How to follow the action at gravel racing's premiere event
Unbound Gravel may be the most fun you can have at a gravel race. Thousands flock to the town of Emporia, Kans., every year to participate in one of the most grueling cycling challenges in the world, and soak in an electric atmosphere that’s fueled by an inclusive community of bike nuts.
Events range from 25 to 350 miles, but the original and most competitive event is the 200-miler beginning and ending in Emporia. Expect to see hardened gravel vets and WorldTour pros alike lining up next to one another to vie for one of the most cherished prizes in the sport.
Every year, Unbound gets bigger and better than ever. Here’s a look at what to watch for in 2022.
Ride with Kiel!
Are you in Emporia? Come ride with Kiel Reijnen!
Kiel Reijnen will be representing Trek at Unbound. The former Trek-Segafredo rider will be racing the event for the third time. He took sixth in 2019, and had a VERY eventful race in 2021 in which he ran 18 miles in his socks after breaking his wheel.
Before Saturday’s race, Kiel will be hosting two group rides. The first is at noon on Thursday, and the second is at 10 a.m. on Friday. Both rides will meet at 8th Ave. and Mechanic St. in Emporia.
Be there and meet the man himself. Oh, and be sure to check out his new video about life in the Pacific Northwest:
The 200-mile course begins and ends in Emporia, about 60 miles southwest of Topeka. The route makes a twisty loop around the Flint Hills, and features more than 7,500 feet of climbing.
Riders will take on every manner of natural obstacle — dirt (and potential mud, with some precipitation in the forecast), rocks, ruts, river crossings and more. The entire route is self-guided, with check-ins in Eureka at 77.4 miles and Madison at 164.1 miles. There is also a water oasis in Hamilton at 119 miles.
Otherwise, riders are entirely on their own. They have to handle mechanical issues by themselves, and rely on personal support crews for fuel and moral support at key points along the course.
How to watch
FloBikes will stream the race globally beginning at noon Central Time. The broadcast will run for nearly seven hours, and will catch viewers up on any action they missed earlier in the day.
If you happen to be in the Emporia area, Unbound is hosting a number of watch parties, which may be the best way to experience the race if you have the opportunity.