Unbound Gravel 2024, Jonathan?

Hard pass on that

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I usually only ride outside if it’s 40 or above. I have a cycling friend who will occasionally suck me into riding in the 30s and honestly it sucks every time especially the first hour.

Trying to gear up is a pain. Although I did find a combo of Rapha bib tights and a velocio jacket that are super warm but if it gets near 50 I roast.


The idea of heading out in the mid-30’s for a race is really unappealing. My daughter also has a ALX game that AM, so that further swings the needle towards “Skip it”.

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It’s hard for me to get out of the house when it’s cold, but I’m usually fine after the first ~15 minutes. I start out with a fast downhill (painfully cold) then I have to ride in a valley to get away from my house and it’s always 10-15 degrees colder in the low areas. Then I’ve got a ~5’ climb to warmer air and climbing effort always has me warmed up.

I consider it “training”, particularly for racing Leadville. Leadville starts out in the high 30’s/low 40’s with a long downhill. I’ll go full summer kit with no arm warmers because you hit the first climb pretty quick and then you are plenty warm (unless it’s raining). My hands are the only thing that really, really bother me, but I’m not dealing with winter gloves to avoid 20 minutes of pain.

I definitely consider cold weather an advantage for racing. Cold and rainy even better, seems that half the field is defeated before the race starts.

But I generally agree with 40F+ being a good number for being comfortable without getting crazy with clothes. I am pretty comfortable if it’s over 40 with leg and arm warmers, vest, base layer, and buff around my neck.

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If it’s 40f+ I’m normally okay. Knee warmers. Arm warmers. Wind vest. Wool short sleeve baselayer.

My normal route I have some early climbs to help get me warm but usually takes me a good 30 minutes to really warm up.

Don’t recall seeing this discussed…

Unbound sent out an email saying they now have a waitlist available for the 2024 event. I did not think this was something they had done in the past so why would they start one now? Do they anticipate a lot of no shows or people deferring???

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Maybe I’m misremembering but I thought they did this last year.

I don’t know if they anticipate a lot of deferrals but I’m sure there are a fair number of people who have other commitments come up or get in injured during training, etc and need to defer.

Honestly, I think they are having a hard time filling out the 200 field this year. I have not heard of anyone not getting in through the lottery this year. the 100, yes…but not the 200. Additionally, as recently as a few weeks ago, the Unbound training camp was not sold out and they were actively marketing it and its guaranteed entry into the race. The camp has historically filled very quickly after the results of the lottery are announced.

So while the field may technically be filled for this year, they know a certain % will not show up and are therefore looking to cover their bases. At least that is how it appears to me.

Last year they messed up the product


They added a wait list pretty late for big sugar last year also. I assume it’s like the airlines where they only have so many “seats on the plane” approved for the event (permitting, planning, etc.) and they want to replace any deferrals with additional paying racers (ie - fill every available seat). I’ve always thought it was strange (particularly at leadville with a very limited number of spots allowed by the forest service) that they don’t sell additional spots when someone backs out. It will be interesting if they open a wait list for leadville this year as well.

If demand is down (as it appears it may be), I suspect this is ultimately the root cause.


I mean they’ve had mud years before. Do you think people were turned off by the race director’s decision to keep the mud section in rather than reroute?


I think it did. In my group of cycling friends I’m the only one who signed up.

I know people who put on group gravel rides, they tell there story of last year and most people don’t want to sign up after that story.


I think it is a combo of factors…the lack of the reroute, the worse-than-expected condition / length of the MMR (and associated damage to bikes) and finally the RD’s indifferent response to legitimate criticism.


There are also a lot more gravel events to choose from these days. We’ve got a local event that’s been going for about 10 years. It’s always sells out in the first hour of registration. This year, it still sold out eventually, but not right away like it has in the past. In Texas, there are now gravel races pretty much every weekend starting in January if you don’t mind some travel.

But I don’t think Unbound is hurting for participants. They have categories for pretty much anyone, whether you are a newbie on a walmart bike riding with friends or if you want to do an unsupported 350 miles in the mud, heat, or whatever they throw at you. I personally think the 200 and 350 are probably bigger than they should be. Mud can suck, but we are due for a hot year and that can be really dangerous for folks who may already be pushing themselves just to complete those distances.

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I guess l looked at it as even with a reroute the race was plenty tough. 100 and 200 miles on gravel is challenging even in good conditions. And I agree the RD’s indifferent response was off putting.

I think the whole race week experience there is fun but it seems to get more expensive each year


Yeah, that is undoubtedly part of it as well, along with the general logistics. Emporia doesn’t really have enough capacity for the race so it either gets really expensive (Hotels, VRBOs) or logistically challenging (no nearby towns to take the overflow)/

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4/5 people I know who tried to sign up for the XL did not get in, so demand for suffering there still seems very high despite the fact that it’s a $350 self supported “race”.


Hopefully this can provide some proof that their truly insane markup on the event entry held hostage behind entry in the camp is not sustainable.

They just opened up a waitlist for Crusher in the Tushar as well. I’m not sure if that race had a waitlist in previous years, but I’d bet waitlists are the new normal for lifetime events. Really, not much downside for racers or lifetime, except it makes the “no transfers” rule feel a bit more like a $ grab (which it is, but lifetime isn’t claiming to be a non-profit org).

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