Paul Gary Gruber was born on December 7, 1959 in the Wolverine State of Michigan. Once a hard core mountain bike rider and racer, he took second place with Tail Wind Production and the MMBA Points Series. During 1996-1997, he developed a mountain racing promotion company called Piranha Production. He was instrumental in developing a race venue that included bike races at the Big M and Owasippi trails. Piranha Productions also had the first downhill racing event at Mt. Holly Ski Resort in Michigan. During that time, Paul served as Vice-President of the Mt. Holly chapter.
Paul's major accomplishment was that he was able , almost single-handedly, to map off, design, develop and build a mountain bike path at Hold Ridge Lake State Park, in Southwest Michigan. The very technical trail measures 15.6 miles long. It is a tight, twisty, single track making it a challenging adventure for any biker.
When Paul was designing the trail, he got inspiration from other riders and rider's magazines that covered the northwest trails. He wanted to create a true mountain bike trail, not just a linier trail for leisurely rides. Much controversy surrounded the building of the trail and he received little support from the local and state MMBA.
Despite the lack of support, Paul spent 6-7 days a week from sunup till sundown working with nothing more than a fire fighting tool, a pair of lobbing shears and once a week at most, a chain saw. The chain saw was not used to clear but to assist in building ramps to go over fallen trees.
During the early stages, there was an occasional volunteer. However, when they saw the complexity and size of the project, coupled with the sweltering summer heat, they rapidly disappeared. It wasn't until about the 12 th mile that Bob came out to lend a hand, probably logging 100-120 hours but leaving before completion to be with his wife as she battled cancer. She passed on before the trail was completed.
Another volunteer named Mark Sibel was there during the final completion of the last mile. The last day of working on the trail, Paul was quoted to say, "There should be bands playing and the sound of trumpets," but there wasn't. It was a gloomy, gray, fall day with a chill in the air. Just as Paul and Mark started to leave it began to drizzle. Not a very fitting end for such a major altruistic achievement. Paul Gruber had logged over 1800 man hours in a one year period and spent thousands of dollars building a mountain bike trail which he named "Gruber's Grinder," for the many cuts, broken bones and lost riders. "Gruber's Grinder" is one man's dream and a memorial that will last years after he is gone.
Written by Diane Maugeri