Tulsa Tough

Race report and photo by Alexandra Burton

I think this may have been one of the most fun weekends of bike racing I have had. The courses, the promoters, the organization, the quality of racing, the crowds, the beer hand ups….Nailed it. Even the 90* temps and 80% humidity were perfect for me.

Friday night was the Blue Dome crit. The link with photos was from that night. Huge crowds and luckily we got support from the guys at the Saris tent. They had 2 rows of trainers set up and a kiddie pool full of water and Gatorade. Having them their was a game changer. We would not have been able to get a solid warm up before our races if it was not for them being there all weekend. We definitely would not have had enough fluids if it were not for that kiddie pool. Friday night was fast and technical. Lots of corners and there was not a lot of time to move up during the race. I think we all struggled with being too far in the back, till we realized we needed to get out of the riff-raff and move our asses up. I like to follow Fish around and when I saw her move up to the front I followed her up. A handful of crashes in that race, and unfortunately, one with about 8 laps to go that took Annalisa out and Ash got caught behind. Racing is a lot of luck, I was able to avoid it and stay with the main group. It was equal pay out for men and women, and top 25 got you in the money, and avoiding the crash, we managed to get in the money and look good doing it.

Saturdays race was Brady Arts District Crit. This course was more wide open with two longer stretches where you could move up. There was a slight climb on one side lined with people causing a ruckus, cheering and handing out beers. The backside was a slight decent that was super windy. This race was an hour earlier and you could feel the heat. Warming up, I was just covered in sweat, drenched. The word of the weekend was “moist.” Some people did not appreciate it, the word or the heat. What I loved about these races was the pace, it never slowed down, was always hard. If there was ever a lull, someone would attack and counter and keep the action going. With about 8 laps to go the sky turned black and a crazy wind blew in. It made that back side even windier, and when you took the left onto it, you pretty much got blown across the street. It was amazing to feel the energy in the race shift like that, with the wind and the cool air and 8 to go, the intensity was high in the pack. I managed to work my way up to about the top15, but with about 2 to go, I got pushed around and wasn’t holding my position very well. Racing OBRA kind of makes you soft, and I really needed to be more aggressive in these races. We finished just out of the money that day… The sky opened up right after our finish. We spun home in a warm rain and a rainbow that was glorious.

Sundays race was pretty epic. Cry Baby Hill. Its not so bad. Right hand turn into a very steep, but very short, punchy climb, that turns right again for a bit of a grinder till you get to the top. Sharp right hand turn at the bottom of the hill made for a few crashes. More people then ever are lining the sides of this climb. When you go through it, it smells of beer, pot, people’s bodies. The air is dank and still and warm. As gross as it sounds, it is so overstimulating, for a brief moment, it numbs the pain in your legs and lungs. About maybe halfway through the race, I got put into the curb and crashed, only to look up and see Annalisa on top of me, “Oh, Hi Fish.” Headed straight to the pits to try to hop back on the main field. No real damage, but always takes it out of you to crash. We managed to get back in without being too far off the back. You could make up ground on the climb and move up if you really hurt yourself. With about 12 to go the sky opened up and it started to pour, soaking wet in 5 seconds, rivers running down the street, pour. Thunder and lightening came and the course was pretty slick and the corners very sketchy. They decided to call an “intermission.” They did not want us out there with the lightening. I was pretty done. Mentally and physically. I was cooled down from the warm rain, and sitting down feeling pretty damn done. I really did not want to get back in there, but Annalisa told me I had to. “you wont forgive yourself if you don’t finish” I knew she was right. After about 20-30 minutes they put 10 to go up and we finished the race. It was a tough one to mentally finish, but you talk yourself through it and see 3 to go and you know you will finish. That course was hard and technical and the crowds made it so fun. We managed to walk away with some more cash that day, a beer hand up and dollar bill.

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