With my elbow bandaged up, I eagerly went to the start line of the second day of Tulsa tough. Earlier than morning the team had a little photo shoot with Lee McDaniel and we were looking forward to not only looking good off the bike, but also looking good on the bike and in race mode. Rolling into the race for the second day of Tulsa the squad would be Scott V, Beau E, Tristan U, and myself. In years past I have always seemed to have a better performance on the second day of Tulsa and with the crash still fresh on my mind, I knew it was not going to take much to improve upon yesterday’s race.
Heading into the race the team plan was to help Tristan get the result. With his finish yesterday, he grabbed some points for the overall. It was the job of the rest of the team to help Tristan not only stay safe and in a good position, but to also do whatever it takes to help him extend his overall.
The start of the race was a funky one as many racers were eager to play the start game and line up well before our posted start game. I would end up missing the memo for the 20 minute pre race line up, and I would end up starting nearly last row at the start line. Although this is not the ideal place to be, I was not worried about getting to the front. Unlike Friday’s course, the hills on Saturday’s course allowed for some good opportunity for riders to move up as well as hold position if you are already in a good position.
Unlike yesterday relaxed start, I made sure to put some hustle into moving up early. I quickly made some early hard efforts to jump out of the corners in the wind to get around hordes of racers before things got too fast to move up.
As the race started to pick up speed I was finding it a little harder to move compared to previous editions. However, I knew I had a job and it always seems that much easier to push yourself harder when you are working for someone else. Just over halfway into the race I was able to find Tristan who was riding conservatively near the middle of the pack, and I knew it was time to get him up into a good position.
Tristan got on my wheel and I was able to smoothly guide him to the towards the front of the group. It was about a lap and half effort to bring him to where the heavy hitters were sitting, but I was able to get him into position before I faded back from the acceleration.
For the rest of the race I rode near the front half of the field, watching for any moment to move up towards the front again. However, there were not that many opportunities to move up without digging too deep into the red.
As the race entered the final 10 laps I was not in the ideal location and I tried hard to get up in position. But the pace at this point was so fast, that no matter how hard I pushed myself I would end up floating back to where I was originally.
By the final two laps of the race I started to ease up, I’ve seen it happen almost 3 years in a row where there is a bad crash on turn 1 or 2 from too many riders fighting too hard for 20th place. At this point Scott and I were riding with each other enjoying the large crowds that were there to cheer us on. As I approached turn one on the final lap I unfortunately rode up to a 20 or 30-person crash that happened. Luckily everyone in the wreck seemed to be okay, and I kept on pedaling to make sure I finish day 2 of Tulsa tough.
I would find out as I crossed the finish line that Tristan would end up finishing 6th place, moving himself up into 7th in the overall. Pretty successful day for the team.
Now we are all in for Sunday’s cry baby hill. A crit that helps a different kind of rider, and fortunately Tristan is the kind of rider who has seen some success racing up Cry Baby Hill in years past.