Great Rides

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September 7, 2013


Planning New Rides for 2011 at Saint Francis Tulsa Tough!

Happy New Year!!

You may have heard about some cool changes for the Saint Francis Tulsa Tough Rides this year. I’m excited about where we’re headed.

Tulsa Tough is going Gran Fondo! That roughly means “Big Ride” in Italian. In France it’s called “Cyclosportive”. In Tulsa it’s called “The Rides”. Seriously, that’s what we’ve called them since the beginning…. “The Rides”, blah.

Gran Fondos have begun to be promoted on this side of the pond in the past 2-3 years. Levi has one in California. There’s a U.S. series starting up with five events across the country, and another series in Canada.

At Tulsa Tough we think a lot about how we present our rides, especially compared with the first class presentation of the races. Quality of the rider’s experience is important.

This fall, over lunch, we realized the concept and style of Gran Fondos is really no different from what we’ve always imagined for the rides: epic, timed rides, superior support, much better than average amenities from before the event till long after it’s over, a dose of healthy competition, a premier event that attracts 1000′s of riders of all abilities from across the country.

So here we go, let’s see what happens! Starting with 2011 we’re beefing up the excitement, changing some routes, adding a little competition, enhancing the care and support of the riders, and calling it Gran Fondo!

On this record breaking snowy February day, the planning continues to evolve, but here’s what we know:

Saturday, June 11:
50km Piccolo Fondo, 100km Medio Fondo, 100mi Gran Fondo, 200km Molte Gran Fondo

Sunday, June 12:
100mi Deuce Challenge and possibly a 35 mile Fun Ride.


  • Any rider who completes the 200km distance under 6 hours
  • King and Queen of the Mountain competition at designated spots on the Saturday course
  • Deuce Jersey to any rider who completes 100 miles both days under 5 hours each day
  • Any rider who completes 100 miles both days regardless of time
  • All riders receive a finisher’s medal

Plus these features for everyone:

  • Chip timing for all riders
  • Earlier start time: All rides will begin at 7:30 a.m. both days
  • Redesigned Saturday finish in Brady District: Complete with VIP finishers tent!
  • No ride-day registration: Advance registration required for all rides

One thing I’m looking at seriously is swapping the Saturday and Sunday routes. We think the southwest routes we’ve ridden on Sunday have more to offer in scenery and hills. Hopefully they’ll give more opportunities for in-ride competitions and a better overall experience for more riders. It also puts the Sunday century on the slightly easier Saturday route up north.

I’m working out new start and finish routes to mesh with the race festivals and making a few adjustments to rest stop locations. The route swap isn’t firm yet but I hope to have it all worked out by early-mid February. The online maps will show the new routes and we’ll send out an announcement about that and the start of registration when we’re ready.

This year could be a turning point for the non-race side of this great event. Mark your calendar for June 10-12, 2011. Please come out, bring friends, and help us grow!

Tulsa Tough Rides Can Always be Better

Thoughts on where we fell down in 2010 and what 2011 will bring to make it better – both up front and behind the scenes.


* Arvest Gate at OneOK Field for Saturday start backdrop
* 7:30 start time both days
* Registration packet pickup beginning Wed or Thurs the week before up till end of Friday night; no packet pickup morning of
* Pink plastic wrist bands or hospital bracelets or other verification
* 2-3 shops with full mechanics minimum at start both mornings
* Professional timing
* Add award for two centuries completed in any time
* Find a Saturday ride finish coordinator
* Enhanced and better integrated Saturday ride finish festival area – transition to fill gap from early ride finishers till races are well underway
* Find a finish line/timing/awards,cheering coordinator
* Keep 2010 finish line design: with barricades, banners and cheering people; enhance further
* Find 1-3 rest stop coordinators
* Ice delivery system – take ice to rest stops and plan fail-safe resupply
* 20×20 tents at key rest stops – esp. long afternoon durations on high population stops
* Medical at all rest stops after 10:00 a.m.
* Mechanical at all stops and rolling
* Three transporters with hams on board – or rethink transporter system
* Add on-route signage

Make a little room for the bikes!

In this article, Toronto converts two automobile parking spaces on a public street to 16 bicycle spaces!

Small investment in bike racks and loss of revenue from two spaces adds one more layer of livability to a great city.

2010 Tulsa Tough 100km Ride Video

The Tulsa Tough 2010 from Stuart Campbell on Vimeo.

4 Friends.
100 Km bike race
100 degree’s
Just for fun.

this is the Tulsa Tough 2010

DAM J.A.M. 18 is Water over the Dam

It was touch and go until Saturday morning. It rained all week leading up to the event and rain was forecast for the weekend. Then Friday it cleared and Saturday was fantastic!

We had about 600 riders to help us celebrate 18 years of bringing you one of the most beautiful rides anywhere. No question the hills are hard. But the scenic lakes and idyllic rural countryside in Mayes and Delaware Counties more than make up for the pain.

I don’t hear the kudos you give other event directors, so I can’t tell you if the raving reports you give us are the same things you say to everyone. But from the superlatives you offer on Facebook this year, I get the feeling that DAM J.A.M. is one of your favorites. It makes me proud to be part of an event that pleases so many people.

2009 Tulsa Tough 100km Ride Video

Tulsa Tough 2009 from Stuart Campbell on Vimeo.

Two friends enter a 60 mile bike ride in the heat of the Oklahoma spring. Come watch as they have fun and pain as they ride the Tulsa Tough for the first time

Pack Mentality

We all have our versions of what Oklahoma law says about bicycling on public roads. We learn from friends, email groups and out on the road riding with others. Many of us just operate on our own “good judgment”, evaluating situations and acting according to our perception of what’s safe, laws be damned. I do it and so do you. It could work for a life time or it could get you killed.

On our normal daily rides, it’s pretty easy to get away with loose interpretations of law – rolling through traffic signals, riding more than two abreast, crossing the centerline.

But there’s something about people coming to an organized event and riding in groups that makes me think sometimes they leave common sense at home. It’s like they think all traffic is being diverted to another county and we organizers have somehow magically reserved 100 miles of public roads just for them. What?

In the past 17 years that I’ve been an event organizer, I’ve seen too many close calls to count. I usually see it from a car as a sag driver. It’s surprising how many people cross the centerline to pass slower riders on a hill when they can’t see oncoming traffic. Or riding in big wide groups while cars stack up behind them. This creates a greater hazard to all riders in the group as frustrations mount among the car drivers looking for a place to pass.

I strongly support bicyclists’ right to use the road. I’m also an advocate for sharing the road. But, “sharing” is an equal opportunity action. It means coexisting not dominating. Just because you have the right to ride two abreast, doesn’t mean you have to. What’s wrong with moving into a single file line when it’s safe and letting cars go around you? To do otherwise is arrogant and obnoxious. I’m not talking about abdicating rights or cowering in the gutter. I’m talking about acknowledging that others also have equal rights to the road and exercising some common courtesy.

It’s a lot like moving out of the right lane on the highway to let other drivers merge or holding the door open for a stranger. It’s the art of civility. Maintaining your position just because you can while letting a line of cars stack up looking for narrow opportunities to pass is juvenile and invites hostility. In every human encounter, the bigger person is the one who offers assistance, shares with others, and tries to coexist peacefully.

Good Times Riding

We use a chip timing system to keep track of rider locations and elapsed ride times on the  touring rides at Tulsa Tough. You’ve used or seen similar systems in running and triathlon events.

The rider wears an ankle strap with a small electronic device and whenever they cross a remote sensor on the roadway, the system captures their chip number. Riders are assigned a chip at registration and their name is tied to the chip in a database. The remote sensors collect the data in a small computer at road side and periodically transmit it back to the system control located in Tulsa near the day’s ride finish.

That’s how we keep track of finish times for every rider and how we know which riders choose which route to follow during the ride. It’s very useful for managing the support systems throughout the weekend and it’s how we figure out the awards for the Tough Team competition.

Tulsa Tough uses Milliseconds Timing and they have been absolutely great to work with. Mac Read is the owner. Eric Ewing is his trusty side kick and a very funny guy. I’ve gotten to know both of them the past couple of years and look forward to working with them again in a couple months.

Mac just sent an email announcing the launch of his completely overhauled website on Monday March 23. So I figured now is a good time to say something about him here and give him a plug. See you guys in May!

Rules of the Road

The laws in Oklahoma governing bicycling on public roads aren’t perfectly clear. But we have laws and you should be informed.

Malcolm McCollam is a Tulsa attorney, Event Director of Tulsa Tough, and an avid cyclist for over 25 years. He has represented a large number of bicyclists in legal cases involving their use of the roads. Malcolm prepared a good Summary of Oklahoma’s Bicycling Rules of the Road and I think it’s worth making it available so at least the ongoing conversation is based on facts. It’s current as of this writing.

2009 Saturday Detour

About one and a quarter miles of N. 41st W. Ave. is under construction, along with the new road being built out to the Botanical Garden. That will be a great thing for the community in that area but it plays havoc with Tulsa Tough’s Saturday Ride finish.

41st W. Ave. was always kind of rough but the worst patch was only about a half mile, and it was the best way back into town, so we lived with it. The new road will make an awesome finish to an epic ride. But it won’t be ready for 2009.

So I got on my scooter this beautiful Sunday afternoon and scouted it out. I looked at several options but the choices are limited. We could finish the way we started but that’s taking the easy way out and besides, the Sunday rides finish along the Saturday start so we’d be riding the same roads three times. Other routes are just too rough or too contrived.

So, I think the best option is what’s shown in green on this map.

Let me know if you have suggestions.