EMPORIA (KSNT) – Colin Strickland is looking to defend his title at the world’s most prestigious gravel cycling event.
UNBOUND Gravel, formerly known as the Dirty Kanza, is a 200-mile race through the Flint Hills of Emporia. Some areas of the track are not maintained throughout the year, and the race goes on in all weather conditions.
Colin Strickland broke the record for the Dirty Kanza race in 2019, finishing in less than 10 hours. The key to his training is to enjoy every ride.
“It’s almost like a play, you know?” Strickland said. “You’ve been rehearsing for weeks and months, and then you just go out there and perform.”
Obviously, there’s more preparation than just having fun.
“Ten-to-twenty hours of effort,” Strickland said. “The hardest work is the solo, long, solo miles for weeks and weeks and weeks.”
Strickland put himself to the ultimate mental and physical stress test in April, by riding over 100 miles on the “Road to Nowhere” in Texas. He endured 98 degree heat, 25 mph winds and above 8,000 feet of elevation.
“The most remote feeling,” he said. “Beautiful, isolated road in the state. Brutally hard, but also really beautiful.”
If Strickland wins the 2021 race, he will be the first to win it two efforts in a row. Although, winning is not his only goal.
“I definitely am always sure to look around and enjoy the moment because that’s all you get, just the memories of the experience,” he said. “There’s nothing really waiting at the end. If you’re not focusing on taking it in then you’re not really gaining all the value out of it.”
This year’s Unbound 200 is on June 5.