21 October, 2021
Pachamama: Tears of Joy
At this point, most people know the lasting impression that gravel cycling has. Under a gravel mindset , we seek to have fun, discover new and incredible places, lose ourselves and find ourselves. But is there a place for competition in this very experiential and burgeoning discipline? The folks of Emporia show us that there is, and teach us how to blend gravel around a local community.
Emporia (Kansas) is a small town in the Midwest of the United States. At first glance, it seems like a quiet town, where calm normally reigns, but when June 4 hits, the town transforms. Hundreds of gravel enthusiasts flood the streets to enjoy Unbound, one of the largest, most diverse and dignified races that you can find in this discipline. It breathes all things gravel.
The town fills with colour when the event arrives. People of all regions come together to enjoy the wonderful, natural spaces that Emporia and its surroundings have to offer. There’s no better metaphor for what gravel means than what Unbound has represented for 15 years: people of different ages, nationalities, cultures and physical skills pedaling on the same path, enjoying biking.
Emporia is gravel, and gravel is diversity.
The Unbound faces
Gravel as a way of life
Adam Kachman is crazy for bikes, and after participating in Unbound, he’s fallen in love with the sensation of racing again. Lelan, Kristi Mohn, Yuri Hauswald, Zander Ault, Marley Blonsky and Heidi Rentz are great examples of other people who attest to events like Unbound; it feeds the spirit and uncovers an excitement that you haven’t felt in a long time.
A race will always have that competitive element, but races like Unbound show us that there are countless ways to embrace a challenge. The experience in Emporia is a realization that gravel and competition complement each other, create a community and connect places and people.