Grewal retires after Montezuma victory |

Grewal retires after Montezuma victory

Dale Strode

Timing, of course, is everything.

Just ask John Elway or Michael Jordan.

Or Rishi Grewal.

Grewal, the Roaring Fork Valley cyclist who has been a mainstay on the competitive mountain biking scene for more than a decade, is retiring.

And the timing is just right, according to Grewal.

“I’ve done a lot of different things in cycling,” said Grewal, who sports a resume that includes a national road racing title, more than dozen national mountain biking medals, and a one-time No. 4 world ranking.

“So this really was a perfect way to cap this off,” he said, announcing his retirement after he had just won the Montezuma’s Revenge 24-hour endurance race in Summit County – considered by many to be the world’s toughest mountain bike race.

That triumph in Colorado’s Rockies came just six days after Grewal won the World Solo 24 Hours of Adrenalin Championships in the Canadian Rockies of Alberta.

Earlier Grewal won the 24 Hours of Moab to make it a sweep of bicycling mountain endurance tests.

The last test, Montezuma’s Revenge, was the toughest – of his entire career, Grewal said.

In 24 hours last weekend Grewal covered 160 miles, climbed 24,890 vertical feet and set a new Montezuma’s Revenge record.

He scaled 14,270-foot Grays Peak with his bike strapped to his back.

Then after making a wrong turn on the way down, he still negotiated the steep, gnarly descent with harrowing cliffs. And he increased his lead on the descent – adding the championship trophy from the world’s toughest mountain bike race.

“That race was a big, big challenge,” Grewal said. “They took us … straight up some places and straight down.

“I didn’t know if I would make it,” he added.

“It was a neat race, though – really, really hard,” he said of the ordeal in the region that is bounded by the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Breckenridge, Frisco, Keystone and Montezuma.

The Montezuma’s Revenge course featured 13 different mountain loops, requiring orienteering skills as well as mountain biking-hiking skills.

Grewal set lap records on each lap he completed.

For the summit climb, Grewal took off his front wheel.

He strapped his Klein mountain bike to his back and used the wheel as a walking stick.

“And we rode some great trails … like the Lenaway Trail,” Grewal said, describing the classic “trail” that goes from the top of A-Basin down to Keystone.

Even with the fatigue of the Canadian endurance race and then the added fatigue of traveling back to Carbondale and staging for another 24-hour challenge, Grewal said he felt fairly strong as the Montezuma’s Revenge race started.

Knowing he was a bit tired, he started at a more modest pace. But still, he encountered times when he didn’t know if he could make it through what would be his last competitive race.

“Coming down from Grays Peak, I started getting a little scared,” he said of a wrong turn that sent him down through a band of cliffs and along a ridge – with major exposures on both sides.

“The wind was blowing about 60 and my light was started to fade out,” Grewal said of his 3 a.m. experience atop Grays Peak. “But I got down.”

Now Grewal’s competitive retirement comes exactly 10 years after Grewal won the USA Amateur Road Cycling Championships.

The Carbondale resident is considering starting a business and also continuing work in the cycling community, helping his sponsors, etc.

Grewal said as he retires from racing he wants to thank all of his current and past sponsors, including Klein Bicycles, Shimano America, Manitou Suspension, Nightsun Performance lighting, Hammer Nutrition/E-Caps, The Enterprises, Tarner Inc., CNS Breathright and Winkel Wheel.

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