It was 4 o’clock in the morning when I saw it. A white mask floating in the blackness ahead of me; two black holes where eyes should be, a white ghost catching the glow of my dynamo light. Is this the spirit of gravel? It was coming closer and closer until…holy cow! Cow! Cow!
Two cows were headed straight toward me and my newfound riding buddy on a narrow gravel farm road somewhere in the middle of Kansas. I’d been on my bike for 13 hours straight at that point. I had slogged through concrete-like mud for hours and was in a serious sleep- and calorie-deficit. By now, I had fully accepted that I’d started hallucinating, but that wouldn’t come for another few hours yet. We were simply encountering our first wildlife, some 170 miles into the Unbound XL. Unbound XL: The Ultimate Test of Tenacity
The face of someone who has no idea what they’re about to undertake The Unbound XL is a self-supported, 350-ish mile gravel race part of the world-renowned Unbound Gravel weekend in Emporia, Kansas. You start the afternoon before the marquee 200-mile event and ride through the night until you reach the finish line some 22 to 36 hours later. Rather than an overnight bikepacking race, this is a sleep-depriving adventure that tests your endurance, tenacity and equipment. There’s no support; you’re in charge of your own fueling and mechanicals, and you’re required to bring or hire someone willing to drive out to the middle […]