Cycle tourists stop in Pawhuska

Robert Smith
A dreary, rainy Saturday morning greeted cyclists in Pawhuska, after heavy overnight downpours. The visitors were understandably in no particular rush to scramble out of their tents. Many of the group camped by the Osage County Historical Society Museum. Robert Smith/Journal-Capital

As they finished the Friday leg of their roughly weeklong bicycle tour of Oklahoma small towns, cycle tourists arriving at the the Osage County Historical Society Museum in Pawhuska were in need of a drink of water, maybe a couple of bottles actually.

By the next morning, Mother Nature had given them more water than they bargained for, but the hardy visitors gathered themselves and a number of them gave the local McDonald’s restaurant a full house as another storm cell pushed through town before 8 a.m. and made Main Street between the highway and Lynn Avenue a dicey drive.

Trevor Steward, executive director of Freewheel Oklahoma, a non-profit, explained Friday that his organization is promoting bicycle tourism in the state.

The Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce, the Pawhuska Merchants Association and Help Works, which provides employment to persons with disabilities, combined to offer smiles, bottles of water, food concessions on Friday, free shuttle service until 9 p.m. Friday, help with luggage and help with breakfast to the swarm of cyclists who swept into town. Friday afternoon was warm, even muggy.

“Cyclists are slow and we want them to come to our state andn ride around and spend money,” Steward said.

The tour his group had taken was scheduled to come to a close Saturday in Sedan, Kansas. The total length of the tour was more than 400 miles, Steward said. The group included riders from 27 states and two other countries, he said. Participants ranged in age from 11 years to 93, he noted.

Steward characterized bicycle tourism as a healthy travel option.

“You put somebody on a bike and they start smiling,” he said. “It’s healthy. It’s just an all-around good thing.”