38th Oklahoma Freewheel bicycle tour stops in Sand Springs

By: Morgan Miller and Virgil Noah

This year marks the 38th consecutive year of the Oklahoma Freewheel, and for the first time in its history it made a stop in Sand Springs. Freewheel is a week-long bicycle tour that stretches from the Red River to just across the Kansas state line. With each town they go through, the bicyclists are greeted with hospitality unique to the town that they are visiting. For Sand Springs, that included giving the cyclists full use of the Case Community Center, free bar-b-cue from the Holy Smokers, and Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice and Java.

The Church That Matters Holy Smokers, Brent Higgins and Thomas Mercado, were set up alongside the cyclists’ campsite. The pair compete in competitions, and have won the people’s choice award at Chillin’ and Grillin’ competition for the past 5 years.  Brent Higgins and Thomas Mercado brought enough food to this event to feed 300 people and were giving it away completely free to the participants of the bike tour. Harper’s Hut Shaved Ice and Java was set up adjacent to the Holy Smokers and had to shut down momentarily to replenish their supplies after completely selling out of product.

A group of massage therapists travels with the cyclists on the tour. Each night the group set up their tents to offer some relief for the cyclists’ sore muscles. One of those therapists is Dwight Divelbiss who says that, “It’s just fun to travel and visit the small towns and see Oklahoma.” He has been practicing massage therapy part-time for 20 years, and of those 20 years has traveled with 15 Freewheels. Dwight doesn’t live in Sand Springs but his parents reside in town. Mary Lou Divelbiss, Dwight’s mother, was the branch manager of the Charles Page Public Library before retiring.

Jerri Hines from Jay, Oklahoma is on her 12th Freewheel tour. She got started bicycling as a kid with her parents, and was exposed to the Oklahoma Freewheel when it would go through her town. She had gone through Sand Springs but had never stopped to take it all in. When asked what her favorite thing about the town was, she said that she loved seeing the old buildings and the Holy Smokers bar-b-cue.

The cyclists arrived in Sand Springs intermittently throughout Wednesday evening and departed early Thursday morning at 5:00 am. They will spend Thursday night in Claremore.