Life Time Unveils 2022 Unbound Gravel Paths

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This year Unbound Gravel will head south of Emporia, with nearly 10,000 feet of elevation gain in the Flint Hills of Kansas available for the 200-mile race that is the anchor of the six-race Life Time Grand Prix series.

“People who have walked the south route from 2016 to 2018 will know many of these routes,” said Unbound Gravel event manager Ben Sachs, who designed this year’s route and turned his hat to the designers. of the first courses of the race. “LeLan [Dains] and Jim [Cummins] they explored a lot over there and found a lot of good ones. I’ve found some little hidden gems that haven’t been used before, or at least in over a decade, and I’ve remixed the order we do things. ”

The 100-mile, 200-mile, and 350-mile XL routes overlap. The 100-mile course is, for example, the first 40 and last 60 miles of the 200-mile event, with a short 1.5-mile link. And the XL uses about 190 miles of the 200-mile race. This is done largely to reduce the clutter of emergency services to reach motorcyclists if needed. There are also 25 and 50 mile events that lurk in the same streets.

Sachs said he expects this year’s 200-mile edition to be fast, not necessarily because of the choice of road, but “because more and more fast people show up and compete.”

Ian Boswell won the 2021 Unbound Gravel 200 in 10 hours and 15 minutes, with an average power of 247 watts and a normalized power of 280 watts.

Ian Boswell won the 2021 men’s edition and Lauren De Crescenzo won the women’s 200-mile main distance race.

Gravel free from numbers

Unbound Gravel features checkpoints where bikers can get help from their support crews and also neutral water oases where anyone can get water. Motorcyclists cannot receive personalized outside help at other points. (Bikers can get water from the locals who often hand out bottles by the roadside.) In the XL, no outside help is allowed, so riders must be self-sufficient, but can stop at shops or gas stations .

  • Unbound Gravel XL – 352 miles – 14,219 feet – 0 checkpoint
  • Unbound Gravel 200 – 204.6 miles – 9,703 feet – 2 checkpoints – 2 water oases
  • Unbound Gravel 100 – 104.8 miles – 5,271 feet – 1 checkpoint – 1 oasis
  • Unbound Gravel 50 – 52.2 miles – 2,054 feet – 1 rescue station
  • Unbound Gravel 25 – 25 miles – 777 feet – 1 rescue station

Related: Colin Strickland’s secret sauce for Unbound Gravel? Stay calm and confident

Hills, water, mud and rocks

The southern route has no climbs as long as the northern options, like the one used in 2021, but there are a handful of climbs of around 150 feet with double-digit gradients.

“The hardest and steepest climbs are Teter, what is affectionately known as The Biatch, Canyon Hill and Judge Hill,” said Sachs. “But what the south has that the north doesn’t have are the ridges that create these long undulating climbs that wear you down.”

“Some of the most beautiful terrain is found at the top of the Texaco Hill ridge. In the 2016 edition, they climbed and surpassed this ridge in the first 65 miles, “Sachs said.” In this route, we cross it straight and return to the part of the route around mile 140. This divides the longer climbs and makes it more exciting”.

There are no mountains in Kansas, but the rolling Flint Hills add significant elevation over the course of 200 miles. (Photo: Tim Mohn)

Sachs said he minimized water crossings.

“Even though I really like the adventurous aspect, with more and more people competing, this is a safety element that makes me nervous,” he said.

That said, mile 27 at Camp Creek features what Sachs calls a “significant” water passage, then there are some shallow water bridges that could end up under water if the area gets a lot of rain.

Motorcyclists who have read or read about the 2015 edition remember how mud ended the races of many riders only in the first couple of miles. That section has been pulled out.

“I still wanted to have a piece like that – a famous or infamous part of the south course – but put it on later in the day when people are sparse instead of in a big crowd,” he said.

All Unbound Gravel routes this year go south. This is the 200 mile route.

Speaking of infamous, the area’s sharp flint rocks have always been a defining part of the race. Flat tires are not guaranteed, but are likely for many riders.

“Nothing is guaranteed, but the roads in the south are generally smoother than those in the north near Alma, for example,” Sachs said. “There are still some difficult spots around Texaco Hill, the longest climb. And a nice spot around Willow Creek about 125 miles has some big fist-sized rocks scattered across the road. So it’s a place to watch out for. ”

You can watch every route on UnboundGravel.com now.

Also this year VeloNews will cover Unbound Gravel on site and preparation for the most important gravel race in the world.

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