Have you ever bought bike gear out of fear? I ask because, for some reason, I decided to take on the Unbound Gravel 200 this June. In case you don’t know it, Unbound is the world’s premier gravel race, traversing 200 miles of the most scenic, tire-shredding, body-beating gravel that Emporia, Kansas has to offer.
With the race only 50 days away, I’m panicking. I need to get my equipment dialed, fast. Fortunately, TPC’s Start of Season sale is here to help. I picked just over $1,000 of gravel gear that will get me $100 off, plus free shipping, plus whatever sale discount is already applied. Hopefully, this equipment will get me across the finish line too!
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Psst: Don't forget to use the code LETSRIDE at checkout!
Gravel cycling kit on sale
An average rider like myself can expect to spend 14 to 20 hours (hopefully closer to 14) in the saddle during Unbound. That’s a lot of time in the sun, and my matte black aero helmet might end up cooking my brain. That’s why I’m picking up this all-white POC Ventral Spin, which is still aero but uses big vents and the Venturi effect to encourage more air to pass through the helmet, keeping my head cool. Plus, if the worst happens, the SPIN technology will protect my gourd from rotational impacts.
On a long day filled with rough and bumpy roads, I refuse to compromise on my butt comfort. The Rove Cargo VPDS bib shorts use POC's new Vital VPDS chamois with silicone inserts designed to provide more vibration absorption and support for gravel riding. Plus, it’s constructed from recycled materials and has easy-to-access storage pockets on the thighs for me to stash extra ride nutrition.
Every jersey in my cycling wardrobe is black, and in the Kansas heat, that’s asking for trouble. I’m picking up this Mavic Essential jersey because it is the whitest jersey on our site. Hopefully, it’s enough to keep my core temperature under control.
Mavic’s Comete socks have extra cushioning on the sole to reduce vibrations and built-in “pressure points” to optimize blood circulation. Hopefully, this will keep my tender feet comfortable all race long. We’ll see if it really works.
Gravel accessories on sale
I have plenty of water bottles, but they’re all teenie tiny 20oz bottles, freebies from swag bags. Every drop counts, so I’m grabbing a couple of big, 26oz Radavist bottles. Who knows, that 12 extra ounces might be the secret to Unbound success. Plus, the design just looks awesome, and they use Purist technology to keep your water tasting fresh.
After the first checkpoint at mile 68, I plan to strap on this Osprey Katari 7 hydration pack and wear it all the way to the second checkpoint at mile 156. With a 2.5 liter bladder, I’ll have no excuse for not staying on top of my hydration.
Just in case you don’t make it to the finish before sunset, you’re required to ride with a head and tail light. I’ve always trusted Niterider products, so I’m choosing to put this lightweight and inexpensive Swift 300 and Sabre 110 light set on my bike.
Gravel bike components on sale
To handle the sharp flint rock on Emporia’s gravel roads, I need a beefy, high-volume gravel tire. My gravel bike can clear 50mm tires, so I’m going to max it out with these cushy 50mm Panaracer GravelKing SK tires. I’m a big fan of the GravelKing SK, since it’s tough, rolls fast, and provides plenty of grip for loose corners.
I expect my hands to take a beating, so I want handlebar tape that maximizes comfort (sensing a theme yet?). Wolf Tooth’s Supple bar tape is made of silicone and it’s the thickest and softest tape I’ve ever touched. There’s no need to double-wrap my bars. One layer will be enough to soak up the worst bumps and vibrations.
The POC bib shorts are pretty comfy, but I plan to coddle my backside even more with Fizik’s Antares Versus Evo R1 Adaptive saddle. It uses an airy 3D printed Adaptive saddle padding made from carbon using “Digital Light Synthesis” additive manufacturing technology. That’s a lot of techy words but it basically means it’s the best cushioning my sit bones could ask for.
Grand total: $1,041.87
Carbon gravel wheels on sale
Do you want to know the easy way to crack the $1k price point and get that discount? Yup, the big-ticket items. My gravel bike is rolling on a solid, but basic set of aluminum wheels. If I want to really amp up my bike’s performance, then I’d spring for these ENVE G23 carbon wheels.
They’re absurdly light — around 1,300 grams — but maintain strength with a bell-shaped design that increases the rim’s ability to absorb and damp harsh impacts. It also uses ENVE’s wide hookless bead. The edge of the rim bead is wider and flatter than a standard rim bead, so it’s less likely to cut the tire during a harsh bottom-out, preventing pinch flats and increasing my chances of making it to the finish.
Questions or suggestions about Unbound gear or gravel gear in general? Drop me a line in the comments!