SE Coach Zack Allison shares his first BWR & Unbound experience

SE coach Zack Allison recently competed in his first Belgian Waffle Ride and Unbound Gravel (previously DK200) He primarily races criteriums with Clif Bar Racing so competing in both these events in the middle of his season required some focused and tailored training. At Unbound Gravel he rode with the support of Niner Bikes, which called his effort as a “200-mile criterium.” Here’s a bit on his insight:


Zack Allison

Event & Category:

 BWR and Unbound Gravel

Brief event/course description:

 BWR is a 132 mile mix terrain event with about 11,000 ft climbing and Unbound is a fully dirt (except maybe 2 miles) extreme gravel event, self supported completely except 3 aid stations with your personal support only.

How’d the race go down for you?

BWR was good. I got caught up in the first feed zone. I think I was near 50th place out of the first feed zone and a few minutes back instantly from the lead group. I rode really hard on the climbs and dirt sections to get back to top 20.
I felt good about the effort but was going into Unbound hungry for a better result and to be a bit more cut throat within reason. Feed 1 at BWR in a sponsor kit wasn’t the place to push people around despite being further back in line than where my finish position should have been.
Unbound Gravel was daunting. In training, I never got within 40 miles of 200 miles, it’s self supported, no neutral aid stations. There’s always horror stories of flats and mechanicals so trying to prepared without carrying a whole tool kit and refrigerator on the bike is tricky. There’s also the question of how to get enough water and food.
Overall the race went well, Ian and Kory with Niner were amazing as far as support and still somehow doing their actual job getting media together for Niner. I just did 2 bottles until feed 1 where I got 2 more bottles and my camelback. I ended up flatting out the elite lead group of about 20 riders before feed 2.
At feed 2 I was riding with Ted King but he had a much quicker aid station than I did as we had to pump up a tire and get some lube on the chain. The chain was trashed from a river crossing where I was about up to my thighs in water while riding.
I rode through a few groups and ended up having to nurse the tire as it wouldn’t fully seal. I made it to 10th place riding with one other rider battling for top ten when he left me when I did a wheel swap at aid 3. I ended up catching him a few miles later, its much faster riding without a semi flat tire, and we ride in together until he flatted just before Emporia.
I rode in alone for 9th place overall. The last 20 miles were brutal, probably the easiest of the race terrain wise but being fully depleted, I felt like I literally could have fallen asleep for the night, I couldn’t eat any more, I was just ready to be done.

Which coach do you work with and how did your training help you prepare for the event?

Myself with some backup from Adam Mills.

What advice do you have for someone up and coming in your cycling discipline?

Have a support system, plan your event logistics well in advance, keep your stress low, do the training prep, have fun during the event itself.