Friday, June 19, 2015

Cry Baby Hill

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a race recap on the Harvest Racing team's blog about what it felt like where everything came together so I could stand on the top step.

Similarly this past week, I had a taste of what a professional racer may feel like at a big race venue.It happened at Saint Francis Tulsa Tough. Aside from Nationals, this three-day criterium race is among the biggest racing venues an amateur racer can experience. Well-managed with the backing of the city of Tulsa's huge crowds, and three very different courses (Blue Dome, Brady District, Cry Baby Hill) made for an exciting weekend of racing.

My favorite of the three days was the crown jewel: Cry Baby Hill.  As a racer, I appreciated many things of Cry Baby Hill. To begin, the course was quite technical. It features a three-step climb from which the name "Cry Baby" hill comes from. The hill itself isn't long, nor steep, but it's just long and steep enough to cause the peloton troubles. There's a short descent after Cry Baby, followed by a one block climb to climax point. From there, a couple blocks of recovery followed by a sharp descent and a 120 degree off-camber turn, bringing you back to the final 200 meter sprint to the start/finish for the first of several laps. It's a deliciously short and spicy course, dotted with technical spots and lots of hill repeats required to finish the race.

But what I really appreciated about Cry Baby Hill was the fans. The city really comes out and lets their collective hair down for this final day of racing. I'm talking throngs of people -- thousands of them -- pausing their revelry just long enough to scream at your face as you make yet another suffering pass through Cry Baby hill. Watching the Grand Tours, I've often wondered how it would feel to be in a race where the seam of a humanity was split open enough to allow the pace car, moto-judge and peloton to pass through. Now, thanks to Tulsa Tough, I have an inkling of what that feels like to be a pro, at least for a day.

Feeling like a pro is marvelous. I wish everyone who cared as much about something as seemingly trivial as amateur cycling could experience this.

Well, you can. Put Tulsa Tough on your calendar next year. Just remember to sign up early: there are only 115 spots, and they'll be going fast.

Happy Friday. Thanks for reading.

Attempting to bridge up at Cry Baby Hill M45+ (credit: Lucas Marshall)

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