Skip to content

Shuniah mountain biker completes epic ride

Kyle Fry competed in the 200-mile Unbound Gravel race in Kansas earlier this month.
Kyle Fry Unbound Gravel 2024
Kyle Fry competed in the pro category of the 200-mile (322-kilometre) Unbound Gravel race near Emporia, Kan. on June 1.

SHUNIAH – Kyle Fry is still in recovery mode after an epic bike ride.

The 35-year-old from Shuniah competed in the 200-mile (322-kilometre) Unbound Gravel race near Emporia, Kan. on June 1, finishing relatively well considering he was in the professional category.

His time of 10:13:07 placed him 72nd among 119 male riders from around the world.

While he was proud of that accomplishment, how he placed in the race wasn’t the first thing on Fry’s mind once he crossed the finish line.

“I just wanted to sit down and have cold water poured all over me,” Fry said.

“It took about two hours of just sitting in my truck with the air conditioning on and slowly being able to take on normal food again before I could come around to the point where I knew what was going on.

“It’s unbelievably draining. I burned over 8,000 calories on that ride and you just can’t consume that. You’re in such a weird head space at that point.”

This marks the second straight year that Fry has competed in the event. He placed sixth in the 200-mile amateur race in 2023 with a time of 11:52:52.

“I’d compare the event to something like the Boston Marathon for runners or the Masters for golfers,” Fry said. “It’s the biggest gravel cycling event by a long shot.

“Just having that experience from last year and knowing how your body is going to react after such a long ride is huge. You know what type of nutrition you need, how to pace yourself and all of those different things.”

There was a big difference going to the pro category, however, as the way the race is run is quite a bit different than in the amateur category.

For example, instead of dealing with a mass start with thousands of competitors, the pros have a staggered start and a much smaller lineup.

“To be honest, my goal going into the race was just to not get totally embarrassed,” Fry said.

“The first half of the race was so fast. It was nothing like I had ever experienced before, especially for a race that long.

“To be able to hang around with those top guys for as long as I did before they got away - that was really neat.”

While Fry did a lot of his training indoors during the winter and did some riding in wet and rainy conditions this spring in Thunder Bay, he said there’s not much to prepare for a near 12-hour ride on a warm day with little shade.

“It got up to around 30 degrees in the afternoon and that was a heat that I haven’t felt since last July up here,” Fry said.

“I do some heat training down in the basement, but that’s only up to 18 or 19 degrees. It’s not the same as when the sun is just bearing down on you.”

Fry said he was really happy with how the first half of the race went, especially as he got to ride alongside world champion Matej Mohorič of Slovenia.

The second half of his ride though was a slightly different story.

“That’s when the heat really got to me,” Fry said. “I had some ice that I could put down my back, but I didn’t have enough cold water that I could pour on my head. Since I didn’t have the ability to cool myself off, I started to overheat.

“Other than that though, it was a really clean race and I was really happy with how it went.”

Long races like the Unbound Gravel event are something Fry has gotten into since the pandemic.

Having previously competed as a semi-professional rider across North America before he went to university, Fry started riding again in 2020 and began to pursue different events.

He was in the Yukon last September and plans to ride in Colorado for a competition later this year.

“The challenge comes from finishing the ride, but you’re also racing people,” Fry said.

“You see someone pass you and you try to keep up that pace, but at the same time, are you burning too much energy too soon that you aren’t able to finish, or are they going too hard and they are just going to end up blowing themselves up?

“There’s a lot of tactics in these long races and that’s why I really enjoy them.”

While he’s not sure if he’ll compete in the race next year – Fry admitted that he still needs some time to recover and comprehend what he accomplished – he hopes to see more riders from the area down in Kansas in the future.

“It’s not just the long race like I did also,” Fry said. “There’s different distances and it’s really accessible for all skill levels.

“With Thunder Bay hosting the national mountain bike championship in September, that’s going to be huge for the sport here and I hope it opens up a lot of eyes.”

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks