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 nearly 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 this year 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!

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Blogger Paul Tay said...

Well, with a great show like T-Tuf, who needs Santa Claus?

Last Friday night, the Mayor and I happened to show up for the UTW/KRMG Great Big Election Year Party at the Tulsa Press Club.

It was a pretty small casual by-invitation-only affair full of local media bigshots and small time newsmakers. So, I don't really understand why I got the invite.

While the Mayor was discussing drilling for oil on City property with some other bigshots, I ambushed her about biking to work at least every last Friday of the month, if not every Friday.

She said, "Biking is not in our culture. And, I need a shower when I get work."

Yeah, riiiiiiight. So, I tried to explain that there's really no need for showers. Use a warm wet towel in the ladies room.

There's no need for bike lanes. All we need is some bigshot like the Mayor to get on the bike for six o'clock news.

So, of course, by this time, she's ignoring me to get back to the issue at hand, drilling for oil. Then, I landed on Sheryl Lovelady, the Com lady. Blah blah bikes.

I am really trying to wear out my welcome. I prefer playing the party crasher.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

"There's a tsunami of cycling consciousness that joins government, businesses, and individuals, highlighting this city as a cycling mecca."

Sounds to me like a pretty vicious C-Dog wet dream to me. Keep up the good work.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

I still can't stop laughing out loud at the "tsunami of cycling conciousness" comment!!

Next, Tulsa's bigshots will be trotting out Santa as the City's newest mascot. Santa on a bike stalking the Downtown T-Town Trolley, hitting up the drunken passengers for a buck. ROFLMFAO!! :-P

Good thing Santa's only willing to SING NAKED 4 $1, and not impersonate NYC's Naked Cowboy! Baaaaaaa haaaa haaaaaa!! Yer killin' me, C-dog!

2:14 PM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

The really SCARY part of "tsunami of cycling conciousness?" Some bigshot like INCOG's Pat Fox will go on a tear over at traffic engineering for bike boxes. THAT would be TRULY scary.

Careful whatcha wish fer, C-Dog. Ya jest might git it.

2:24 PM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

Another random thought for next year's T-Tuf: Police Bike Patrol Stair-Humpin' Dismount Bike-on-the-fly and Shoot World Championships.

Bike Messengers have alleycats. So, why not bike cops? Race around town in TTT mode, busting gang fights, and hauling Santa and Biker Fox off to JAIL!

5:45 PM  

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