Tahlequah Daily Press

June 14, 2013

Pedal pushers

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — It’s about the long, easy ride from one side of the state to the other.

It’s not a heated race, but an opportunity to ride a bicycle with like-minded people of all ages, shapes and sizes through Oklahoma towns and cities to promote cycling while connecting people, cultures, communities and landscapes.

OKFreewheel is the state’s premier bicycle touring event, and the 2013 ride marks the tours 35th year, said OKFreewheel Director Joy Hancock.

“We’re a cross-state bicycle tour, and our focus is on touring the state, going off the beaten path, taking the time to smell the roses, and exploring all of the cool stuff that Oklahoma has to offer,” she said. “It’s not a race. We have all abilities, all ages, all shapes and sizes. It’s just a unique way to experience the state. Anyone can do Freewheel.”

Hancock noted that future participants do need to keep in mind that some planning and preparation are needed.

“There’s a little bit of training required, and a little bit of investment in regard to the bicycle. Beyond that, if you plan three to six months out, you’ll be ready,” she said. “Starting in January, we start putting out [information about] how to train and get ready. Anyone can do it. It’s not an elite thing.”

People interested in participating next year can learn about OKFreewheel at www.okfreewheel.com, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/okfreewheel.

The 2013 route began June 8, on the Texas border, 41 miles south of Idabel and made stops in Antlers, Talihina, and Warner before rolling into Tahlequah on Wednesday. Riders left Tahlequah Wednesday headed for a stop in Pryor and will make a stop in Miami June 14 before crossing the finish line the next day in Joplin, Mo.

Each day has included routes of 41 to 60 miles, with the longest being 100 miles and the shortest 37 miles.

“If you do all the options, it’s 512 miles,” said Hancock, who noted cycling’s increased popularity. “Cycling is the new golf. It’s true. You’ve got a lot of middle-aged people with money, or people who are retiring. It’s a great way to get active. The other exciting thing about Freewheel this year, we’re putting on a bike summit Jan. 17-18, in Tulsa, at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame. We’ll be getting together city planners and engineers to talk about how to make a community more bicycle friendly, legislation and all that kind of stuff.”

Broken Arrow resident Steve Owen has been cycling for 30 years, and has experienced four Freewheel rides.


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