On Your Health

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Guide to Bicycling in OKC

Many people remember the joy of riding a bike during childhood, but cycling is sometimes an activity we let fall by the wayside in adulthood. However, it’s never too late to ride your bike! Oklahoma City continues to welcome more cyclists all the time with new trails and paths opening regularly.

Oklahoma has become a more bicycle-friendly in recent years, said Bill Elliott, past president of the Oklahoma Bicycle Society. Nearly $40 million of MAPS 3 funding is being invested into trails. The West River Trail, which links Lake Overholser to the Oklahoma River, opened last year. Next year, two more major trails will open: one around Lake Draper and another connecting Lake Hefner to the Oklahoma River.

All of this means more options for cyclists, Elliott said. “As people have safer places to ride, I think we’ll start to see more people get out and enjoy the facilities that are available.” “In the past, you couldn’t ride on the street unless you were fairly confident. Some people would refrain from doing that. Now that we have trails, people of many different capabilities can enjoy cycling,” he said.

The Oklahoma Bicycle Society organizes weekly rides across the Oklahoma City metro. Those rides add up to more than 500 bike rides every year. Elliott said cycling with others is a great way to enjoy riding in a new way. You can meet new people, catch up with old friends and learn things from other riders.

“Bicycling can be done by just about anybody of any capability,” Elliott said. “As you start to ride more, you build up your confidence. You feel better. Your strength improves. You’re in better shape.”

More Casual Riders, More Professional Riders

A growth in casual riding has translated into a piqued interest in professional riding, too. The Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic draws 30,000 spectators every June. Hundreds of cyclists — from the professional down to the everyday competitor — race during the three-day event. The popularity of the ride is a testament to the changing attitudes in this city.

“Oklahoma City is gradually making steps towards becoming more cycling-friendly and more walkable,” said Chad Hodges, team manager for DNA Racing Cycling Team for the Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic. “I think one of the factors in making the streets safer is visibility. More cyclists on the streets, the more accepting and aware motorists will be.”

But there’s plenty of room for growth in the sport. Cycling is wide open for new participants, Hodges said. “The beauty of cycling is that anyone, any age, any fitness level can participate in,” Hodges said. “Just grab a bike, and start to pedal.”

But cycling isn’t just about physical fitness, Hodges said. It offers riders a chance to appreciate and explore the world around them. “Cycling is amazing because it allows you the opportunity to slow down just a little bit,” he said. “Everyone is used to rushing around in their cars going 60 mph. Cycling lets you slow down and actually take the sights in. Take a ride down the back roads Oklahoma has to offer, take a deep breath, and just look at how beautiful this state is.”

Three Great Oklahoma City Cycling Events

While there are hundreds of rides every year, Oklahoma City is known for several big events. Here are three of our favorites.

The RedBud Classic

Month: April Distance: 10, 33 and 50 miles for cyclists; a 5k wheelchair event; plus several running events. About: This race is an Oklahoma City classic, with 2017 marking the event’s 35th year. Each year, the event supports a local charity. The 2016 charity was Peppers Ranch, a local foster care community.

The Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic

Month: June Distance: various timed events during a three-day weekend. About: This is a massive event that draws about 30,000 people to watch racers fly through downtown Oklahoma City and adjoining neighborhoods.

The Oklahoma Bicycle Society Streak

Month: September Distance: several ranges from a 10-mile family fun ride to a 100k tour for adults. About: The Oklahoma Bicycle Society Streak isn’t a timed event, so enjoy the ride, complete with rest stops. The best part: it benefits Helmet$ for Kid$, a program that gives helmets to kids who receive bikes for Christmas from the Salvation Army. The group raises enough money to buy about 1,000 helmets. Graphic about bicycling in Oklahoma