Words by: Sam and Skylar Schneider (ISCorp Cycling p/b SmartChoice MRI)
Introduction: Friday night in Tulsa was hot and hectic. Our sock sponsor, Ten Speed Hero, came down from Chicago to experience the race with us, first hand. Our team, ISCorp p/b Smart Choice MRI started Tulsa Tough with six girls (of about 70 total starters) and went into the weekend looking for podiums and pandas. (Sam)
Friday Night: The race was fast, with lots of attacks coming from Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise4Good. The hour crit had eight corners in the shape of a figure 8, which made it technical and single file for most of the night. We were represented in the breakaways, but nothing was going to stay away the first night. In the closing laps, there were multiple crashes and unfortunately three of our girls got taken out. Although we were together safe on the front (or so we thought), it didn’t stop a rider from cutting across the front of our wheel and instantly take down the front of the field (ouch!).
That is bike racing, but lucky for us we still had our teammate, Nicolle Bruderer, represent us on the podium for 2nd place; which was her very first NCC podium! Tulsa on Friday night had fireworks and the whole shebang. (Sam)
Saturday: Six corner course with a little hill that had a tremendous party and loud music kept things interesting. Lot of attacking, again, and eventually a move with about six riders including me gave it a go. The move lasted five laps and counter attacks came full force. Luckily for me, my team was ready and I could recover for the next move, the finish.
With about four laps to go, a storm was fast approaching, strong winds and dark skies filled Tulsa and all I could do was hope there were no tornadoes (Fun fact: I am seriously afraid of tornadoes). Last lap was chaotic, but I had a lot of confidence in my team that we could make the top step this time around. Coming around the last corner there was no time for hesitation; I sprinted for the win. There was lots of happiness all around with such an amazing amount of teamwork being paid off with champagne and a big Tulsa panda bear. (Sam)
Sunday: Two days of racing done and the iconic Cry Baby Hill awaited us. We pre-rode a lap as a team and as soon as our wheels hit the hill, we could hear the electrifying base and cheers of all the party-goers. With so much craziness going on it was impossible not to just laugh and soak it all in. The race started with a promising sunny sky and 70 women ready to race their hearts out, after all #TakeMondayOff.
The race was fast and furious- girls were dropping chains on the hill, attempting to take beer handouts, and all sorts of mayhem proved that Cry Baby Hill would live up to its name yet again. With 10 laps to go the skies opened up on the back side of the course and it was pouring so hard you could hardly see the wheel in front of you. Then, rounding back to Cry Baby Hill and no rain. It was as if the hill had its very own umbrella to protect its partiers from getting rained on (lucky them!).
The race was delayed for 30 minutes and the clouds left just as fast as they had come. With nerves high and the pressure on, it was clear everyone wanted the race to stay fast. On the last lap every team had at least one rider towards the front trying to escape for one last time. Coming down to the last turn- Sam was first with Friday night’s winner Erica Allar (Colavita/Bianchi p/b Fine Cooking) right behind her.
Conclusion: Tulsa Tough is hands-down one of the best-run races in the world. Walking around Tulsa people of all sorts were asking us “are you here for that bike race?” That is an example of the impeccable job the Tulsa Tough crew did at spreading the word.
A huge THANK YOU to the Tulsa AWE group for raising money to give a travel stipend to the professional women’s teams which made it that much more possible to attend these incredible races. ISCorp p/b Smart Choice MRI made lots of memories at this race and we definitely plan to be back next year. (Skylar)
Sam Schneider lives in Milwaukee, WI. Skylay Schneider lives in West Allis, WI.