We ALL play bikes! Obed at Unbound
This past weekend saw yet another epic edition of Unbound Gravel. An exercise in patience, determination, suffering, excitement and exultation saw a collective of like-minded masochists take on a new route circumventing the dirt roads south of Emporia, Kansas. It’s the distance, the rolling Flint Hills, sharp rocks that love to slice sidewalls like a hot knife through warm butter, and hundreds upon hundreds other graveleurs ahead, behind and next to you, primed for the challenge of the day.
As is custom, Obed was on hand for the revelry. It all started with a boisterous pre-race expo. Our booth was packed with riders checking out the new GVR, a bike that’s already seen victory at races across the country this season.
We were also serving up free mechanical service for Obed athletes that rolled up to the booth. Quick derailleur adjustments, safety checks to ensure things were to the proper torque tightness, and a few little bent derailleur bailouts and we had athletes primed for race day.
Ah, race day.
In the days leading up, people were, shall we say, nervous. A big of rain (well, a big of a deluge) fell on the Emporia area a few days before the race, and it was less about which tires to run for speed and traction on dry terrain, and more about which tires would pack less mud into the brakes, fork crown and drivetrain.
While those concerns were assuaged the day before the race with enough sun and warmth to dry out most of the course, there were certainly still quite a few areas of standing water… which, as the race wore on and riders churned through the mess, turned the wet path into rutted, snaking mud routes that sent more than one rider into the quagmire.
How do we know? Our team was right there, in the fray. Obed’s expo contingent turned into a de facto race collective, tackling all the events on race day.
It kicked off Friday with Obed assembly expert Austin Sullivan. An ultra-distance ace, he took on the diabolical Unbound XL, a 350-mile sojourn that started Friday, and with an overnight of riding on tap, and didn’t finish until the next day. Battling nutritional issues, Sullivan was managing his effort when a fellow rider crashed in the dark after midnight with injuries that required a call to emergency services. Sullivan stayed with the fallen rider for over an hour and a half, sacrificing his own race ambitions to finish 38th overall, rolling across the finish in 26 hours, 29 minutes with longtime pal (and VeloNews editor) Betsy Welch. It wasn’t the race he wanted, but in doing the right thing, it was the race he got—and one we salute.
The rest of our team was busy with the “shorter” events (if there’s such a thing at Unbound). Obed CEO Peter Hurley took on the 50-mile event, notching a 60th place overall finish (out of over 500 starters) in 3:05.
Unbound 100-miler saw the duo of Obed engineer Brad DeVaney and expo manager Michael McNair out for a solid day in the saddle. DeVaney finished the century in 7:08 (a top 30 percent result against the entire field), while the effervescent, take-on-all-challenges McNair finished in 9:30—because more time on course equals more fun!
Of course, we celebrate Obed pro Angela Naeth. No longer an unknown quantity in the gravel game, the pro triathlete-turned-graveler faced a stacked pro women’s field in the 200, and came away with a top 15 result in 11:27, earning more confidence on challenging terrain that varies wildly from her road riding acumen, all achieved with a smile.
As all athletes headed home from Unbound 2022, there’s a mix of emotion. Redemption. Frustration. Achievement. Some have ticked the box. Others will be back to finish what they started.
And all of ‘em will still be working dirt and mud out of places they never knew existed, while throwing away that darned paint stirrer. Congrats, Unbound athletes!
Shop Obed Gravel