By SEAN ROWLEY
Bicyclists have a chance to get out on the open road and enjoy the scenic views around Cherokee County this weekend.
Arrowhead Resort hosts the Freewheel Fandango Bicycle Ride Friday through Sunday, featuring rides of varying distances for participants. Some routes will bring bicyclists into town for OKsWagen and other city attractions.
“This is a big deal for Tahlequah,” said Dave Rogers of Paceline Cyclery. “They had between 150 and 170 riders last year, and there were 70 riders preregistered a few weeks ago. Some will wait to see how the weather goes and register on the site. It is great that several routes are going through Tahlequah. Some people will not want to camp, so they will stay at hotels and that will help us locally.”
The event offers bicyclists different routes each day. On Friday, routes of 73, 40 and 30 miles can be taken. Saturday features rides of 82, 73, 53 and 33 miles. On Sunday, bicyclists can ride take trips of 69, 44 or 29 miles. For mountain bikes, there are non-supported gravel routes of 38, 30 and 28 miles, which will be open each day.
All rides begin and end at Arrowhead. Longer routes include up to 4,000 feet of vertical ascent. The resort has showers, restrooms and parking facilities on site.
Supporting the race is Club Hospitality and Tourism at Northeastern State University, which will operate the on-site headquarters and provide breakfast Saturday. The Faith-Based Therapeutic Community Corp. will facilitate rest stops, and Paceline Cyclery will run the bicycle games.
Arrowhead opens its campsites at 7 a.m. Friday. Participants can visit the race headquarters to check in Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday at 8 a.m. until midday.
Bicycling routes open with support of sag vehicles at 8 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. Shuttles run to and from Tahlequah at 5, 7 and 9 p.m.
Breakfast is served 7-9 a.m. Saturday, with routes supported from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. All Saturday routes run through Tahlequah. Evening activities include bicycle games from 3 to 6 p.m., and dinner 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Entertainment begins at 6 and a bonfire is lit at 7.
Sunday routes are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The campsites close at 5.
Preregistration has closed, but registration will be open each day at the Fandango headquarters. Three-day fee is $170 for adults, $125 for any two days, $85 for Saturday, and $60 for Friday or Sunday.
Respective fees for riders age 6-24 are $120, $95, $60 and $50. Registration is free for children under age 6.
Maps, videos and photos previewing the routes are online at okfreewheel.com /fandango_pre_ride. For information, call Freewheel at (918) 344-5987.