Race Review: OKC Pro/Am Classic

The first weekend of June the Matrix/RBM team ventured up to Oklahoma City for some more #critmas racing. The first of two trips up to Oklahoma, the OKC Pro/Am Classic is quickly becoming one of my favorite races on the calendar. 

Friday Midtown Crit

Friday night’s racing happens to correspond with the H & 8th food truck rally (no sure what you call a gathering of food trucks). It’s one of those races where most of the spectators just happen upon a bunch of lycra-clad dudes and dudettes on two wheels. That environment that’s been cultivated on Friday night in OKC is one of the best around and I’d encourage you to go and check it for yourself next year.

The race itself is a hard way to start a weekend of crits. A hilly course, the street has one small rise after the first turn and then kicks up again in turn two, only to descend back to the bottom of the hill to the start/finish. Couple that with a frenzied crowd and motivated racers and you have a recipe for a hard ass race.

The RBM squad was aggressive for the gun, putting in some bigger digs and jumping on moves right from the gun. As the laps ticked on, the early efforts began to take their toll and we found ourselves in the unfortunate position of chasing the break that we missed. Our efforts fell a bit short but we were able to seal a spot in the money and escape the race unscathed. Pizza. Beer. Sleep. One race down, two more to go.

Saturday Film Row

A late Friday night race meant Saturday morning came around sooner than most would have liked. Thankfully we had plenty of time before our race on Saturday and could spend the morning spinning around Lake Hefner.

Where Friday’s course was a fast, wide open course, Saturday was the opposite end of the spectrum. The eight corner, figure eight course left little room for passing for those less apt bike handlers. Being a good bike driver is critical to most crits, but Saturday’s constant turning made it a must for a decent result.

The attacks started flying from the gun, with Team Arapahoe Resources and Elevate Cycling at the front of affairs. Our plans to be involved but a bit more conservative were immediately put to bed. John Ryan made the front group and I let out a brief sigh of relief. The break was well represented by most every team so we did our part to ensure they built a solid advantage. The gap started to grow but just when we thought the race was set, a group of riders came back to the field, including John.

From there we were left to our own devices and tried to take our chances as they came. But with little to no cooperation from the rest of the bunch, the leaders eventually joined the tail end of the peloton. With a handful of laps to go the leaders teams were left to do their thing at the front of the bunch, leaving the rest of us to fish for wheels behind. 

Coming into the last 2 laps, I picked up my teammate Chris and we made our way towards the front of the bunch. I grabbed Luke’s wheel and in the last lap we had a nice little train with 5 corners to go. Railing the 3rd to last turn, Luke hopped his rear wheel which disrupted our train just enough to break it up. But we were able to salvage a result finishing 11th, 12th and 15th.

Sunday Automobile Alley

The last day of racing was also the hottest, or at least it felt like that. I had hung out with one of my old college roommates the night before so I wasn’t quite as sharp as I normally am come race time. As we sat on the trainers by the start/finish I chugged as much water as my body could handle, preparing to suffer through the heat. The course was not quite as twisting as Saturday’s but that didn’t make it any easier. The six-corner course included a few little digs that would wear on some tired legs but for the most part, it was open enough to leave the throttle open.

Having missed the break two days in a row, we knew that we needed to make something happen today. We knew that we weren’t the strongest team in the race but we were certain we had the will to get a result. So as we gathered for our pre-race meeting we decided to forego the humming and hawing and just race bikes.

Again, the race started fast. Having not seen the course, it took me a few laps to find the right lines and the best places to move up. The break established itself pretty early, almost came back, and then went out again. Chris and Rob got to the front and did a big turn to pull the advantage back. Unfortunately, as they narrowed the gap, I was too far back in the pack to make the jump across and we were blanked from the break three days straight.

The rest of the race went as most do when the winning break is established. There are a few flurries of attacks but for the most part, everyone is too scared to let more riders get away. Riding together, the race came down to a sprint for minor placings. I sat it out, frustrated with my own performace, and Chris sprinted for another top 20 finish.