Tulsa Tough race weekend is a highlight of the year for bike racers around the country. The Tulsa community comes together to host a weekend full of festivities whether you're racing the crits, crushing the fondos, or cheering on your friends while throwing back a couple brews or ten. As the official jersey sponsor for the past three years, we look forward to this event every year. The all inclusive energy fills the air as you explore the city streets. The first two days of racing situated in the heart of the city make for a unique spectator experience. Restaurants, bars, and VIP areas surround the perimeter of the race to keep the party alive. The energy the bike racers feel from the crowds is just one of the reasons Bicycling listed Tulsa Tough as one of the top 3 bike races to do in America. To wrap things up, Sunday's Cry Baby Hill is something you can't put into words. A brutal hill climb surrounded by cheering fans with unlimited beer, corn dogs, and dollar bill hand ups. Yup, I said corn dog hand ups. House parties and ice chests full of beer line the race course. If you haven't experienced Tulsa Tough yet, mark your calendars, this is a must do as a racer or spectator.
A 24 hour drive split up over two days landed us in the heart of Tulsa. After a long drive everyone had one thing on their minds, bikes. The Wednesday night group ride lead by The Tulsa Wheelmen gets 100-200 people in attendance. It was a HUGE group! Tulsa treats Tulsa Tough weekend like a national holiday. The energy is infectious. The people were welcoming and the pace was spicy amongst the rolling hills of the Tulsa outskirts. We finished the ride at a local brewery for frosty cold drinks which made for the perfect welcome we needed after driving across country straight into a "road trip shake out ride."
With thunderstorms predicted Thursday afternoon we snuck out for a ride through the city in our new Classics Collection. It didn't take long before we were dumped on by said storm as we scattered in search of cover ending up at a local bar. Thursday night's ride with the pros would have been a little too much to handle with the torrential downpour we experienced. With the weekend fast approaching we had an early night to prepare for a busy weekend.
Tulsa Tough race weekend is no joke. With Friday and Saturday twisting through the city streets you're forced to hold on for dear life on Sunday's Cry Baby Hill. Not only is Cry Baby Hill a punch you in the gut climb all out efforts over and over again. The downhill leading into the right hand turn to the finish shoot pulls victims one by one with its high speed off camber road rash magnet of a turn. Riders over cooking the turn either hit the deck or barely saved their skin by straight shooting into the VIP area. A race weekend where every move makes a difference and you have to be ready to react to the strength and tactics of your competition.
The Ace Challenge
One of our highlights of Tulsa Tough is, "The Ace Challenge." The Ace Challenge is setup to make you feel like a world tour rider with a twist. Imagine being in the mix of a world tour race with a full motorcade allowing you to ride and forget about all stop lights, stop signs, and guiding you step by step through the course. Then picture yourself on a team of 50, or even 60 riders with the same goal. Finish the course in under five hours. We are "Tougher Together." This unique race format for a Gran Fondo creates camaraderie and a fire within everyone who participates. It's not an individual race to the finish, the idea is to bring as many riders across the line as possible. This was our second year participating in The Ace Challenge and it's a huge reason we love this weekend so much. Do you have what it takes to be a part of the Ace Challenge? We're already looking forward to next year!
Red Bull Last Stand
Another exciting addition to this years Tulsa Tough was Redbull Last Stand fixed gear throw down on Saturday night in The Arts District. $10,000 cash prize purse for both the Ladies and Gents as the fixed gear teams left it all on the line in an elimination race. Some of the biggest hitters in the fixed gear circuit came to Tulsa to have a crack at taking the crown.
With high stakes on the line you're always gunning for the win. Being able to support the athletes you have relationships with your always looking for the top step. When we found out one of our Squid athletes was racing it added the extra excitement for the final race of the night. Sammi Runnels isn't afraid of racing. Racing cross nationals representing USA, going full send no brakes in the fixed gear circuit, tracklocross, and crits, this girl is full gas, all the time. She did end up in the money but didn't end up on the top step of the podium like she did last year. A hard earned podium for third place on the night after missing an early move leaving her to do all the work of the chase group before getting knocked out. All Eliel podium jerseys filling up the podium, icing on the cake.
A combination of Late nights, awkward eating schedules, and way too much fun. Tulsa Tough left us feeling alive, tired, and nearly dead all at the same time. It's a weekend packed full of memories so we will leave you with a few more photos to help you visualize the experience. Until the next recap, we are Tougher Together, we are Tulsa Tough.