Gravel Pioneers on Rene Herse

Racers and Adventurers

Ever since Rene Herse Cycles started in 1938, we’ve worked with some of the world’s fastest racers and most intrepid adventurers. They test our tires all over the world, from the Flint Hills of Kansas to the forgotten mountain passes of the Silk Road Mountain Race. They provide feedback and ideas for product development. And they are just great people to be around. Here are the stories of just a few of them, some of their results, and their tire choices in various events.

Ted King

The ‘King of Gravel’ has stood on the podium in gravel races more often than almost anybody. He isn’t just one of the fastest and most skilled cyclists, he’s also one of the nicest and most thoughtful humans you’ll ever meet. When Ted and his wife Lauren aren’t ripping across the world’s gravel courses, they are raising their young kids in the green mountains of Vermont.

  • 2022 Rattlesnake Gravel Grinder: 1st (700×44 Snoqualmie P. End.)
  • 2021 Unbound Gravel: 4th (700×44 Snoqualmie Pass End. Plus)
  • 2021 Last Best Ride: 1st (700×42 Hurricane Ridge Endurance Plus)
  • 2020 AR High Country Race: 1st & FKT (700×44 Snoq. Pass End.)
  • 2019 SBT GRVL: 1st (700×35 Bon Jon Pass)

Lauren de Crescenzo

Lauren’s story is truly inspirational: She overcame a life-threatening accident to go back to college and get her dream job at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Then she put her career on hold to pursue her other dream: gravel racing. Lauren and her Cinch Racing team tested many tires before discovering the speed and durability of Rene Herse.

  • 2023 The Rad Dirt: 1st (700×44 Snoqualmie Pass Endurance)
  • 2023 Mid-South: 1st (700×44 Snoqualmie Pass Endurance)
  • 2022 SBT GRVL: 1st (700×44 Snoqualmie Pass Endurance)
  • 2022 Gravel Worlds: 1st (700×44 Snoqualmie Pass Endurance)
  • 2022 U.S. Pro Championships: 2nd (700×28 Chinook Pass Xlight)
  • 2022 Tour of the Gila: 1st (700×28 Chinook Pass Extralight)

Brennan Wertz

After transitioning from the U.S. National Rowing Team to cycling, Brennan has mixed up the pro peloton in the biggest gravel races. He’s probably the most consistent racer today, and definitely one to watch for the future!

  • 2024 UCI Highlands Gravel Classic: 1st (700×44 Manast. End. Plus)
  • 2024 Sea Otter Classic Gravel: 1st (700×44 Manastash Endurance)
  • 2024 Huffmaster Hopper: 1st (700×35 Bon Jon Pass Endurance)
  • 2023 U.S. Gravel Nat. Champships: 3rd (700×44 Manastash End.)
  • 2023 Shasta Gravel Hugger: 1st (700×42 Hurricane Ridge End.)
  • 2022 King Ridge Hopper: 1st (700×32 Stampede Pass)
  • 2022 Shasta Gravel Hugger: 1st (700×44 Snoq. Pass Endurance)

Lael Wilcox

Lael is one of the fastest and most fun humans on (and off) a bike in this world. She’s ridden every single road in her home state of Alaska, and she’s raced on many continents. Lael mentors young girls and aspiring female bikepackers through her GRIT program and the Lael Rides Alaska Scholarship.

  • 2022 Westfjords Challenge: 1st (700×48 Oracle Ridge Endurance)
  • 2022 Trans-Balkan Race: 1st (700×55 Fleecer Ridge Endurance)
  • 2022 Migration Gravel Race (Kenya): 2nd (700×48 Oracle R. End.)
  • 2021 Unbound XL: 1st (700×48 Oracle / 700×55 Fleecer Ridge End.)
  • 2021 Alaska Pipeline Trail FKT (700×48 Oracle Ridge Endurance)
  • 2021 Hope 1000: 1st (29″ x 2.2″ Fleecer Ridge Endurance)

Mazda Specialized Factory Team

The biggest gravel team has a roster of likable young racers: Jenna Rineheart, Innokenty (Inno) Zavyalov (right), Marisa Boaz, Katherine Sheridan, Leah Van der Linden, and Jonathon Cavner. You’ll find them at the front of the pack in every race they enter.

  • 2024 UCI Highlands Gravel Classic: 1st (Jenna, 700×44 Manastash Ridge/Snoqualmie Pass Endurance)
  • 2024 Mid-South: 2nd (Jenna; 700×44 Snoqualmie Endurance)
  • 2023 Gravel Locos: 2nd (Marisa; 700×44 Snoqualmie Endurance)
  • 2023 Mid-South: 4th (Inno; 700×44 Snoqualmie Endurance)
  • 2023 Mid-South: 6th (Marisa; 700×44 Snoqualmie Endurance)
  • 2023 Belgian Waffle Ride Arizona: 8th (Ian; 700×42 Hurricane End.)

Amanda Naumann

Amanda raced (and won) on gravel long before it became popular. (She won the Unbound 200 twice back in the day.) An engineer in her day job, she chooses her equipment based on careful testing. And then she rides with abandon – and a smile. Together with her partner David Sheek, she organizes the Mammoth Tuff gravel race in the incredibly scenic mountains of the Eastern Sierra Nevada.

  • 2021 Unbound XL: 2nd (700×48 Oracle Ridge Endurance)
  • 2020 Sugarcane 200: 1st (700×44 Snoqualmie Pass Extralight)

Sofiane Sehili

Formerly a bike messenger in Paris (France), Sofiane has become a specialist of ultra-long distances and ultra-tough courses. Sofiane’s methodical approach to racing extends to his tire choices. He’s one of the most humble racers we’ve met: Who else would admit to singing during the long solitary hours on road and trail?

  • 2023 Silk Road Mountain Race: 1st (29” x 2.2” Fleecer R. Endurance)
  • 2022 Silk Road Mountain Race: 1st (29” x 2.2” Fleecer R. Endurance)
  • 2022 Tour Divide: 1st (29” x 2.2” Fleecer Ridge Endurance)
  • 2021 Silk Road Mountain Race: 1st (29” x 2.2” Fleecer R. Extralight)
  • 2021 Two Volcano Sprint (with Adrien Liechti): 1st (700×28 Xlight)
  • 2020 French Divide: 1st (29” x 2.2” Fleecer Ridge Endurance)

Francesca Selva

Francesca races professionally for the T°Red Factory Racing Team. Her specialty are fixed-gear races, where she explores the limits of traction at incredible speeds and lean angles. “Grip like Moto GP,” she enthused about her Rene Herse tires.

  • 2022 Italian Fixed Championship: 1st (700×28 Chinook Pass Xlight)
  • 2022 Italian Fixed Cup, Stage 3: 1st (700×28 Chinook Pass Xlight)
  • 2022 Italian Fixed Cup, Stage 2: 1st (700×28 Chinook Pass Xlight)
  • 2022 Zuricrit: 1st (700×28 Chinook Pass Xlight)
  • 2022 La Look Crit (France): 2nd (700×28 Chinook Pass Extralight)
  • 2021 Italian Fixed Championship: 1st (700×38 Barlow Pass front / 700×44 Snoqualmie Pass rear)

Adrien Liechti

Adrien asked us for a set of tires for the grueling Hellenic Mountain Race. Four days, 12 hours and 6 minutes later, he stood on the podium. Traversing the steep slopes of Greece’s Pindus Mountains, enduring rain, snow and knee pain, the former bike messenger pushed on with minimal rest, taking first place less than two hours ahead of second-place finisher Manuel Truccolo. We’re proud to have contributed in a small way to this amazing ride.

  • 2024 Atlas Mountain Race: 9th (700×55 Fleecer Ridge Endurance)
  • 2023 Hellenic Mountain Race: 1st (700×55 Fleecer Ridge End.)
  • 2023 Silk Road Mountain Race: 8th (700×55 Fleecer Ridge End.)

Sophie Jail

Sophie is embarking on adventures the world over when she’s not at home in France fixing old cars and mopeds. After racing the 2,700 km Rhino Run in South Africa and Namibia, she continued riding northward all the way to the equator in Kenya!

  • 2023 Malteni Bootleggers UltraCX: 2nd (700×48 Oracle Ridge Endurance rear, 700×42 Hurricane Ridge Endurance front)
  • 2022 The Rhino Run: 2nd (700×48 Oracle Ridge Endurance rear, 700×42 Hurricane Ridge Endurance front)

Lisa Pfeiffer (@elza_per_se)

Philosopher, photographer, bikepacker: Lisa combines many passions on her outings and adventures. She likes to ride fast and far. Her stories are full of insights about human nature—and refreshingly free of numbers like watts and kilometers.

  • 2023 Race Around Rwanda: 2nd (700×42 Hurricane Ridge Endurance front / 700×44 Snoqualmie Pass Endurance rear)

Anton Krupicka

Anton is a climber and ultra-runner who loves pushing the limits of what is possible. His 2021 Sagebrush & Summits tour took him on a 21-day, 2,300-mile adventure that included climbing some of the highest peaks in Utah, Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado. Incredible! (29” x 2.3” Fleecer Ridge Endurance)


International DJ & world-traveling bike tourer JaBig is one of the funniest, most positive people you could imagine. His observations are always inspiring and thought-provoking. In 2022, he went on a 6-month, 10,000-mile ride around the perimeter of the United States to raise funds for World Bicycle Relief. (700×38 Steilacoom & Barlow Pass Endurance)

Holly Mathews

The beauty and challenge of the Rift Iceland enticed Holly to return to racing. Since winning on her comeback, she’s joined the Cinch Racing team to ride with her friend Lauren de Crescenzo – and she’s rarely far behind!

  • 2023 Colorado state championships: 1st (700×28 Chinook Xlight)
  • 2023 Mid-South: 9th (700×44 Snoqualmie Pass Endurance)
  • 2022 Boulder-Roubaix: 2nd (700×44 Snoqualmie Pass Extralight)
  • 2022 Mid-South: 4th (700×44 Snoqualmie Pass Endurance)
  • 2021 Gravel Worlds: 7th (700×44 Snoqualmie Pass Endurance)
  • 2021 Rift Iceland: 1st (700×42 Hurricane Ridge Endurance)

Hailey M. Moore

Hailey enjoys racing and touring in equal parts. She’s discovered bikepacking races as a way to challenge herself and experience what she likes most: cycling in the mountains. Her stories from races and outings are full of fascinating observations about cycling, life and the world.

  • 2022 Ozark Gravel Doom: FKT (700×55 Fleecer Ridge Endurance / 700×48 Oracle Ridge Endurance)
  • 2021 NorthSouthCO Bikepacking Race: 1st (700×48 Oracle End.)

Abdullah Zeinab

Abdullah was persuaded by a friend to enter the Rhino Run, a 2700-km bikepacking race from South Africa to Namibia. Neither of them expected what came next: Abdullah and local racer Kevin Benkenstein set a blistering pace that left the world’s fastest racers in their dusty wake. After more than a week on the road, after traversing two deserts, and after enduring many mishaps, Abdullah prevailed to win the race by just 18 minutes. Epic!

  • 2022 The Rhino Run: 1st (700×48 Oracle Ridge Endurance)

Annie Davis

Annie burst onto the scene by winning the big race in her home state, the Arkansas High Country Race (Short Course), and setting the Fastest Known Time (FKT) in the process. We’ll probably hear more from her in the future!

  • 2022 Unbound XL: 14th (700×42 Hurricane Ridge Endurance Plus)
  • 2022 Rule of 3 100-mile team ride (with Mariah White, Allie Corlett): 2nd (700×38 Steilacoom Endurance)
  • 2021 AR High Country Race Short Course: 1st & FKT (700×48 Oracle Ridge Endurance)

Josh Ibbett

Winner of the Transcontinental Race (2015) and GBDuro (2020), Josh is one of Britain’s fastest ultra-distance cyclists. He’s equally interested in exploring the world on his bike. He seeks out adventures in the far corners of the earth, preferably those that include teamwork with local racers.

  • 2023 Silk Road Mountain Race: 7th (29” x 2.2” Fleecer R. Endurance)
  • 2022 Race Around Rwanda: 4th (700×44 Snoqualmie Pass End.)
  • 2022 Rwandan Epic (with Jean Ruberwa): 4th (29″ x 2.2″ Fleecer Ridge Endurance)