Unbound Gravel 20222022.06.30
Unbound Gravel 2022,” said to be the world’s largest gravel race, which took place June 2-4, and this was our first-time exhibit for the event.
The place we toke part in was in the United States Emporia, Kansas, where is a region rich in the folklore of the American Old West and was the home to the nomadic bison hunters.
While the COVID19 has prevented US to unite overseas, we have attended an event there for the first time in some years.
I personally am from the U.S., but it has been seven years since I have been back to my home country.
After an 11-hour flight from Narita Japan, we arrived in Chicago.
Since we arrived in the evening, we immediately arranged for a rental car and drove 359 km to Springfield Kansas, our stopover point.
Since the driving roads are on the left side in Japan, I kept chanting “Drive on the right side” in my head.
Arrived safely at the hotel and checked in the hotel.
It’s called the “Horseshoe”.
This is an open sandwich that originated in Springfield, Illinois.
The ingredients are a thick slice of toast, a hamburger patty, French fries, cheese sauce, and… well…you get the idea. In other words, it’s a massive calorie pile.
I wonder how many km of ride distance you would have to put on to burn it off…
From the 16-hour trip, we were existed, and it tasted so good!
I am now ready to take on the road trip and the Unbound 2022.
The Unbound Gravel EXPO has finally started.
Setting up the Booth early in the morning, under the clear and blue sky of Kansas. Is something refreshing.
And the bright, reborn Panaracer purple color looks great in the blue sky of Kansas.
We were lucky to have a chance to meet our fellow riders and cyclists at our booth.
We had a variety of questions and chats, with strategy meetings with our riders about tire sizes, models, air pressure and settings for Unbound strategies with our Panaracer support riders.
Let’s have a peak in the bikes with our great and sophisticated riders.
Some of the bikes were those that are familiar in Japan, some were not, and fortunately, many manufacturers’ bikes were equipped with Gravelking’s.
The trend we saw was that tire widths are rapidly increasing in the market.
As well as tire width, we saw the demand in higher resistance in tougher surfaces.
We received a lot of material for consideration, which will be helpful in the future product plannings.
We also had chance to meet our Panaracer support riders at the booth.
Nick is based in Australia, but this year he has set his racing base in the U.S. and has begun full-fledged in the Gravel races in the contry.
We had a chance to talk with him after the course trial.
This will be Nick’s second time riding in Unbound.
He choice was the GravelKing SK Plus 700 x 43C.
He was considering the 38C after several test ridings, he chose the air volume and toke the decision riding in 43c’s.
From his comments, “This is a tried and tested tire for me.
It’s a great race tire, really quick and gives me the grip I need also with great puncture protection, and I feel this is the right choice for the 200”.
Isabel our bright California orange girl.
This will be her second time in her cycling career to ride in Unbound.
In the photo, she is this year’s Gravelking 2022 Limited Edition Ginger, but her race setup is GravelKing SK Plus front and rear,
with different size choices: 700 x 43C front and 700 x 38C rear.
From her comments.
“I will put a 38 on the back, 43 on the front, A little bit mullet set up will give me a little bite more cushion just in case I hit some chunky rocks out there.
I road the SK plus tires last year and had really good luck so I hope I can carry that influence here”
For the colored Gravelking that Isabel’s riding, check out the link for the new limited edition of the Panaracer colored Gravelking limited edition 2022.
And of course, our rider from Japan Kae.
Its her 5th time attending the Unbound, she shared us the episode of her debut in Unbound and the course that changes every year.
Her selection of tires was, the GravelKing SS plus 700x43c.
Since it looked like there were some rain clouds coming in, she chose the GravelKing SS Plus 700x43c considering some mud clogging up the tread, and good controlling as well.
And we had some chance to talk about the flints in the course.
Originally, flints were sharp stones that Native Indians used to attach to the tips of their spears, so the sharp stones slice the sides of the tires on the downhill sections.
So, lets check the geological map of the course.
By comparing the geological map of Kansas with the course of the 200-mile race, we can see that the course is set in an area known as the Flint Hills, which is composed of limestone, sandstone, shale, and other rocks.
|Reference: “Kansas Geological Survey.”
|Reference: “200 REROUTE – Garmin Unbound Gravel 2022”
The trouble here is that the sharp flints, are thought to be the cause of punctures caused by side cut of the tires.
Here are the stones we picked up at the site which causes the damage.
After two days of the EXPO, the Unbound Gravel 2022 race will finally begins.
With nearly 4,000 riders.
The racecourse includes 25 miles (approx. 40 km), 50 miles (approx. 80 km), 100 miles (approx. 160 km), 200 miles (approx. 320 km), and XL (approx. 563 km).
From this section, all sorts of rides gather at the start line to achieve their own goals form the age of 10 to 89 years.
With the riders, we found some would tour athletes as well to line up at the start.
The unbound 200 starts at 6:00AM, we made there at 5:00 in the morning and the crowds including galleries came out to the starting line.
The start of the race was vigorous.
After seeing the riders take off to their journey, we left to check the course for gathering some clues.
An endless gravel road stretching all the way.
How great would it feel to pedal through the magnificent scenery.
We could see before and after the rain clouds came in, and the sand gets packed and see more gravel on the surface.
We were surprised to find that this section of the route crosses a highway, and local volunteers were helping out with traffic.
So, we jumped in and help out with the team.
The XL division (536km), the longest race started on 3:30 June 3rd.
Riders have to ride through the course without any support.
Winner of the category finished in a time of 20 hours and 17 minutes, an average of 27.7km/h.
It is an impressive moment that when pedaling through the harshest conditions pushing through midnight, motivating each other.
Maybe next year, some one from Panaracer will take on the challenge…