Monday, June 11, 2012

Tulsa Tough #7

An "original Okie" - teamate & superman/dad Chad Cagle is kinda big here in Tulsa
Another Tulsa Tough in the books! Since the first time Chris and the guys in Tulsa put on that race in 2006 I've been coming back every year. The 7th time now for me. And it gets better every year. The competition, the crowd, the support/involvement of the local community, and - of course - the payout.

We (Team Tulsa Tough) had an "Tulsa alumni" racing with us - Alex Welch - for some extra horsepower to support Chad and Jason in their quest for results in the sprints. Both those two did well all weekend, never finishing outside the Top 15 each day, and Chad getting 6th in the P/1 Omnium with Jason in 9th.

Mat during the "fireworks" on Friday Night At Blue Dome District © Cycling Illustrated
My task was to help out where I can and especially Saturday evening Mat & I were needed to help bring back a late break. For Chad and Jason but also because our ex-teammate Brad Huff was "a bit alone" at that point and I like see him doing well. We could do a bit of damage control and rotated for a few short laps before Jelly Belly & Optum took over. Chad got Top 10 again (9th I think) and Jason 15th. It ended up being a longer night again with a visit at the Brady Tavern for post-race dinner and a visit to the Soundpony - a must on a Saturday night in Tulsa if you're a cyclist and a Tulsa Tough is happening!
Brady Village Crit, with Huff in tow - © Cycling Illustrated
Soundpony - packed as always during Tulsa Tough

Sunday's race is the last and the hardest day of racing of the weekend. Besides the Stillwater Crit at Nature Valley GP probably the hardest Crit you can do on the NRC circuit. On that course, it's maybe 90% about fitness and 10% of getting in the right break at the right time. I usually go well, or really bad. 2010 I got 4th and my best NRC result to that point. Last year I was out long solo & chasing primes and such but ultimately called it a day on top of "Cry Baby Hill" before the race was over. This year was nothing special in performance...I waited 5 or 6 laps before I moved up to the front and found a good break-away partner in Eric Marcotte. We started riding well together for 3 or 4 laps and quickly established a 10, 15second gap. But I had to dig pretty deep going up "the hill" while he seemed to be smiling. Not sure what was going on but I realized I can't stand that pace on the hill much longer without "overheating". I had a okay Diesel that day, just no "Turbo". Eric seemed to have both as he ended up winning the race after getting caught by the field on the last lap and still won the sprint easily ahead of Ken Hanson and Brad Huff.

Chad and Jason both finished in the Top 15 again and Mat & I rolled in together with what was left from the "field". 75minutes equals 37(!) times going up Cry Baby Hill. It was hard. But you didn't really feel the pain because the thousand (?) people on the hill make so much noise that you kind of riding through there in "trance". It was getting out of control. Riding in the middle of the pack gives you some "safety" in terms of riding straight and not having to dodge 45year-old fathers in speedos, with blonde fake curly hair holding baby dolls. Or other grown man in cheerleader's outfit. Or Wonder Woman. It was good fun, though and I never felt "endangered" by the crowds. Most of them are cyclists or know about cycling and are aware of the fact that we're trying to ride a straight line up a hill and need some space to do so. The water hand-ups', water hoses, etc. were very welcomed for sure. I lost out on any big primes this time around BUT the folks are getting creative and while there's no more cash KOM on the hill anymore I was able to snag a dozen dollar bills from a number of "fans" who offered them in a "variety of places"...hand, mouth (?), back pockets, and others...

All in all, a great party again and I think I'm safe to say that a crowd like this on Cry Baby Hill is something I haven't seen anywhere else in the World before. I might have seen more people standing on the roadside or watching a Crit. But the way those fans get behind the race and into is amazing. There was some planning on going beforehand, even a stage was built days before on top of the hill to accommodate a live band. And the creativity of the crowd when it comes to outfits is great, too. Check out some of the best action shots here and in the below video by Keith Walberg (husband of Catherine Walberg, who races for the Tulsa Tough Women's Team).

Crowds on Cry Baby Hill
"Go Random Stranger! Go!"
And I thought it "stung a bit"... "smiling is his game face" I was told. Congrats to Marcotte on a stellar ride on Cry Baby Hill.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Back in Wichita Falls & OKC Crits

with "Pops" and Sheri before the ride at TCC

Thursday TCC Ride in WF

at the MSU Cycling statue just outside the Admin building on campus. Good memories leaving here for some punishing group rides with Mark Ernsting and the boys (and girls).

Mt. Scott in Wichita Mountains is always worth a stop.

Blurry finish at OKC ProAm Classic. 4th place, again :-(