The Big Picture | Unbound Gravel 2022 (Part III)

Unbound Gravel is a 4,000 participant-strong gravel race in the Flint Hills in and around Emporia, Kansas. The race first took place in 2006 with 34 participants; the event is now, according to the Emporia Gazette, the World’s Premier Gravel Event. This was my first time in Emporia. I was in town to photograph the race for two teams and a handful of privateers. These are my stories.

Post-Race Chaos

If you need a group of photographers to be at a particular place at a specific time, tell them there will be muddy-faced racers milling about. Like moths to a flame. Everyone will be there. Muddy faces are photographer catnip, and nobody is immune.

Lance Haidet knows the drill. Don’t wipe that face off until the photos have been taken. © 2022 Bill Schieken

Post-race is a whirlwind. Sprinting from finish-line to slumped over riders farther down the pen. Jockeying for position, looking for a different angle than the ten other lenses stuck in a racer’s mug. You can end up firing off more frames in the minutes following a race than you did for the entire race itself.

No real stories from this part of the race. Just the images. Thanks for following along. Hope to take the lessons learned from this first time in Emporia and apply them to next year.


Sofia Gomez Villafane enjoys some champagne while she waits for second place. © 2022 Bill Schieken
Haley Hunter Smith is congratulated after finishing sixth. © 2022 Bill Schieken
Russell Finsterwald’s cockpit. Mini-aero bars, a blue-tooth speaker on the stem cap, and 199.4 miles on the computer. So close to the double century. © 2022 Bill Schieken
Gomez Villafane during one of her many finish-line interviews. © 2022 Bill Schieken
Andrew L’Esperance catches his breath. © 2022 Bill Schieken
Freddy Ovett takes a moment against the barriers. © 2022 Bill Schieken
Russell Finsterwald gives the race recap to his crew. © 2022 Bill Schieken
Alexey Vermeulen musters up a smile. © 2022 Bill Schieken
The clean patches on the forearms are the telltale sign of who was using aerobars to their advantage. © 2022 Bill Schieken

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