Bicycle trek could get 'ugly'
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Saturday, May 29, 2010
5/29/10 at 5:47 AM
It's a long road from Hugo to Joplin, Mo., and participants in this year's Oklahoma FreeWheel will be seeing it up close soon.
But there's no guarantee that they will see Bigfoot — who is the "ugly" in this year's theme of the "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
The 32nd edition of Oklahoma's premier bicycling touring event officially will run from June 13-19, although early arrivals will be able to participate in a "Day Zero" ride from Hugo to the Red River and back on June 12.
Walk-in registration and packet pickup began at the Mapco Plaza Building, 1717 S. Boulder Ave., this week and will continue from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Registration for the full week costs $145 for adults and $100 for children ages 6 to 15.
The fees for a half-week is $90 for adults and $75 for kids ages 6 to 15.
Participation is free for children younger than 6.
Stops this year between the starting point in Hugo and the ending point in Joplin are in Clayton, Heavener, Muldrow, Tahlequah (where the SpeedWheel event is set for the night of June 16), Pryor and Miami, Okla.
FreeWheel Director Ellen Proctor said that as of Friday, about 700 people had registered. She said last year's event drew about 850 and that typically 100 to 200 wait to register at the site.
Other ways to register include visiting the event's website — tulsaworld.com/freewheel — and e-mailing a form found there, dropping by the Mapco Plaza Building during those hours in which the FreeWheel office is staffed, or mailing a form to P.O. Box 470069, Tulsa, OK 74147-0069.
Proctor said that typically about 50 percent of the participants are from Oklahoma, about 25 percent hail from neighboring states, and the other 25 percent come from places as far away as Denmark.
She said this year's theme features the "good" symbolized by the Viking ruins near Heavener, the "bad" represented by the black bears found in southeastern Oklahoma (sorry, animal lovers), and the "ugly" of Bigfoot (sorry, Bigfoot), who supposedly has been spotted in the Clayton area.
Proctor noted that FreeWheel is a camping tour and that the majority of riders bring their own shelter and become a part of a nightly "tent city" usually located on parks or schools' grounds.
However, she estimated that about 100 riders prefer indoor accommodations along the way. She noted that there will be a small fee for indoor lodging in host communities this year.
For more more information, go online to tulsaworld.com/freewheel.
June 12: 24 miles, Hugo to Red River and return
June 13: 55 miles, Hugo to Clayton
June 14: 70 miles, Clayton to Heavener
June 15: 71 miles, Heavener to Muldrow
June 16: 61 miles, Muldrow to Tahlequah
June 17: 50 miles, Tahlequah to Pryor
June 18: 67 miles, Pryor to Miami, Okla.
June 19: 38 miles, Miami to Joplin, Mo.
David Harper 581-8359
Sometimes on FreeWheel, it's hard to tell who's the spectator and who's the attraction. This photo from 2008 shows riders whizzing past grazing cows near Bristow on the fourth day of the tour. Tulsa World file
One FreeWheel feature is spectacular scenery, such as these rolling hills north of Antlers during FreeWheel 2005. Tulsa World file
ulsa World file photos