Mud. Walking. Driving rain. Baking sun...
By now you've read the recaps…These are the words set in history that will be used to encapsulate the days that were UNBOUND 2023.
Like the mud caked on the riders & bikes that travelled the miles surrounding Emporia, Kansas, these four descriptors are just the surface of a rider's experience. For each rider that lined up at the start, the "why" behind getting there and our reason for riding differs; each one equally important. Each one unique.
I've been thinking in the days since Unbound about how to describe what has been a very personal journey. Capturing that and distilling it down misses so much. So, I will share four highlights that were special to me over the course of my 205.43 Miles, 17 hours, 10 minutes and 41 seconds.
1) Community – The gravel family is a loving & supportive one. The words of encouragement, the sharing of resources and groups of friends or significant others that came to ride was awesome.
2) Nature – I've played outside in some capacity my whole life. It's at the heart of who I am. However, I don't think I have EVER played this hard, for this long, AND gotten this dirty. And it felt great.
3) Solitude – I had two moments during my ride where I was alone; once right after the rain stopped and once after sunset. The time after the rain was more inward looking, assessing my mental and physical state. While the time after the sunset was outward looking. I had a beautiful red full moon, frogs were singing and hopping all around,. It was peaceful. I was at peace. (my electronics, other than my light had all died at this point so attaining peace was made a little easier ;))
4) Growth – A lot about this type of riding is about setting a goal. Testing yourself. And finding out what the result is a the end. This was about to be my longest single day effort. New territory. I prepared as best I could but still wondered, "can I do this?" After starting though, I put that thought away and just decided to ride what lay ahead. Enjoy the ride, the conditions and make decisions as they needed to happen.
I'll finish with this: To all who rode, whether you finished or not, congrats. You got to experience something special. Keep on riding and seeking. I look forward to riding with many of you again next year!
– Thor Dieringer, General Manager of Route Werks