June 2018: Oklahoma Freewheel has a vision: “Through bicycling, Freewheel connects Oklahoma’s unique peoples, cultures, communities, and landscapes. We celebrate a happy, healthy, safe and sustainable Oklahoma.” Its mission is to “promote and strengthen cycling tourism in Oklahoma.” And as 2018 marks Oklahoma Freewheel’s 40th year, they will bring their mission and vision to a road that is very dear to Oklahoma’s heart—Historic Route 66.
Each year, bicyclers who participate in the Oklahoma Freewheel event travel across Oklahoma during the second week of June, typically beginning near the Texas-Oklahoma border and ending up at Oklahoma’s northern border. This year, the trip will begin on June 9 in Elk City (near the Oklahoma-Texas panhandle border), follow Oklahoma’s stretch of Historic 66 through Weatherford, El Reno, Luther, Bristow, Catoosa, Miami, and will culminate on June 16 in Joplin, Missouri, right across the Oklahoma-Missouri border.
Daily mileage on the ride varies from 50 to 75 miles per day with participants camping in rural Oklahoma communities each night. This year, the bicyclists will spend the fifth night of their trip in Catoosa, where they will be greeted with shelter and refreshments before embarking on the fifth day of their seven day trip—a day in which they will pass some of Rogers County’s most historic sites, like Catoosa’s Blue Whale, Claremore’s Will Rogers Hotel and J.M. Davis Gun Museum, and Foyil’s Andy Payne Memorial.
Route 66 has been forgotten by the mapmakers; however, its history lives on in the hearts and minds of Americans who live and travel along “the Mother Road.” The highway was built in 1926 and stretched from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles California. It runs like a diagonal banner across Oklahoma, from its northeast shoulder to its southwestern waistband. As Oklahoma Freewheel’s bicyclers travel through, they will be reminded that even though Oklahoma landscape changes dramatically as they cross the state, one thing does not change—the friendly and welcoming nature of the people who live here.
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