Ask anyone who cycles regularly and they’ll tell you all about the importance of community.
“Whether you’re a cross-country racer or just like to have fun riding the trails, biking is more fun with friends,” says Ryan Steadley, president of the Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship.
Community is also built off the bike, by volunteering to clean and maintain paths and trails.
“Without those volunteers, we wouldn’t have trails,” says Steadley. “Trail work days are also a great opportunity to meet new folks to ride with.”
Michael Schooling, former president and current webmaster for Tulsa Bike Club, adds that clubs can “introduce you to new routes and riding opportunities, diet and training insights, and maintenance techniques.”
Both groups were fashioned out of necessity.
“OEF was formed back in 1996 in response to the needs of Oklahoma mountain bikers to have a club that would represent and advocate for their interests, as well as be the official trail maintaining organization,” says Steadley.
Along the same lines, the Tulsa Bicycle Club was created in 1972 by cycling enthusiasts who wanted to connect with other people and share their passions.
“Eventually, the club split with those more interested in racing forming Tulsa Wheelmen, and the remaining folks staying with the Tulsa Bicycle Club,” says Schooling.
While meet-ups to ride are always popular, Schooling says the Tulsa Bicycle Club has not had regular, in-person meetings since 2019.
“We’ve toyed with the idea of having virtual meetings,” says Schooling, but the gatherings have never drawn a large crowd for them in the past. Oklahoma Earthbike Fellowship meets on the first Thursday of every month at trails or breweries in Oklahoma City.
Although the primary function of both groups is riding, they tack on a few other activities when possible.
“We do sponsor one or two event rides each year,” says Schooling, such as Tour de Tulsa, an event that was canceled this year but will hopefully be back in 2022. As for OEF, they converge to “fix our bikes, dream of new bikes, and work on trails,” says Steadley.
Cyclists in Oklahoma face a big challenge: the dangers of the main roads. When asked how Oklahoma drivers fare in regards to road etiquette, both cyclists offer mostly positive reviews … although Schooling notes that people are often in a hurry these days.
“Drivers just need to relax and pass with care when it’s safe,” he says.