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My Tulsa Tough Experience - Part 5: GranFondo

Kindly suggest you start with  
Part 1: Meeting Shawn Brett
Part 2: The Schedule
Part 3: Settling In
Part 4: It's Good to be a Diva

I was awake before my alarm on Saturday with a mix of nerves and hunger in my belly.  We had eaten burritos the night before, but I was ready for more and needed to up my calories for the day ahead.  Luckily, I love peanut butter and my hosts had 3 different varieties.  In fact, eating peanut butter for all my meals at their house (3 breakfasts and 1 dinner) became the joke of the weekend.

We parked for the GranFondo and packed our pockets with fuel.  No need to leave room for vest & arm warmers like I would if starting early in Utah.  The Diva experience continued as we got to line up at the front.  With thousands of riders, this is a big deal. 
GranFondo Start Line - Check out Tulsa Tough FB Page for a shot of the Divas & me on the Start Line

It was so awesome to see all the Divas supporting each other. I was even more impressed to see so many other women and men coming up front to take pictures, offer encouragement, and ask how they could be involved.  The Divas were almost 150 strong and were represented in every GranFondo distance, including the 127 miler.  I’m betting next year’s Diva registration will at least double.
Diva Kit - just one of the many perks of registering

I wasn’t in a Diva kit, so I hung out right behind the pink wave.  Compared to the start of Friday’s ride, I wanted to be with Carol from the get-go.  We took off at a nice pace and with full road closures, the 1st 10 miles flew by.  Everyone was so excited and friendly.

A small group of Divas rode together for several miles but then it was just Carol and me.  We were on a mission and equally competitive, so we kept our eyes out for groups that we could join.  Since we are both tall, finding taller & stronger men was the key.  This way we could keep our pace high yet also conserve energy.
Kellyville Rest Stop #3 - 1st stop for us

I had been hearing about Tulsa and how hilly it was for a day now, but it didn’t sink in until the ride.  For 109 miles, the Tulsa countryside kept reminding me it wasn’t flat as we went up and down all day long.  There was even a QOM competition toward the end.
Strava Elevation = 5182 feet over 109 miles

I could write for days about the ride.  Funny stories, painful moments, hills, wind, heat, drink, food, bathroom stops, gravel road, etc.  Overall, it was a blast and quite the achievement.  I’d go off alone on the climbs, then Carol would power across the flats.  I’m truly missing my Okie riding partner now that I’m home.  We pushed each other, but also did lots of talking and got to know each other.
Dam Rest Stop #6 - Carol wore sunscreen but just kept getting darker as I just got hotter

There was cloud cover most of the day, but I still had issues with the heat and humidity.  About halfway thru, I started grabbing handfuls of ice from the plastic swimming pools filled with drinks and dumped them in my sports bra.  At some of the later stops, the volunteers had cold towels that I put on my neck.  I didn’t cramp thanks to all the bananas and drinks, but just couldn’t cool off. 
QOM Rest Stop #8 - Ice, Coke, Salt Tablets, Sunscreen, Bananas - this was my weakest moment

It didn’t help that my kit was primarily black.  On future trips to Tulsa, I’ll be smarter about my kit selection or hopefully wear a Diva kit.  Carol remarked how easy it was to spot me and for once it wasn’t my height, it was my dark kit.  All the other riders were in the lightest colors possible.  Duh!
Finish Line Photo

Having SkullCandy and Slim & Knobby’s on my kit led to interesting conversations.  It was fun to talk to people and represent Park City, UT.  I had several ask why I wasn’t home mountain biking, so they got the Shawn Brett / Women’sCycling story

We finished well below Carol’s previous time and also snagged 9th and 10th place for the 109 mile women's division!  We were slightly delirious but really proud of our accomplishment. 

Unfortunately, we had to ride up a hill to the parking lot, so without much fanfare, we were back on the bikes. We collapsed into the back of the car unable to talk in complete sentences or move faster than all those turtles I saw out on the road.  We finally rallied, changed clothes, and walked to the GranFondo After Party for some real food.

The Tulsa Tough Brady Village Criterium Races had been going since 11, but we had to eat before we could cowbell.  Shawn found us and lined us up with hugs, food, beer, water, and the last spot in the massage tent!  Say it with me, It's Good to be a Diva.
Less than 30 minutes off the bike - how about that for rest stop transitions!

Once we ate a couple servings worth, we walked the course.  The Brady District was really cool and the crowds were having a great time.  I had heard about The SoundPony bar and finally got to check it out.  I actually visited 3 times over the weekend, but didn’t spend enough time to look at all the cycling memorabilia.  Guess I'll have to go back.
The SoundPony Scene - Tulsa knows how to throw a Bike Party!

We watched a few men’s races along the course and then went back to the Start/Finish for the Pro Women.  Shawn and Carol know many of the racers, so it was fun to talk to them as they lined up.  My favorite team for the weekend was Primal.  They had put on Thursday night’s clinic, done the breakfast and ride on Friday, and were just super nice and genuinely interested in supporting women's cycling and the Diva Program.  
Primal's Kori Seehafer ready to race... as soon as they stop playing that video with bike crashes

Also with a Primal connection was my twitter friend @GRITSinNYC. She asked me to cheer loud for her AG Cycling teammate, Rose Long, so I obliged. Rose was guest riding with Primal and was so much fun to watch.  She definitely won my cowbell award.
Rose Long #39 - Red helmet made her easy to pick out

The Pro Women put on another great show. No wonder they all love coming to TulsaTough.  Not only do they receive equal pay, but they had $9000 in primes, the crowds are engaged, and they are treated like the main event.  Nothing against the men, but the women need this type of attention and young girls need to see it in order to dream about their future possibilities.
Women's and Men's Omnium Trophies - the front wheel moved up and down like an oil derrick

After 109 miles, walking the crit course a couple times, another visit to The SoundPony, and cheering for the women, we were cooked.  Similar to Friday night, we only watched a few of the men's laps and then headed home to put our legs up and eat some more.    
The SoundPony - relatively quiet inside while the races were going

I made a peanut butter sandwich and Carol made nachos, then we hung out with her teenage daughter and boyfriend to watch a scary movie.  Slightly awkward (especially during a sex scene), but we all survived.  It was so much fun to do host housing and be part of the family for the weekend.

I made it to the end of the movie and then crashed.  Sunday’s GranFondo was only 35 miles but it was supposed to be hotter and windier.  I had officially completed 3 centuries in 8 days and had no idea how my legs would react once I stopped moving.  

We didn’t need to beat any records on Sunday, but had to get home in time for Carol to prepare for the Tulsa Townie which included a tutu, princess crown, and puffy paint.  My afternoon was dedicated to Cry Baby Hill and the Pro Women’s race.
Podium Girls

You’ll have to wait for the next post to see if I could walk/pedal when I woke up.


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