Is Unbound too 'epic'? Legends of gravel race defend its difficulty and revisit its gnarliest editions

'It's good that we get a hard one every couple of years to remind people this event is not easy’

Scenes from the 2022 Unbound Gravel race
(Image credit: Snowy Mountain Photography)

Unbound Gravel was built to be epic. When it was first ridden in 2006, the event lacked all the trappings of an elite sporting event. In fact, it was built as an antidote to what existed, offering instead an all-day, all-consuming, self-supported adventure in the beautiful and barren Flint Hills of Kansas. 

From a glorified group ride that was run on printed-out queue sheets and visits to general stores, the event has grown to the elite event that it is today. Yet, a certain degree of self-sufficiency, bike-fixing know-how and sense of adventure is still required. Organizers even demand that riders in many of the race distances bring or hire a support crew to get them back to Emporia, should something go awry. 

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Logan Jones-Wilkins

Logan Jones-Wilkins is a writer and reporter based out of the southwest of the United States. As a writer, he has covered cycling extensively for the past year and has extensive experience as a racer in gravel and road. He has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Richmond and enjoys all kinds of sports, ranging from the extreme to the endemic. Nevertheless, cycling was his first love and remains the main topic bouncing around his mind at any moment.