Two large bicycle events are set for hundreds of miles of Route 66 in Missouri and Oklahoma in 2018, and Joplin, Missouri, plays a vital role in both.
The annual Oklahoma Freewheel, after beginning in June 10 in the eastern Texas Panhandle, will end its tour June 16 in Joplin. The annual Big BAM, or Bicycle Across Missouri, begins June 17 in Joplin and start the long ride across the Show-Me State the next day. It ends June 22 in Eureka, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis. Big BAM officials announced the schedule in August.
Freewheel officials expect about 400 cyclists in its event, while the Big BAM folks expect more than 600.
It’s possible an ambitious cyclist could take part in both the Oklahoma Freewheel and the Big BAM and enjoy about 600 miles of Route 66.
Naturally, Joplin tourism officials are excited about it. According to the Joplin Globe:
Patrick Tuttle, director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, introduced directors of the rides on Tuesday to announce the rides would join in Joplin.
“We’re interested in this because bicycle tourism is on the increase in our area,” he said. “It’s been very active,” and Joplin’s location on Route 66 is helping to fuel that surge. One of the things that is happening in sports is the multiday, multistate event” for cyclists “and we are fortunate to have two of the premier ones in our backyard.”
Overnight stops in Missouri include Willard, Lebanon, Waynesville and Cuba, with live music scheduled at each.
Oklahoma Freewheel executive director Trevor Steward said complete details of the tour’s path won’t be announced until January. However, he confirmed in an email the 2018 Freewheel “will ride as much of Route 66 as we can.” That also will include all 13 miles of Route 66 in Kansas.
I’m not as familiar with the Big BAM, but Oklahoma Freewheel has proved popular with both novice and experienced cyclists for almost 40 years. And the towns along the route — especially the overnight stops — have loved hosting it.
(Image of cyclists in 2017 Bicycle Across Missouri by Brandon Schatslek via Flickr)