I am still not quite sure why anyone would want to get to Oklahoma sooner than anybody else, except maybe to leave sooner. That is of course unless you have set your sites on the city of Tulsa. This past weekend we traveled there for a weekend of America’s finest crit racing, they are not playing around. Being such a big money filled prize list and so close to our Arkansas domain, not going really would have been a huge mistake.
Race one, I was feeling up to the challenge of competing with some of our nation’s top amateurs but like many big races the nerves were in over drive. After the first lap and seeing how much room the corners had I was able to calm down enough and get to racing. This figure 8 course however did not provide much in the way of places to move through the bunch. I took a few shots at pushing by the field but my freshly glued tubular was putting me on edge too much for any extreme chances to be taken while diving into a corner. I finished in mid bunch with few impressive moments to report.
Race two, after spending a day in wonderfully warm weather either having breakfast at a café or spinning out the legs on a wonderful trail along the Arkansas River race time was 2030. The course today was much suited for the strong men, long straights and gradual inclinations allowed the riders who could turn the biggest gear to succeed. My race developed slowly as I work on staying very near the front as to avoid any problems. I managed to avoid the mayhem that ensued on the final lap and crossed in a respectable 27th.
Race three, if ever a crit course suited me, this one may have just been it. With a short steep climb every lap through a mad crowd. I rode the climb strong able to advance position almost effortlessly as the bigger riders struggled to maintain pace. Once I had settled in near the front I made attempts to get across to the breakaways as the formed. Near the front it seemed there were very few who were actually willing to pull through and keep the gap opened behind. I did what I could knowing my strengths could play out on the climb. At one point after pulling through down the descent, and taking the hard right I glanced back to find my rear wheel empty. I simply relaxed as nobody else was going at that point and I had no business up there, except flying the Panther flag, of course. Jensen attacked the field and passed me just before the climb started and I tried to chase wheel, and was soon joined two others over the top. I worked with these guys, but was unable to match a second acceleration towards the leader. Back absorbed by the bunch, I floated waiting until the attacks in the closing laps to advance position. I was caught behind a small crash in a corner and watched the bunch fly past.
I was happy to have enjoyed one of the finest bicycle races in the country and come out with plenty learned, not only on the bike but about Tulsa, OK.