Posted by Brady Murphy
Last year, I experienced a type of racing that I had never had before -- very large fields (120+) and huge crowds at Tulsa Tough gave me a taste of what it must feel like to be a pro. This year, I got all of that and more as my Harvest Racing teammate, Jordan Ross, won the Men's cat 1-2 overall omnium. I am so happy for Jordan, and for our team, for performing so well at a big race.
I've since heard about how many of our friends were watching, some even shouting, at the livestream's feed of the Cry Baby hill race as Harvest protected Jordan's omnium lead, answering attacks, and launching several of our own. Whether it was on the internet feed, or while experiencing it on the bike from the inside out, in a word, it was exhilarating.
Ross set the stage on Friday night's short and tight Blue Dome criterium by patiently waiting to move up through the field of 123 riders. He attacked with two to go; it was a bold move, and a bit risky from that far out. But Ross was willing to gamble losing it all in order to have a chance at the podium. The race announcer nearly swallowed his microphone as Ross opened up a huge gap. A wave of excitement rippled through the peloton, desperately trying to bring him back. Kent Meyers (Cadence Cyclery) was the only one to catch him, and just before the finish on the final straight away. Still, sitting on the second step of the omnium at the end of the first day was a great way to start the weekend.
Saturday's Brady Theater District race featured another downtown course with narrow streets producing tighter turns, and a small climb that caused enough disruption to the field to string the field out. With about 10 laps remaining, Ross went on the offensive again, getting into a seven man break that stayed away to the finish. Ultimately, Jacob White (Arapahoe) won on a solo breakaway, while Ross sprinted to fourth in the first chase. By the end of the second day, Ross was on the top spot on the omnium leader board.
The team was flying high after Saturday's race. After some complimentary cold beverages, carb loading, at the DNA/Arapahoe team tent, the Harvest five headed back to our host housing on our bikes. Along the way, we stopped for another round of refreshments and shenanigans at a former mid-century modern bank that had been converted into an eclectic bar. After that stop, I'm not going to mention names, but the Harvest guy who looks like he walked off the pages of a Tolkien novel was pleading for a stop at yet another fun looking bar on our route home. It wasn't meant to be. Jordan "Poppa GC" Ross put the kabosh on that one.
Sunday's Cry Baby Hill Men's 1-2 race had 132 entrants -- the largest field to date for Tulsa Tough. This race featured a punchy two-step "Cry Baby" hill with a 90 degree turn half way up. It also has a tricky hairpin turn following a steep descent on the backside before the start/finish chute. Anyway, Cry Baby hill is lined with some of the most energetic cycling fans in America, literally thousands of them. Because of crashes among crowd and cyclists in past years here, a legion of volunteer "referees" self-patrol the crowd, clearing the way each of the 25 times that the peloton passes through. It's an experience to behold, especially while on the rivet.
Harvest was actively covering attacks throughout the race, but when it came down to the final laps, Harvest's Lucas Marshall certainly held a key to Ross's omnimum victory. Answering an attack with three to go by Andy Chasteen (DNA racing), Marshall latched on as the peloton attempted to chase them down. With two to go, Chasteen faded as Marshall countered on Cry Baby hill. Marshall didn't relent for the entire next lap, stringing out the field to prevent a swarm at the finish. On the final lap, Ross launched a blistering attack of his own up Cry Baby hill, opening up a 100m gap on the field. Evan Bybee (Arapahoe Resources) countered at Climax point, catching Ross at the top of the final descent while the field was single-file. Ultimately, Bybee won the race, but Ross' fourth place secured him the overall omnium win for the weekend.
Congratulations Jordan, you are Tulsa Tough.
Winning is not a requirement to having fun at bicycle races, but it certainly amplifies the experience. I am grateful to have been a part of this, and will carry the memories when five friends got together to race bikes, have some success and a lot of fun in the process. Thank you Tulsa, and to our sponsors: Harvest Racing, the Trek Bicycles Stores of Omaha - Kansas City - St Louis, Trek, Bontrager, SRAM, Skratch Labs and Capo for supporting us in our efforts.