By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
JOPLIN, Mo. —
In addition to Bike Across Kansas ending in Galena, Kan., today, bringing 800 riders to the area, Joplin will be the final stop today for the 2013 Oklahoma FreeWheel bicycle tour.
Oklahoma FreeWheel is an annual event for cycling enthusiasts throughout the state of Oklahoma. This year’s event will bring more than 600 riders to Joplin as they finish their tour at Schifferdecker Park.
FreeWheel is a week-long bicycle tour, lasting from Sunday through Saturday during the first or second week of June. The route changes each year, but typically begins near the Red River, Oklahoma’s southern border with Texas, and travels north to end just across the state line in Kansas or Missouri. Distances that the cyclists travel each day can vary from 50 to 75 miles.
Participants camp in rural communities and their gear is transported via semitrailer truck while they ride to the next site. Host communities provide entertainment and food for the riders each day, as well as information about all the sites to see in the town.
Before arriving in Joplin, cyclists will come through Miami, Okla. Organizers expect they will begin arriving in at Schifferdecker Park about 8 or 9 a.m., where area residents and civic groups will meet them. Food and beverages will be for sale in the park.
The welcoming event will conclude about 2 p.m. when buses will depart to return the riders back to Tulsa.
Joplin last was host to the event in 2010, which brought together civic groups and area restaurants to serve food and beverages to the riders, as well as athletes to help unload gear and luggage.