UNBOUND Gravel 200


My First Attempt at UNBOUND 200


Get ready to ride

Gravel racing is in my opinion one of the coolest experiences and type of racing. Everybody is so chill and laid back, and we are all there to have a good time. Not too long ago I decided to venture to Emporia Kansas to take a crack at one of the most prestigious gravel events in the world. Formally known as Dirty Kanza but now has been changed to Unbound 200, it is just that 200 miles of gravel, dirt, rocks, creek crossing etc. The emotions that one goes through from the start to finish of something like this is hard to put into words. Leading up to this race since I do not ride gravel, I had no idea what to expect, I went into this somewhat under prepared but thought since I have done several long rides before on road, I would be fine. One of the biggest things was ensuring I had the correct amount of food as well as tools and things needed in case of bike issues. For this event it is required that you have a support crew in case things go sideways. You are on your own once you start and if you need to stop you must call your support crew. There were two pit stops for the support crew to be at and have anything I may need, and then two small stops that just had water.




From 0-50 miles

I rolled up to the start line at about 5:45 am for a 6 am departure. While I knew I would not be in contention for the win with all the top pro riders here, I still wanted to position myself to the front of the race as much as possible to try an avoid crashes or being in the big group starting out. You could feel the excitement from all the riders and the people in the town, who support this event. 6 am the gun goes off and off we go for a long day of riding bikes. We spent the first 3 miles on paved roads getting out of town which we kept rather tame, but the second we hit the gravel it was game on. Quickly several of the top riders positioned themselves at the front to try and control the pace. From the pure excitement and adrenaline my heart rate quickly spiked in the early stages. I was a little nervous for how the day might go but so happy to be apart of such an iconic ride. The first 25-40 miles there were several crashes that happened right in front of me, which I barely avoided. This split the group up a decent amount and around 50 miles in I found myself riding solo through the first pit stop which was at 69 miles. I took my time at the pit stop to ensure I got everything I needed before heading back out. Pretty quickly I caught up to a group of 8 riders which also had the lead female in the group, they were keeping a pretty fast pace so I decided to join them and catch a little break.



From 100 miles to the finish line

It was rather deceiving going out as we had a pretty massive tailwind so not only did I feel good because I was still early on in the race but the strong 20 mph winds really helped make the first half go by. Through the first 100 miles I was actually feeling great, felt like I was conserving energy and was thinking to myself another 100 miles no big deal. Once I started the second half and the heat and winds picked up, I started to hurt some and question my sanity for doing something this long! Between miles 110-150ish I found myself riding solo which was mentally draining going into the winds. I got to the point where some of the big hills I actually was walking up them, my legs were getting really tired. Making it to the second team pitstop at 155 miles was all I was thinking about, and once I got there, I had doubts start to creep in my head that I may not be able to finish. After sitting down for a good 5-10 min the lead female rider came into the pit stop and I overhead that she had around a ten-minute lead. That quickly lit a fire in me to get on my bike and try to help her win. I got back on my bike rolled up next to the leader and asked if she would like me to help out with breaking the wind, she quickly became ecstatic and was very grateful. After about 10 hours in to racing I was ready to be off my bike and started to struggle pretty bad. I got to the point where any big hills I would walk, and any of the locals that had coolers out with water or coke I would stop to take a break and try to cool off. The last 20 miles of the race were some of the hardest ones of my life, I knew I was going to finish I just knew it was going to take a while to get there. Coming down the main street into the finish line was such an amazing feeling. It was one of the hardest and longest days I have ever spent on a bike and knowing that I accomplished the feat was such an incredible feeling. I came in with a time of just under 12.5 hours and mentally became a stronger athlete because of this experience. I highly recommend that anybody who wants an insane challenge to go and do this event just one time to see what it is about.




  • LOOK 765 Gravel bike
  • Irwin AON GX 35 Tubeless wheels
  • LOOK Pedals
  • Garmin 820 Computer
  • Two spare tubes
  • Two C02 Cartridges
  • Front and back lights
  • Multi tool
  • Patch Kit

Fuel Source

  • 9 bottles of PowerBar Iso active
  • 3 cans of Redbull
  • 3 cans of coke
  • 6 bottles of regular water
  • 8 Powerbar Gels
  • 4 Powerbar Bars
  • 4 pouches of Powerbar Gummies
  • 2 pieces of Pizza
  • 2 Breakfast burritos


Carbon gravel bike front wheel - IRWIN AON GX 35

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