John Perry is an old friend from my motocross days who has made an enthusiastic leap into the world of gravel racing. He’s finished the 200-miler in Emporia twice, raced the Gravel Worlds as well as a handful of other smaller gravel races. Thanks to our friends at Lifetime, RBA was able to get two entries to Unbound Gravel this year and besides having our own David use one for his third effort at the 200, I offered the other to John.
And to my surprise, instead of signing up for the 200, JP finally came to his senses and decided to ride the 100 mile event which, for good reason, has been my personal choice for my three races. In anticipation of his big hundy to come, I asked John to jot down a few notes in in the days leading up to his drive out to Kansas. – Zap
EMPORIA, KANSAS – THE THIRD TIME CHARM
By John Perry
June is here and that means Unbound Gravel. the Holy Grail of gravel. racing is happening on June 4th.
It’s going to be my third venture into the Flint Hills of Kansas and I can’t wait for the adventure to start. This year however I’m going about it in a different way than in the past…as in 100 miles difference.
I had signed up in the lottery but didn’t get in I was somewhat relived and disappointed at the same time. However, even if I wasn’t going to race I still planned to make the trip anyway just to ride the ride the Kansas gravel and watch the race unfold in person.
Of course, with my Unbound tourist plan firmly in place, one month out from the event Zap calls me and asks if I would want to race the Unbound again. And of course, I answered yes. He then asked which event the 200 miler or the 100 miler.
The 2021 event didn’t go as planned but I finished after having a big crash 60 miles into the 200 mile distance. In all the preparation for the event I had never really thought about crashing and it made for a long 140 miles to make it to the finish.
So to answer Zap’s questions about which distance I would ride was easy and here’s why: about 30 miles from the finish last year I was following a fellow racer and saw them crash. I stopped to make sure they were okay and they were so I kept pedaling. However, at that moment I had an epiphany! As I got back on my bike I looked around and saw the sunset was so amazing, I realized that I had not even been looking at the beauty that was surrounding me for the last 140 miles because I was too focused on finishing the event .
Another reason to ride the 100 miler is that for the last two Unbound events I’ve had lights but left them at the last aid station both times. In 2019 I did not need them and in 2021, I could have used them for sure and had to rely on my cell phone for light the last 15 miles.
I answered Zap the 100 miler, I want to really enjoy the surrounding Flint Hills this time.
This year is also going to be different in that the course is going south instead of north like the past two times that I’ve done Unbound, all the more reason to only do 100 miles and lights will defiantly not be needed.
I’m ready as I’ve still been training all spring with Tom Danielson and his Cinch Program. My Giant Revolt Advanced 0 I’m riding is the same one I rode last year with full Shimano GRX 810 drivetrain, 40mm Maxxis Ramblers tires with Cush Core inserts and Stan’s sealant. The only change I’m making will be to the Garmin Rally XC200 power meter mountain bike pedals (last year I used Garmin’s road pedals). Nutrition is the same I’m using a variety of products from Hammer Nutrition; Heed, Fizzes, Gels and Perpetuem and MindFX.
And not that we’ll be riding together, but just the other day I learned that Peter Sagan will be riding in the 100 as well. Now that should be a welcome addition!
Let’s hope for no crashes, flats or mechanicals and to having the best day being a sightseer in the Flint Hills starting at 7:00AM June 4, 2022.