After the Glenco NCC we had a week in between races in which we did everything non bike related before we had to head off for 5 weeks on the road racing stage races, crits, you name it. Just before I headed off to one of my favorite races of the year, Tulsa Tough, we caught a St. Louis Cardinals games and managed not to have an ounce of Ball park food. This was mainly due to the massive scones we all had on our morning ride and feeling quite guilty/ very "American" indeed. The next day back at the house there was a massive Moto session going down when two of the kids of the house collided resulting in one breaking his arm. We quickly cut up a cardboard bike box and grabbed some electrical tape to make a splint and after a little overnight stay at the hospital, he was back in a new stylish cast. I hoped I got all the drama out for the weekend as I was off to race the amazing 3 day crit showdown that is the Tulsa Tough.
Our host house in Tulsa is one of my favorite for sure. Awesome people who are stoked on our races as well as always throwing an great little party Sunday night after the weekend of racing. After what was a long drive down Friday morning, I hopped on the bike and did almost a 2 hour warm up just to get the legs flushed and ready to shred. Luckily, it worked perfect as I was able to jump off the start line and get into a solo break instantly. Unfortunately, no one bridged up to myself and after three laps I came back into the field. With ten to go I got caught up in a pile up and was pushed towards the back of the field. I still had enough time to work back to the front before the finishing lap, but my car legs came back and made it a struggle to get back onto the lead out train and I had to settle for the 20s. Still in the money, but far from where I should be. The next days was the much better. With three to go I got into the long lead out train that consisted of UHC, Octane, and Champ systems. I battled hard and avoided going down to pull off a 12th and a good little payday as a bonus. Knowing that the difference between me taking top 5 and 12th was more positioning then fitness, I knew what to do the next day to get the result I needed.
Cry Baby Hill is the best race all year and it was the final stage of Tulsa. I spent the whole race perfectly placed and with three to go, I was where I needed to be. In a blink of an eye it started pouring rain and on the last corner of the course with 3 to go the entire Health Care team slid out into the curb except for one which was able to use the bad luck in his favor and break away. Just like that, I was set up more than perfect for the Podium I was searching for all weekend. I powered the flat and sprinted up and over the climb moving up for the finishing lap. I went and used my MTBer skill to rail the corner that UHC just crashed on the lap prior in order to bridge up to the 3 man group that was just a few seconds ahead of me thinking I of course wouldn't make the same mistake, only to find myself instantly on the ground sliding towards the curb. I was beyond heart broken. I wasn't caught behind a crash, I wasn't taken out by another rider, I myself made a bad move and destroyed my chances of a podium finish. It was defiantly one of those races I never wanted to think about again and just realize that my fitness and overall ability is there and that to not dwell on the past mistake, but rather capitalize on my form in the races ahead.
The next morning I caught my flight out to Minnesota for the North Star Classic. With only 2 days of recovery I found myself lined up for the opening time trial. The whole week turned into a bit of a mess. I found myself set up on the 2nd stage crit in great position for the sprint with 3 to go, but then flatted and was unable to finish. The next day I had a long road race that became extra long for me as I broke a front wheel 15 miles into the race. I spent the day chasing and luckily after some gnarly caravan riding caught a big group and made the time cut. The next days were still filled with bad luck leaving me more fried than most on the last stage and unable to ride to my full ability. Things don't always go as plan, but the goal of the week was accomplished, which was to get a killer week of training in before we head over to nationals in Madison. Now looking back I may have played one to many games of ping pong at our host house, but I am not one to pass on a game of Ping Pong. I mean business when it comes to that, or at least I thought I did till I played my teammates Josh and Carson, they are next level. Now for a little rest and to kick this small cold to the curb. BOOMTIME..... Almost!