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So far it’s a solo ride.

Unbound Full Circle

Julius Berith |

Last year, I went to Emporia, KS, for the first time to race Unbound, 'the world's premier gravel event' and the unofficial world championship as far as anyone and everyone is concerned. I had won the lottery system for an entry into the 100-mile version of the race and spent a good part of 6 months training. I also had a one-year-old daughter who was still learning to sleep through the night, a job in the tech space, work-related travel for both my wife and me, and the typical life responsibilities that some call reasons and others excuses. In either case, I did my best, came in 11th overall, and won my age group at last year's mudfest. While there, I met a lot of really cool people, including Mark Currie from Mosaic Cycles, with whom I hit it off and ended up finishing alongside. I knew of Mosaic because of Brennan's past win at Gravel Miami.

A year later, we've come full circle, back to Unbound, where this year I won the lottery slot for the marquee event, the 200. When Mark and I talked during our recent AC Mosaic Demo Day, he informed me that Ross Leopold, one of Mosaic's frame builders, was also doing the race and suggested that we ride together. So I contacted Ross and coordinated to meet in June to do the thing.  

Bike Setup

Since the race last year, I built a custom Mosaic GT-1 45. This is the second version of the bike, updated with SRAM's Red Mullet groupset with a 46-tooth Wolftooth Components chainring and a 10-50 cassette. Data comes from the Quarq power meter transferred through the Xpedo titanium pedals with ceramic bearings. There are also ceramic bearings in the 3D Violet Chris King hubs and CeramicSpeed OSPW and BB. The bike has the Enve treatment including painted to match stem and seatpost. 

I decided to run the Maxxis Rambler 45mm tires for the race in the tougher casing version because this year's "North Course" was notoriously rocky. I was nervous about my setup because of the system weight; the bike must have been 30+ pounds with a 2-liter bladder, two bottles, a bar bag full of snacks, a saddle bag full of multiple flats repair kit and a 3rd storage bottle filled with tools for worse case scenarios. At the end of the day, though, I was pleased I decided to roll with this setup, not only because my custom Moosepacks bags matched my bike but because I probably wouldn't have made it otherwise. 


The 2-liter bladder held 2.5 bottles and was electrically taped to reduce the size and create backflow. Each bottle held seven scoops of Skratch Super High-Carb mix with half a packet of LMNT. It's a sweet, sour and salty mix that works well for me. I tried to drink a 16oz bottle every 30 minutes, together with a GU energy gel. That's a total of 26 gels and bottles (9 were water from the on-course stations). I also consumed most of a 1.8lb bag of Haribo Goldbears, two strips of bacon, and an ice-cold Rolling Rock split with Ross about 15 miles from the finishing line, courtesy of some legend standing at the end of his driveway doing flyby handouts. 

The Race

Ross and I decided to meet 30 minutes before the race to roll to the start together. The goal was to make "Sunset Club" by beating the sun, so the plan was to let others go and hold our own pace; it was sure to be a long day for us all. The longest ride I had ever done before this was only 10 hours and 121 miles, so doing threshold was not on the agenda. However, the race had other plans, starting hot and fast. Ross and I let a lot of groups go and soon hit our stride, pulling people along for a couple of hours. 

Around mile 90, I finally started to get in the groove. I stopped eating for an hour to digest and just focused on liquid intake to help my stomach feel better. Our power increased, our heart rates decreased, and we found a new stride. We rode like a diesel train until the late afternoon sun when the heat started getting to us. Luckily, we came across a family handing out ice-cold waters and had a chance to cool off and get our rhythm back. It was about this time, 12 hours into the race when we started talking to get to know each other!

According to my Garmin, we crossed the finish line in 13 hours and 23 minutes, with 12,995 feet of elevation gain, 202 miles, and over 9,500 calories burned. We both joined a new club and made a new friend.  

Gear Recommendations

  • I cannot recommend highly enough the Q36.5 Unique Bibs (available for men, and women). They are seriously the best cycling kit I've ever owned. 
  • The Form Cycling Throne RS saddle has a special place in my heart after this race. I remember being surprised at how comfortable it felt after so much time in the saddle. 
  • The Enve 4.5 wheelset was a serious champion on multiple occasions when I cased a landing, hit a rock, and kept rolling true.
  • My Mosaic GT-1 45 frameset ate 202 miles of gravel and said, "What else you got?"
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