Tulsa Tough is one of my favorite events on the whole calendar. It's a three day omnium of three different criteriums. The first two events are twilight races while the final event is the famous Cry Baby Hill criterium in the heat of the day.
Friday started off with some strong thunderstorms throughout the day that fortunately cleared out for our evening start. Friday’s course was a classic figure eight that road super super fast. Attacks were going up the road all night with the team well represented in all the moves. Halfway into the race it was obvious that nothing was getting away. UHC assembled to the front with about 15 laps to go and kept the pace high. Going into 10 laps to go we lined up our train next to the blue train and we stayed there until the finish. We were happy to finish the day with two in the top 10 (Isaac 7th and guest rider Geron Williams 8th), putting us in good position to contest the omnium.
Saturday it also rained most of the day but we again got lucky as it cleared just in time for our twilight race. Saturday’s race was a 6 corner course with a nice hill on the back side that covered a few street blocks and then turned left onto a narrow street. This section was crucial as it would bunch up every lap. There were a few break attempts that went up the road but nothing would last more than a few laps. Then our newest rider, Drew Christopher, launched a strong attack and got away with 5 other riders. This was the move of the night and it got very close to staying away until the finish. UHC, however, timed it perfectly and brought the break back with just over 1 lap to go. Isaac did a good job staying in position and avoiding a crash on the finishing stretch to again finish 7th on the night. With this result Isaac was now sitting 5th in the omnium heading into the last day.
The last day was the famous Cry Baby Hill criterium. This race is like nothing else in the states. Each lap you climb up a wall lined with thousands of people cheering and partying. You ride through the tunnel of people unable to even hear yourself breath as they cheer and scream. This was by far the hardest day but played into the strength of our team. We raced at the front all day protecting Isaac and aiming for a strong finish for him. With 5 laps the go the skies opened up and the rain started falling. The last corner turned into an ice rink (a downhill off camber right turn). Coming into that final corner just before two laps to go the UCH blue train was on the front when suddenly four of its six riders went down. This completely disorganized the race and caused pure chaos. The last two laps became a sort of stampede with crashes happening left and right as everyone put their heads down in a mad rush for the finish. Isaac was able to make it to the finish in 12th. While not exactly the placing we had hoped for, Isaac was at least able to maintain his omnium placing to finish 5th overall and guest rider Geron Williams finished 15th overall. We were also very thankful for our Stan’s NoTubes wheels/IRC tire combo that kept us riding upright with confidence despite some very scary conditions.
Tulsa Tough yet again proved to be a great event and we are already looking forward to next year.