Emporia’s Kristi Mohan inducted to inaugural Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame class | Gaz

Humility. Gratitude. Giving. Community.

Those were the recurring words as the initial Gravel Riding Hall of Fame class was inducted at Granada Theater on Wednesday night.

Among those honored was Emporia’s own Kristi Mohan, an early member of the Unbound Gravel team.

“It’s a huge honor, especially to be inducted in the first class,” Mohan said. “It’s a really cool thing that gravel cycling is starting to be remembered.”

“Armed with a community-building spirit and a no-nonsense get-it-done style, 2022 Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame inductee Kristi Mohn has helped build the world’s largest gravel race, Unbound Gravel,” said event emcee Jim Miller as he was introducing Mohan. “The event has grown from 34 participants in 2006 to over 4,000 that will line the streets come Saturday, help provide for the local economy, and has established Emporia, Kansas as a top gravel cycling destination.”

For Mohn, it’s all about leading by actions. She was introduced to the sport when her husband, Tim, participated in the inaugural Unbound Gravel in 2006 and she thought it would be a great event for Emporia. Shortly after, Mohn led a task force through the Emporia Chamber of Congress with the hope of bringing the event to downtown Emporia and having it grow.

When the finish line was moved to downtown, it certainly made an impact on the community. It had a great impact on area businesses and brought out the Emporia community, including many who have not been exposed to cycling before.

The community factor was a big reason Mohan wanted to move the finish line.

“The people of Emporia really show up for this event,” Mohn said. “The athletes see that and want to be here to experience what Emporia brings to the event. There is very much a family involvement so even though a racer may be out there on the course alone, oftentimes there’s a family that will be supporting them and cheering for them. It’s cool for (the community members) because they get to have involvement in it through the riders.”

Another big motivator for Mohn was to make the race more inclusive for female cyclists. Prior to 2016, fewer than 10% of Unbound participants were female. Just one year later, her 200 women, 200 miles campaign reserved 200 of the available 1,000 entries for women. All 200 spots were taken within the first three hours of registration.

“Getting more women on bikes and feeling welcome in their space felt really good,” Mohan said. “I also hope the work we’ve done to make our community more inclusive to all has been impactful.”

When Lifetime purchased Unbound Gravel in 2018, Mohn stayed on to lead the team through the transition and integrate the event into the organization’s larger portfolio. This led to the creation of a Lifetime Grand Prix — a series of iconic gravel and mountain bike events — where 60 of the top professional cyclists compete for a $250,000 cash prize. Unbound Gravel is the second of that six-event series.

Mohn is also co-founder of the “Girls Gone Gravel” podcast and travels the country hosting gravel clinics to encourage more female cyclists to give gravel cycling a try.

Also inducted were Corey Godfrey (Founder of Gravel Woods), Dan Hughes (4x winner of Unbound, Gravel Worlds Champion, Trans Iowa Champion), Rebecca Rusch (Founder of Rebecca’s Private Idaho, 5x winner of Unbound, Gravel Worlds Champion), Chris Skogen (Founder of Almanzo 100), Mark Stevenson (Founder of Trans Iowa), and Bobby Wintle (Founder of Mid South). These people represent some of the “most influential and inspiring promoters, racers, and storytellers, who have helped shape and grow the gravel community.”

The seven honorees echoed the sentiment that none of this was done alone and if you are passionate about doing something, go and do it. Wintle kept repeating the word “effort” in his speech. This happened because of the effort of many people, but none more than Executive Director Lelan Dains.

As the sport of gravel racing continues to grow, organizers felt that there needed to be a group working to preserve its history. The Hall of Fame was established to “honor and recognize,” as Dains mentioned during the ceremony. But like with anything else that is new, nobody set out to be a gravel racer for the attention. They did it for the fun.

“In the early stages in the world of gravel, nobody set out to be famous or do most of the things that have been accomplished,” Dains said. “Nobody did any of this alone, but there are individuals who are absolutely worthy of the honor and recognition that we want to provide on this platform.”

For more information about the Gravel Cycling Hall of Fame, the nomination process, how to donate, or the advisory board members and selection committee, please visit www.gravelcyclinghof.com.

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