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Rider Safety

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Rider Safety

Safety is of paramount importance on the ride.  

We take safety seriously and you should too.  Read the following information carefully and be prepared to do your part to ensure that you and those around you have a safe and enjoyable ride. Oklahoma Freewheel riders will travel on public roads and highways. Cyclists, as any other vehicle operator, are required to observe all state and local traffic law.

Traffic law in Oklahoma requires that cyclists ride as far to the right as is safe.  

Riders may legally ride two-abreast, but should be considerate of motorists and their own safety by allowing vehicles to pass where may do so without endangering you or themselves.  In any event, don’t ride so far to the right that you jeopardize your own safety by not having enough room to maneuver in the event of a mechanical problem, debris in your path, damaged road surfaces or other hazards.

Oklahoma Freewheel course hours are from sunrise until 4pm daily.  

During these hours you can reasonably expect to receive mechanical or SAG support if it becomes necessary.  Course hours and support are restricted to these hours in an effort to discourage you from beginning your day’s ride before it is sufficiently light for your safety.  Riders who elect to begin their ride prior to sunrise, which is about 6 am the second week in June in Oklahoma, do so at their own risk and should have appropriately equipped bicycles. Oklahoma law requires that bicycles have a rear red light and a front white reflector when traveling at dawn, dusk, or during the night.  Bright clothing is also suggested for riding in low-light conditions or after dark.  The low angle of the sun during early morning and evening hours can also affect your safety by temporarily blinding others to your presence or affecting your ability to see other vehicles or road hazards.  We urge you to be extremely cautious of you decide to ride at times outside the designated course hours.

Move Completely Off The Road When Stopped

Riders must move themselves and their bicycles completely off the road when they stop, whether for rest stops, lunch stops, or simply when you stop to take a drink,  rest, or hone your flat fixing skills. Congestion and confusion at rest stops can result in unnecessary accidents.  Please be especially alert when stopping on, leaving, or re-entering the roadway.

Riding Safely and Courteously in a Group
Your ride and that of other participants will be more enjoyable and less likely to include accident or injury if you follow these guidelines:

  • Wear a helmet whenever riding your bicycle; on the road, around camp, and in host communities.

  • Obey all traffic laws. Bicycles are subject to citation by law enforcement officials for violating state law or city ordinances while on Oklahoma Freewheel, just as they would be at any other time.

  • The way you ride demonstrates to motorists the treatment you expect – ride like a vehicle to be treated like one.

  • Never ride more than two abreast and share the road. Ride single file when other vehicles need to pass IF sufficient room is available to do so without endangering you, other drivers, or other cyclists.

  • Ride in a predictable manner (in a straight line) and never ride in the lane for oncoming traffic except when passing safely.

  • Do not draft behind motor vehicles.

  • Pace-lines are discouraged in areas where vehicle traffic, including bicycle traffic, is high. Pace-lines should be limited in number to avoid traffic congestion and reduce the potential for accident and injury. The recommended maximum number of riders in any pace-line is seven.

  • Call out and/or signal, as appropriate, to alert other riders when you 1) intend to pass (“Passing,” or “On Your left”), 2) intend to turn, 3) are slowing or stopping (“Slowing,”“Stopping”), 4) become aware of a hazard ahead (“Hole,”“Glass”), 5) when there are cars approaching from the back, front, left or right (“Car Up,”“Car Back,”“Car Left,”“Car Right”).

  • DO NOT call “Clear” at an intersection. Riders must determine for themselves when it is safe to negotiate a turn or pass through an intersection. This is one instance when not communicating is preferred. Do feel free to call “car left” or “car right” at an intersection to alert riders of oncoming traffic.

Younger Riders

Take particular care in supervising any child or teen companions.  Parents and guardians are responsible for their youngsters and should keep them close throughout the tour, both on the road and in camp.

Emergency

In case of an emergency along the route, first call 911.  Most areas of the route will be within coverage.  A second option is to call the nearest police department or flag down a SAG vehicle, other riders, or any motorist or resident along the route.  Dial *55 on your cell phone to reach the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

To signal distress to an oncoming SAG vehicle, pat the top of your head or helmet with your hand.  Oklahoma Freewheel SAG and mechanical support volunteers recognize this as a request for help, whether mechanical or health related.

If a rider is injured and cannot be safely moved from the road, direct traffic to prevent further accident or injury.

 

 Training

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Training

When was the last time you looked at your bicycle?  Sure it’s been cold outside, but that’s no excuse.  It’s time, or is it past time(?), to saddle up and begin training for spring and summer riding, including that week-long adventure known as FreeWheel!

Training Rides in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Bartlesville

If you live near Tulsa, Oklahoma City or Bartlesville, then you’ll have an opportunity to participate in a full range of training rides, generally starting at 5 miles and gradually increasing to 60 miles or more.  Check these clubs’ websites for full details starting in early March: Tulsa Bicycle Club , Oklahoma Bicycle Society, and the Bartlesville Pedalers.  There are many FreeWheel veterans in each of these clubs to assist you with any questions you may have and get you on the right track to complete Oklahoma Freewheel comfortably.

Our Expectations

You’ll need to be able to ride 50-70 miles a day for seven days in a row.  Don’t panic!  Yes, it sounds like a lot if you haven’t done it before.  But every year, men, women, and children of all ages, shapes, sizes, and fitness levels make it into camp each night and on to the finish line at week’s end.  You can do it if you prepare.  But you MUST prepare!

There is full support on the ride, which means that injured or ill cyclists and those with mechanical problems that can’t be resolved on the road, can signal one of many volunteer “SAG” vehicles to get a ride. However, we expect all participants to be sufficiently prepared to complete each full day on their bicycle baring injury, illness, or mechanical difficulty.

YOU MAY BE ASKED TO LEAVE THE RIDE OR MAKE YOUR OWN ARRANGEMENTS FOR TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN HOST COMMUNITIES IF YOU FIND YOURSELF UNABLE TO RIDE THE FULL DISTANCE ON A RECURRING BASIS.

So, get on your bike and train.  For training opportunities and suggestions, see the sections below.

Before You Begin

So, it’s been a while since you were on a bike … heck, maybe it’s been a while since you’ve been off the couch for any length of time?  Before you begin any exercise or training program, you should assess your present physical state.  A tool to help you is the “Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire” or PAR-Q+.  This questionnaire, used widely by exercise professionals, will help you assess your fitness level and encourage you to visit with your physician before entering into an exercise program if you identify certain risk factors, including not having exercised regularly in a long while.  Be honest in your assessment of yourself and err on the side of caution.  Refer to the previous paragraph on “Expectations.”  You owe it to yourself to adequately prepare and not put yourself at risk while you’re preparing for Oklahoma FreeWheel’s week-long effort.

Need training help or advice?

Local Bike Clubs – Check your local bicycle club’s calendar for rides and join them for fun, fitness, social interaction, and for training.

Group Rides – For group rides around the state, check the ride calendars on the Oklahoma Bicycle Society’sBartlesville Pedalers’Tulsa Wheelmen’s, or Tulsa Bicycle Club’s websites.  The Oklahoma City, Stillwater, and Tulsa clubs all sponsor spring training rides with gradually increasing mileage, and these are great training opportunities for Oklahoma Freewheel hopefuls.

Training guides – There are many training “plans” and suggestions available in print and on the internet.  Following are a few internet resources we think are good, but there are a host of others.  Take a few minutes to search the internet for training plans that will fit your fitness level, lifestyle, time available, etc.

Tour de Cure Cyclist Guide – This is a great resource from the American Diabetes Association, with lots of info.  Preparation and training info on pages 5 and 6 will be helpful for any event you’re thinking about riding, whether that’s FreeWheel or some other one-day or multi-day event.

Boulder Performance Network – This site has downloadable spreadsheets with training plans for rides of different distances and the time you have available to train.  You can take these guides and adapt them easily to your own training goals and lifestyle.

Optimize Endurance Services – This site has downloadable training plans.  You can adapt these easily to your own training goals.  No, Oklahoma is not the Rockies, but Oklahoma is NOT flat, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  These training plans will work just as well for you as for those headed to altitude!

Strada – This website has training programs you can purchase starting at $60 and download on line.  The programs are similar to those from the Boulder Performance Network.

 

Here is a great training plan from T-Town Bicycles.

T-Town Bicycle Training Plan Coming Soon.

 

 Mechanical Support

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Mechanical Support

Each day, mechanical support is available along the route and in camp each afternoon and evening until 7 pm.  Several local Oklahoma bike shops accompany riders throughout the week at their own expense.  Expect to pay reasonable prices for parts and supplies and don’t forget the tip jar! We’re lucky to have these folks along and encourage you to show your appreciation for their service.

If your bicycle is 10 years old or more, be sure it’s in good condition for Oklahoma Freewheel and that you bring along replacement parts for anything that might malfunction.  Similarly, if your bike is unique in some way or has non-standard spokes or other parts, you might consider bringing along a spare or two.

As the shop vans/cars/ pickups cruise the route each day looking for riders who have mechanical problems, you can signal them by patting the top of your head or helmet. This is the best way to let them know you need assistance.

The bike shop folks actually prefer to make basic repairs on the road, so don’t feel like you need to limp into camp to get assistance.  Get help when you need it and let our mechanical support folks have some time in the evenings to recover from a long day on the road too.

Bike Fitness
Schedule a tune-up with your local shop several weeks before you leave on the ride.  Please don’t wait until the last minute!  Make sure to have them check the condition and adjustment of brake pads, brake cables and gear cables as well as bearing adjustments in your hubs, headset and bottom bracket.  Tires should be checked for excessive wear and cuts and nicks.  Mid-week on a seven day ride is not the time to have major issues with your primary transportation.

 

SAG Support

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SAG Support

Volunteer drivers offer SAG support along the route each day to transport cyclists as needed due to mechanical problems or injuries.  They also carry water and generally have a floor-pump handy for those repairing a flat along the route.  If you need assistance from a SAG, pat your head or helmet.  This signal lets passing vehicles know you need help and are not simply waving at passersby.

NOTE:  If a minor under the age of 18 needs to board a SAG vehicle, they MUST be accompanied by the adult traveling with them.

SAG occupants are NOT necessarily taken directly to camp when picked up.  SAGs are directed to patrol the route until they are full, then proceed to the host community.  If you ride a SAG, be aware that you may be riding for a good while!

Riders are expected to be able to ride the full route each day and to have bicycles that are in good enough condition to withstand a seven-day tour.

SAGs are not intended for use by riders who are simply tired and should not be viewed as a service to be used for other than mechanical or health related reasons.  Lack of training or poorly maintained bicycles are not good reasons for frequent use of the SAG services provided.

If you abuse the SAG privilege you may be asked to leave Oklahoma Freewheel.

 

Oklahoma Weather

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Oklahoma Weather

Oklahoma weather in late May and early June can range from pleasant to quite warm and occasionally, during and after a thunderstorm, quite cool.  Though average temperatures the first week of June are around 88, upper 90’s are not uncommon.  Be very careful not to become dehydrated.  Drink often and keep your water bottles filled. And be sure to bring and use sunscreen!

Summer showers or thunderstorms are likely during the week, so carrying rain gear is strongly advised when the forecast suggests rain.  Rain can also bring cooler temps in the 50’s and 60’s. Pack accordingly and plan ahead each day.  Even if you elect to ride without rain gear, you’ll want rain protection while in camp.  A compact umbrella in your bag may be a wise addition to your packing list.

And “… where the wind comes sweeping down the plains…” isn’t part of our state song just because it fit the rhyme!  Winds are common (constant?) and generally from the southwest during June in Oklahoma, hence the south-to-north route Freewheel normally traverses.  Get used to it (be prepared for it!).

Oklahoma Freewheel continues, rain or shine, blustery or calm, so be prepared to pedal in what may infrequently be less than ideal conditions.

In the event of hazardous weather, take shelter as appropriate.  In a community, take shelter in a building such as a convenience store, community center, or church.  If in the open and lightning threatens, get off your bike, squat with your feet and knees close together, balance on the balls of your feet, bend forward and cover the back of your neck with your arms.

In the event a tornado is approaching and you’re in the open, find a low area away from trees that is unlikely to flood and lie flat on the ground.

With nighttime lows just before sunrise generally in the upper 60’s to the upper 70’s, most find that a light sleeping bag or fleece blanket or bed sheet is often adequate for a comfortable night’s sleep.

Each host community will have a location identified for riders to take shelter in the event of inclement weather, so make yourself aware of how to reach that site from your camp area should conditions warrant during the night.  If you have opted in for texting alerts you should receive a text when inclement weather is approaching and where the host community’s designated storm shelter is located.

 

 Oklahoma Bicycle Shops

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 Oklahoma Bicycle Shops

This is a list of Bicycle Shops in Oklahoma that we like and who support No Drop Tours - Oklahoma Freewheel. This is not a complete list of all the bicycle shops in Oklahoma. You can contact Trevor at (918) 344-5987 with any questions or if your shop would like to help with support.

 
 

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