Tuesday, June 3, 2008

When the going gets tough...

...the tough go to Tulsa!

That's right boys and girls it was time to light the fires and burn the tires BSV style last weekend in the Sooner State complete with jumbotrons, big crowds, wading pools on the sidewalk, beer trucks on the course, an old school bus set up for a roof top party, bars with bikes hanging from the ceiling, and of course Dave Towel chattering away like a deranged auctioneer who has been tweaking for 3 days! In other words, criterium racing nirvana!

Tulsa Blue Dome Criterium (Friday Night)

Friday night Isaac "The Grim Reaper" Dancy and your intrepid reporter lined up with 105 of our closest friends for a high speed downtown figure eight. With $2,000 cash 20 places deep, plenty or primes, temperate in the 80's, and enough humidity to take a shower by just running up and down the street, the race was fast right from the gun.

As usual yours truly tried to stay in the top 20 to increase my chances of both surviving and getting on the big jumbotrons. Meanwhile Isaac decided that he was going to don is alter ego "The Grim Reaper". Basically what this means is that if you are hanging out near the back and having trouble hanging on, you know your race is over when Isaac comes sprinting by you to close the gap opening up between you and the peloton. This of course is usually accompanied by Isaac's maniacal laugh punctuated by yelling "se ya sucker..."

Meanwhile at the front end of the field, things were going to plan for except that the heat had my heart rate up high enough to discourage me from doing a lot of prime noodling. Prime noodling is where you go jumping from wheel to wheel on a prime lap hoping someone will take you to the promised land. Unfortunately, I did find myself in perfect position for a little prime noodling at 5 laps to go with just one tiny...little...problem...there was no prime! While I had heard a bell the lap before (probably a cow bell) and Dave Towel had said the word "prime" as we rode by, he was talking about the prime that had just been won by someone else and was not announcing back to back primes. Opps!

After taking my imaginary prime and picking up my imaginary winnings, I only had a couple of laps left to try to recover while the peloton was slowly picking up speed in preparation for the dash for the cash. This, combined with a Fossil racer trying to stick his right shoe in my front wheel ended up with me in bad position with 1 to go. While the pace was fast, which is usually to my liking, I started out to far back and came around the final corner in about 20th and making it to 17th in the final strait. This was "in the money" but was very disappointing because the course and pace were really good for me. Oh well, there is always next year...

Tulsa Brady Village Criterium (Saturday)

Saturday's race was a an "L" shaped criterium going slightly up hill out toward the top of the "L" and down hill into the final corner which was about 250 meters from the finish.

First up was Steve "lets get psyched" Capstick who rode over to the course only to end up waiting out a thunder storm under the Cyclops Trainer Tent (they had a tent with about 10 trainers set up each day for anyone who wanted to use them). During the storm the rain was coming down so hard that it flooded the start/finish strait causing at least one wheel from the SRAM neutral support pit to go floating down the street.

Once the rain had cleared and mid-80's with ridiculous humidity was restored, the 4's race took off from the start line like they were being chased by a gang of insurance salesmen trying to sell them a Term Life Policy.

While riders kept getting shelled, which is what happens when the 4's have $1,000 cash at the finish, Steve just kept on making the selection. After about 2/3rd's of the race about 1/3rd of the field had been dropped. Unfortunately, coming into the last lap our hero had used his final match and he had to just hold on for 35th. But given that it was the fastest 4's race that I have seen since returning to racing, this was a pretty damn good result!

After Steve, it was once again my turn to take out my frustrations about never being able to watch the Giro in HD on another unsuspecting Masters field. Unfortunately, there was a guy, David Leduc, in the field with these weird rainbow strips on his sleeve which meant that he is either a world champion or he just came back from a gay pride parade. Either way he seemed to be even more pissed than me about the whole HD thing and was determined to make our entire field cry "UNCLE!"

Leduc started attacking just as soon as we had our first prime which was about 5 minutes in. By about his 4th or 5th attack he managed to establish a little 5-10 second gap. This prompted a series of attacks trying to get across as this move would probably be the race. Once one of these groups had made it about half way across and looked promising, I jumped out of the field with 1 guy on my wheel and bridged up. Unfortunately, once I got there it turned out that only one of the guys up the road was willing to work and the guy I brought with me would also not come through. To make matters worse, as our group was being caught 2 guys shot up the right hand side and they made it across in about a lap.

While there were many counter attacks to try and get another group across, none of them had much of a chance and the varying pace of the peloton just allowed the break to open up their lead every time we slowed down. Thus with 5 to go I had already resigned myself to a field sprint for 4th. On the last lap my position was excellent at the top of the hill with 1/2 a lap to go but going down the hill no one up front wanted to lead out. Finally going into the last corner the attack came from the inside and I was the first guy to jump onto this little group of 4 or 5. However, as they swung wide to set up for the final corner the last guy in the group came across my front wheel forcing me to break while I tried to avoid his back wheel. As a result, I went into the corner a little farther back than would have been ideal and only managed 9th on the line. Did I mention that they are doing these again next year?

In the final BSV race of the day, Isaac once again donned the black skin suit of death and decided to stalk the back of the field like it was Jodie Foster. However according to Steve (yea I do believe everything he tells me), Isaac had also been mike'd up by Dave Towel for added drama and filed this report live during the race:

Dave - Let's now go live to Isaac Dancy our lantern rouge of death out on the course right now...

Isaac - Thanks Dave and pardon the heavy breathing! I have been keeping an eye on #223 out here for about a lap now and I think it is about time we end his suffering. Hang on for a minute while I sprint by him...(Sound of gear shifting followed by maniacal laugh)...well it ain't pretty but that is the way we do it out here in the Cat 3's, or El Tres Grande as we call it. Back to you Dave.

Unfortunately, with just 4 or 5 laps to go the Grim Reaper was caught behind a crash which forced him to chase the rest of the way. But that is the price you pay for fame!

Tulsa Riverview Criterium (Sunday)

Sunday dawned with an ominous forecast. The local weather was showing two thunder storm cells heading for Tulsa, the first relatively small but second looked pretty darn big.

Since Steve was first up, he headed down to the course which was only a couple blocks from our hotel and proceeded to hang out with the Soundpony guys who he had just met the day before in someone's garage while the first storm blew through. Once the storm had passed, it was still raining but the officials called the Cat 4's to the line with 5 minutes notice and gave them the run down.

Basically, they could run the race as an unknown distance and the refs would give them the bell when the 2nd storm hit or there would be no race. Being the bravest of our BSV crew, Steve simply looked that ref back in the face and said "give me your best shot! I never ride faster than I can see, besides it's all in the reflexes." And they were off!

The course had a 200 meter wall at one end followed by a little more climbing and another roller which lead you back to a fairly steep decent into a greater than 90 turn (like those sharp corners at Niwot).

With a great start, Steve had good position as the 4's field was exploded right on the first lap. With it unclear when they would get the bell, guys were just flying off the front in hopes that they would time it right. Finally about 5 laps in the rain and wind picked up enough that the refs rang the bell! While I can't tell you what happened to Steve at this point because Isaac and I were hiding in the car like a couple of morons who had forgotten to bring an umbrella or towel, it looked brutal and Steve managed to hang on for 24th.

After that it started raining so hard that the rest of the amateur races for the day were canceled...BUMMER! Once again, there is always next year...(Are you sensing a theme?)

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