California Woman Using Tulsa Tough As Stepping Stone To Make History


Saturday, June 11th 2016, 11:28 pm
By: Amy Slanchik


This year, more than 4,000 cyclists are registered for Tulsa Tough, and about 800 of them are women.

One woman is hoping her experience in Tulsa this weekend will help her make history one day.

Ayesha McGowan comes to Tulsa Tough from California.

“It’s hot,” she said. “Tulsa is very, very hot, [but] everyone's really friendly."

She has a goal that goes beyond dealing with the Oklahoma heat.

“I wanna be the first-ever African American female professional road cyclist,” she said.

McGowan has been riding her bike for nine years and racing for about three.

“Maybe about a year-and-a-half ago I was looking for, to see if it existed, if there was another woman who looked like me who had gone pro before, just to like, see her story,” she said. “And I couldn't find her. Then I decided that there should be some representation in that area."

She says the best way for her to reach her goal is to focus on larger races, like Tulsa Tough, and to surround herself with other female competitors.

McGowan placed 29th on Friday night in the Blue Dome Criterium women's category -- a race with about 70 women.

She's also racing in the Brady Arts District on Saturday and has some encouraging words to keep in mind for Sunday at Crybaby Hill.

“Well, I got some wonderful letters from some children at the Tulsa YMCA, and they told me that there are no crybabies in bike racing so that's what's going through my head,” she said. “I'm just gonna tough it out and do what I can.”

And with that attitude, she hopes she can inspire others to go after their goals, too.