The St. Francis Tulsa Tough cycling festival is a much-anticipated event in the world of cycling. The three-day cycling festival began in 2006 as a way to promote healthy and active lifestyles in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Since then it has become a nationwide favored event that features prominently on the National Racing Calendar. It includes professional and amateur races on scenic routes around Tulsa, Oklahoma, non-competitive cycling tours, live music, and vendors. The annual event takes place on the first weekend after Memorial Day. Thousands of people attend the event each year to take part in the festivities and to compete for cash prizes.
There are three professional criteriums at the Tulsa Tough, one for each day of the festival. Each course winds its way through a Tulsa district, so spectators can cheer on their favorite cyclists and teams. The opening day on Friday features fast-paced men’s and women’s races through Tulsa’s Blue Dome entertainment district. Saturday’s races are open to all skill levels and wind their way through the Brady Arts district. Sunday is the last day and a true test of willpower and endurance with the Riverview Criterium. This challenging course snakes past the Arkansas River, and over Crybaby Hill. Judges will announce the winners of these exhilarating races at the final awards ceremony on Sunday.
The Tulsa Tough also features Saturday and Sunday GranFondo style races. These are open to everyone, and include scenic routes past some of Tulsa’s most beautiful landscapes. Although all cyclist of all skill levels can take part, the routes can be very challenging as they involve steep inclines past trees and rivers, and winding paths through urban and rural settings. These events attract more than 5,000 participants each year and are a great opportunity to see some of Tulsa’s best scenery among other cycling enthusiasts. There are aid stations and vendors set up along the way, so cyclists can stop and take a break if needed. Judges will also announce the winners for the GranFondo tours on Sunday’s closing ceremonies.
Social fitness company Strava has recently joined forces with the Saint Francis Tulsa Tough to add another element of competition to the festival. Riders can now track their races on dedicated GPS devices and enter the results to win additional prizes. Riders who outperform their competitors in specific segments of the criteriums and the GranFondo can now win prizes for their outstanding performance. In this way, all members have a chance to win, even if they do not place first. The prizes have yet to be announced, but the Tulsa Tough is known for having some of the biggest cash rewards for races in the United States.
Besides exciting races and scenic routes, the Tulsa Tough features some of Oklahoma’s best musicians, talented artisans, and unique vendors. The events that take place over the three days are family friendly, so they can be enjoyed by both young and old cyclists and race fans. Furthermore, the event is listed on the National Racing Calendar, and has been consistently voted in the top ten NRC events each year. It is for these reasons that thousands of people descend upon Tulsa each year to be a part of this prestigious event.