Cover Story: Professional cycling race morphs into mammoth three-day, family-friendly festival

(Cover design: Chris Street / Photo provided)

(Cover design: Chris Street / Photo provided)

Two big, popular events, H&8th Night Market street festival and Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic weekend cycling races, combined this year to create Oklahoma TenaCity, a multiday, family-friendly event spanning central Oklahoma City.

June 3-5, TenaCity features Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic professional cycling contests, three recreational Gran Fondo sightseeing bike courses, one of the nation’s largest food truck festivals and youth-centric fitness and health activities.

“Oklahoma City is well on its way to becoming a destination city of healthy, active lifestyles and action sports,” OKC Mayor Mick Cornett said.

TenaCity also highlights three historic arts, business and culture districts with races and events in Automobile Alley, Film Row and Midtown.

The first evening, Pro-Am race routes take cyclists down Hudson Avenue, giving revelers at H&8th Night Market, which runs 6-11 p.m. at Hudson Avenue and Eighth Street, prime views of the timed races.

Cyclists compete in last year’s Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic. This year’s event runs June 3-5 in Oklahoma City. (Provided)

Cyclists compete in last year’s Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic. This year’s event runs June 3-5 in Oklahoma City. (Provided)

Pro-Am Classic

An expected 1,200 Oklahoma City Pro-Am Classic riders will compete for medals and $45,000 in cash prizes in the event’s fifth year. Depending on the race, winners can pocket anywhere from $500 to $12,000, organizers said. Last year, 989 competitors vied for $20,000 in cash prizes.

In 2012, around 300 participated. What began as a one-day amateur race has since grown into an official USA Cycling Pro Road Tour event, and its June 3 competitions will draw professional riders from across the globe.

Cornett said he anticipates TenaCity will be “an amazing weekend to be in Oklahoma City.”

TenaCity was added to USA Cycling’s pro tour schedule in 2016.

USA Cycling is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the International Cycling Union (UCI). It is responsible for preparing cyclists to represent the United States in international competitions such as the Olympics.

Cornett also cited the OKC Pro-Am Classic and TenaCity festival expansion and the recent opening of Riversport Rapids and the Olympic whitewater kayaking trials at that venue as further evidence of OKC’s “destination city” status.

The USA Cycling Pro Road Tour runs April through September and features more than 25 events in which cyclists build points race by race throughout the season as they compete for championship and other awards.

“Not only are we attracting local and regional teams, but we will attract the best riders in the nation,” said Chad Hodges, OKC Pro-Am Classic founder and race director. “They want to be here.”

June 4 races and recreational rides move to Film Row, starting at 726 W. Sheridan Ave., and June 5 races launch from Automobile Alley at 900 N. Broadway Ave.

Competitive Pro-Am races are divided into five categories set according to USA Cycling guidelines according to the rider’s level of experience and skill.

Cat 5 comprises those relatively new to professional cycling. Cyclists work their way to Cat 1 races as their proficiency and experience builds.

Oklahoma City-based DNA Racing hosts the OKC Pro-Am Classic. Hodges also is DNA Racing’s team manager. Last year, DNA created Team Arapahoe Resources, which Hodges credits as “the first domestic elite cycling team in Oklahoma history.” He manages that team, too.

Event organizers are still seeking volunteer course marshals to help control spectators and riders along the routes. Hodges said that volunteers are needed. Learn more about volunteer opportunities at oktenacity.com.

Revelers fill the H&8th Night Market event corridor. The street festival returns June 3 as part of TenaCity. (Provided)

Revelers fill the H&8th Night Market event corridor. The street festival returns June 3 as part of TenaCity. (Provided)

H&8th Night Market

Popular H&8th Night Market, originally founded as a monthly street festival featuring food trucks, music, live entertainment and art, transformed into an annual event in 2016 and returns June 3.

Last year, an estimated 40,000 people gathered at H&8th Night Market to watch Pro-Am cyclists compete, Hodges said. In previous years, spectator numbers for the entire three-day event wavered between 10,000 and 12,000.

“I had many of the pro guys come up to me afterward and say that they’d never raced in anything like this,” Hodges said of the H&8th-tied race route. “They were impressed with the size of the crowds and said that they would be back.”

Due to the skill level of professional competitors, the Pro-Am features some of the fastest cycling OKC residents can witness, Hodges said.

“For any of our Pro-Am courses, the pro racers will probably average between 28 and 32 miles per hour,” Hodges said.

Laura Massenat, husband Laurent and Brian Bergman helped co-found H&8th several years ago.

Bergman said each of them supported what Hodges was doing with DNA Racing and were eager to collaborate.

“We like DNA. We like Arapaho Resources. We like Oklahoma City Pro-Am. We like the things that they are about,” Bergman said. “Let’s find a reason to do this; let’s make it happen.”

Gran Fondo

Loosely translated from Italian, Gran Fondo means “big ride.” Launching the morning of June 4 from Film Row, riders of all ages and capabilities can chose between recreational, self-paced 12-, 30- and 58-mile courses that take participants through several of Oklahoma City’s most popular districts and neighborhoods.

“I’m most excited about the 12-mile district tour because it will take you through the Plaza, Paseo and Uptown 23rd districts,” Hodges said. “The Gran Fondo ride will bring more people into cycling. … It’s a cool opportunity for people to see what else is out there.”

Organizers encourage families and people of all ages to ride and enjoy whatever tour they find the most attractive.

Gran Fondo rides launch from 726 W. Sheridan Ave. and include mid-ride rest stops and post-ride food and refreshments to participants. After the ride, they can stay and watch the June 5 OKC Pro-Am Classic races, which also launch from Film Row.

Children participate in a YMCA bicycle safety course. Y Without Walls, hosted by YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, is June 5 in Automobile Alley. (Provided)

Children participate in a YMCA bicycle safety course. Y Without Walls, hosted by YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, is June 5 in Automobile Alley. (Provided)

Without Walls

This year, the three-day cycling event also features YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City’s Y Without Walls program 11 a.m.-4 p.m. June 5 at the intersection of NW 10th Street and N. Broadway Avenue in Automobile Alley.

YMCA staff host family-friendly health-related activities near the finish line of that day’s Pro-Am races.

“We are excited to be a part of TenaCity,” said Angela Jones, YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City director of health and wellness initiatives.

As a part of the nonprofit organization’s OK 5210 initiative, Y Without Walls provides families with information and experiences that encourage better health, Jones said. June 5 activities feature a bicycle rider safety course, drawings to win one of 30 new or refurbished bicycles, cycling demonstrations, instructor-led lessons, Spokies bike-sharing education and a pop-up farmers market.

Learn more about TenaCity at oktenacity.com.

(Oklahoma Gazette)

(Oklahoma Gazette)

 

Oklahoma TenaCity

June 3-5

Central Oklahoma City

oktenacity.com

 

H&8th Night Market

Family- and pet-friendly street festival featuring food trucks, drinks, music and free bicycle valet service.

6-11 p.m. June 3

NW Eighth Street and N. Hudson Avenue

h8thokc.com

Free

Gran Fondo

Self-paced leisure cycling tours of OKC districts and neighborhoods.

58-mile tour 8 a.m., 30-mile tour 8:05 a.m., 11-mile district tour 8:10 a.m. June 4

Film Row

726 W. Sheridan Ave.

oktenacity.com/fondo

$40-$45

Y(MCA) Without Walls

Family-friendly physical activities featuring bicycle safety, cycling demos, pop-up farmers market, lawn games, Oklahoma City Thunder, water stations and more.

11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. June 5

Automobile Alley

Broadway Avenue, downtown Oklahoma City

Free

Oklahoma City Pro Am Classic

Online registration closes 9 a.m. Tuesday.

okcpac.com

Free-$60

The Hub
5-11 p.m. June 3, 815 N. Hudson Ave., Midtown

The Reel
8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. June 4, 726 W. Sheridan Ave., Film Row

The Shift
8 a.m.-6 p.m. June 5, 900 N. Broadway Ave., Automobile Alley

 

Print Headline: Tenacious city, A professional cycling race morphs into a mammoth three-day, family-friendly festival spanning central Oklahoma City

Brett Dickerson

This article was written by an Oklahoma Gazette contributor. To reach an editor, please email jchancellor@okgazette.com with this story's headline in your subject line.

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