The Podium Continues: Griffin Easter and the GXX

The Podium Continues: Griffin Easter and the GXX

Mid South Gravel is one of the first major US Gravel races of the season and always holds some big question marks. What will the weather be? How is my form? Do I need a hydration pack for 100 miles? Will it be windy? Will the famous Oklahoma red peanut butter mud come out to play?


After almost 4 weeks since winning Transcordilleras, I felt like my body was starting to feel back to normal. But, those question marks still lingered, being the first major US gravel race of the year.


The biggest difference from the previous two years of racing Mid South were the calm wind conditions the day of the race. On the start line it was a party, King Cabbage Brass Band began playing and any nerves I had melted away. When the neutral roll out finally stopped and the race started the pace was on. Everyone began jockeying for position on the narrow loose dirt roads leading towards the first pinch point at mile 13, Karsten Creek. Dust and rocks filled the air and choosing a line was near impossible. At Karsten Creek the main crossing point is a one lined river crossing. Unless you roll the dice and choose the deep, red creek waters.


I managed to enter around sixth wheel and got past with little issue. Afterwards the road turns right and a long assembly line of big rollers greets you. Here a group of maybe 10 of us rolled from the main pack. Everyone fully committed and taking pulls. In years past this is a big cross wind section and blows the race apart. With a lack of wind eventually the peloton chased back and regrouped. Which was the theme of the day. Selections would happen but with no wind, groups could drag themselves back to the front.  Another challenge were the tire ruts.  Rain the week before had turned the road to peanut butter. After drying, what was left were deep sporadic car ruts which you crossed your fingers the rider in front of you was choosing a good line. Get off track in those and your day would most certainly have a swift end.


The final single track sector proved to be the selection of the day. We entered in as a group of maybe 15-20 riders; I entered fourth wheel. Russell Finsterwald was in front of me and shortly in we made it around John Borstelmann and Nicholas Roche. We exited and were a group of 7. At 8 miles to go Torbjørn Røed attacked and I jumped with him. Nobody else followed. We were solo, sharing pulls and all in for the finish. We accrued 30 second on the chase. Eventually they reeled us back with 3 miles to go. Groupo compacto. As we entered the final few miles everyone was watching everybody. Felt like a track points race. Pete Stetina attacked from the back on the final rise and everyone jumped on. With 200-300 meters to go I jumped out on the right hand side and made my bid for the win. I could feel Torbjørn edging his way up on the left. In the last few meters he came a half wheel past and we bike threw at the line. Champagne flew but I knew I had taken 2nd and he took the win. It was such a close finish.


I am very happy with where my season and form are at for 2024. We are putting OpiCure Foundation on the map and showcasing the power and recovery tool the bicycle can provide for individuals battling opioid use disorder.


I rode the Spinergy GXX wheels and never once worried about handling my bike with care. With the sheer speed, lack of line choice and ever changing ruts/road conditions they provide both security and reliability. I’m blown away with their performance. They are the wheels for gravel racing.


Next race is BWR Utah April 6th.