Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tulsa Tough Day 1

Friday night was the first race in the Tulsa Tough bike races. Three days of crits with nearly $40,000 on the line for women. It's great to see a race offer up so much prize money and important to come support these races. I left Madison Thursday afternoon and stayed over in St. Louis (thanks so much Carrie and Chris from Team Rev!) and finished off the drive Friday morning.

Kat, Ally, and I are staying in host housing with our awesome host Beth. Tulsa is a really great city with tons of recreationally minded folks. We've been really impressed with the bike paths, the friendly people, and the cool downtown.

With over 90 women signed up for the races and the start list was stacked with big names and teams. Friday nights course was a fast, technical 8 corner hour glass shaped course. You never like to think about crashes but given the field size and all of the corners we knew they were likely. Positioning would be key as gaps would probably be opening and the pace would be kept high.

I managed to be in the top 20 right from the line and moved my way up to the top 10 in the first few laps. I sometimes struggle with my positioning so I was happy to be up there and tried hard to stay near the front. The fluid dynamics of a 90 woman peloton gliding through corners of a course like that is always a beautiful thing. The whir of the chains and being inches from riders on all sides is always an adrenaline rush. Five laps in I found myself losing my good spot and drifting further back. I settled in mid pack and tried to keep moving up.

Cool picture of Kat!

There were multiple primes and some riders were attacking near the front. About 15 minutes in I heard the first crash - it was just behind me and I was happy to have avoided it. 10 minutes later there was one in front of me and luckily I had enough time to avoid it. I had to come to a stop though and rolled over to the SRAM tent to get pushed back in. There was another serious crash on that same lap and a Vanderkitten rider was down on that corner for several laps before medical was able to move her off the course - hopefully she was okay.

The rest of the race was mostly about just staying safe and trying to move up whenever possible. All the corners made that pretty difficult and I found myself too content riding in the back half of the group. Team Kenda all finished safe and sound anyway with top finishes by Catherine in 26th and Ally in 27th. I was 53rd - not real happy with that and hopefully today's race will go a bit better. Not quite as many corners so perhaps that will be a good thing! The 90+ degree temps will not be pleasant though!

Thanks to everyone in Tulsa for putting on such a great event. We hung out and watched the mens crit last night and it was pretty fun to watch the action on the Jumbotron while we got some food at a deli. The community really supports this race and it's cool to see everyone come out and watch the races. Thanks so much to Beth for letting us stay with her too! She's been keeping us well fed and her espresso machine is our new favorite toy! I think Ally is on her 4th cup now!

I'll try to get an update in after today's race! Thanks for checking in!

Oh - and I have to mention how excited I am that the America's Dairyland Series has extended the racing by one day to include the proposed 2016 Olympic road race course on June 18th. The course is a ridiculously hilly loop (1800 ft./lap) out near Blue Mounds (roads I ride all the time - beautiful!) and finishes on a steep 1 mile long climb. I'm super stoked for this race even though I know it's going to be really tough. You should come do it if you can!!


Mo said...

Girl--OMG! I am so glad you are all ok!! I cringe at the word "crash" these days! Yeeek!! Sounds amazing though to have 90+ women in a race! So cool! Speaking of crashes looks like I might be back on the bike--albeit very easy-- tomorrow if the weather is nice! YAY! Keep rocking the Green Monster! MO

Anonymous said...

best of luck to all the Kenda Ladies!!! Race hard and enjoy the south :) Love CarrieAnn