Woodward will be playing host to “some of the best professional riders in the region and the country” as the city hosts the Windy 100 bicycle races this weekend.
“We have people registered from as far away as Virginia, San Antonio, and Missouri and as close as Woodward and Beaver,” said Debra Finch, marketing coordinator for the Windy 100.
In addition, Finch said “a 4-time national champion will be there.”
Sydney Brown, of Lincoln, Neb., current national time trial champion in the women’s masters (age 40 to 45) division, is also planning to attend.
TOO GOOD TO TURN DOWN
Brown said she was “just about to submit my membership and registration to the Memorial Day bike races in Iowa,” when she heard about the Windy 100 and decided to come to Woodward instead.
“My friend Ian, who is coming down with me, brought it to my attention,” she said, noting that after one look at the payouts, “I said, ‘let’s go to Oklahoma.’”
Her friend Ian Robertson, who heard about the race through some cycling friends, agreed, noting “the money on offer is really quite good; it’s much higher than others offered over the Memorial Day weekend.”
He said this included the long-standing Iowa races that Brown had been thinking about participating in.
Of the payouts, Brown said, “they’re excellent, especially for a race that’s not a championship race or on the NRC, the National Racing Calendar.”
THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME
But it wasn’t just the money that attracted this Nebraska duo to decide to make the 7-hour trip to Woodward for the Windy 100.
They both noted that the Woodward races have been timed “quite well” in conjunction with other races in the region, so that they will also be able to participate in a criterium race in Frisco, Texas, on Sunday and the Texas State Criterium Championship in Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday.
“We’re able to make it a really good hard racing weekend,” Robertson said.
He added that he and Brown are also considering extending their trip to Oklahoma to participate in additional bike races over the following 2 weekends, including riding in the Tulsa Tough on June 4-5.
READY FOR THE WIND
Both Robertson and Brown are also excited about getting to race somewhere they’ve never been before and are hoping the Windy 100 will really live up to it’s name.
Brown explained that “time trialists are known for their sustained strength,” meaning “that for a certain distance we go as hard as we can go the whole way.”
Robertson said time trialists are just one of 3 main types of bicycle racers, with the others being “climbers, who like mountain terrain, and sprinters.”
When it comes to windy races, he said time trialists have the advantage because “there may be 20 minutes where you’ll have to kill yourself fighting a strong headwind and a climber will not be able to push hard enough and a sprinter will not be able to last long enough.”
“So the fact that it’s going to be quite windy suits our riding style,” he said, noting it might also give them a benefit over their competitors.
A RETURN HOME
Travis West, of Tulsa, feels like the Windy 100 also offers him a potential edge over his competition.
Having grown up in Woodward and returning here to teach English for 10 years after going to college, West said he thinks his familiarity with the area will help him in the race.
“It’s nice to know where the turns are and when I’ll have a tail wind,” he said.
With his parents still living in the Woodward area, West said he has even had the opportunity to bike at least a portion of the course that the Windy 100 will cover.
In fact, he said, “last summer I was home seeing my parents and I rode 8th Street out to the Sharon-Shattuck Road and then down to Mutual and back.”
“I NEVER THOUGHT”
West said he is excited about actually being to race in his hometown.
“I never thought there would be an opportunity to race in Woodward,” he said.
While he has enjoyed cycling since he was a kid and “would ride my bike across town to go to Crystal Beach Park ,” West said even “growing up there (in Woodward), bicycles were a bit of anomaly.”
“Even when I came back, I hadn’t seen much of a cycling community there,” he said.
But he is happy to hear that might be changing.
“I heard about the Windy 100 at the Salt Creek races at the beginning of the year and I immediately made plans to come back and race,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of people I haven’t seen in a while,” West said. “I can’t wait to get out there. I’m bringing some friends from Tulsa and am going to show them what Northwest Oklahoma is all about.”
AN ELEMENT OF DANGER
West said he is probably looking forward to Friday afternoon’s criterium races the most, especially having just “won the Category 5 state championship criterium race in Sands Springs” this past week.
He said he enjoys criteriums, which have been compared to “the NASCAR of bicycle racing,” because “I love going fast.”
“Going fast is the exhilarating part of bicycle racing,” he said. “And the fun thing about criteriums is the tight cornering which brings in a little more element of danger.”
In fact, West said, “it’s not unusual to see several wrecks.”
And criteriums aren’t just exciting for the racers.
“Criteriums are a fun race to watch because of the speed and the element of danger,” West said.
Because of this, he said, “I hope there will be good crowds out there.”
“Especially kids,” he said. “It’s nice for the youngsters to come out and watch the fast guys. I’m still amazed at how fast the Category 1 and 2 guys can go. It might even inspire a lot of kids to dust off that bicycle and go out and do some riding.”