I knew I was going to be driving through Oklahoma, not far from an occasional mountain biking buddy’s stomping grounds. I let him know I couldn’t go as far as Tulsa or Oklahoma City, but would like to split up my driving with a bike ride.
Roy replied by pointing me to the #1-ranked mountain bike trail system in Oklahoma, about 84 miles from Tulsa, and 64 miles from Oklahoma City. Lucky for me, it was almost on my way home.
My problem? I only had an old, rigid Schwinn Frontier GS I had bought used during that trip to keep my conditioning from completely lapsing, and for cruising paved paths back home when needed. It had proven a worthy enough steed to carry me 36 miles in one day, but on paved paths and a short dirt trail. Made choppy by horse’s hooves, the latter had shaken me plenty with my healing bruised ribs. Considering all of that and its mostly smooth tread, there was no way was I going to trust that bike or myself to sight read a tough trail.
Before leaving work in Texas, I called a number Roy suggested to find out if there was a loop simple enough for me to ride a few laps on the old bike. I could at least scout it out for a possible trip by Northwest Arkansas Ride the Ozarks (NWARTO), a group back home that always keeps its eyes open for new riding destinations.
“I have an eight-year-old 29’er here that you can borrow,” said the man Roy recommended I call.
“That sounds brand new compared to what I have with me,” I said.
“If I didn’t have to leave early today I would join you.”
I thanked him and got on the road, looking forward to my ride instead of dreading the drive.
The Motobecane Fantom 29″ hardtail bike was waiting for me when I arrived, and a staffer at the conference center filled a water bottle for me to put in the bike’s bottle cage. I put on my helmet and took off for the Yellow Trail. Those who have seen me on the trail know how unprotected I felt with an open-face helmet and no pads anywhere on my body.
The Yellow Trail had me off the bike a few times very early in the ride, with technical climbs that required momentum. I had no dropper post, so I walked a few particularly chunky and steep sections, too. I also was being very careful because I was by myself, healing, and had a Moab trip coming up in just 12 days.
From Yellow I got on Purple, which was less technical, and then found the Green Trail. It offered some interesting challenges, as well–some quite large and very rocky. A dropper post sure would have come in handy. Having read that it was the most difficult, I skipped the Red Loop in favor of safety.
Next, I got on the Orange Trail. It offered the most uninterrupted flow so far, but enough variety in the terrain to keep it interesting. It went much faster than the previous loops.
I finished up with the Blue Trail, another well-built stretch of singletrack. I was ready for more riding, but I needed to get back on the road to home.