Today is May 10, 2022. We are one month away.
Passing through the portal of Saint Francis Tulsa Tough changes you. Everyone that goes through it is different on the other side. Racer. Spectator. Rider. Everyone. From spending three days screaming at racers flying by or just riding yourself into delicious exhaustion, you get what’s possible when a human body is wholly-dedicated to a goal. The way this city transforms seemingly overnight, you discover what an entire city can do when they go all-out.
A lot of people think SFTT starts Friday night. Somehow the carnival sneaks into town early Friday morning and it just appears somehow. If you ride bikes, or work behind the scenes, you know differently. (Insert shameless plug for volunteers here.)
Saint Francis Tulsa Tough week finds fitter and faster cyclists with fresher kits and cooler bikes on local trails and rides earlier every year. Maybe by Monday, certainly by Tuesday, there is a charge in the air. You start seeing the cars with wild bike racks in traffic. The Wednesday night ride goes from fast to ludicrous speed. Thursday night’s Ride with the Pros makes it feel like you’re now speeding towards the weekend yet somehow you are never going to make it. Like that one hallway shot in “Poltergeist” where it just keeps moving further away.
Friday night’s starting gun is more of a pressure cooker releasing steam than a launch.
Then it’s controlled chaos. Wind from passing racers Friday night literally and figuratively pulls you into it. It also washes the streets of another year of anxieties. We all made it another year. It’s not just a race. It’s a jubilant celebration of us and bikes and speed and life.
The mass start on Saturday morning and Sunday morning Gran Fondos are a parade of humanity with nerves and anxiousness. Watching thousands of cyclists set forth in the early morning light gives you goosebumps. We set a date. And every year people show up to celebrate, not bikes - bikes are just the vehicle - but accomplishments. Purpose. Drive. The salt-covered return of the riders sees wide smiles and wider pride.
And then there’s the five-alarm tire fire known as Cry Baby Hill. At a healthy distance, it looks supremely messy. But the closer you get, you see it as the inclusive, celebration of bicycles and the love and joy that it is. Whether seeing your first or 16th CryBaby Hill, it changes you every time. The first time is the most alarming. “I was blind. But now I see.” But seeing Saint Francis Tulsa Tough again and again is a yearly reminder of what our potential really is.
You are different on the other side - every single time. Saint Francis Tulsa Tough is almost here. We are one month away.