Unbound Gravel is, arguably, the most grueling and prestigious gravel cycling event on the racing calendar. With the 2021 edition of Unbound Gravel taking place on June 7, we’re excited to shine a spotlight on the Felt athletes who will be rolling to the start line, as well as their preparation for one of the most unique cycling challenges in the world. (Photo: @swiftride)
The TWENTY24 Pro Cycling women's team is an incredible proponent of gravel racing. They've even set up their 2021 racing calendar to include a host of exciting and unique gravel events so that the team's athletes can ply their trade in some of the most demanding bike races imaginable. But the biggest event of the year is, undoubtedly, the 200-mile Unbound Gravel. Shayna Powless is no stranger to tough gravel races. In 2021, Shayna has taken impressive wins at events like Southeast Gravel and True Grit Gravel. As she prepared for Unbound, we caught up with her to see what her training has been like, and what her goals are for the colossal race.
FELT: Have you raced Unbound Gravel before?
Shayna: Never! But I'm really looking forward to it!
FELT: What will racing the most prestigious and toughest event on the gravel calendar mean to you?
Shayna: Racing at Unbound will be an honor for many reasons, including the fact that it’s such a challenging and widely renowned event. This race has been a goal of mine since late last year.
FELT: Have you ever raced or ridden 200+ miles on dirt?
Shayna: I’ve never raced 200+ miles on dirt before, so I anticipate it will be a big challenge both mentally and physically! I think the key to my body coping well will be proper fueling throughout the race.
FELT: Tell us about how you’ve been training and preparing for Unbound Gravel.
Shayna: My coach has modified my training so that I’m doing more frequent longer endurance rides with intensity mixed in, to best simulate how we think Unbound will play out. I’ve also been incorporating some gravel races leading up to Unbound so I can get in some valuable gravel racing experience! Specific strategies for the event include knowing the course and where all the aid stations will be, getting a good start so that I find myself in a solid group early on, paying attention to what’s going on around me, pacing myself properly (finding a good rhythm and keeping it), and making sure I have all I need in terms of equipment and nutrition.
FELT: What’s your nutrition and hydration plan looking like?
Shayna: My fueling plan for Unbound will include the use of two Camelbaks (one I’ll switch out at one of the aid stations), and two bottles on my bike at all times (maybe even an extra one in my jersey pocket). Both my Camelbaks and all bottles will have electrolytes in them. For food, I plan to start out with plenty of Clif products (bars, blocks, gels) and a sandwich or two in my bar bags. I’ll also have other tasty non-Clif foods waiting for me at the aid stations. The plan is to have a pack of something finished every 45 minutes to an hour.
FELT: What would a successful showing at Unbound Gravel be for you?
Shayna: A successful showing at Unbound will be having no mechanicals or flats, no crashes, not bonking, and holding a strong enough pace throughout the day that will be good enough for a win!
Shayna Powless (l) will be joined by her TWENTY24 Pro Cycling teammates Natalia Franco (r) and Jen Luebke at the 2021 Unbound Gravel race. (Photo: Dennis Farris)
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