Women Racers at UnboundJan Heine
Gravel racing – like randonneuring, passhunting and other cycling adventures – has always welcomed women racers as equals. We’re excited to see so many women head to the Flint Hills of Kansas this weekend for Unbound, the world’s most famous gravel race. We caught up with three of them to see what they’ll be riding.
Amanda Naumann won the women’s category of the grueling 200-mile race in 2014 and 2015. This year, she’s entering the Unbound XL, which covers 350 miles (563 km). “Once I got the Gravel Grail from five finishes in the 200-mile event, I set my sights on the next challenge,” said Amanda. “Preparing for the 350-mile event brought me back to the feeling I had in 2015, of setting out into the unknown, where I didn’t even know if I could finish. That’s the feeling I thrive off – I’m so excited for this crazy ride next week.”
She’s put aerobars on her Niner, and she plans to run either Rene Herse 700C x 42 Hurricane Ridge Endurance Plus or 700C x 48 Oracle Ridge Endurance tires.
Laura King has watched her partner Ted race and win in Kansas for many years. This year, she decided to enter the race herself. Anybody who has seen her ride knows that she’s a force to be reckoned with. Laura is planning to put 700C x 38 Steilacoom Endurance tires on her Cannondale.
With parents like that, it’s only a matter of time until little Hazel also flies across the 200-mile course. How about a kid’s race, Unbound organizers?
Lael Wilcox doesn’t need an introduction here. After last week’s warm-up on the Oregon Outback, Lael is heading to Kansas to defend her women’s title in the Unbound XL. She plans to swap the smooth 700C x 55 Antelope Hill Extralights on her Specialized for Fleecer Ridge Endurance knobbies in the same size – with perhaps a 48 mm Oracle Ridge on the rear for extra mud clearance.
We’ll be cheering for Amanda, Laura, Lael and all the other female (and male) racers this weekend. Gravel racing welcomes all riders, and we’re proud to be part of that!
• Amanda is one of the organizers of Mammoth Tuff, a gravel event in the eastern Sierra Nevada of California.
• Laura and Ted host their own gravel ride and race, Rooted Vermont.
• Lael hosts the “Lael Rides Alaska” Femme-Trans-Women’s Scholarship.
Photo credits: Jim Merithew (Kali Protectives, Photo 1); Kevin Fickling (Shimano, Photo 2); Brian Bailey (Photo 3); Rugile Kaladyte (Photo 4).