Carpenter’s success at Unbound is about more than results

First-time gravel racer finishes sixth in the "Super Bowl" of gravel

5 months ago by Tom Soladay

Rally Cycling’s first foray into gravel racing at Unbound Gravel was a smashing success as Robin Carpenter overcame multiple mechanicals to claim sixth place overall. Finishing in a time of 10h49m, Carpenter was forced to spend the majority of the 200mi race in his drops due to a broken shifter but that wasn’t enough to get him down. The result landed Carpenter the win in the 16-29 age group.

My experience at Unbound was excellent,” said Carpenter. “Noone goes out there and has an easy day. It was tough for everybody, tough for me for sure. I learned a lot more about riding gravel and what this race is all about.”

Racing Unbound only became a reality for Carpenter when France’s 4 Jours de Dunkerque was canceled and he returned home earlier than scheduled.

“I’m glad things worked out and that I was able to take part in this event,” said Carpenter. “It was super fun, the atmosphere is great, people are awesome, and it’s a cool adventure out there no matter what happens. It seems like each event has a different flavor. This one was pretty epic, really hard, and favored big engines.”

With Unbound being Carpenter’s first-ever gravel event on top of his longest ever bike ride, it was unavoidable that he’d learn a thing or two out on the road.

I learned you can go really deep for four straight hours to open a race and still manage to keep on going for another six or seven,” Carpenter laughed. “It’s a good thing to know. It’s just so easy for your mind to tell you that you can’t do something. You learn something every time you push your limits.”

 

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With the US National Road Championships on June 20 in Knoxville, TN, Carpenter is looking to better his placings from the previous years that include a second and fourth.

“You know who won road nats in 2019? Alex Howes. And guess what he did leading in – Unbound Gravel. I don’t know if it’s ideal prep but the first four hours in Kansas were comparable to many races I’ve done on the road and they ended at four hours.”

Unbound Gravel may have been the team’s first gravel event but it’s certainly not the last. To learn more about Carpenter’s approach to the big event, read his Unbound Q&A.

Unbound Gravel 200 results
1) Ian Boswell 30 Barnet, VT, USA 10:17:24
2) Laurens Ten Dam 40 Oudorp, NOORD-HOLLAND, NLD 10:17:24
3) Peter Stetina 33 Santa Rosa, CA, USA 10:18:35
4) Ted King 38 Richmond, VT, USA 10:18:35
5) Colin Strickland 34 Austin, TX, USA 10:25:34
6) Robin Carpenter 28 San Diego, CA, USA 10:49:18
7) Dennis Van Winden 33 Berkel En Rodenrijs, ZUID-HOLLAND, NLD 10:49:18
8) Jeremiah Bishop 45 Harrisonburg, VA, USA 10:49:20
9) Reid Foster 35 Edmond, OK, USA 10:57:32
10) Brennan Wertz 24 Mill Valley, CA, USA 11:05:19

Photo credit: Wil Matthews