Laurens ten Dam at the Gravel Fondo Limburg 2024.

Unbound riders jailed after homophobic complaint in Oklahoma Mexican restaurant parking lot

Gravel racers Laurens ten Dam and Thomas Dekker were angrily confronted by a local resident and arrested for indecent exposure.

Laurens ten Dam at the Gravel Fondo Limburg 2024.

Jonny Long
by Jonny Long 06.06.2024 Photography by
Cor Vos, Unbound/LifeTime
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Yep, you read that right.

Laurens ten Dam and his fellow former professional Thomas Dekker had arrived in America for last weekend’s Unbound Gravel.

24 hours after landing, they headed out for a three-hour training ride near Marietta, Oklahoma, finishing up outside a Mexican restaurant where they planned to have lunch. Presumably not wanting to disturb their fellow diners, all sweaty and dirty after hours out riding, they decided to have a quick makeshift shower with a bottle of water in the parking lot outside.

“After Thomas had rinsed me off, I quickly changed my pants between the car doors,” Ten Dam said on his Live Slow Ride Fast podcast. “But as I do that, I hear someone shouting very angrily across the street.”

Their European comfort with nudity was clearly too much for one local, who promptly called the police.

“Suddenly there were five police cars. The man who had shouted at us was also there and said: ‘You should go to jail for this’,” Ten Dam continued.

“Walking around naked on the street apparently caused so much offence …” Dekker explained. “It’s really not allowed there.”

“We were told that we had been charged with indecent behavior. The charges stated that we sprayed each other with water bottles like two ‘gay cyclists’,” Ten Dam explained what the pair were told by police, before Dekker added the officers had “the IQ of a shrimp.”

Title 21 Section 1021 of the Oklahoma Statutes forbids and penalizes indecent exposure, which it defines as the intentional and lewd exhibition of one’s genitals or body parts in public or in the presence of anyone who would be offended or annoyed by such a display. There is no law on Oklahoma’s books against acting like a “gay cyclist,” though over 50 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were brought before the Oklahoma state legislature in the 2023 and 2024 legislative sessions. Most never made it out of committee.

The pair were taken away in handcuffs to Marietta jail, ironically a city in Love County, where they waited for 10 hours before being allowed to post bail of $185 each. They were scheduled to appear in court two days after being arrested but the riders ended up not being prosecuted.

Laurens ten Dam in the middle of the front group (number 264).

Ten Dam and Dekker lined up for Unbound Gravel 200 as planned, with Dekker finishing 42nd and Ten Dam 50th, about 36 minutes behind winner Lachlan Morton.

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