By Zach Redwood
In the last ten years, Tulsa has built a small but loyal cycle following. Hosting the annual professional cycle race, Tulsa Tough has brought thousands of cycling fans into the city and inspired many other Tulsans to join the biking community and help the city implement the comprehensive plan that will turn Tulsa into a much more bike and pedestrian friendly city.
The surge of cyclists takes over Tulsa during the second weekend in June when Tulsa Tough arrives, but the people behind Tulsa’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee want to help Tulsa go the way that other major cities have gone, by adding 50 miles of on-street bikeways, shared-lane markings, and more pedestrian infrastructure.
“We plan to expand the program to more local schools as more people start to find out about the program,”
Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) member Larry Mitchell wanted to celebrate national bike month as well as national bike to work week and thought that a film festival would be a great way to gather different cycling groups from around town to associate with each other. Mitchell worked with the BPAC, Tulsa Tough, and fifteen other sponsors to bring the first annual Bike Week Film Festival to Circle Cinema.
Bike Week was held May 15-17 and featured guest speakers, giveaways, and three featured cycling themed films.
“[We are here] just to bring all these different cycling groups together, just let people talk, entertain, educate, celebrate, and all those things we love to do,” said Mitchell.
On site was local bike shop, Waifu Cycles. The Waifu storefront is in downtown Tulsa, located on W. Brady Street. The cycles are a simple design and usually consist of a single gear. The representative on hand explained that Waifus are great for a college student who simply needs to get to and from work or school.
There are even more and more after school bike riding groups that are popping up around Tulsa.
Bike Club, a Quik Trip sponsored after school bike riding program, gives children an opportunity to ride bikes with children from his or her school. Children from nine elementary schools and one high school are signed up for the program ran by cyclist Adam Vanderburg.
There is no better way to explore your own city than by bike. The Bike Club travels around the surrounding neighborhoods of each school and has about 20 students in each group participating.
“We plan to expand the program to more local schools as more people start to find out about the program,” says Vanderburg.
The aforementioned professional bike race Tulsa Tough, is in Tulsa annually from June 9-11. Once a year the Sunday “Party on the Hill” brings Tulsa out of its shell.
This party has been called one of the best in Tulsa, and is known to the local crowd as Cry Baby Hill. As they will continue to tell you during the race, “Mind the Gap.” The gap being the raceway extending up cry baby hill, which is often crawling with raucous Tulsans blowing off steam from the year long wait for the party to start.
The lore behind the hill is a long story but came into the extravaganza that it is when Tulsans Josh Gifford, Mike Wozniak, and Andy Wheeler set up chairs in a driveway on 13th street to watch the riders pass.
This is the part of the racetrack where the race is the slowest. The hill on 13th is very steep and consequently a prime location for cheering, ridicule, and inspiration of the riders trying to conquer Cry Baby Hill.
Riders that are having trouble during the race dodge “Cry Baby” cheers and patrons shaking baby dolls in his or her faces while they attempt to climb the hill repeatedly. The race venue has to be one of the most unique raceways in National Race Calendar events, which is part of USA Cycling.
Tulsa Tough is sponsored by St. Francis Hospital and invites the city to come and experience all the fun that happens at Tulsa Tough. The first race took place on Third Street and Elgin Avenue and was on Friday evening at 6:15 p.m.
The next scheduled race of this weekend long event took place on John Hope Franklin Boulevard and 201 N. Elgin. The second race started bright and early at 7 a.m. and went until 8 p.m. when the Men’s Pro category took the starting line.
The final race, which was held on 15th Street and Riverside Drive, began at 7 a.m. with the professional categories starting at 3:30 p.m.
The hype from Tulsa Tough continues to fuel the cities hunger for more cycling in town. Bike lanes have started to pop up on 3rd street between N. Lewis and Utica, as well as green painted bike lanes near Detroit and Guthrie Green in downtown Tulsa. USA BMX has brought its headquarters to Tulsa and plans to work out of old Drillers stadium on 15 and Yale.
The bike community has started to come together in Tulsa and looks to be in the forefront of the cities civic planning.