Unstoppable at Unbound: 10 Questions with Angela Naeth
If you’re an ardent gravel racer and haven’t heard of Angela Neath, you’re not alone. However, if you’ve come over from the triathlon realm, the Canadian is a very familiar name; a three-time Ironman champ, a multiple-time Ironman 70.3 champ, Naeth has been one of the most respected names on the pro triathlon circuit for years.
This June, Naeth decided to take on a new challenge: gravel racing. On her debut, she took on one of the most respected gravel races out there—Unbound in Emporia, Kansas… and came out with a remarkable sixth-place finish in a field loaded with some of the best gravel racers in America.
We had so many questions about her experience… and so did you! So after a query for questions, we selected 10 questions for Angela to answer here.
1.) What gear are you running on the bike? (bar extension/bags etc)? Nutrition plan/products? Gearing 2x vs. 1x? Why? Repair kit? Congrats on the finish!
My Obed Boundary is built with Shimano Dura Ace 9170 Di2 and Pro components, including a Vibe stem and seatpost, Discovery bars and Missile Clip-on aero bars. The bike is a 2x11 setup with 50-34 and 11-30. We chose 2x because it limits the jump between gears. The kit on the bike included a spare tube, tire levers, C02 inflator and Stans dart tool. I use a Pro saddlebag and bento box.
2.) What are your race hydration and fueling strategies? What worked, and what didn’t?
I had SO many calories! I had three Orange Mud hydration packs. I started with one and had one at each support stop, filled with Powerbar IsoActive. At the water stops, I carried PowerBar Isoactive powder and refilled the one pack one time. On my bike, I carried two bottles of Isoactive Powerbar and filled these as well at both water stops and powder of Isoactive, and switched them out with full bottles at each support stop. It was a total of 12 bottles of Isoactive and four large hydration packs‑a LOT of fluids. As for fueling, I had roughly 15 to 20 PowerBar gels - half of them caffeinated. I had one PowerBar I chewed on at mile 100. Overall, I think my fueling was fantastic. I would have started with caffeine a little earlier though; I didn't have my first caffeinated gel until mile 85.
3.) What size tires did you use?
The tires used were 700 x 40 Maxxis Ramblers with Silk Shield Protection
4.) How much thought went into tire choice for the ride? Tire width, tread, tpi count, psi, etc.?
I was lucky enough to have good information ahead of the race. As a result, we knew we needed high protection tires. The Maxxis Rambler is an excellent choice for loose-over-hard surfaces. The Silk Shield protection provided the right amount of durability and ride-ability. We started with a moderate 35 psi, and during the days before the race, we were able to work down to the 26psi front and 28psi rear that we raced on. As for the size, 40mm provided the right mix of grip and rolling need for the unique surface of Unbound.
5.) What burrito bag did you use?
Hmm, I didn't use one!
6.) What is the most challenging part of that distance?
The constant grind and miles on my own. I did over 70 percent of the ride on my own. Mental games and the headwinds were the big challenges!
7.) Did your experience in Ironman training come in as an asset to keep from getting sucked into going too hard too early, and pacing out an even effort, start to finish?
100%. If you were to look at my power and HR file it was paced even throughout the entire race.
8.) Was having steady sections you could ride in the aerobars a "comfort zone" for you in an event like this, or are you just as happy riding technical sections?
So much so. I love my gravel setup and it allows me to ride aero—which I'm the most comfortable with.
9.) Did you run Di2 on your extensions, and did that help you stay locked into the bars?
Yes, I used single button Dura Ace shifters on the aerobars, wired to a five-port junction box, so they are easily removed if needed.
10.) Is gravel a curiosity for you, or are you committed to doing more this year and splitting your season between gravel and triathlon?
100%. I have signed up for at least four other gravel races. You’ll see me do both gravel and tri from here forward!