Race Report: Tulsa Tough

First, super shoutout to the George Kaiser Family Foundation for both supporting the Tulsa Tough race series, and for bringing me to Tulsa to see the city, and giving me the opportunity to race my bike. I definitely wouldn’t have made it to Tulsa this year otherwise. The invitation was pretty vague, but there weren’t any red flags so I decided, “Why not?!” I'll share my non bike race experience in Tulsa a little later on this week! 

Blue Dome Criterium

I LOVE this course, It’s short, technical, and super fast. All the things I love about Midwestern crit racing. If you do it right, you can use momentum to get through most of it without having to do too much work. It’s courses like this where confidence in cornering and pack skills really make a huge difference. I have definitely progressed in both since the last time I was in Tulsa. I just love the feeling of being carried through a turn by the bikes in front of me, I imagine it’s what it feels like when Black Jesus takes the wheel. 

I appreciate that while I was behind every crash of the evening, I never got caught in them, and that’s a win in my book. My legs were still pretty heavy from Kanza, but all and all, it was a solid night of fun racing. 

George Kaiser Family Foundation Arts District Criterium

I previewed the course early in the day and knew it was going to be far tougher than the night before. The course starts on a slight uphill, is far less swoopy, way more wide open, an obvious little kicker of a hill, a few false flats, and enough wind to mention it. I had a little trouble getting going at the start, but stayed calm, clipped in, and hopped in there as best as I could. It felt like I was hanging off the back for the first couple of laps, but with most of these crits, if you’re having a rough start, and you hang tough for a few minutes, the pace slows and you can sneak into the bunch to recover. About halfway through, I started to feel my lunch making a comeback. At this point, I don’t try to suppress it, I encourage it to do what it’s going to do because it feels way worse to be nauseous than it does to have already thrown up. I wasn’t happy about puking, but it was hot, and I guess I still need to figure out how to deal with tough races in extreme heat. I just don’t thrive in that environment. I stuck it out and held onto the group, I puked again. The race was almost over, and I knew if I dug a little deeper I could make it to the end. With 1.5 laps to go, there was a really nasty crash on the back end of the course. It’s never a good scene when you hear someone on the ground wailing. I was right behind it, but again, not in it. I went around and chased back onto the pack. I made it to the finish line in one piece. Halleloo.

River Parks Criterium (Crybaby Hill)

If this isn’t the most live bike race in America, I dare you to find me a bigger spectacle. All these musty folks (not their fault it was over 100 degrees out) crowded on this tiny little crit course, spraying water and beer, holding weird baby dolls on sticks, dressed up in costumes that may or may not fit the theme of the year. There are boobs, butt cheeks, and dollar bills if you want em. Yesterday if you were paying attention, you can grab the dollar bill from a baby on a stick hanging above your head while racing. Such a strange strange setup, and quite frankly one of the whitest situations I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s pretty phenomenal, and I love it more every time I do it. It’s not just white folks either, just MOSTLY white folks. I did see a black man dressed like a mermaid in full blue/ green body paint. And of course, White Jesus. 

This race is mostly a question of who can stand the heat and the hill the longest. I had an ok start, but it didn’t take long for the heat to get to me despite hydrating, and shoving 3 different ice socks in my kit. Every time I hit crybaby hill, it felt like I’d entered a sauna, all those warm bodies and the stench of beer didn't help. I’d make it up fine, and recover on the downhill, but once the up and down was done, I’d throw up on the home stretch. After a few times of that, my body just didn’t feel the same. I felt drained and started getting dizzy, so I backed off, went up one more time by my lonesome and was pulled and placed. I was so delirious that I wasn’t completely confident I’d been pulled (I had been). It was time to stop either way.  A few staff from other teams (DNA & ISCORP Thank you!) at the pit at the pit made sure I had some water and found me a Gatorade. I sat down for a bit to cool off. When I was feeling human again, they looked absolutely relieved. Evidently, I looked about as wonderful as I felt after puking four times. It made me feel better about my decision to back off instead of pushing to an unsafe limit. So it goes. I outlasted a good chunk of the field and had my best result of the weekend. Not bad McGowan. Doing a PRT crit series one week after DK200 wasn't as horrible as it could have been. I don't regret it, but I also don't recommend it. Either way, I’m sure I’ll be back.

Until next time Tulsa. 

What's Next: I'm currently in NYC to have fun, ride bikes, and race the Harlem Skyscraper Classic on Father’s Day. I’m really looking forward to it!