Tulsa Tough is a mult-day series of bicycle rides and races ranging from long distance bike rides to short “Townie Rides.” I rode in a short ride of about 30 miles four years ago that kicked my butt. The actual races are criterium rides where the riders go round and round a short circuit and they are pretty exciting. They have all sorts of categories for men, women, age grouped amateurs and professional riders.
The criterium rides have lots of spectactors who cheer the riders with cowbells, cheers, and beer. My favorite is the Riverparks Criterium. It features a steep ride up a hill, called “Crybaby Hill” for some reason and then a fast ride down to the bottom of the hill with a sharper than 90 degree turn at the bottom. You really have to know what you are doing.
I had some family stuff Sunday afternoon so I just spent a short time at the criterium watching the racers. I did not ascend Cry Baby Hill this year to witness the rowdy goings on. I’ve done it a few years over time and I recommend everybody to do it at least once unless you are easily offended by things.
One of the huge sports events in Tulsa is Tulsa Tough. A series of bicycle rides and races over three days that includes everything from a “Townie Ride” of a few miles to long distance rides and everybody’s favorite the Criterium Races which are short races on a closed loop of multiple laps. The criterium races attract professional riders from all over the world. Most of the riders though are talented amateurs.
Last Year’s Tulsa Tough was cancelled as were all sorts of other events all over the world. This year it was back bigger than ever.
I participated in the the shortest distant event two years ago at about 30 miles and got my butt thoroughly kicked. I didn’t even finish. We were going by where my car was parked and I was like, I am cutting this agony short. I hope you are not too shocked by my cowardly craven decision. If you are, that is kind of your problem (just kidding folks.)
So Sunday it was hot and I went out to the Criterium Course, officially something like the RiverParks Criterium but everybody calls it CryBaby Hill. It is a short course that starts on the Riverside Drive and then climbs up a steep hill and then comes down the hill and turns back on to Riverside a turn well sharper than 90 degrees. Do this about 14 times and you have the race. Sunday it was done in 90 degree temperatures.
These guys and gals are very tough and very fit. I walked one loop Sunday and I was done. I left well before noon before it got hot.
So you got a race going on but you also have a big party that has approached legendary proportions. I’ve always left over the years before the legendary part.
I’ve never spent too much time on Crybaby Hill. For one thing it is in residential neighborhood with no sidewalks so it is kind of crowded. Plus I don’t do well when I’m hot. I’m told the party really gets crazy after 3 pm.. Well Sunday I was gone before noon. So sorry, I missed it.
I think everybody is really glad to get back to normal. I just hope that we are not doing it too soon. I don’t feel too threatened since I am vaccinated and try to stick with outdoor events. Our world has forever changed though. But for these last three days Tulsa celebrated a return to normalcy.
Tulsa has a bicycling event called Tulsa Tough sponsored by a local hospital. It started out kind of small and has grown considerably. It consists of three days of criterium racing and a couple days of Grand Fondo’s and a Townie Ride. Criterium is racing around and around in a closed loop of a mile or two or three and the most famous of those is Cry Baby Hill on the Riverparks. The Fondos are longer distance rides from Tulsa to the boonies and back of at least 32 and miles on Saturday and Sunday. The Townie Ride is a free community event just a few miles long.
The view from the parking at lot at 6:30 am.
I’ve always been a spectator at Cry Baby Hill but this year I went for something different. I signed up for the shortest of the Grand Fondo rides on Sunday. Thirty two miles. I had never rode a bike that far and thought about waiting until next year but I am kind of that age where it is wise not to be putting off stuff like that. You know what I mean?
So I signed up and did some training on some hilly routes near out house and I was as ready as I ever was going to be.
I got there early in the morning and got the bike ready and went to the starting line and waited. I am a slow rider and so I always get to the back, just like my running races!!
And I got left in the dust. It didn’t bother me. I just kept going at my pace and pretty soon I passed a few people.
So us back of the packers made for a congenial group of nodding acquaintance as we passed each other, and got passed.
The race organizers had lots of SAG vehicles to help riders with flats, or first aid, or haul them back to the starting line if they can’t finish the race.
At about mile 10 or so we had a rest stop. Lots to eat and drink. Our son, the banana nazi, forbids bananas in our house so I had my fill of bananas here, and water. Bananas are the perfect food for running or riding, lots of carbos and electrolytes. They also had gatorade, picklejuice, pickles, cookies, peanut butter sandwiches and all sorts of other stuff including fireball shots. I didn’t imbibe. I’d of had to stop every mile or so if you know what I mean. I’m not going to spell it out for you.
Right across the road is a view of Holmes Peak which I have run up to a bunch of times during various Post Oak Lodge Trail Runs over the years. I am glad I didn’t have to ride my bike up to the top. I know that you folks from places that actually have mountains are in hysterics about our “Mount” but hey it is harder than it looks so get over yourselves.
So then we went north. We wound through some beautiful back country with birds singing and water flowing in the streams and it was very nice. It reminded me of some early morning summer hikes in Oxley Nature Center. You totally miss it in a car.
And then it started raining which wasn’t quite as much fun but I was wearing tech gear and the temperature was not too low so it was tolerable. My gopro clone camera ran out of juice so that is the last photo I got. I didn’t really feel like stopping and take pics with the phone because it was raining.
So everything was pretty cool until about three miles from the finish. I misread a sign and took off through the core of downtown instead of continuing straight to the west side of the Arkansas River. So I wandered through the core part of downtown Tulsa thinking, wow this is kind of a busy route for a big race. There were the purple race markers but now I know it was for the Townie Ride scheduled in the afternoon. Then I got to the Midland Valley Trail and it’s oh wow, this isn’t right.
So I could have backtracked but I was tired. So I just headed back to my car. I thought briefly about a 0.6 mile jaunt to the beginning of the finish line but that would have been cheating even though I would have ended up with more mileage than the official distance. And I was still tired and it was still raining, and I would have just had double back where I was and I would have an official finish and it would have been fraudulent. Nobody would know, except I always tell the truth on my blog and so you guys/gals/X’s would know!! Do you believe me? Seriously?
So I had an official timed start and a DNF. I hope that you are not too ashamed of me. Tell you the truth, I am not ashamed. If I had gone to the finish and got an official time then I would have to explain. And as a veteran of over 40 years in industry I always tell the youngins that if you are having to explain, then you are in trouble. Just tell it like it was is my motto.
So tell me, do you always tell the truth on your blog?
I am linking with Our World Tuesday, where everybody always tells the truth, at least most of the time.
Tulsa has a big street party every year on a hill near the River Parks called “Crybaby Hill.”
In amongst (amongst is a word in Oklahoma by the way) the party a bike race breaks out. It is Tulsa Tough. A three days series of bike rides and races for everybody from Sunday cruisers like me to top professionals around the world.
They have it in early June every year and it is generally sweltering. Tulsa Tough is sponsored by Saint Francis Hospital, a local Catholic Hospital Medical System.
The last day of the race is the most popular. The races all criterium style which means that they go round and around the same short course multiple times. The last day’s though is brutal. You start by the river and climb up a very steep hill then you come down off the hill and at the bottom you have to make a very sharp 120 degree turn and most of these guys/gals don’t appear to use their brakes at all so there are some spectacular bike crashes.
So down on the river is where the races start, and the top is where the party is. It appears to get a little bigger and a little wilder every year. Couple that with no parking, very few sidewalks and the crowd and the races get very close to each other. They have painted the race lanes in bright colors and there is an army of volunteers who are constantly yelling, “mind the gap.” The race lane area.
So I went out and made a lap of the course with my camera, walking and with the heat it about killed me. I cannot imagine riding the course up to nine times or so.
I love the contrast, the party with people getting drunk, and laughing and having a good time, and a high stakes race in the brutal heat and humidity.
This past weekend was the annual Tulsa Tough bicycle racing festival. A collection of bicycle races and other events over the course of three days. The popular events are the Crit Races or Criterium Races which are races over a relatively short loop with multiple laps. The first two crit races are close to downtown and Sunday is the day for the River Parks Criterium which features a loop that includes a steep hill and a very sharp turn onto Riverside Drive coming off the hill.
Tulsa Tough also has longer road races, called Gran Fondos, and for posers like me they have a short Townie Ride. I was going to do it this year but maybe next!!
I attended the River Parks Criterium again. For fans it is like two different races. Down on Riverside drive there is a long straightaway and corporate hospitality tents and everything is very calm and sedate.
Above shows the high speed sharp turn off the hill back onto Riverside. Lots of crashes happen here as the riders are bunched up, turning, and braking to get back on the long straightaway.
This tent is close to the sharp turn onto Riverside. The bags of mulch are to protect the riders who lose control of their bikes and crash into the tent. See the Red Cross flag at the far right. I was standing there when one of the medics told me. “Hey Dude, do what you want but we put the medic tent for a reason, when they lose control off the hill they land right here, so if you stay, be alert.” So I moved.
Riverside Drive is where the Starting Line is and everybody stays pretty mellow.
At the top of the hill on the other section of the course is Crybaby Hill. The course is a relatively narrow residential street and and this where things get interesting. The races are going all out to get up the hill and the fans are there yelling at them and ringing cowbells and having a good time. There have enough people that they have the people in the referee shirts above who are charged with keeping a lane open for the racers. “Minding the Gap” they call it.
I always get there kind of early and leave kind of early so I’ve never seen the party in full tilt. When I’m there you have people getting warmed up for the party.
The racers are working very hard though. They come from all over the US and overseas to compete. The popularity of the event is growing rapidly and it really is a Tulsa happening. Especially Crybaby Hill. Below is a short video of the racers coming through. I would be good for one loop but these guys and gals do it over and over.
Sunday morning I ventured down to the Tulsa River Parks to watch the River Parks Criterium segment of Tulsa Tough. Tulsa Tough is a three day series of races of all kinds here in Tulsa. The River Parks Criterium is a short cycle race that loops from river level up a steep hill overlooking the river and then back down to the river via a 120 degree hard right turn at high speed at the base of the hill. And then they do it again, and again. It is brutal.
Copied from TulsaTough.com I hope they don’t sue my butt)
There are about fourteen races in all on this course lasting about a half hour each.
The course is not for the faint of heart. The leaders are working the whole way. Y
This is where they head up the hill, and they are just flying.
Not only are they going fast, they are going fast while being close together. If one guy or gal goes down then the risk is high that others are going down also. It looks nerve wracking to me.
They alternated the pace cars. This one was a Jaguar. They run a couple hundred yards ahead along with a motorcycle to alert everybody to get out of the way.
The races are very exciting.
The riders are concentrating hard.
At the of the hill is Cry Baby Hill. It is kind of wild. It is in a residential area with not many sidewalks so you have to stand in the street. The residents have parties in their front yard. It is quite the party. I left about noon so I think I missed the peak of the madness.
Everybody is there to cheer on the riders and spray water and beer on them.
There are marshalls in zebra shirts with whistles and flags to keep the crowd behind the line. I guess this guy lost his shirt or something.
I finally made it to a Tulsa Tough Bike Race and Crybaby Hill today (Sunday). I’ve missed out in past years but this was my year.
Tulsa Tough is a series of bike races held in Tulsa every June. It has grown and grown. It includes everything from a “Townie Ride” open to everybody to amateur and professional level criterium events. A criterium race, I’m told from Wikipedia, is a race on a short course consisting of closed off city streets. The race is a set number of laps. In other words they go around and around.
I left today before it really got crazy. Next year I’m staying for the whole thing.
People wear strange outfits to the event.
In between laps the contractor handing the portapotties was racing to finish the installation. Everybody was yelling “clear the way for the *******. The orange lines are where the spectators are supposed to stay behind. They had to put those in because in years past, from what I’m told, the gap the riders could ride through got narrower and narrower as the day went on.
My favorite sign. Take that Westboro Baptist so called Church. The guys in the striped shirts are the supposed to keep everybody behind the orange lines. They enjoy their jobs.
The theme was “Under the Sea” so I guess that makes this guy King Neptune or something.
I’m not sure what she was supposed to be.
And some more characters. Notice the baby’s for sale. This is Crybaby Hill after all.
This is a brief video of the scene at the top of the hill where the riders are just about tuckered out and the crowd is cheering them on with cowbells, whistles, sirens and beer.
And this is a video at the bottom of the hill where they have to make a greater than 90 degree right turn on a steep downhill. You’d better have a precise line and good brakes to get through this unscathed.
Anyway a good time was had by all. And bikes were raced.