Lespy going through a large puddle on the Unbound course

Unbound Gravel 2022: When It Rains, It Pours

The 2022 edition of the Garmin Unbound Gravel race shaped up to be bigger than ever before. In just a matter of years, the pre-race expo has grown from a small parking lot to a whole section of the town of Emporia, because nothing smaller could host all the brands attending. Racers and spectators were treated to a two-day expo before the race, with Unbound sponsor Maxxis featured as one of the highlighted brands. Maxxis had the Service Course in attendance to help riders through week, as well as the Maxxis Factory Racing Team which competed in the Lifetime Grand Prix 200-mile version of the race.

Maxxis Factory Racing tents

Riders racing up the Kansas Flint Hills

Unfortunately, the beautiful weather that accompanied the expo days did not stick around on race day. The rain came down hard multiple times on Saturday, making parts of the course into long hike-a-bike sections. The race is hard enough in nice weather conditions, so riders who finished the race this year truly achieved greatness. On the brighter side, Maxxis’ top pro athletes all had solid races, including ZERO flat tires. Keegan Swenson (Santa Cruz Bikes) took second place in the Pro Men’s category, while Payson McElveen (Allied Cycle Works) finished eighth.

Andrew Lespy in a pack of riders headed to the Madison aid station

Maxxis Factory Racing’s Andrew Lespy and Haley Smith took on their first real gravel race at Unbound – quite the introduction! With the help of Team Manager Drew Esherick, Andrew and Haley got through the race without any mechanicals and in good positions for overall points! Lespy ended up in 24th while Haley was just off the podium in a phenomenal 6th-place finish.

Haley Smith waving at the camera during the Unbound race

With over 4,000 participants, Unbound 2022 was one for the books. Who would’ve thought that one of North America’s premier cycling events would be in Kansas?