THIS PAST WEEKEND my lottery ticket entry into 2020's Unbound 100 mile event was cashed in 2021.
I am sad to report I did not make the checkpoint cutoff time on the 100 mile Unbound course in order to continue on. My 54.8 miles took me over 5.5 hours to complete. Race started at 7am, cut off was 12:30pm with cut off departure at 1pm. I didn't get there till after 1pm.
The Unbound finish line in Emporia, Ks is in itself one of the reasons I love this specific race. There is something about that final stretch that is rewarding and makes the miles worth it. I sit here feeling disappointed and incomplete for not having that experience this year. To the point it is like I wasn't even there. I came home without a finishers cup or sticker. I just have a dirty bike, a sunburn, crap to put away and sore lady parts.
MY RIDE: The first 33 miles was fast (for me). It was tough but I felt good. I had plenty of time to get the next 21 miles to reach the checkpoint with time to spare. Then mile 38 came. I had a known bike issue looked at prior to the event but not the time to get it repaired. When shifting from low to high gear in front, I had to make sure I was in the lower 4 gears in back to shift to front big ring or it would push the chain off and onto my right peddle. Beginning at mile 38 I had this happen twice at bad times causing me to lose a good roll up the next hill. I'd have to stop, put the chain back on, then muscle up the incline from a dead stop.
With 15 miles to go, I found I was out of water. I had a chance to snag some a couple miles prior but thought I still had a full bottle under my seat only to realize when I went for it, the bottle was empty. I had already swapped it out. No water made it difficult to want to eat my dry bars which in turn made it difficult to climb. Shade was scarce during whole course, so the sun was taking its toll on me as well. Slowly the cutoff time cushion evaporated.
I realized I was not going to make it with 8-9 miles to go.
I was pissed. I let myself down. I walked 3, maybe 4 hills in those last miles, I don't remember as I was cussing under my breath and holding back tears because it didn't matter anymore. I was done after I reached CG. Fifty four point eight (54.8) miles for nothing is all I was thinking then. Honestly, I still feel that way a bit now. Trying not to dwell. But my personal competitive seed is going nuts over this failed finish.
MY POSITIVE TAKE: Aside from the shortcoming at Unbound 2021, I still rode 54.8 miles on THE most technical gravel I have ever ridden/seen. I can't believe this was the exact same 100 mile route I had ridden and completed in the same event in 2019 (Back then it was known as the DK). But as anyone knows, gravel roads never stay the same. My 2015 Bombpop Blue Fargo and I climbed and descended some pretty sketchy shit. Grated roads, washed outs, new sharp gravel chunks, even some thick pebble like stuff (what I call Nebraska gravel) several sections were so "new" the only line to ride was a 6 inch wide rut on the far left or right of the gravel road. These are things normally freak me out, but I rode successfully that day. I was so glad I had recently put new Teravail Sparwood tires on the week before as my previous tires would have been toast under these road conditions. . . even tubeless.
Also, this was the first time I brought kids to a race I was riding. The kids got to see me start a race and sorta end a race. It was cool to see them all in the bright pink Pink Gravel event tees with the Pink Gravel flag waving tall. My crew was waiting with hugs, smiles AND water. There were five in our group that Pink Gravel supported that day for the 100 mile course. At the checkpoint, I was rejoined by another from our group. Due to lack of room in the Pink Gravel SAG van, she and I grabbed a cooler of water and beer and sat under a tree to watch the 200 mile riders blast through as we waited for our ride to return from dropping the crew off back in Emporia. It took my mind off of what I was missing in downtown Emporia at least for awhile.
Once I got back to the camper, my daughters left, my husband returned from his finish, we ate dinner and were asleep by 8:30pm. I was too tired to venture back downtown. Though, I admit, I regret not making more of an effort to go. I guess I also got caught up in my personal disappointment.
Prior to June 5, 2021, I had decided this was going to be my last 100 mile race. It would have been my 3rd attempted and third finish for 100 miles. I was gonna stick with shorter distances for good.
Well. . . I just can't let it end like this. I now have unfinished Unbound business.
Gonna play that Unbound Lottery one more time.
Ps. I want to thank my friends, Mark and Renee, for allowing Pink Gravel to be apart of their expo tent on Friday. I am honored that they invite Pink Gravel to be apart of the Pony Express Gravel Dash held in September by being SAG hosts. This will be the 8th year for the event. Find a registration link to their event on the "FIND US HERE" tab.
I am just a 40 something married lady with kids who likes to ride gravel when life lets me. Just so happens I was called into the Cancer Club on October 31, 2019. Fought my fight with surgery, chemo, radiation, friends, family and lots of dark humor. I find sharing my experience helps me. Maybe it can help you.