on, the weather for the day and days prior to the event, and how wet of a fall we have.

Are any of the routes marked?

Yes, the 12 mile route will be marked throughout. However, due to the potential for signs to be removed, it is recommended to download the route on a GPS that is active at all times or to use a cue sheet.

Only sections with turns in close proximity are marked on the 80 mile and 140 mile courses. This includes mostly off-road sections.

What if I take a wrong turn?

Even the best riders can make a wrong turn. Go back to the last point you were on the correct route. We will have an undisclosed number of check points along the course to ensure riders are riding the entire route..  

What are cue sheets?

Cue sheets will be provided by race directors. Road names, turns, and distances are listed for a rider to follow. An odometer is used so riders know when they are approaching turns. A compass is also recommended to know which way to turn. Note that with the ongoing county-wide readdressing, some road names may not match.

How much of the race course is gravel?

Each course will have a mix of gravel, paved roads, and paved off-road bike & pedestrian paths. The 12 mile recreational ride only has a couple of miles of gravel. The 80 mile and 140 mile routes are primarily gravel after leaving the Wausau vicinity.

Can I do this?

Absolutely! No matter the ability level, there’s a course for everyone. If you’ve never done a bike race, then maybe the 12 mile ride is right for you. If you want an epic challenge, go for the 140 mile route. Note where the 80 and 140 mile routes major climbs are too.

You can stop as much or as little as you want along the course. Just make sure you follow the rules of the road.

What if I get a flat tire?

Be sure to bring a spare tube, patch kit, and bike pump. You are in charge of any mechanical repairs on the course. You are allowed to have outside assistance from a crew during the event except on private land sections of the race course.

What can my family do while I’m racing?

There are many things to do! In addition to cheering you on the racecourse, families may explore one of the many shops and restaurants in downtown Wausau.

If your family wants to venture outside, they may take in the remaining fall colors at the top of Rib Mountain State Park by driving to the top, riding on the ski lift at Granite Peak, or hiking one of the many trails.

For IRONBULL races, families are welcome to enjoy the free access to the YMCA on race day. This includes open swim, workout facilities, and/or a sauna and shower.

WHat do I do between finishing and the awards?

Be sure to grab a free shower at the Woodson YMCA and get on some fresh clothes so you can kick back and enjoy a complementary beverage on the 400 Block while listening to music, recapping the race with friends & family, or getting a free meal of wraps and hot soup from CJ’s Catering. We also would love for you to cheer on the folks out on the race course from dawn to dusk.