Brennan, Lauren Win Shasta, Southern CrossJan Heine
The 2023 gravel season is off to an incredible start. This weekend’s Shasta Gravel Hugger saw snow, mud, sunshine and everything in between. Brennan Wertz won the race for the second year in a row. He told us the story of his race:
“Shasta Gravel Hugger was an incredible event and an absolutely epic day on the bike. I awoke to falling snow and knew we were in for a long day of pedaling in some proper winter conditions. At this point, the Shasta Gravel Hugger has become notorious for snowy conditions, but I think this year was probably the most extreme. It was certainly the more extreme of the two editions I’ve been a part of.
“The temperatures hovered around freezing most of the day. Snow was falling heavily as we rolled out from the start. Many of the gravel sectors were blanketed in inches of snow. I was glad I had chosen the 42 mm Hurricane Ridge Endurance tires. The large knobs provided great traction, even in the slick, snowy sectors. Ultimately the race came down to the snowy descents and rollers. I was able to catch back to the lone rider who was off the front and then distance him on one of the slippery descents.
“After opening up a gap, I put my head down and time trialed to the finish to secure the win. Last year, I had the privilege of winning this race alongside my good friend Moriah Wilson. With her no longer being with us, I raced for her on Saturday and dedicate this victory to her. Miss you, Mo.”
Southern Cross is a challenging gravel race with 6,200 ft (1890 m) of climbing over 48 miles (77 km) in the North Georgia Mountains. Lauren de Crescenzo won this big race in her home state. Here is her report:
“With strong competition, it was an excellent opportunity to test the work I’ve put in over the off-season. Being in early March, we knew this would give me time to fine-tune things before the big races. This year we tested a new race strategy, new power zones, new bike handling skills, new nutrition, a new mindset, and a new bike. The one thing that was consistent from last year was my tires. It was important to have confidence in my tires on this challenging course, especially this year with so much extra mud! So I used my tried and true favorite, the Hurricane Ridge 700C x 42 mm with Endurance casing.
“I am excited to report that I felt big improvements in my bike handling skills and even hung it out a few times on the technical descents. I was in the top ten men and even was passing them on the downhills! My tires were hooking up so well that I was diving inside of riders on the turns. Definitely a first for me!
“I am looking forward to taking this confidence to The Mid South next weekend—a race notorious for its fast-changing course conditions. The team will be bringing four different tires to test out on the course during the coming week to make sure we feel comfortable with the conditions. Being comfortable means being confident!”
Congratulations to both Brennan and Lauren, and good luck for your next races! Thank you for putting our Rene Herse tires to the test—the experience and R&D gained from these race wins helps us improve our tires for everybody, not just racers.
Photo credits: Jason Young (Photo 1); Jeff Vander Stucken (Photo 2); Sean Bagshaw (Photos 3, 4); Dashing Images Photography, Woodstock, GA (Photos 5, 6), all used with permission