Tahlequah Daily Press

March 26, 2013

Taking to the road

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Fuel prices remain high, and with warmer temperatures coming soon, bicycling may seem like a great alternative to driving around Tahlequah.

Steve Ford, a local triathlete and telecommunications administrator at Northeastern State University, is hoping to share his enthusiasm for cycling through a continuing education course that begins Tuesday, April 2.

“I got the idea after teaching four separate ‘Introduction to Triathleting’ classes,” said Ford. “I found the common theme in those classes was that adults know how to swim and know to run, but they haven’t been on a bicycle in a long time, and some of them are afraid of it.”

Ford pitched a bicycle safety course to the Continuing Education Department, and “Bicycling for Fitness” was placed on the schedule.

“The most important thing people who want to take the class should remember is it doesn’t matter what type of bicycles they have – they can be road bikes, mountain bikes, cruisers, whatever,” said Ford. “We’ll cover everything, from the rules of the road, how to ride in traffic, to bicycle maintenance.”

Ford said maintenance is key, and can come in handy during long rides.

“I’ll teach them how to change a flat on the back tire, which can be bad news if you’re 8 miles out of town and don’t know how to do,” said Ford. “That happened to me one time, and it’s not pleasant.”

Ford caught the fitness bug after being asked to carry the Olympic torch for the 2009 Vancouver games.

“Well, to do that, I had to run 300 meters, and at the time, I was in no shape to do that,” said Ford. “So, I started jogging, and I got the bike down from the pegs in the garage. I hadn’t ridden a bicycle in 15 years. Before long, the weight came off and I felt better.”

Ford competed in his first triathlon in 2010.

“And I fell in love with the sport,” he said. “The challenge of three disciplines in one was a blast, and I caught the bug.”

Ford said the cycling class will meet once in a class setting, but will primarily involve riding and outdoor activity.

“We’ll take rides in the area,” said Ford. “We’ll meet the first time at the NSU Continuing Education office and then we’ll probably meet at the soccer fields near the industrial park to ride.”

Ford said he’s aware of a couple of cycling groups in Tahlequah, along with plans the city has for developing bike paths.


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