Gravel Locos in Texas—and Holly in ColoradoJan Heine
One reason we love racing is the beautiful images that accompany the sport. Whether it’s Jered and Ashley Gruber’s moody images from Europe or Marc Arjol Rodriguez captivating photos of gravel racing in the heartland, there is an aesthetic to racing that appeals whether you care about the sport itself or not.
Gravel Locos, in Hico, Texas, is quickly establishing itself as one of the big races on the calendar. This year’s field included the who-is-who of gravel racers among the 185 starters of the ‘full’ 157-mile course: Adam Roberge, Ivar Slik, Alex Howes, Kiel Reijnen, Laurens Ten Dam, Ted King, Brennan Wertz, Ian Boswell…
The best description of the race came from Kevin (Benky) Benkenstein, 2nd place finisher of South Africa’s Rhino Run, who raced here on his first visit to the North American gravel circuit. The photo above shows Benky at the pointy end of the race (on the left, Race No. 468).
“We turned approximately 7,000 corners. 2,500 m in 250 km is a lot of climbing when it’s all short, steep kickers—American gravel racing is hard!” Benky continued: “I can’t say enough about the route, the vibe, the people, and the experience of Gravel Locos, though. If you’re ever in with the chance to be here, make it work. The race is amazing and Hico is rad, too. The cookout last night in town was an awesome experience after a hard day.”
In the women’s race, four riders stayed together for the entire 157 miles. In the end, Carolin Schiff narrowly pipped Marisa Boaz (Mazda Lauf Factory Racing Team, above) to the line. Justine Barrow placed third. All three finished in the top 30 overall in a field studded with big-name male professionals.
For Marisa, it was another great race in an incredible season. Her comment at the finish was: “There’s no better way to describe Gravel Locos than the photo above.” Marisa raced on Rene Herse 700C x 44 Snoqualmie Pass Endurance tires. Congratulations for giving it all!
Laura and Ted King have been a fixture at Gravel Locos since the first edition back in 2021. Last year, Laura was 9 months pregnant and rode the shortest 34-mile distance. This year, she placed fifth in the pro women’s race (and top-50 overall). She was also rolling on 700C x 44 Snoqualmie Pass Endurance tires.
Back to the men, Brennan Wertz (center, Race No. 524) rode near the front all day and was rewarded with an excellent 8th place in the end—just 37 seconds behind winner Adam Roberge and ahead of many of the big-name pros. Brennan rode the new 700C x 44 Manastash Ridge Endurance Plus tires and reports: “It rained overnight, so the roads were pretty soft and moist for the first few hours. When the sun came out and things dried out, I was flying. The cornering traction was also amazing. Best I’ve felt cornering in a race like that—ever!”
Ted King (right, Race No. 14) placed 15th as he is regaining his form after some early-season setbacks. ‘The King of Gravel’ was riding his favorite tires, the 700C x 44 Snoqualmie Pass Endurance Plus.
While these racers were battling it out on the dusty roads of Texas, the Cinch Cycling Team was competing in Colorado. Holly Mathews won the Louisville Criterium on Saturday (above) and the Colorado state championship road race on Sunday in an epic double. She was running Chinook Pass 700C x 28 Extralights—on her gravel bike. (Who says gravel bikes are slow? Of course, nobody says Holly is slow!)
Now everybody is taking some well-deserved rest before heading to the Flint Hills of Kansas for Unbound in two weeks’ time. Good luck to all our riders (and everybody else, too)!
Photo credits: Marc Arjol Rodriguez (@velophoto.tx, Gravel Locos photos); Cinch Cycling (Colorado photo)