Tahlequah Daily Press

May 17, 2013

Bike trails will increase cycling interest

By RENEE FITE
Special Writer

TAHLEQUAH — One of the most unique uses for a stationary bicycle is to power a generator connected to a blender, making a juice drink in a tiny store in a jungle, as demonstrated on a Travel Channel show.

But most people like their bicycle rides to take them somewhere, help keep them in good physical condition, or give them an opportunity to socialize. All three situations apply to the Freewheel group coming to Tahlequah in June, it

In America, National Bicycle Month is celebrated in May with community and national rides, like the Freewheelers.

For 55 years, National Bike Month has welcomed in the spring time with riding bikes to work or school, said an online article at http://www.bikeleague.org –  a site that shares history and current opportunities for bicycle enthusiasts.

In 1880, the League of American Wheelman was founded. People may recall seeing photos of women in ballooned pantaloons riding over-sized tricycles, or bicycles built for two.

Other notable dates on this website include Buffalo soldiers testing bicycles for military use in mountainous terrain in 1896; the first Tour de France in 1903; and 70 years later, the 10-speed that became available to general public in the 1970s. Mountain biking didn’t become a sport until 1976, and women cyclists competed for first time in Olympics in 1984.

Bike enthusiast Tom Hoopes likes the speed, seeing the landscape, and the relaxation.

“It puts your mind at ease; it’s my personal stress relief,” Hoopes said. “Cherokee County has so many hills and valleys; it’s beautiful.”

He never rides on highways or anywhere people drive more than 45 mph.

“I’ve been riding about 10 years. My dad got into it, and I got his hand-me-down stuff when I was 17. I still ride with him sometimes.”

A local group enjoys rides together every Tuesday and Thursday. The excursions are a way for cyclists to get to know one another, Hoopes said.

“It’s a way to meet people you have a common interest with,” he said. “The main, long-term goal is to stay healthy all my life.”

When you create a passion and love for it, Hoopes said, it doesn’t seem like a chore.

“It’s enjoyable exercise. It’s mind-clearing,” he said.

David Rogers, owner of Paceline Cyclery, sells mostly bikes for comfort, road and mountain riding. Paceline opened in 1987 and Rogers has owned it for almost 21 years. He does maintenance on old and new bikes, and sells accessories.

“We sell more adult bikes than for kids. We live in a technology world. It’s taken over for Christmas gifts,” Rogers said.

Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m., the riders meet at Paceline for their excursions. They range in age from college students to retired people in their 80s, Rogers said.

“It’s a road bike group. We ride 20 to 35 miles, for a hour to an hour and 45 minutes,” Rogers said. “Sometimes we have two groups, a faster one and slower one, and it depends on the weather, too.”

Most bikers ride road bikes because they roll faster, Rogers said.

Quality, professional bicycles range in price from $400 to $13,000.

“Bikes that cost $13,000 are super-high-end race bikes like pro racers use in the Tour de France,” Rogers said.

Most people buy the $800 to $3,000 to $4,000 range bicycles with carbon fiber bodies. The lighter bikes are more expensive and absorb the road vibration. There are many styles of seats, which are made to fit according to the right style of riding.

“A lot of people buy bikes to ride with their kids,” Rogers said, “You know, the family that rides together stays together.”

More bicycle trails are needed in town, he said.

“The city is working on it. There are more sidewalks connecting to downtown, and the are a lot of rural roads that the Cherokee Nation has paved,” he said. “Parents don’t feel good about their kids riding on streets.”

Rogers said there will be a lot more people out riding when bike trails are complete – coming downtown to shop, buy ice cream and attend events.

“Tulsa has good bicycle paths, Fayetteville does, and Muskogee did the Rails to Trails,” he said. “Fat Tire Bike Shop in Fayetteville said bike sale for families increased when the city put in bicycle paths.”

The Freewheel Bicycle Tour will come through Tahlequah June 13, and between 700 and 1,000 cyclists will spend the night here.

 

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