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  1. tending to keep a firm hold of something; clinging or adhering closely.
    “a tenacious grip”
    • not readily relinquishing a position, principle, or course of action; determined.
      “you’re tenacious and you get at the truth”
    • persisting in existence; not easily dispelled.
      “a tenacious local legend”



    Yesterday, down in Oklahoma, at the Tall Chief Road Race, I was tenacious.  When I look at the definition above, I can’t really say the first two definitions applied so accurately.  I never get a firm-hold of anything and I relinquished a lot of positions throughout the day.The 3rd one is probably the most accurate.  I was persisting in existence.

    The Tall Chief Race was an effort.  We got up at 5 am and were driving before 6.  But that really wasn’t early enough.  I looked up the distance to the race and Google said 178 miles. But it was closer to 215.  That put us close to 30 minutes behind, when we were already cutting it close, like 30 minutes before the race.  But, it was fine.

    The course is great, a 18 mile loop with a few short climbs.  The finish is 400 meters up a road to a dam.  The wind was the determining factor.  It was really windy at the start and it just kept getting windier.  I think it was probably blowing over 40 on the last lap.

    Normally I’m good in the wind.  But to be good in the wind, you need to be good in general. I don’t think I’m close to good.  At least by judging how I reacted when the field went into the gutter.   And by responding,  I meant anything except going backwards.

    The race split time and time again on a particularly gnarly sidewind segment.  The road was pretty iffy and the field had no ability to react to getting gutter ridden, other than getting blown to bits.  I always tried to swing out to the center before I was completely cooked, but most of these guys haven’t ridden that much in crazy crosswinds, thus they just tried to stay connected in the gutter, which never worked out for them.

    At one point in the race, I was in the 3rd group with at least 25 guys up the road.  But the wind was so strong I realized that if I could keep my group semi organized, that we would eventually make headway.

    It sounds like I was in control, but I really wasn’t.  I got lucky that there were a couple real strong guys in my back group.  After riding an hour off the back, we rode back up into contention.  The front groups had got together and split.  With 30 miles left, there were only 3 riders ahead.

    With two laps to go, up the finish climb, the remaining field was close to 20, but that was short-lived.  I could tell everyone was done.  I was feeling a little better, but realized I didn’t have any ability to survive serious gutter riding. The first part of the course had a couple short climbs.  But doing a short climb into a 40 mph headwind isn’t so easy.  I was riding in a 39 x 28 off my seat barely moving on the last lap.

    Guys started attacking and no one was following.  After a few attacks, two guys, Rob Bell and Ryan Depree rode up the road.  I made a pretty big effort and bridged up.  I was hurt.  Both Rob and Ryan were killing me in the crosswinds.  On the first long tailwind section, Ryan went to the front and did a huge pull, like 2 miles at close to 40 mph.  He never even acted like he was swinging off.  It really established our break.

    I eventually started coming around and just a little later, we caught up with two of the three leaders.  It seems Jacob Lasley had shelled those guys and was up the road over a minute. So we had 5 guys with the addition of  Janne Hamalainen and Chris Carlson.  But Chris’ stint was short  lived.  He got shelled up the finish climb with one to go.

    Oh, I failed to mention that we were racing in primitive conditions.  It seems that the state of Oklahoma doesn’t have burning bans when the wind is over 15 mph or so.  Because all the surrounding area was burning.  The air was thick, which my wussy lungs were hating.

    So there were 4 of us.  Janne wasn’t big on pulling.  He never really is.  But he was good and eventually started rotating.  I think I convinced him that we were just trying to survive and get to the finish.

    I had been sort of cramping for an hour, but on the last lap, it was bad.  With 1/2 a lap to go, my left sartorius completely seized.  I dropped off the back of the group, trying to get it to release.  It didn’t, but I rode thru it and got back on.  I think those guys thought I was messing around, so I just went to the front and took a big pull.

    On the last sidewind section, about 2 miles out, I took a pull and Rob attacked into the gutter.  I was shelled instantly, but kept riding hard.  I figured if those guys got back together, they would sit up, which they did.  So when I rode up, I attacked, just because.  I knew I wasn’t going to be shelling these guys, but I was a little perturbed.

    So, we started coming to a stand off.  We coasted down to a slow pace, even though I was trying to keep rotating.  Luckily for me, there was a group riding up from behind and once everyone realized they were coming, we all worked together the last mile or so.

    Coming to the bottom of the climb, Janne went to the front and jumped virtually from the bottom.  I instantly shifted into my small ring to just ride to the finish.  Janne had a good gap, and even though Rob matched his pace, he was a few bike lengths back and finished 3rd.  Ryan was seized and going as slow as me.  I made a run at him the last 50 meters to just keep him honest.  I didn’t catch him, which I really didn’t plan on anyway.

    I have to say that I put a lot of effort into that race.  I was not firing good from the start.  I somehow need to get my internal energy rhythm reset where I’m riding better on the weekends and not so good during the week.  Man, this sport is really hard when it goes this way.

    Jacob  Lasley was hauling ass.  He has been going great for a long time, he just races more locally than a guy with his ability should.  He finished in the top 10 at the UCI Cyclocross at Trek and then won Master’s Nationals, so he finally was rewarded for his abilities.  He rode away from the field at the 1/2 race at Joe Martin, so I guess there is no reason he couldn’t do it on home turf.

    The rest of my van didn’t have such good races.  Jack and Bill both didn’t finish.  When you get shelled by yourself in a 40 mph crosswind, there really isn’t any other choice.  That is except if you’re Catherine.

    She got shelled by herself.  When she was explaining the scenario, I realized she was on the centerline. I know many of you guys are going to hate this, but I told her she needed to cross the centerline to get a draft.  That either way, she wasn’t going to stay in the race, but the centerline rule is subjective.  Getting shelled by yourself isn’t.  She rode the last two laps, which is 30 miles by herself.  I can’t imagine how hard that was.  She was just trying to get in the miles, holding out for daylight savings time next week.

    Today, my lungs are blown.  I’d have to say I’m sick, but after racing in all that smoke, when my lungs were already hurt, might give me a glimmer of non-sickness hope.

    I took Tucker out for his longest walk so far last night.  We went out for over an hour.  He was great.  He is super noise sensitive, so all the night noises are all new to him.  He got a little scared a few times, but is very trusting in my assurances.  An owl was his biggest scare.

    I’m going to take him out to Vincent’s land and collect some cow manure today.  I’m going to plant a garden today.  It is supposed to rain tonight and 3 days this week. It is supposed to be in the 60’s and 70’s the next two weeks.  Crazy.  You’d think it was spring already, even though it is just early March.

    I love handwritten results. Official results here.

    I love handwritten results. Official results here.

    And wine for the winner. Rob, Jacob and Janne.

    And wine for the winner. Rob, Jacob and Janne.

    Leaving the race.

    Leaving the race.

    Need an oil rig?

    Need an oil rig?

    We stopped at Beto Junction for a few cinnamon rolls. 2 lbs each.

    We stopped at Beto Junction for a few cinnamon rolls. 2 lbs each.

    The area burn map last night.

    The area burn map last night.

    Tucker travels great. He just goes and lays down when he is pooped.

    Tucker travels great. He just goes and lays down when he is pooped.




25 thoughts on “Tenacious

  1. TreyH

    Good for Catherine. This leaves me to assume then that your entire field rode left of center on the crosswind section. I’m not sure how riding left of center is different than the other forms of cheating you rail about. You are violating rules in order to gain an advantage.

  2. barb

    Good grief. Don’t know how you do it. Someone should tie you to the chair and force you to rest. ;o)
    Congratulations on how well you did in what sounded like egregiously adverse conditions.

  3. Lionel

    That’s what Lance said. Everyone else was doing it, so there was no advantage, so it should be OK.

  4. Bill K

    A few years ago, I got shelled in a windy Masters road race because I refused to ride left of center. After I rolled in, packed up, and drove home, I got a call and was told that I had won the State Championships because everyone that finished in front of me was DQ’d, or relegated.
    Never hurts to play fair……(if it ends well)

  5. Krakatoa East of Java

    I was riding a road race at Ridgecrest CA in the later 80’s. It was damn cold, and there were REALLY strong winds. The field was all over the road. We couldn’t help it. Sometimes things got f’d up and we’d end up way over the center line. That’s what happens sometimes when 160 guys are restricted (to a lane just wider than a car) in severe winds. But anyhow, the CHP stopped all of us at a RR crossing at i-395 and told us we’d ALL been DQ’d. The race was over. So yeah, we ALL violated the rules, and we ALL suffered the consequences.

  6. TreyH

    Sure it can be helped. I live in Kansas and race in strong crosswinds regularly. It’s one thing to briefly cross the line because of gust or a swervy rider, but a field stretching across from shoulder to shoulder is cheating. The last time I raced at Skiatook (the place where Steve raced yesterday) in the early 2000’s, I was shelled because I refused to cheat as riders echeloned from white line to white line. Only moved when oncoming cars were within 100m or so, almost causing crashes each time. Rode straight to my car and went home as I didn’t want to watch someone die nor cheat to stay in the race. Officials in the car following us could have dq’d field but didn’t have the guts to do it. Instead, they just warned riders over and over and over, who promptly ignored the official and continued their errant ways.

  7. mark

    Im glad Nebraska doesn’t burn very much, its bad enough when it blows up from Kansas, that would really suck if it was my backyard.

  8. Krakatoa East of Java

    Well TreyH, I was a newb when it came to riding in such a massive pack under such windy conditions. I was 19 and riding with the best California riders of the day. We’re talking the Lemond-in-TDF, post-84 Olympic years. Fields were HUGE then. I’ve got guys like Andy Paulin riding up next to me and shoving me out of the way, and then big gusts of wind bringing lines of guys cutting across my front wheel. Did I cross the line? Yeah, I did. Sorry, but I didn’t exactly have the clarity of mind to raise my hand and say “uh, guys, uh, we’re like… cheating!”. Shit happened. Now, if I’d been the last guy in the line and I had a GoPro mounted to my bars, sure, I’d have been fine with staying out on the right and showing my video to the refs.

    Let me put it this way… The guy in SoCal that usually followed us on the moto was a UCI commissaire. He usually called-out DQ’s for CL violations on-the-spot. That day, he didn’t do shit as far as that went. It was the CHP who ended the race.

    If you’d been in that race and “played by the rules”, you’d have had a very nice solo bike ride in the freezing-cold high desert. And the same CHP officer that ordered us to stop racing and ride doubles back to the S/F would also have delivered the same “stop racing” order to you to when you finally made your way to the RR crossing.

  9. Iwasthere

    What a douche move for mentioning that Janne wouldn’t work ( and then basically calling him a regular wheel suck) in a break when you had no clue what his tactics or instructions were since you don’t ride for anyone but yourself anyway.

  10. josh estes

    first place was up the road and it wasn’t a tulsa wheelman. the field was blown apart, not like he had teammates to wait for. i think that negates whatever his “tactics” or “instrutions” were…

  11. mike crum

    i read some states race reports, and from what the report on froze toes was, there were 100% of guys on the wrong side of the imaginary yellow line on those old country roads… but like always, the officials did nothing..ITS CHEATING.. so whats the difference .. the guys on drugs that can hammer into the wind, but the clean guys gotta start an eschelon all across the road. whats the differnce.. bot are cheating..

  12. Iwasthere

    You can stick your nose a little farther up Tilford’s ass while he calls a class sportsman like Janne a wheelsuck. Not making sure some of your other guys (wrong on your assumption) aren’t going to get back on to help bring one guy bsck is the other side of the coin

  13. josh estes

    1. My nose isn’t up anyone’s ass
    2. Tilford didn’t call him a wheelsuck
    3. Where were you at in this race? Unless you were one of the guys that finished be quiet.

  14. Steve Tilford Post author

    Mike -Really. It was pretty windy. It was closer to 41. I was spinning at 53x 11. My max speed was 42 mph I think and it was here. I can go to Strava and figure it out exactly, but it was a little less than a couple miles and right around 40.

  15. Steve Tilford Post author

    Peter-You are off here. Janne sat on for a bit and we had a discussion for him to rotate at all. That is normally the case with Janne. He is a very good rider, very serious, aggressive and thinks through all his moves. Obviously, by the end results, he was the best guy in our group.

    I was interested in racing for 1st. He was the only rider up the road when Jacob took off. I assumed he would be as interested getting back into contention as I was. Do you suggest he should have sat on for a lap to let Matt chase back on? We were going much faster than the survivors behind.

    No one was criticizing Janne here. He had his own agenda. It worked out fine, except I don’t think he was that happy with 2nd.

    Did you see the attrition rate? Only 15 guys finished.

  16. Iwasthere

    ” Janne wasn’t big on pulling. He never really is”…. That’s where you imply he’s a wheelsuck. It’s not fair to Janne and regardless of the dispute over tactics to then go and say “he never really is” is bush league.

  17. Steve Tilford Post author

    Peter – That is your way of speech. I didn’t imply he’s a “wheelsuck”. I said that he never really is interested in just pulling. Janne usually rides a very aggressive race. He attacks more than he just rides in a group. When I think of Janne’s style, I think of aggressive attacks uphill. Having discussions with riders always has differing views. Your view mainly seems to lean toward the negative. Not sure why that is?

  18. Iwasthere

    My view isn’t the “negative”. Go read what Janne posted on your Facebook page. He obviously took offense to your remark BEFORE I even questioned it. You are now spinning what you wrote.

  19. Steve Tilford Post author

    Peter – It is a fact Janne decided to sit on. He was up the road and should take a little “credit” for Jacob being out of reach. We had 45 minutes to race and he obviously had a bad read of the situation. Eventually he rolled through. How many Tulsa Wheelmen were in that race? If I had 5 or 6 teammates in that race, and I was in the front group that was chasing the leader, I can’t think of a situation where I would sit on. The race was up the road. I was alone, destroyed and still pulling as hard as I could. Riding for 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th isn’t even close to racing to win. I guess it is just a difference of philosophy.

  20. Iwasthere

    Again, you didn’t limit your remarks about Janne, a 50+ guy who has race a fraction of the time you have but hits the podium more often than not at 1,2 races, to just his decision-making that race. Your “never really does” comment about him not wanting to work is what’s bush league. You got smoked by another 50+ guy and you don’t like it. Deal with it and move on. Don’t make disparaging silly ass side comments about the a guy who is great sport and a great athlete. It just makes you look like a whiny bitch.

  21. Steve Tilford Post author

    Peter-As usual, we disagree. Your observations are idiotic. Think I give a shit if Janne beats me any more than that of Jacob, Rob or whoever? Hardly.

    And you think Janne has less time than I do to ride? He has been traveling throughout the southwest racing since January. He has more than a dozen races under his belt this year already.

    I don’t know how you got this chip on your shoulder about anything to do with me and bike racing, but let’s just agree to disagree on just about everything.


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