(This is my Lanterne Rouge column for this month's Red Dirt Pedalers "Wheel Issues.")
I attended two of the FreeWheel seminars here in Tulsa. In the first one, Ellen Proctor, the FreeWheel 2010 Director, announced the route for this year's ride. This is the 32nd edition of Oklahoma's cross state event and will cover approximately 438 miles.
Registration forms will be mailed the first week in February. They will include a section for making reservations for bus transportation. Bus tickets will be sent in May. For the first time, on-line registrations will be accepted. They include a 6% surcharge. Non-riders will be charged $40 this year. Registration packets will include information about luggage transport, shower facilities, the "Shuttle Guy" porter service, and more.The 2010 Route
Sunday, June 13th. Hugo to Clayton. 55 miles.
Breakfast will be available at 5AM, with a mass start at 630AM. Ellen said, "You won't need an alarm clock. You'll wake up to the sound of hundreds of tent zippers opening."
Monday, June 14th. Clayton to Heavener. 70 miles.
Heavener is home to the mysterious rune stone, an ancient rock carved with Norse symbols. No one knows how this occured. The town may offer bus transport out to the park, but the route passes it on the way into town, so many cyclists will undoubtedly stop to see this rock.
Tuesday, June 15th. Heavener to Muldrow. 71mi.
Muldrow, with a population of only 3000, has a claim to fame. The former Miss America, Shawntell Smith, grew up in Muldrow. No, she will not be greeting FreeWheel riders as she now lives in Tennessee.
Muldrow is 8 miles from Arkansas. A short side trip will allow FreeWheel riders to add another state to their itinerary.
Wednesday, June 16th. Muldrow to Tahlequah. 61 hilly miles.
This is the hilliest section of the 2010 tour. Ellen Proctor used the touring euphemism "scenic." SpeedWheel will take place in Tahlequah. This is a separate event from FreeWheel as it is a sanctioned racing event held in conjunction with the tour each year.
Thursday, June 17th. Tahlequah to Pryor. 50 miles.
FreeWheel re-visits a popular route from years past.
Friday, June 18th. Pryor to Miami. 67 miles.
On this next-to-last day of the tour, the FreeWheel organization offers a catered dinner to all participants, followed by a bluegrass concert by Brian Berline. This is tentatively scheduled for the Coleman Theater Beautiful, one of the attractions along historic Route 66 through Miami.
Saturday, June 19th. Miami to Joplin, Missouri. 38 miles.Tom Brown, owner of Tom's Bicycles, presented the second seminar
on bike repair and maintenance, most of it aimed at inexperienced riders. He highly recommended a road bike for the tour, though people do complete it on mountain bikes. Road bikes offer more hand positions and therefore greater comfort on a long day's ride. Proper bike fit is essential.
Tom covered the ABC Quick Check.
A - Air. Tires should be rock hard. Check wheels and hubs too. Feel for any sideplay in the hubs and inspect the tires, looking for bulges, cuts, or debris.
B - Brakes. When applied, there should be a thumbs width of clearance between the lever and handlebar. This is a good way to see that your brake quick release is closed.
C - Crank and Chain. Check for sideplay. With your hand, turn the pedals backward. Look and listen for any damaged or tight chain links. Pay special attention to any that may have a side plate popping off.
Quick releases - note that there's an open/closed label on the lever. Get in the habit of putting the quick release levers in the same position all the time so you can see at a glance that they are closed.
Twist the handlebars to see that they're tight in the fork.
Tom demonstrated how to fix a flat, except for the essential part about re-filling the tire with air. He forgot to bring a pump! The assembled group found this highly amusing. He noted that three bike shops drive the route, so if anyone needs assistance it will be somewhere nearby.
With a bike in his repair stand, Tom demonstrated how bicycle gearing works and described the basic concepts of cadence. He also covered the differences between traditional pedals and clipless pedals, highlighting the advantages of clipless units.