2015 Ruts and Guts

It’s #tbt and in this edition we’re going back a few weeks to Ruts N Guts in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The first weekend of the three-part Southern Cross Series, Ruts N Guts was my first shot at grabbing some last chance points for CX Nationals this January. Held at Chisholm Trail Park in Broken Arrow, the race course provides a good balance of power and skill – a well-rounded cross course in my opinion. Couple that with some top notch promotion and you have a recipe for an awesome weekend of racing!

Saturday – Let's Go Full Gas

We rocked up to the course a good four hours before our scheduled race time. Chris had taken the time set up our team’s tents and camp area, while dominating the 50+ Masters race in the morning. Thanks for the Chris! So we arrived at the course and got kitted up and ready to go like a couple pros #sopro

The course was similar to the 2014 edition, with slick off-cambers and plenty of space to open up the throttle. New this year however was the triple sandpit. There were two downhill pits in the woods and one long drag just after the start line. I’ve gotten pretty familiar with riding through sand, but riding it downhill was a whole new experience. Though I was nervous at first, it was pretty rad! Just pedal hard, weight the back end, and ride the rut to the bottom. This particular section caused quite a bit of chaos in the early races and proved just as challenging later in the day.

My call-up streak continued as I rolled to my spot on the last row of the grid. Okay, so there were only three rows, but still, who do I have to pay to get closer to the front?! The whistle sounded and I dodged, ducked, dove, dipped and dodged my way closer to the front down the long opening straight. After the first lap, I was sitting just outside the top 10 in 11th place, with a very long way to go.

“Oh boy!” I thought, "This is going to be a long day!"

I did what I could to stay in the chasing group but on lap two, I paid for my early efforts and blew up a bit. Rather than racing for a top 10, my race became one of damage control and trying not to fall too far back.

I lost a couple spots but was able to pick up a few more positions along the way. I started to feel better and eventually finished in 14th place. Though it wasn’t my best race, it was my best result in a UCI race all year and one I could certainly be stoked about.

Sunday - Flip It & Reverse It

The twists & turns of Tanner's Torment

The sun was out and shining on us on Sunday afternoon. It was a nice change from many of the cloudy, wet races we’ve had here in Texas. After Saturday’s race, I was hoping to channel the sensations into a better result on day two.

My call-up wasn’t any better, but as we entered in the reversed course, I benefitted from a few leaders going the wrong way and missing the turn. They eventually came back, but in that time I was able to move a bit farther up in the order. With the reversed direction of the course, the technical off-camber, nicknamed “Tanner’s Torment”, was now all uphill along with the two sandpits. The features were rideable today but I chose to run most of them. In hindsight, more pre-riding time would have been advisable, not just to get familiar with the course but also to instill some confidence in my skills. Had I done so, I think I would have been able to pick a better line through the sand and ride sections like my competitors.

As the race wore on, I still had a bad lap on lap three this time, and worked to get my legs back under me. The possibility of a top 10 was still there was we got to the closing laps and the gaps between 10th through 14th (where I was) were just a few seconds each. Chris Drummond (SPCX p/b RK Black) lit it up with a little under 2 laps to go. I worked hard but his superior technical skills were helping him stay in front. I suffered on the last lap, trying to pick up as many spots as I could, but only managed to pass one rider, the last time through the sandpit.

I was able to better my finish from Saturday and crossed the line in 13th. Given the fact that I had a few bad laps, I was happy with the results of the weekend and they were enough to push me into the top 100 of the ProCX rankings. I just needed a few more points to secure my spot at nationals.

The Ruts N Guts event as a whole is fantastic and the whole group behind the event did a great job putting it on! I’m stoked for 2016 and looking forward to seeing a few more big names come and line up on the start line in Oklahoma. Now, on to Resolution CX!

Hup, Hup!