Anna Yamauchi’s Specialized Crux

A look back at the bike, the dancing on Face Time and the perseverance of the her 2023 Unbound 200

Clock20:39, Tuesday 6th June 2023
Anna Yamauchi and her Crux fresh off of a tune-up at the Shimano tent in the Unbound expo

Anna Yamauchi and her Crux fresh off of a tune-up at the Shimano tent in the Unbound expo

Anna Yamauchi came to Unbound Gravel with lots of excitement and little to prove. The young rider linked up with the veteran mountain biker Katerina Nash this year to take on her first full season of off-road racing, having ventured into the gravel scene last summer from a background of collegiate mountain biking.

While Yamauchi is green in terms of cycling experience, her athletic background is filled with sports that overlap with many of the skills strong cyclists find useful. In a quick conversation with the Californian, or even a breeze through her Instagram account, you will see her aptitude in surfing, skiing and mountain biking.

Gravel seems tame compared to the surf and backcountry of California. Nonetheless, this particular gravel race had challenges that the Golden State doesn’t offer. Of all the stories from the mud of Unbound, Yamauchi’s might just be the most chaotic.

“It was really nice having our own start and seeing everyone and the dynamics unfold,” Yamauchi told GCN after the race. “I was towards the front and I was feeling pretty good. I could figure out all the good lines through the grass and we kinda combined with the elite men's field and the people at the back so it was easy to see what lines were good and what lines to avoid.”

Through an unofficial update from a photographer she knew, Yamauchi was in second place with the majority of the section behind her. Her luck, however, quickly turned sour when a stick got jammed in her Shimano Dura-Ace derailleur. She was able to wrench it out, but in the process the Di2 cable came loose. Over the next couple of minutes of riding, that cable ripped out of her frame and wrapped around the cassette.

“I had to literally use my teeth to get the cable out of my cassette because it was so goddam stuck in there,” Yamauchi said.

With Shimano Di2, the front derailleur often goes haywire when the rear mech fails, and before long Yamauchi had to fashion her bike into a single speed to get her the remaining 80 km to the first crew check-point where she was hoping to grab her moms bike and ride onto the finish. Unfortunately at Unbound there is a strict prohibition of bike changes, so Yamauchi spent 40 min at aid one instead, as Shimano mechanics did a full reboot of her electronic shifting.

How did Yamauchi pass the time? She danced, on FaceTime, with her partner Christopher Blevins who was in Switzerland preparing for the Lenzerheide mountain bike world cup.

Yamauchi was able to get moving again and her fitness carried her, without much issue, back to Emporia in 27th place. While 27th is not the place she set out for, lots of stronger riders with lesser issues finished behind her or did not finish at all. For Yamauchi, it was important to keep the focus after she lost what could have been, even if that means dancing the time away when it is all she can do. Next time, she’ll be better because of it.

“The fitness was definitely there,” Yamachi said in wrapping up her Unbound experience. ”So, it is a bummer that everything else didn’t line up. But, that’s just how Unbound goes.”

Next time, it surely will go a bit better.

Bike Specification
  • year


  • model


  • Manufacturer


Subscribe to the GCN Newsletter

Get the latest, most entertaining and best informed news, reviews, challenges, insights, analysis, competitions and offers - straight to your inbox