At VOORMI, we began with a simple question: why do things the way they've always been done? By challenging the norm, we've developed gear that's built to perform in the toughest conditions. Our team rigorously field tests every piece, and we’re excited to share their stories, with and without our product in use, with you. We hope these tales inspire your own journeys, and we invite you to share your experiences with us! 

Adventure: Unbound Gravel Bike Race
Where: Emporia, KS
Dates: May, 30th - June 2nd
Products Used: Women’s Chalet, Women’s River Run Hoodie, Men’s High-E Hoodie, Men’s River Run Hoodie
Accommodation: Truck Campers
Team Members: Keith and Kimberly

The Story:
Annually, Emporia, Kansas becomes the epicenter for over 2,000 riders participating in a thrilling gravel bike race called, ‘Unbound’. With ride lengths spanning from 25 to 200 miles, there's a challenge suited for every level of gravel bike enthusiast. This year, Keith opted for the demanding 200-mile route, while Kimberly proudly registered for the 50-mile course (she insists it's 56.8 miles, to be precise). Unbound turned out to be an adventure for Keith and Kimberly. Below are their stories.


Keith’s 200-mile Journey

The morning air was crisp and filled with anticipation as the Unbound 200-mile race began. At 5:50 am, the elite men and women riders shot off, disappearing into the horizon. Keith and his friends, mere mortals in this realm of superhumans, set off at 6:30 am, their spirits high and their determination unwavering.

From the start, Keith and his friends maintained an impressive pace of 17-18 MPH for the first 70 miles, a stark contrast to the elite riders' blistering 24-30 MPH. Drafting in a group of many, the boys conserved energy by taking turns at the front, but it only took one unknown rider’s surge to disrupt the rhythm of a large group. This happened multiple times, testing their coordination and stamina.

A humorous yet challenging moment arose when Keith’s stomach rebelled against the quick-energy gels he’d been consuming. While still in a draft group, Keith, in a desperate and breathless plea, informed his teammate Logan of his urgent need for a bathroom break. Logan's dramatic retelling of the incident later added a touch of levity to their arduous journey but also told of the woes of these energy gels.

The first 100 miles flew by, with the team beating their previous years’ time by over two hours. However, the punishing pace, combined with the extreme humidity, took its toll. One teammate, attributing his struggle to the lack of a pre-ride Taco Bell ritual, fell behind and couldn't catch up.

By the 150-mile aid station, Keith and his remaining teammate were in good spirits. Little did they know, a brutal, steep hill awaited them just beyond the stop—a seemingly cruel twist from the race directors to test their endurance.

Fifteen miles from the finish line, with their bodies aching and their energy waning, Keith’s teammate developed a tire bulge, resulting in a persistent "thump, thump, thump." Exhausted, they decided to press on rather than stop for repairs. Keith needed to cheer on his teammate as they tackle the final punchy climb towards the finish line! 

Shortly before 8 pm, a call crackled through their device. A friend teased them with a false urgency, claiming they had only 15 minutes to reach the finish line. Confused but driven, Keith and his teammate pushed their limits, ultimately crossing the finish line after 13 hours and 30 minutes, the sun still blazing for another 45 minutes.

The call, as it turned out, was a joke, meant to see how they’d react. Keith’s reaction to the prank was priceless, and despite the trickery, he remains friends with the prankster.


Kimberly’s Solo Ride

Meanwhile, Kimberly embarked on her solo 56.8-mile ride. Her journey was shorter but not without its own set of challenges. The first was a muddy creek crossing, where she had to carry her bike to keep it functional. Stubbornly refusing to clean her tires afterward, she endured three miles of mud splattering her face. She shrugged it off, reasoning that a post-ride shower would take care of it.

A more heartwarming moment occurred around mile 25. Kimberly spotted a beloved Kansas box turtle attempting to cross the road, its shell cracked from a previous encounter with a bike. Realizing the turtle was in a dangerous spot, she quickly dismounted, gently moved it to the side of the road, and continued her ride. However, she couldn’t shake the thought that the turtle might have wanted to cross to the other side, a worry that preoccupied her for the next 25 miles.

Kimberly completed her ride in just under four hours, setting a new personal record.


Victory and Reflection

Keith and Kimberly both finished their respective races, conquering unique challenges and embodying the spirit of Unbound: pushing one’s limits, overcoming adversity on the road, and finding moments of humor and humanity.

As the day ended, they gathered at their camp, refreshed from showers, and brimming with stories. Keith's dramatic pit stop, and Kimberly's turtle rescue sparked laughter and camaraderie, each tale highlighting their shared journey.


Photo Credit: Main images from Event website. 

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