The souvenir T-Shirts say, “Like that thing they do in France, but in Tulsa”.
Pretty funny, but not quite the same thing. Instead of a 21 day stage race through the crisp French alps, Tulsa Tough is a 3 day criterium smackdown in the heart of the smoldering downtown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The last time I was in Tulsa, it was playing collegiate tennis. When I returned this weekend, it was still as warm as I remembered and the people still as friendly. Instead of playing a tennis match at OSU, I was racing my bike around 8 corners in 1.2k at 30mph. Funny how life changes. Game. Set. Match. I wonder what is next.
Everything about Tulsa Tough was a real bike race. From the fans, the twilight crits, the parties, Dave Towle announcing, the jumbotron projecting the backside of the courses, and the live TV coverage of the races. Bike racing had come to Tulsa in the big time, and I was happy to be a part of the show.
Day 1, Blue Dome District. The crit course passed every bar and pub in downtown as we were welcomed with rowdy cheers of the locals and a fast race, where TIBCO secured a win after launching numerous attacks. One thing is certain, Tulsa is hot. The race just heated it up even more. 100 some degrees with humidity. Was that soup we were riding through, or was that just the air?
Day 2, Brady District. This course had a great uphill drag, a fast descent, and of course passed multiple restaurants and famous beer gardens along the way. After numerous attempts to launch another rider, the crit ended with a bunch sprint. A fun hard race, followed by some Mexican food on the course to watch the men’s dark race flash by, and it was still 90 degrees at 8 o’clock at night. Like I said, Tulsa is hot, hot, hot.
Day 3, Riverside District. Nothing prepared me for this criterium. It had a hill. I love hills. Cry Baby Hill to be exact. Took Turn 1 of the course, up a kicker, then a right up another significant climb. The was the infamous Cry Baby Hill. The street was in absolutely chaos with chalk on the road, screaming fans dressed in costumes and spraying us with water. Oh yeah. Cry Baby Hill was the party of the day, and I loved riding through the roaring madness. The costumes were outrageous, the fans were in multitudes having the time of their lives, and nothing encourages me more than that. Wow. That was incredible. I just had to laugh as we soldiered through the fans, who were in the road and would get out of our way at the very last minute. The more I smiled, the more ice cold water I got dumped on me, and loved it. I want to join Cry Baby Hill next year. Another aggressive race with a break taking farm 10 laps to go, TIBCO with a podium, overall team, and 5th in ominium. Not a bad day.
Tulsa is hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. Tulsa Tough is even hotter. Thank you Tulsa, Oklahoma for making me tough, giving me some racing, and now I am on to Canada.
Tulsa Tough, like that thing in France, minus 19 days, plus 30 degrees and humidity, minus the baguettes, plus the BBQ and armadillos, and plus a whole lot more fun.
I am Tulsa Tough.