After I had a good weekend in Chicago and my form is on the up, I got presented with the opportunity to go out to the Tulsa Tough races in Oklahoma with the Jelly Belly guys. I could not turn down an opportunity like this and so I spent two days at home and then was back on a plane again and flying to a place I would have probably never seen if it was not for bike racing.
That is one of my favorite things about bike racing. The traveling. Why else would I have ever gone to Tulsa OK, or Glenco Il, or Belgium for that matter. My bike has taken me all over the world and I am grateful for the opportunities my two wheeled machine has given to me!
So Jeremy Powers and I set off Thursday morning (after an eventful night of me losing my car keys and having to find a ride home from where it was parked and then to Powers’ house at 6:00am in the morning… but thats for another time) for Tulsa OK. I was particularly excited because I was able to take 3 days off of work to play pro bike racer for the third weekend in a row!
We got to Tulsa relatively early and met the host housing, which was incredible, and got our stuff together for a nice spin on the bike path for about 2 hours all around Tulsa. The weekended shenanigans would start now!
After a nice easy spin we all went out to eat with the host housing. I drank to much wine and was completely wrecked by the time dinner was over and I immediately went to sleep when we got back and slept for about 10 hours. Amazing. I would need the sleep for the racing that would happen later that night.
The first race of the three race weekend was at 9pm at night. Way later than anything I have ever done before. The sitting around all day was the hardest part. I was able to do some work from my computer which kept me busy and not thinking about the race to much.
The plan for the race was to get to the front with about 15 to go and take control of the race and keep Brad Huff out of trouble. The race started and I was at the front covering some early moves. I immediately realized that a break would most likely not stay away as we were averaging about 32 mph on a 8 corner criterium. Wicked fast. We got semi-organized at the end with Powers doing most of the work at the front and me trying to stay up front to do as much work for the team as possible. It worked out OK and brad got 3rd on the night. Something we could improve on over the next two days.
Night two was going to be very similar but with a slightly more challenging course with a hill in it. Same plan as the night before. Get up front with about 10-15 laps to go and help control the race to keep Brad Huff safe. With about 20 laps to go I saw power go to the front after a dangerous move had gotten off the front. He waved his arm in the air asking for help. So I immediately started to move up to get up there. I obviously didn’t have the sense of urgency that was surrounding this situation because Brad came up to me, grabbed my jersey by the shoulder and literally through me off the front of the bike race. So I just put my head down and went really hard, really really hard. I wanted to show the guys that I can ride hard in the pro races. So I ended up off the front for 3-4 laps before the pace quickened behind me and swallowed me up. Then the full out chase for the break was on. Only one crazy guy stayed away and Powers once again destroyed himself for Brad and set him up for another 3rd place. BAM. Brad is a bad ass.
The third day was to be the hardest day with “cry baby hill” every lap. It was a pretty straight forward course. Flat short start straight, climb a steep hill go flying down a really steep hill into the a 120 degree turn and try not to crash, repeat 50 times in 105 degree weather.
To give you the short and dirty run down of the race. We were planning to have myself and one other teammate race the first 45 mins of the race to keep things from getting away. So I rode super hard the first 15-20 laps making sure dangerous breaks didnt get away. At one point I pretty much blew myself sky high and almost dropped out of the race. But I regrouped and got back to the front to help keep the pace steady at the front of the race until we would eventually catch the break with 1 to go. The field shattered, Brad got 3rd again and finished 2nd overall on the weekend and I cramped up so hard from the heat and riding on the front for a long time. Good racing. Some of the best ive been a part of. And the crowds at these races were unreal.
The next race I have is the Harlem City Skyscraper. A really fast criterium right in NYC where I will be chasing another top 10 and mixing it up with the big boys. More to come on that.
Also, this cross season is going to be awesome and my team is incredible. And you should probably come to the Grand Fundo this year.
My bike racing adventures continue to get more and more fun. All this travel and racing the big races just makes me want to race more and race harder. Can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings.
Thanks for reading.