ORIGIN: Starting the Conversation

Ciao Y’all…. Saddle Up!

05.28.13 by Jim Beach
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In 2004-05 a group of local cyclists, business and community leaders began developing a vision for a locally created and owned event to put Tulsa on the map as a cool, hip, fun destination. Consistent among them was a passion for cycling, combined with many years of experience racing, riding and organizing events. The organizers are driven by one simple mission:

“To create events which elevate the profile of Tulsa and promote active lifestyles.”

With a vision of what a world-class cycling event could bring to Tulsa and a relentless insistence on delivering the highest quality experience possible the first Saint Francis Tulsa Tough launched in 2006. Now, eight years later and with amazing support from Saint Francis Health Systems and many others, the event has cemented its place as a leader in U.S. professional cycling.

Even if you know nothing about bicycling, get yourself to Downtown Tulsa June 7-9, 2013 and see what this party is all about!

What to Expect

Professional Criterium Racing Unrivaled in the U.S.

Our criteriums are fast paced, intense races on a small circuit, usually less than a mile and lasting 30 minutes to over an hour each. Three days on three distinct venues: Friday night under the lights – McNellie’s Group Blue Dome Criterium, Saturday afternoon and evening – George Kaiser Family Foundation Brady Village Criterium, and Sunday – River Parks Criterium.

Mass participation Gran Fondos!

This ain’t just another t-shirt ride. We like to call it, “tour rides with benefits”!

Modeled after the long tradition of Gran Fondos or Sportifs throughout Europe, these are long distance rides that resemble a party on wheels. Riders choose from five route options on Saturday and/or three on Sunday, ranging from 27 to 127 miles.

All riders are timed and have opportunities to compete against the clock in individual challenges, like riding back to back 100+ mile days, or riding those two 100+ days in under five hours each to win the coveted Deuce Jersey. Many people take a more leisurely pace, riding with friends and family and enjoying the countryside.

Riders finish in the day’s festival venue where they’re treated to a full meal and beverages right next to the racing action, crowds, and high energy that is Tulsa Tough.

Wallace Engineering has been a solid supporter of the Gran Fondo Celebrazione finish line and post-ride meal and party for several years. It’s a joy to be part of a company that recognizes and supports efforts like this to improve our community.

Townie Ride presented by Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation

The Townie Ride concept was developed starting in the second year and is now a favorite family fun ride on Sunday afternoon, and it’s absolutely FREE. We encourage everyone, regardless of age or ability, to dust off that bike in the corner of the garage, come down to River Parks, ride eight miles through great Tulsa neighborhoods and be reminded what we all knew as kids – the joy of a simple bike ride.

Three Day Street Festival

Each day’s festival venue brings some of the biggest spectator crowds of any bicycle race in the U.S. We have kids activities, family rides, food, music, and a three day street festival.

Friday, opening night, is wall-to-wall people crowding the sidewalks in front of the bars and restaurants in the Blue Dome District while professional racers tear it up under the lights.

Saturday it all moves to the Brady Arts District with expanded racing that goes into the evening. This year, it all centers around the brand new Guthrie Green.

Sunday, the entire event moves again to the north end of River Parks and the wonderful Riverview Neighborhood.

Cry Baby Hill has become famous as a spectating event of its own. Racers love the tight, raucous crowds on every lap. Unsuspecting, mild-mannered spectators: you’ve been warned!

Labor of Love

Saint Francis Tulsa Tough was born out of a passion to create a top-flite, professional caliber cycling event for Tulsa. A unifying value in the heart of every member of the executive committee is a strong love for the City of Tulsa and a desire to make a long term, sustainable contribution to our community.

Jim Beach performs site feasibility, development strategy, pre-purchase due diligence, and land use entitlements for commercial and institutional clients in the civil group at Wallace Engineering. Jim has been Gran Fondo Director at Saint Francis Tulsa Tough since 2005 and is a co-founder of DAM J.A.M. Bicycle Tour, created in 1992. Connect with Jim on LinkedIn or follow @jimbeach on Twitter. He also blogs occasionally.

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