A truly famous or infamous (depending on the person) race, the Grizzly 100 & Big Bear MTB Gran Fondo is a Saturday spectacular of multiple mountain bike race lengths held in the gorgeous area of Big Bear Lake, California. Once two separate mountain bike events, the Grizzly 100 and the MTB Grand Fondo are now joined into one day of non-stop pedaling. The Big Bear MTB Grand Fondo and The Grizzly 100/75 is one of California’s top mountain bike events and one of the top MTB occasions in the United States. Strambecco could not recommend this event more, and it consistently makes our list of Best Mountain Bike Events in the Southwest.
One previous participant shared, “Derek and Bear Valley Bikes made this event one of the best events I have ever been on with the Mountain Bike. Seriously exceeded my expectations.”
What sets this event apart is not just its location, but also its pull. Drawing elite mountain bikers from every corner of the globe, it offers an unmatched experience. The Grizzly 100 & Big Bear MTB Gran Fondo is internationally acclaimed, attracting mountain biking enthusiasts with its intricate blend of challenging single-track, double-track, and fire road climbs and descents. The towering altitudes, ranging between 7,000 to 8,500 feet, only add to the adrenaline rush.
Furthermore, the event rounds up with the Big Bear MTB Gran Fondo featuring sport rides of 30/50k, making it an all-encompassing experience. The heartwarming local support, coupled with astonishing aid stations and dedicated volunteers, wraps up the event, marking a perfect conclusion to the National Ultra Endurance Race (NUE) Series.
Event & Course Info
Delving into the route and terrain, the Grizzly 100 & Big Bear MTB Gran Fondo offers a multitude of routes to cater to every type of rider, from the rookie to the seasoned expert. Due to the unforeseen circumstances caused by flooding from Hurricane Hillary in the Seven Oaks Valley, the 2023 event will feature laps of the 50k course. For the daring riders opting for the 75k and 100k courses, they will first tackle the 2N08 climb and then embark on 2 (for 75k) or 3 (for 100k) laps of the 50k upper loop, covering Helipad, Lodge Pole, and Cabin 89/Pine Knot. The MTB Gran Fondo segments – 30k & 50k Skyview – are ideal for those looking to enjoy the scenic beauty of Big Bear with spot climbs.
Starting with the route MTB Gran Fondo, which can be categorized as spot climbs with multiple categories allowing almost every level of rider to enjoy the event and race. The Fondo has 30k, and 50k options. The 100k fondo is a ‘rider to recovery’ event aiding veterans’ recovery, which is an extraordinary addition to Saturday. Then there is the beast of the Grizzly 100k and 75k. The Grizzly has gained international recognition as a spectacular and physically demanding endurance mountain bike race that spans some of California’s best single track and double track, climbing thousands of meters while all taking place at a hypoxic altitude of up to 8,500 feet!
While the physical demands of the routes are undeniable, participants will find solace and rejuvenation at the various aid stations spread across the course. These stations will be stocked with Hammer Nutrition, Bob’s Pickle Pops, water, and other specialty items catering to the needs and cravings of the riders (think banana & Nutella sandwich with M&Ms, pickle spears, PB filled celery sticks, Grandma Betty’s Homemade Cookies, bacon, watermelon)
The Grizzly 100 and 75 is the final race of the National Ultra Endurance Race Series (NUE) this year, making it a physically challenging venue to end on and sure to bring some heavy-hitting riders. There are eight categories in the Grizzly 100/75 that all attribute points to the NUE series. For the 100k and 75k routes, there are single speed categories and a masters (50+) age grouping for men and women. Beyond that, both 100k and 75k routes have a men’s and women’s open category. The Grizzly course is no joke, and the dreaded Radford Climb has been voted as “one of the most dreaded 5-mile climbs in California.” NUE Top-of-the-line aid stations are more than just fully stocked; they have great local fans and amazing participants and volunteers.
Area Accommodations & Things to Do
There is no official lodging partner for the Grizzly 100 & Big Bear MTB Gran Fondo but there are many options for hotels nearby including Big Bear Cool Cabins, Holiday Inn Resort, The Lodge at Big Bear Lake, or Robinhood Resort. Campgrounds include Pineknot and Serrano in the San Bernardino National Forest. Several family-friendly restaurants offer indoor and outdoor seating right on Big Bear Lake; Peppercorn Grille, Teddy Bear Restaurant, and Santana & Mavericks Bar & Grill.
Big Bear Lake, voted Expedia’s #1 rated weekend getaway city, and Southern California’s most scenic and popular riding destination, is often regarded as the cycling capital of the region. Its reputation is well-earned, having played host to prestigious cycling events like the AMGEN Tour of California and the Redlands Bicycle Classic. With its picturesque vistas, well-maintained roads, and ample cycling opportunities, it’s no wonder that Big Bear Lake has earned the hearts of cyclists from far and wide.
It should be no surprise that Big Bear is a mecca for mountain biking with a vast network of trails catering to riders of all skill levels. The Snow Summit Bike Park, accessible by chairlift, offers exhilarating downhill trails and features like jumps and berms for adrenaline-pumping rides. For cross-country enthusiasts, the Skyline Trail provides stunning views of the San Bernardino Mountains and Big Bear Lake. Those seeking more technical challenges can explore the Santa Ana River Trail or the famous “Radford Climb.”
Big Bear’s scenic trails also cater to trail runners. The Pine Knot Trail, starting from the Aspen Glen Picnic Area, is a favorite among trail runners, offering a moderate ascent and rewarding views of Big Bear Lake. The Cougar Crest Trail, located near the Discovery Center, offers a challenging run with panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains.
With its crystal-clear waters and stunning alpine backdrop, Big Bear Lake also provides an ideal setting for stand-up paddleboarding. Athletes can rent paddleboards from several shops around the lake and spend a relaxing day gliding on the water.
The Grizzly 100 & Big Bear MTB Gran Fondo is part of the National Ultra Endurance Series. The National Ultra Endurance Series (NUE) is a race series that has some of the best endurance mountain bike races in the United States. NUE comprises an Epic Series, 100-mile events, and a Marathon series, which includes 50-mile and 75k length events.
- True Grit 100/50
- Cohutta 100 – Big Frog 65
- Mohican MTB 100
- Wilderness 101k
- Telluride 100/50
- Shenandoah 100
- Marji Gesick 100/50
- Ring of Fire 100
- Big Grizzly 100/75
- Carrabassett 100
- Pierre’s Hole 50/100
For multi-sport athletes looking for events to round out their calendar that are located in the area, be sure to check out Tour de Big Bear from Big Bear Cycling Association which is one of the best road cycling events in the Southwest and California – it is also affiliated with the Mammoth Gran Fondo as both events make up the California Pass Challenge for riders that conquer both iconic rides. But, be sure to also check out our full list of Strambecco Best in Class trail running and gravel cycling events.