Monday, March 17, 2008

Tulsa Tough: a paradigm shift

Let me say at the outset, I have a very small role in this. The meeting I'm about to describe is just one small part of a larger effort to bring the Tulsa Tough to area cyclists. My part in that is to assist with the BikeEd program that provides bicycles and education to local kids. I'll very likely help to assemble those bicycles and I'll be out on the road somewhere providing mechanical help along the tour routes. But there's more to the Tulsa Tough, especially the racing portion of the event, and I know very little about that.

So, with those caveats in place, I'll forge ahead.

I experienced a paradigm shift at this meeting. It's always a little bit disconcerting when it happens, but this was a revelation. The sponsors and supporters for the Tulsa Tough are Saint Francis Hospital and the Sports Commission, as well as the area hotel and restaurant association, and many others. That's hardly a revelation. But the idea that hit me, 'gobsmacked' as the Brits would say, is that the Tulsa area has arrived as a cycling city. There's a tsunami of cycling consciousness that joins government, businesses, and individuals, highlighting this city as a cycling mecca. You may think that's an overstatement, yet it's undoubtedly true. We are no longer struggling toward a goal. We've attained it. Sure, there's much more to do, but this was an enormous hurdle to overcome.

We met at Malcolm McCollum's law offices on Friday. Malcolm is one of the Tulsa Tough organizers, a 'big wheel' in the organization. Brian Potter, Gary Parker, and I are League Cycling Instructors. Ren Barger is an LCI too, and she's the coordinator for the Community Cycling Project. Adam Vanderburg, owner of Lee's Bicycles, is the driving force behind the Little 100 race for area schoolchildren. Adam agreed to be the contact person for this group, effectively our committee head. And Carol Bush is the executive director of the Crime Commission.

Having the Crime Commission on-board with the Tulsa Tough and BikeEd may require some explanation. We're working in conjunction with the Carol and the Crime Commission (and as Dave Barry would say, that sounds like a good name for a rock band!) by offering both bicycling education and Safe Escape. The latter is a national program that teaches children how to avoid abduction, empowering both kids and adults. It's a natural fit with BikeEd The program takes 1 hour and is aimed at both parents and children in grades 3, 4, and 5. Three weeknight presentations will be offered at Webster, Carver, and Memorial schools.

The classroom portion of the BikeEd presentation will be offered the same night as Safe Kids. We'll do helmet fitting, watch the LAB video, and get started with the introductory material. Parental participation is strongly encouraged because we can educate both kids and parents.

The 'skills and drills' portion of BikeEd will be offered on 2 weekends, May 10th and May 18th. The venue will be announced at a later time.

Jim Beach is organizing the Tulsa Townie, a short ride through Tulsa for the non-lycra crowd and the 'graduation' exercise for the kids. The Townie and all other tours will leave from the West Bank festival area this year.

We will have 300 Trek bicycles for the kid's giveaway. In order to receive a bike, they must attend the Safe Kids program, both elements of the BikeEd program, and ride in the Tulsa Townie. Just like last year, the bikes will be available for pickup the day before the Townie. Since these bikes are more complicated than the Schwinns we had last year, the assemblers will need to receive some training. Time and place for that will be announced.

Tulsa People will put out a guide to Tulsa Tough venues for spectators.

We discussed the probability of scheduling conflicts between these events and various other cycling-related events in May. The month is packed full of tours, meetings, seminars, and two holidays. While we attempted to minimize conflicts, it's simply not possible to eliminate all of them. This is a big concern, partly because we don't want to draw people away from their plans, but also because we depend on volunteers to help. As I'm fond of saying, trying to keep a big group of kids focused is like trying to herd cats. It can be stressful and exhausting, but the bottom line is that it's still a whole lot of fun!

1 comment:

kevin said...

Is the group doing anything to help Turkey out? Just wondering if it's possible to point to the city that this event is just a part of the cities cycling community.