Mid South Gravel: Podiums on Rene Herse

Posted by: Jan Heine Category: Uncategorized

Mid South Gravel: Podiums on Rene Herse

Mid South has been called the opening weekend of gravel: It marks the real start of the season’s big races. And for good reason: The team in Stillwater puts on a festival like no other, and the red dirt of Oklahoma makes for great racing.

Rene Herse has a long history at Mid South, ever since Ted King first raced here on the 700C x 44 mm Snoqualmie Pass, exactly five years ago. Back then, the idea of running slick tires on gravel was almost unheard of. In the event, Ted was barely outsprinted by Payson McElveen, but Ted’s second place was the first of many podiums on supple Rene Herse tires.

Remarkably, the top three from 2019 were at it again last weekend, all in the top 15, and riding faster average speeds than the winning time in 2019. From left to right: Ted King, Payson McElveen, Drew Dillman back in 2019. Gravel really has come a long way. Sadly, there’s no stopping to lounge on road-side sofas these days any longer. But, as Ted pointed out, the racing is better than ever. He said: “My power profile from this year’s Mid South blows the 2019 race out of the water: 306 watts average power versus 279 watts. That, plus a swift moving peloton, helps explain cutting 30 minutes (!) off the 100-mile ride.”

This year, Brennan Wertz (in the white jersey) came 8th, just 1:10 minutes behind the winner, Torbjorn Røed. Remarkably, Brennan was on the same Snoqualmie Pass 700C x 44 mm tires that Ted first introduced here five years ago.

Among the women, two of the three podium finishers also rolled on Rene Herse Snoqualmie Pass tires. Jenna Rinehart (center, Mazda Orange Seal Team) came second, while Caroline Wreszin (right, Cinch Cycling) was third across the line. Jenna tells the story of the women’s race:

“The mass start was a hectic dust cloud for the first 12 miles. I positioned myself well and kept safe. Lauren de Creszenzo ended up getting into a group just up the road, and I couldn’t quite close the gap. After the creek crossing, I found myself with a few other women and some men. The other women ended up falling off our group about 20 miles in, and then I was able to bridge up to the next group that contained Caroline. Caroline and I rode the next 70 miles in a group together. I threw in a couple attacks, but couldn’t make it stick. We exited the single track around mile 90 and rode the last 10 miles together, just the two of us. With a downhill sprint to the finish, I was able to just get her at the line. That might be my first time ever winning a sprint!”

Caroline added: “The dirt and the ruts and the sand and the jeeps and the insanely fast speeds and the smiles and the hugs and the community and the start line brass band—Mid South Gravel just keeps getting better. This year’s 3rd place somehow feels sweeter than last year’s 2nd. Harder fought, better earned. A confirmation that the game is fun, and I love to play it. And there’s no place more exiting to be than that.”

Congratulations to all the riders who raced hard, rode well, and made gravel such a fun, inclusive part of the cycling.

Photo credit: Lindsay Harp (all except Photo 2)fd

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