7/21/22 Canyon.com
7/21/22 Canyon.com

Crushar in the Tushar Recap with Griffin Easter

OpiCure Foundation rider Griffin Easter recaps the 11th edition of the infamous Crushar in the Tushar gravel race, overcoming heat, washboard, and mechanicals to claim a bronze medal. Read below to get the first-hand recap from the Canyon’s Griffin rider on his standout podium finish.

Crushar in the Tushar Recap with Griffin Easter

69.9 miles—that shouldn’t be too hard… Hold on, over 10,000 feet of elevation gain?!?

The 2022 Crushar in the Tushar marked the event’s 11-year anniversary. The brainchild of director Burke Swindlehurst, the ‘22 edition was particularly bittersweet. Burke finally passed along the director-torch, took a step back, and for his first time, raced the Crushar in the Tushar.

For me, I couldn’t think a better way to experience my first Crusher. It was a true honor, and I want to thank Burke and his team for perfecting an event that I will remember forever and continue to race for years to come.

How the race unfolded

Kicking off at 7 AM, the sun licking the western-facing Tushars, we rolled out from the sleepy town of Beaver, Utah, and headed towards highway 153. Notable names in the field included Keegan Swenson, Laurens Ten Dem, Ted King, Lachlan Morton, Alex Howes, Alexey Vermeulen, Howard Grotts, Peter Stetina, Kiel Reijnen, Russell Finsterwald, and Payson McElveen. The first 40 minutes were mellow, every rider conserving as much as they could before the knives were due to come out going uphill.

Griffin Easter representing Team OpiCure Griffin Easter representing Team OpiCure

Making the turn onto Highway 153, the unofficial start hit. The group picked up pace, gearing up for continual attacks on the hour-long climb. Howard Grotts and Keegan Swenson ripped the field apart, leaving myself and everyone else quite literally in their dust. I redlined trying to follow, took a few deep breaths, geared down, and began the methodical chase back.

Griffin Easter representing Team OpiCure Griffin Easter has proven himself a capable climber

Settling into a natural pace, I started to pick off rider after rider, linking for a few pulls before distancing them to march forward. Before I knew it, I was back with the front group, joining Stetina, Vermeulen, and McElveen. We rolled the top, and descended the Col d’Crush, a bone-rattling experience causing a mechanical I had to address. Washboard was everywhere and no line was safe.

The Canyon Grizl Wide tire clearance was necessary for the Crusher in the Tushar

About 3 hours into the race, the front group had grown to 10 riders, resting in the base of the Tushars before the long climb back up. After we hit the initial climb “The Sarlacc Pit,” riders began to fall off on its steep grades and loose gravel, setting the tone for the war of attrition heading to the Col d’Crush. At this point just five remained in the front group, chasing Swenson.

Team OpiCure Team OpiCure races in both men's and women's fields

The Col d’Crush did not disappoint. Stetina, Grotts, Cole Paton and myself made up the front group, prepared to duke it out up 10% grades, sweltering heat, and heinous washboard. No matter how hard you tried, you could not find a smooth line, and more often than not, the smoothest line was also preferred by fellow competitors descending the Crush. By the top, our group was just 3, as Grotts lost contact.

By this point, Swenson was too far ahead to reel back, so our front group was battling for the remaining two podium spots. With three riders left, one would miss out on the podium.

Team OpiCure is fighting to destigmatize addiction in America Team OpiCure is fighting to destigmatize addiction in America

The final climb into the finish was short but punchy. At 3/10ths-of-a-mile to go I put in a dig, distancing both Stetina and Paton. I could see the finish but my legs were burning from my efforts. I looked back and saw Paton charging quickly as well as Stetina. Paton passed me. I thought I had nothing left. However, I told myself to dig deeper. I kicked again and at the end managed to make distance back on Paton and keep my spot ahead of Stetina. However, it was too little too late. Paton finished 2nd and I held on for 3rd.

Final Notes and Takeaways

The Crusher in the Tushar is a serious race. The altitude combined with the rough terrain and 10,000 feet of elevation gain make it the only mountain top finish gravel race in the USA. The landscape and views are jaw dropping and unforgettable. No matter if your experience was at the front or back, The Crusher is a race everyone needs to put on their bucket list.

The Grizl, my bike of choice for the Crusher in the Tushar

With its generous tire clearance, wide wheelbase and progressive gravel geometry, the Canyon Grizl was my preferred bike to take on the Crusher in the Tushar. Rugged, durable, and built for harsh conditions, my bike survived some of the most brutal gravel conditions in the American race calendar, and carried me to a strong podium finish.

The Canyon Grizl

From multi-day bikepacking adventures to the gnarliest gravel races around, the Canyon Grizl does it all.

View All Models
Content is loading
About the OpiCure Foundation

The mission and goal of the OpiCure Foundation is to utilize the bicycle and gravel community to help individuals struggling with opioid use disorder. We believe that through education, destigmatization, and the showcasing the power that a bicycle can provide, we can combat the opioid crisis in this country.

By subscribing to our newsletter, you are agreeing to our Data Protection Statement .

Did this article help?

Thank you for your feedback

Related Stories

Ever wondered what the yellow, green, polka dot and white jerseys mean at the Tour de France?
Get ready to dive into the Giro d'Italia 2024! We'll cover everything from the race routes and stages to the teams competing for glory.
If you like your trails to point aggressively downwards, but secretly love a climb too – which bike is best? Let’s look at the differences between downhill vs enduro bikes and why angles really matter.
It’s a dilemma almost as old as the sport itself – should I choose a triathlon or road bike? Here’s what you need to know.
Content is loading
Loading animation image