Cyclists begin 400-mile journey across state - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Cyclists begin 400-mile journey across state

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ About 900 bicyclists have decided to take on the state's hilly terrain and dry, hot weather this week to participate in Oklahoma FreeWheel 2006.

The challenge includes biking 400 miles from Hugo, Okla., to Baxter Springs, Kan. The journey began Sunday and will end Saturday.

Don Pike, a volunteer who helped mark this year's route, said he's excited about the trek.

``It is scenic,'' he said. ``We really go through some of the prettiest country in the state.''

FreeWheel director Libby Stalter said the hills make the route challenging but not impossible.

The heat will probably be the greatest obstacle, Stalter said. Hopefully, participants took time to train on hills and in the heat before entering the challenge, she said.

Rest stops with water and shade are available every eight to ten miles to help the riders avoid dehydration, Stalter said. Temperatures could peak at nearly 100 degrees the first few days of the event.

Riders will stop overnight in Atoka, Wilburton, Warner, Tahlequah, Pryor and Grove, with rides averaging about 60 miles a day. Most bikers camp out for the night, but some stay in local inns, churches or schools.

FreeWheel gives bicycling enthusiasts an opportunity to socialize and meet other people with similar interests, said Sandy Hutchings, who has participated in the event for the last 15 years.

``It's a ride; it's not a race,'' she said.
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