Cyclocross Season Update #4 2017-2018 | December
Feeling recharged after my adventures in Hot Springs and ready to attack the last few weekends of the season, I headed on to Tulsa and the site of the next race - Rut’s N Guts. Having lived for a few years in Oklahoma and quite possibly having competed in my very first cross race in that state there is a definite component of “coming home” when I get headed that way.
As I crossed the Arkansas river to pass in to Oklahoma, I spotted a trail along that looked perfectly situated for an easy spin. I flipped the van around to find a quiet visitor center and miles of peaceful river front trail. Pretty much the perfect mid ride recovery spin!
I arrived in Oklahoma for an evening or dinner with my hosts and a day of prep for the weekends racing. I opted to take a tour of the farm fields of Broken Arrow by getting lost on the way to the venue. Fortunately there was still plenty of time to shred some laps with friends and get a good feel for the course before dark.
The energy this community brings into the race weekend is practically tangible. The course improves each year and the crew has no end of fun trucking in sand for an uphill/downhill pit, creating multiple sets of stairs all in different mediums, building scaffolding viewing platforms, setting up multiple beer gardens, adding a forest of inflatable holiday festive decorations, and packing in just enough technical, twisty turny racing to keep you on your toes.
The start stretch was a long stretch false flat pavement with about 30 feet of elevation drop in the first 40 seconds. These tend to make for drawn-out start sprints and I was washed back in the pack after puckering when passing under the narrowed finish line scaffolding.
The course features numerous pinch points that offer a variety of line choices and the most technical of them was a drop into a ditch that was changing each lap. Being near the center of the pack on the first lap didn't do me any favors and it took a bit of time to emerge from the chaos.
When I finally came clear I was making headway leading a group of five riders until I took a tumble in the muddy ditch that claimed most riders at least once that day. It was a soft landing but it took me a little bit to make up the ground I had lost and get back to business.
I managed a clean race for the rest of the day holding on to the spots I tracked down but I opted to run rather than ride through the ditch from there forward! There was definitely good motivation to get a cleaner start on day two.
I managed to get myself lost again on the way to the venue Sunday. This time I toured the minimal exit toll road until I was clear in the next county. I made it back a few toll fees poorer but still with enough time to get prepped thankfully!
The course was mainly reversed on the second day with a few added stairs but the start was the same. I ended up in a similar spot with the same riders. I rode consistently and clean and landed myself in the same exact spot from the day before. Not exactly progress but definitely holding steady.
Pretty certain ever kid on a bike has taken a turn sitting in that mud puddle. There's going to be a heck of an endo fest right here! I’ll do a shot of fireball if you do a shot of fireball, or I can just do both of them. We just need a cornhole tournament and people will come out of the woodwork!
Besides both my hosts racing a few teammates from the U.S. Military Endurance Sports program joined me to fly the colors and heckle.
After the race it was great to spend some time riding with local friends and seeing the "sights" of Tulsa!
After the race the community invited me to visit a local elementary after school program known as "Bike Club." The kids learn bike safety, life skills, are mentored by community figures, and receive a free bike and helmet for participating.
Kids with an aptitude for shredding can join the local development team which creates a unique and inspiring atmosphere of inclusion by having participants from an assortment of demographics. Seeing this first hand was one of my favorite moments of the season.
It was even more of a privilege to get outside and ride with the kids, of course I was challenged to more than a few races. The local news also came out to capture the fun and chat with me about getting more kids on bikes!
Visiting bike club at Rhoades Elementary in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma!
My wonderful hosts in Texas reached out to make sure I was coming to stay with them this year and I can't speak more hi