It’s that time of the year again: tour season. We’re pretty fortunate here in Tulsa to have a relatively large cycling community for a rather small metropolis. That means we also have quite a few tour rides to test our mettle and enjoy the rolling, rural terrain that is North-East Oklahoma – known as Green Country. Below are descriptions on the first five tour rides coming up.
Flower Power: 4/28
Usually the first – and typically the wettest – tour of the year, it takes place down in Muskogee and is on it’s 21st year. Last year, there was a pretty massive thunder storm only a couple hours before ride time. The roads were drenched, and signs that read “Low Water Crossing” were actually some kinda local slang for “Kayaking Allowed”. But being in the foothills of the Ozarks and near four of the largest rivers in Oklahoma, once the clouds cleared the route was very beautiful to behold… if you weren’t too busy wringing out your jersey for the third time.
Tour de Tulsa: 5/5
For many Tulsans, the Tour de Tulsa is just another Saturday ride, covering lots of the roads we typically cover in training, just more crowded. That’s not to say it isn’t great fun though. Now on it’s 25th year, it’s sponsored by the Tulsa Bicycle Club. It starts at the River West Festival area in Tulsa, and the 100 mile route goes as far as Bristow (the lunch stop town for the M.S. Bike ride). I tried my first 100 at this ride, but wound up sagged in from heat exhaustion – better to call it quits than ride right into traffic, I figured. This year, I’m hoping for a far better showing. Most of the climbing for this route occurs right at the beginning (miles 6 and 9), so you may want to warm up your legs a little before call-time.
Copland Classic: 5/19
Formerly “The Thin Blue Ride”, this tour supports the Tulsa Police Department Officers’ Memorial. I haven’t done it before, but it hits up some of the same areas that are covered for the Tulsa Tough Gran Fondo Day 2 (albeit, backwards). And like the Day 2 Gran Fondo and a few other tours, it starts off with a bang, taking riders out through our famous Cincinnati Hill. For those that have done the Country Corner Fire Department Breakfast Rides with Team Superior, you’ll recognize some of the route through Sperry as we head out to Skiatook lake. At least five solid climbs on the 65 mile route – should be a lot of fun.
Tour de Cure: 6/2
At least eight people are doing the Tour de Cure from Team Superior this year, perhaps more. It’s a fund raising tour ride, raising money for the American Diabetes Association. Ranging from 10 through 75 miles, it’s one of the few tours that takes riders out towards the south-east of the greater Tulsa area, towards Coweta, Redbird, and Haskell. Two significant climbs on the 75 mile route, with a few minor climbs and rollers along the way. I haven’t signed up for this one, since my big fund raising event is the MS Ride (and I really hate asking for money, even though they’re great causes). But, there’s still time. Who knows?
Tulsa Tough: 6/8 – 6/10
Bike racing, tour rides, pros from all over the US, and three days of partying? That’s just for starters. Throw in some of the toughest tour routes around, add in large sums of criterium prize money (including some of the largest cash prizes for women’s races in the country!), add 20-40 loops of the awe-inspiring-gear-crushing-soul-munching Cry Baby Hill, and you’ve got one hell of a weekend for biking. Tulsa Tough brings together our large biking community to promote fitness and healthy living – and believe me, in Oklahoma that’s something that’s sorely needed – while presenting national-calibre racing to our local denizens.
For us tour riders, it’s the roughest, toughest, meanest thing we can do to ourselves… short of being strapped down and forced to watch a Twilight marathon. There’s three special challenges for the really stalwart (i.e. insane) among us:
- The Double Tough: complete the Saturday (109 mile) and Sunday (104 mile) Gran Fondos. No particular time needed.
- The Deuce: complete both Saturday and Sunday Gran Fondo rides in under 5 hours a piece. Out of hundreds of riders, I think only 12 succeeded last year.
- The Ace: complete the 200k+ (127 mile) Saturday Mondo in under 6 hours (to my knowledge, no one’s done it yet).
To say these tour rides are hard doesn’t even begin to cover it. Saturday’s route has some of the toughest climbs Tulsa has to offer including the likes of Hilton Hill, the Keifer climb, the deceptive Teel Rd., Coyote Trail, Houndog hill… and that’s just in the first 50 miles. There’s still the KOM climb contest (at mile 80!) and at least four more decent climbs, not to mention tons of rollers. And that’s just the first day!!!
So, pick your poison, grab your bike, and let’s get rolling!