Laurens ten Dam and Thomas Dekker: Arrested and Targeted with Homophobia Before Unbound Gravel

Laurens ten Dam and Thomas Dekker were arrested for "indecent behavior" before Unbound Gravel. They claim the incident involved alleged homophobia. Read the full story here.

Laurens ten Dam and Thomas Dekker: Arrested and Targeted with Homophobia Before Unbound Gravel

Two former professional cyclists, Laurens ten Dam and Thomas Dekker, found themselves behind bars just days before the Unbound Gravel race this year. The incident, which they discussed on their LiveSlowRideFast podcast and was reported by Wielerflits, involved an arrest for "indecent behavior" in Marietta, Kansas, after an attempt to freshen up in a parking lot took an unexpected turn.

From Training Ride to Jail Cell

On a seemingly ordinary day, Ten Dam and Dekker returned from a three-hour training ride hungry and ready for lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. With their usual supermarket destroyed by a tornado, they parked at the restaurant to clean up. What started as a quick rinse-off in the parking lot ended with their arrest.

Ten Dam described the scene: "We stood between the car doors, taking a shower. Suddenly I hear a man screaming very loudly. But we just wanted to freshen up for the Mexican."

The screaming man called the police, leading to a swift and intense response. Five police cars arrived, and the cyclists were quickly handcuffed and detained. "They first focused entirely on Thomas. He was searched and then put in handcuffs. So I thought: s***. Then I had to turn around and I was also handcuffed," Ten Dam recounted.

Dekker added, "I didn't dare do anything. I had five guns pointed at me."

A Night in Jail and Alleged Homophobia

The duo was taken to the Love County Jail, where they spent the night and paid $185 each in bail. Despite the ordeal, they were relieved to learn they wouldn't face a court appearance in the US.

Dekker described their jail experience: "We were given something to eat, under a blanket, because we were already cold. It all took a very long time and fingerprints were taken. We also had to put on an orange suit; we were really inmate Laurens and inmate Thomas."

Adding a troubling layer to the incident, Ten Dam claimed that the indictment included a homophobic slur. "The indictment stated that we sprayed each other with water bottles like two gay cyclists," he said, highlighting the prejudiced undertone they felt during the ordeal.

Impact on Their Race

Despite the unexpected and unpleasant incident, both cyclists competed in the Unbound Gravel race. Ten Dam finished 50th, while Dekker placed 42nd, behind winner Lachlan Morton. The experience in Marietta, however, left a mark on their pre-race preparation and their personal values.


Laurens ten Dam and Thomas Dekker's encounter with the law before Unbound Gravel was more than a simple arrest; it was a confrontation with homophobia and the police's willingness to use the power of the law to enforce it. Their ability to compete and finish the race despite such a setback speaks to their resilience and dedication.

This incident highlights something I've been thinking about more and more. As this "balkanization" of the U.S. continues there are states (red ones) I'm no longer willing to travel to or through. Why would I subject myself, my wife or my young daughters to states where police will arrest you for hearsay about alleged "gay" behavior? Just today I was out riding and some incel in a Ram pickup truck pulled alongside me to call me a f*****t, militarizing that kind of behavior with the police is not something I need to fuck with.