What does it take to finish your first gravel century? What about when you struggle to really define yourself as a cyclist?
“There's this group of outsiders saying, ‘I have this same experience [in cycling],’” says Marley Blonksy, co-founder of All Bodies on Bikes, before she takes to the start line of the Unbound 100 mile race.
And now, you can go along for the ride with Journey to Unbound, a short film from the cycling apparel brand PEARL iZUMi that follows Blonsky's journey.
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The 100 miler at Unbound isn’t easy: It’s gravel, there are a few early big climbs, you’re riding on gravel, not on smooth pavement, and there’s a strict 10 hour cutoff time. There are sections of deep mud and water where riders need to walk their bikes.
She got advice from the pros
Before the ride, Blonksy asks a few top racers like Ashton Lambie and Meredith Miller what she should be focusing on to make it through the ride.
Advice included eating and drinking enough, taking care of both body and bike, and of course, smile throughout the day.
More than the physical, there’s the mental side of a race like this: “I always felt like an imposter, having never actually ridden a century in my entire cycling career,” Blonksy said. “I set the goal of completing the Unbound Gravel 100 and wasn’t entirely certain I could do it. While maintaining a 10mph [the speed you'd have to maintain to beat the cutoff time] doesn’t sound that hard, I really like to take breaks while riding.”
Watch the whole video here:
Cherishing the journey, not just the finish line
Not only did Blonsky finish the Unbound 100, she's gone on to do more long rides, including last weekend's Midsouth, where she impressively came in last to absolutely roaring applause and stoke at the finish line.
“There are lots of people who never saw themselves represented on a bicycle... I don't look like your typical cyclist, and I think that people [watching this] will be really proud of me, and hopefully think of endurance cycling as something they could do.”
Molly writes about cycling, nutrition and training, with an emphasis on women in sport. Her new middle-grade series, Shred Girls, debuts with Rodale Kids/Random House in 2019 with "Lindsay's Joyride." Her other books include "Mud, Snow and Cyclocross," "Saddle, Sore" and "Fuel Your Ride." Her work has been published in magazines like Bicycling, Outside and Nylon. She co-hosts The Consummate Athlete Podcast.