Our great cycling community puts on awesome rides, ranging from long, leisurely, scenic routes to all-out torture-fests. Here’s a breakdown of the rides for 2013 in Tulsa and the greater Green Country area.
Starting us off as with most years is the Flower Power ride down in Muskogee (45 min. South-East of Tulsa). Two years ago we spent the day riding on rain-soaked roads and dimly-viewable foliage. Last year we couldn’t have asked for better riding weather: mid-60’s, not too much wind, overcast but bright (no solar-broiling). When the weather is like it was in 2012, the routes are beautiful, rolling past four of the largest rivers in Oklahoma.
Don’t let the beauty lull you though; this ride is not without its challenges. First, there’s the large, mile-long climb out at Fort Gibson Lake. Then comes rollers though hilly back-country. For the centurians (not sure if what we should call the century riders, but I like it), there’s a 38 mile loop adding two additional large climbs and a few somewhat-technical (and definitely fast) downhills. And for anyone riding 50 miles and above, there’s the dread Worm Hole double-hill. You’ll know it when you get there.
Put on by the Tulsa Bicycle Club, this tour ride covers lots of the courses us Tulsans ride regularly, but with the added fun of a mass start event. Temps start to ride in Tulsa by early May, so it’s not unusual to deal with 90°+ heat later in the day. Add to that the warm winds out of the south that bring the heat, and this ride can get pretty challenging. Many locals use it as their first tour ride of the season, and as part of their training for the upcoming Tulsa Tough Gran Fondo. A word of caution though: this ride also brings out a lot of racers. That’s good – definitely want to support our local racers and their training – but if you’re a casual rider or don’t have the bike handling chops that they do, start further back in the starting pack for your safety and theirs. I was up in the front last year, and found the start to be too aggressive for my taste, so I’ll be back in the mid-pack this year.
Last year was the first year for the Copland Classic (formerly run as “The Thin Blue Ride”). Being new, it’s also one of the smaller events in the area, and so has a much more relaxed feel to the ride (that may change as popularity grows). Starting up at the Tulsa Police Officers Memorial, they offer several routes including The Misdemeanor (14 miles), The Felony (31 miels), and 67 to Life (67 miles). The 67 mile route heads west through Tall Chief dam, continues north through Javine Hill Rd. (good climbs there), and then east through Ramona. By the time we were heading east, we were dealing with cross-winds upwards of 25+ mph.
After Ramona, the ride turns, and you have almost 19 miles of riding south – and for us last year, that meant into a headwind, at barely 12 mph if we were lucky. The last 20 miles of that ride took us longer than the previous 48 miles (it lived up to it’s “to life” moniker). Given that most of our wind during the warmer months comes from the South, I’d expect the similar hard riding this year.
As sometimes happens with newer events, there were some logistics that could be improved. The rest stop in Ramona was hard to find (missed it entirely), and the rest stop near Collinsville wasn’t setup when we rolled by (fortunately we stopped anyway and they arrived a few minutes later). I’m hoping these issues are resolved, as this could become a really good training event for day two of Tulsa Tough.
What started as a secondary fundraiser ride for Team Superior has quickly moved up to be one of our larger team events, with fifteen registered riders so far and the ride still three months away. With about 300 riders, this fundraiser event is on-par in size with Flower Power and Tour de Tulsa. Keep in mind that unlike the previous tour rides, this is a fundraiser, and the minimum goal is $150 to ride (raising money for the American Diabetes Association).
Distances include 10, 25, 50, and 75 miles. This will be my first year riding this event, but I’ve only heard good things about the routes and the event itself. Unlike most of the tour rides that take place in Tulsa which usually take occur on the west-side of the Arkansas river or north of the city, this one heads to the south-east, rolling through Bixby, Haskell, Coweta, and Broken Arrow. With a mostly-level terrain profile plus two or three climbs, this should make for a good, fast mid-season ride.
The premier cycling event of the year for Tulsa – and dare I say, the mid-west. If you haven’t experienced Tulsa Tough, you’re missing out. Racing? Check. Tour rides? Check. Family activities? Check. Parties? Check. Challenges? Triple-check. Vibe? Off the bike-chain.
The festivities start on Friday, with a series of fast-paced, action-packed criteriums taking place in the heart of downtown Tulsa’s entertainment area, the Blue Dome district. A figure-eight course means serious bike skills are brought to bear as the race flies through spectator-lined downtown streets. Saturday sees the criteriums move the to Brady district. Then comes Sunday and the now nationally renowned Cry Baby Hill. And if you can’t get downtown to watch the races in person, they stream it live online.
Not a racer, you say? Gotcha covered. Not only does Tulsa Tough have the “Tulsa Townie” ride – small, family-friendly road ride through Tulsa – but it’s got fondos. Lots and lots of fondos. What’s a fondo, you ask? A fondo is a mass start ride, but with a more party-like atmosphere. Satudray’s fondos run from 27 miles (the “Petit”) to 127 miles (the “Mondo”). The 40 mile “Piccolo” and 68 mile “Medio” are not slouch rides either, presenting a nice, varied course with lots of challenging options. And the 109 mile Grand Fondo is something people train for from the end of one riding season until Tulsa Tough comes around again. Can’t ride Saturday? Sunday’s ready for you to roll 35, 63, or 104 miles. Wanna show you’re truly “Tulsa Tough”? Go for the Double Tough, Deuce, or Ace challenges.
If it seems like I’m talking up this event, I’m not. It’s just so jam-packed with riding options, racing options, and family events that it’s hard to cover it all in my puny little blog. Whatever your riding ability, sign up and give it a shot. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Of all the tour rides in the region, the Dam J.A.M. up in Pryor, OK is one of the prettiest and friendliest. The route takes you all around Lake Hudson, passing multiple dams, rivers, and smaller lakes (Spavinaw, Chimney Roock, Eucha) towards the end of Summer, when the trees are still green and lush. Though a lot of the ride includes long stretches of gently rolling terrain (the first 15 miles of the ride is like this), don’t let it fool you. There are challenges aplenty. Dry Gulch climb is a good wake-up call kind of hill, taking you by surprise after rolling along the western shore of Lake Hudson. Another 15 miles on, you’ll find yourself on a not-steep-by-steady 2-mile ascent along Indian Springs Rd. and away from the lake. But the most memorable climb is Pump Back hill. At over a mile in length – 50 miles into the 67 mile 3/4 Dam J.A.M. – with a grade of 6%, you’ll be extremely glad to see that MASH rest stop at the top of this particular climb. This ride makes a great warm-up for the MS Ride, usually the week after.
For the last few years, this ride has started in Tulsa and ended in Chandler on Day 1. Day 2 starts in Chandler and ends with a roll up to the state capital building in Oklahoma City. This is Team Superior’s large fundraiser ride of the year, and we usually roll with 30-40 members. This year there’s talk of changing the ride routes to start and end in Chandler, with out-and-back style loops of various lengths. But, nothing’s been confirmed yet. I’ll update this post with more information as it’s released.
Starting in Tulsa and usually taking place the week after the MS Ride, the Tulsa Bicycle Club Fall Century is where a lot of starting cyclists from the region do their first 100 mile ride. Routes include 10, 30, 50, 62, and 100 mile options. Starting north of Mohawk Park, this ride takes places as the heat of summer finally starts to fade into the beautiful weather we have here in the fall. Trees are turning, winds start to die down, and the thermostat isn’t set to “flambé”. It’s a nice ride in the northen-Tulsa area to wind down the season.
Other Rides of Interest
Here are some other rides to consider, but they’re further away:
- Tour of Payne (date TBA, usually around 7/4): 2 hours away from Tulsa, over in Stillwater. Rolling terrain with punchy hills. Routes include 18, 36, and 62 mile options.
- Svitak Freedom Ride (8/17): 2 hours north-east of Tulsa in Joplin, MO, the Svitak Freedom Ride honors fallen serviceman Philip Svitak and raises money for the Svitak Memorial Bike Fund (purchase bikes for children of military families). Distances include 10, 25, 40, 67, and 100 miles.
- Hotter ‘n Hell 100: (8/24): 4 hours south of Tulsa down in Wichita Falls, TX. The hottest, flattest, and most-crowded 100 mile ride you’ll ever do. Some 14,000+ participants. Other options include a mountain bike ride, 15k run, or all three (for the truly insane).