Unbound XL, let’s go!

Well, I had dreams of adding some blog updates before this but things have been busy. But I didn’t want to ride off on my biggest ride without putting down a few thoughts ahead of it.

It’s currently 11AM, 4 hours until we roll out. The bike is packed and prepped, the last few lights are charging, and I have just a couple final things to cross off the to-do list before go time.

The energy in Emporia has been incredible – the whole town seems to be welcoming riders, from the used car dealership to the churches to the little businesses on Commercial St. The energy is high! Everywhere gravel riders chatting with each other and making new friends. I’ve seen BaseCamp folks and folks from our April camp, and already met several new people. It’s been really fun! And Paul and I have been able to enjoy the expo and hang out together:

Maple creemee!! If nothing else, I got to eat a delicious maple creemee 😀
Tiny car, big Paul! Tutti Inn is a gravel bike hotel in Canada!

It’s funny – I had nerves as we were packing up head out, but the nerves have been really low since we arrived here (despite the multiple thunderstorms and the course reroutes because of dangerous high water crossings).

T-storms and hail rolling in on Tuesday night

But, of course, this morning I woke up with race day butterflies. 350 miles is a LONG way, plus add the race component on top. Though, as Amber Neben would say, ‘get those butterflies in formation!’.

Packing up everything has been a game of Tetris and decisions. Do I bring the extra layer or the extra food? The extra chain or the extra battery? How long will I actually be out there? How much repair stuff will I need? How much of an issue will the mud be? Is my bike too heavy (probably not)? Is my backpack too heavy (probably)? Did I forget anything? What did I forget? What do I not know I really should bring?

I’m trying to approach these 350 miles with curiosity and excitement. What can my body and mind do? How can I just go out and have a fun adventure ride? I’m both looking forward to riding solo and to meeting and riding with folks on course. It looks like there will be 20 other women and 123 men toeing the start line with me. Very cool.

I hope to share more after the race – what I brought, what worked and what didn’t, and what I learned. If all goes well, this will be my longest ever ride in distance (previous is 202 miles last Oct. at Rexy) and time (previous is 20 hours, my first Everest).

For now, I’m off to check the settings on my front lights, tighten my cleats, take a hot shower, and keep eating and drinking (because really, this ride is an eating contest!). Here we go! ✨

Almost ready! Waiting for lights, bottles, and ME!

Author: cartwheelsandcake

Cyclist, climber, hiker, trail runner, back country skier, dabbling mountaineer Lover of cake, chocolate, brownies, and sweets. Excellent napper.

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