The restaurants have special menus and hours, the stores are stocked, the trash is picked up, and the grass cut. The high school grounds will soon become a Tent City. The detour signs are ready (read on for information about that). The To Do List items are getting checked off. And the meetings are almost over.
It would be hard to not know about Oklahoma Freewheel coming to Luther, especially those who are experiencing the cold sweats and anxiety of event planning. There’s even a new youtube channel for the cause, featuring “Uncle Johnny.”
Still, some might not know. What is OK Freewheel? It’s an annual tourism bike ride that crisscrosses the state. This year the ride is on Route 66, from Elk City to Joplin, with an overnight stop in Luther (at the high school grounds) on Tuesday night.
Even if you aren’t participating, working or volunteering, there’s excitement around the event. It allows us to showcase our town and be hospitable. Let’s be honest, it’s also a chance for our local businesses to give their cash registers a great workout. They could use it.
Luther Mayor Jenni White said she is grateful for the way everyone has come together to prepare – from the Fire Department and Police Department to the Luther Parks Commission and a host of volunteers, including the Boy Scouts.
“We love Luther and we want to share our Town and have people come back to visit. The Freewheel organizers tell us that the bicyclists love to catch the local flair of a Town and meet new people,” she said noting it’s why she embraced the chance to be a host Town for this popular event. Still, she acknowledges that not everyone is as excited about the upheaval. There might be crowds, there will be a detour, but she says the whole event will be over in less than 24 hours.
Who is coming? At last count, about 700 bicyclists from 25 states and some other countries have signed up for the ride that is getting started this weekend out in Elk City.
On Tuesday, June 12, you’ll know Freewheel is on the way when the two-wheelers come east from Edmond where they’ll have a lunch stop, and a break at Pops (no doubt there will be a few pictures taken there and at the Round Barn).
The leg to Luther begins at Boulevard in Edmond for 16 miles from Broadway straight east on Second, which turns into Danforth as the road winds, and is also SH 66, but for most of us, it’s just the road that takes us back home to Luther (and where we know not to speed in our motor vehicles).
The tour will bring the bicyclists past the Chicken Shack (where Eddie and the gang will be waving) – Jarvis Liquor and the convenience store, to Luther Road/Ash and then south, past Sonic and the Luther Mill and the railroad tracks where they’ll note DJ’s BBQ is to their left as a possible dinner destination. The tour will turn left on Main Street and past Josephine’s Cafe and 116 Farmstead Market & Table on Main Street – both open late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. Main Street stores like Urban 66 and Rustic Farm will be open too. The day’s 71-mile ride ends at the high school grounds with accommodations (tents and mobile showers) waiting.
Speaking of which, the Freewheel entourage includes several vehicles, including semis and advance trucks that carry luggage, tents and equipment. NOTE: these vehicles will park on Ash/Luther Road between Eighth Street and 178th. THIS PART OF THE ROAD WILL BE CLOSED ON TUESDAY ALL DAY – WEDNESDAY till the last rig pulls out to the next stop up the road in Bristow.
Organizers expect a steady stream of bicyclists riding into Luther all day … sometimes a trickle, sometimes a full blast. Freewheel is not only a bike ride for recreation, but it also promotes tourism and encourages participants to stop when they want to and explore. Freewheel Executive Director Trevor Steward said that some participants get up and race to the next stop as fast as possible, then hang out for the rest of the day; others stop to see and eat everything along the way. “I gain ten pounds every year,” he joked. The eating is good during Freewheel!
For Luther residents who commute away every day, the later weeknight and early morning hours of our restaurants and stores provide an opportunity to come to Town on a Tuesday night or for breakfast or coffee Wednesday morning.
As part of the promotion, Mayor White visited several Luther businesses, in the case of “Uncle Johnny,” the hilarity. Check out the Town of Luther’s youtube page here.
Earlier in the day, children under 12 can get in on the bike fun and bring their bikes to the high school parking lot area for races and fun (and a hot dog and water!).
Check out the Oklahoma Freewheel video of their pre-ride in Luther.