Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tulsa Tough

Last weekend i raced Saturday and Sunday at Tulsa Tough. I've been to some fun races but this ones the best by far. Tulsa has found the magic formula. Fun courses, fun town, every race within 2 miles, lots of spectators... its big time.


For the first time in 5 years we decided to drive down Saturday morning instead of Friday night. It's nice to save $ due to one fewer night in a hotel but my legs did not respond well to 4 hrs in a car followed by about 30 minutes of warming up.

I felt sluggish all race. I was still good enough to finish 29th out of about 100 but i was hoping for much better. The result would have been more like 50th if i hadn't taken advantage of a slowing pack on the big downhill approaching the final lap. i forced myself to pedal hard down the hill while most everyone else was taking a last big breath. I actually put myself in a position that wasn't completely terrible and with good legs probably had a chance at a decent result. However, like i mentioned, the legs were not good... plus I was slowed by an almost crash as we started the uphill and then just about rode into the back of someone as i re-accelerated, having to slow again.

All race everything felt harder than it should. Even the smallest effort seemed to be extremely taxing. Luckily im beginning to realize that im a professional cat 4 which means im generally good at making the race as easy as possible, and at a avoiding crashes, of which I witnessed several... All of them stupid. Did I used to ride like that?



I knew I would feel better Sunday, and I did. The 6:30am thunder clap was a rude awakening but the rain was light as our race started and might have stopped all together. But it was wet, very wet. 

I've got some fancy carbon wheels with tubular tires so I put the pressure at about 78 psi and made my way to the starting line. 

We did a neutral lap (first time I've done that but a good idea due to the rain and technical final corner) and during it I almost got my chain stuck shifting from big to little ring. After that I kept it in the big ring all race. I do have a compact. 

The chain incident put me pretty far back in the field but I used the climb to move my way up and was sitting pretty after 5 laps. In the last few laps I knew I was strong on the hill and while there were probably only 15 to 20 of us left in the front group i was cresting the hill easily and towards the front.

And then, with one to go, it happened. One of those moments that an average cat 4 with a shrinking window of opportunity will remember forever. Especially one who rarely takes chances.

I attacked!

It was spur of the moment and it was pretty easy, at first. "Attacked" may be too strong of a word but im not sure what else you would call it.

All day i was taking the final corner conservatively (ie slowly), which would leaving small gaps i had to close down. I just really didn't want to end my race by crashing on that corner. It's happened to me before. So approaching the last lap it was the same story and as i accelerated to catch back up i see the group has slowed big time. So without thinking I kept the speed i had and passed everyone on the left side, going considerately faster than the bunch. Somebody yelled "Left side!" and from that moment I was all in. I hit the hill first and poured my life into the pedals. There was a good group of fans already on the hill and that moment was pretty amazing, even if its a blur and even if it was very short. Here i was leading the charge on the final pass up cry baby hill.

I had no clue what was happening behind me but that quickly changed. The first guy passed me pretty early on the climb. He was going quite a bit faster than I was. Two or three more guys passed me soon after him (i recognizance one as velotek) then after a few seconds just about everyone passed me. I was dying, and dry heaving, and loving every second of it.

I kept pushing as hard as i could, never blew up (it was close) and managed to recover slightly by the time I reached the bottom of the hill and started the sprint. I was by myself, with one dude almost close enough to catch and a few guys behind almost closed enough to catch me. I did a pretty good sprint and held my spot, for 14th place. My best result ever at this race and only the second time ive finished it after 5 attempts.

In hindsight im pretty sure i would have had a better placing had i not attacked like that, but im positive ill look back on that  moment, however brief, for years to come. It was just so much fun.


  1. Sweet Result Sunday! Confidence and knowing your skill set will take you to the 3's. It tends to be a ''bit" "safer". Put the pieces together for ToKC and ToL. A 14th in Tulsa is a top 10 or better around KC.

    I'm surprised I didn't see you down there at all....??...

  2. Great job and write up dude!

  3. That was so good. I love hearing stories like this. Nice!

  4. If you never try you never win! Good ride!!!