Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 5, 2010: Dropped out of Tulsa Tough. Had fun anyway!

(ABOVE: My friend Liam Overbaugh helps me with helmet during last year's Tulsa Tough.)

The Tulsa Tough (TT) is my cycling highlight of the year. It's an awesome feeling to watch the pros race NASCAR style through downtown Tulsa. Regular folks too can compete in distance rides.

(RIGHT: The pros are a blur at night. Speeds can reach over 35mph)

I ride the 100k events, and I think of it as "competing in non-competitive categories" if that makes sense. By definition the rides aren't races, but some folks (myself very much included!) want to perform well. I like to see how my time matches against my friends and other cyclists.

But before the TT rides began, I had two complaints. Most riders seem to not like two changes this year:

Change #1: the rides began one hour later. A 9am start this year means more riding in hotter temperatures.

Change #2: No ankles timers! How are we supposed to know how well we did against other riders if we're not wearing timer chips?!

Hopefully these two issues will be addressed in the future TT events as it's otherwise a first class event. I wrote a polite complaint letter to TT officials regarding these issues.

For the Saturday 9am 100k ride, I lined up with Chris and Stephanie Galuppo. The athletic Galuppos look like Mr. and Mrs. Universe in their cycling outfits! They rode the 100 mile event that day.

The 9am Saturday ride started on time. I felt fine at first. My snazzy blue jersey looked good, but my health wasn't: two days earlier, Wifey made me go to the doctor's office with an allergy/ sinus issue. My stupid trip to the doctor's office wasn't a big deal. I thought I was feeling better by ride time that Saturday. Instead it took only a few miles for me to know I wouldn't finish.

Near mile 5 we climbed a 100 foot tall hill. A climb like that isn't a big deal for a well-seasoned biker. But on this day, it marked the beginning of the end of my ride. I couldn't recover as I had trouble regaining my breathe. I gasped for air the next few miles and couldn't get my usual breathing rhythm back.

I fell behind Chris and Steph. Their pack accelerated to a 20mph pace, and I quickly disappeared from the scene. I couldn't even do 15mph. My legs weighed a thousand pounds.

I kept slowing down, pedalling only about 12mph. I didn't feel good so I stopped at mile 14 for a water break. Near mile 16 I dropped off the 100k course, turning back toward Tulsa. I thought I would end up riding the 50k course, but I couldn't manage that either.

My quick rests became splats in the grass. More stops: mile 16, mile 18, 19. I walked the bike up hills. A friendly voice, Cathy from Lee's Bicycles stopped to chat with me and offer support. I probably looked hopeless walking beside a bicycle!

After another stop or two I reached the mile 24 rest stop. Normally, I wouldn't stop until about mile 40 or so, but I was sick. I told the race officials that I was done. They towed my bike and me back to home base. George Flickinger= DNF.

I was really really disappointed, but didn't know that I was that ill at the time. Two nights later my fever swelled to near 102. Stupid sinus infection! The illness took about 5-6 days out of me. I didn't even attempt the Sunday 100k ride.


Overall, Tulsa Tough 2010 was awesome. I didn't finish the ride, but so what?! Shyla and I had a blast with our friends at the events including the pro races.

Though I couldn't finish my ride, Chris and Stephanie did survive. They reached the finish line together after hours of riding on that 90 something degree day.

The Galuppos completed the 100 mile ride and have sunburns to prove it. That's Tulsa Tough!
(TOP to BOTTOM: Stephanie and Shyla Flickinger are "VIPs" at Lee's Bicycles watching the Friday Night crits. Stephanie is all smiles after riding 100 miles as Chris cools in the kiddie pool behind her. Ouch! Look at that sunburn where Chris didn't use sunscreen.)


  1. You're a great blogger! I agree with the two complaints of the Tough...Im hoping they will change it back to the timing chips and they start it a couple hours earlier next year.

  2. Steph-- You and Chris rocked for surviving that heat in the 100 miler!

  3. Wow that's pretty amazing, I participate ones in an iron man event in my country and I finish in 24th place, the worse one was the bicycle test.