A little of this, a little of that: National Trails Day, Tulsa Tough and the legendary Cry Baby Hill

Stereotypes being what they are, you probably would think of National Trails Day and a huge, three-day bicycle race as something reserved for some place like Colorado, California or Oregon.

Tulsa probably would not be high up on the list. But here we are, on the Southern Plains, getting our outdoorsy on.

A National Trails Day event was held Saturday morning at Turkey Mountain, attracting hikers and horseback riders, as well as a few runners and cyclists. They were up too early for me, so I did my own thing. It seems to work out better that way for me most of the time.

Some trails are prettier than others, but the ones I hit were pretty awesome. And tough to beat.

There’s this…

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And this sweet little rocky spot…

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And this look up toward the top of Turkey Mountain’s modest but pleasant summit.

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And then there’s that bike race.

In late spring every year, Tulsa Tough comes to town. It includes three criterion races on short tracks downtown; a series of longer Gran Fondo rides in and around the city; and a “townie ride” for cycling enthusiasts and their families who may not be ready to race with the big kids just yet. Rain cut short the long rides and the townie, but the criterion races were on, spread out over three days.

They’re all cool. Fast. Risky. A couple of wrecks happened.

But the Sunday race — the Riverside Criterion — is the one everyone waits for.

Things get crazy on Sunday.

The loop goes into a neighborhood and up a hill, an incline that’s been dubbed “Cry Baby Hill” by the locals. What started out as an informal and somewhat rowdy gathering of cycling enthusiasts has blown up into a block party-cycling fest-mardis gras Frankenstein that has to be experienced to be believed. People dress up. Or down (one guy was wearing a silver thing, with a few dollars slipped in the waistband; another dude had a disco ball on his head).

One fella saw my OKC Memorial Marathon T-shirt and exclaimed, “Hey, Did you run that race? I ran that race! I didn’t train for it!”

He’d been knocking back Sierra Nevada Pale Ales for awhile, I’m guessing. I asked him what his time was.

“Six hours!”

Sounds about right. I congratulated him on joining the 26.2 club.

It’s all in good fun. Personally, I think Cry Baby Hill is just an excuse for people to get drunk on a Sunday morning. Or afternoon. Or both.

Anyway, some scenes from Cry Baby Hill:

The crowd is large. As in thousands…

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Keep in mind, THOUSANDS of people came out to watch a bicycle race in Oklahoma. That might give you an idea of just how quietly big endurance sports have become in Tulsa.

Here’s how close everyone is to the action. People are warned to “mind the gap” so cyclists can race by safely.

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Music thumps, whistles blare, horns sound and people yell and cheer as racers plow their way up the hill in a sliver a space surrounded by a mass of boisterous (and likely tipsy) humanity.

Anyway, a pretty good weekend to get out there and do stuff here in northeastern Oklahoma, whether as a participant or as a spectator.

Bob Doucette

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