It was 2019 and the big race was still called "Dirty Kanza" and nobody had heard of a thing called CoVid. Taylor Norton was lucky and made it into the famous (infamous?) gravel grinder that winds through 200 miles of dirt, rock, mud and pain in the Flint Hills of Kansas. The ride went well with Taylor for 50 or so miles and then stomach trouble turned the experience into something really unpleasant. At 100 miles Taylor knew that a finish was not in the cards so he pulled the plug and signaled his DNF with a ceremonial barf on the side of the road. On the long lonely ride back to Emporia, Taylor was already hoping for another chance at going the full 200 mile distance in 2020.
And then, a nasty little bug from China arrived. Unbound 2020 was not going to happen. We all had other things to worry about.
Then, controversy brought attention to the possible derogatory interpretation of the name of the race and so "Unbound Gravel" was born for the year 2021. Travel was still a thing in 2021 and Taylor did not enter the newly renamed race.
As the country began to relax in 2022 our buddy Thang Luong made it into the big race and Taylor did not. Thang was carrying the banner for The Bikery and he was setting a high bar for himself with hopes for a finish before the sunset on the Flint Hills. Cut tire after cut tire plagued Thang and after a heroic ride on mostly flat tires for almost 50 miles Thang threw in the towel at mile 150. Thang was done for the day but he wasn't finished with Kansas yet.
The full story of Thang's 2022 ride can be seen here.
Both Taylor and Thang feel like they have a score to settle with the big beautiful, ugly and unforgiving 200 miles of Kansas dirt roads. Surprisingly BOTH Taylor and Thang won a spot in the Unbound 200 for 2023 coming up Saturday June 3rd. As if that wasn't cool enough, John Johnson our Service Manager entered the lottery for the Unbound 100 mile event - and made it in. All 3 riders will be bringing Saint Pete vibes to the little town of Emporia and are determined to see the finish line.
Taylor, Thang and John are hoping to put it all together this year. It is a good bet that even another DNF won't put an end to their unbound enthusiasm for gravel and the desire to see just how far each rider can push themselves.