Tonight, we’re adventuring in downtown Tulsa – about 10 minutes from our house. An adventure is simply an unusual or exciting experience, and you can have one as easily 10 minutes from your house as you can half-way across the country on vacation. I love going away on vacation as much as the next person, but it’s expensive and I can’t afford to go as often as I’d like, therefore, I look for opportunities in my community to have adventures on a regular basis. Tonight, is one of my favorite free Tulsa annual events: The St. Francis Tulsa Tough Bicycle Races. For three days every summer, the streets of downtown are filled with spandex moving at lightning speeds and crowds of spectators. (Full disclosure, the picture I took and posted above, is from Tulsa Tough a couple of years ago, but it shows the speed of the riders well).
My Mr. and I head downtown at about 5:00, a bit early for the 6:15 amateur race start, to get a prime parking spot (we find an open lot for $10), and some dinner.
We’ve been wanting to try a recently opened restaurant in the new Boxyard shopping/entertainment center. The restaurant is Wirwar (I’m still not completely sure how to pronounce it), and it bills itself as a Belgian Honkytonk, with “Belgian street food,
beer and hillbilly music.” It’s a small, charming restaurant – a great place to get a bite before the races or to have happy hour after work. The décor carries the honkytonk theme with western themed wallpaper, and art. Honkytonk music plays continuously, and while it’s not my preferred genre of music, I find it fun and not annoying. The menu is small, and consists of small plates. We decide to share a few items, so we order the Flemish Poutine (I’m already a fan of the Canadian version), and two sausages, the Belgian Style Garlic Sausage, and the Belgian Style All Beef Sausage. The sausages are both from Tulsa’s Burn Co. and they’re as well-flavored and juicy as we expected. The poutine is very tasty and filling, with a rich stew-like gravy. The very friendly guy at the counter, convinced us to get mashed potatoes instead of French fries (frites), but I think next time I’ll stick with the fries. For a small place, they have an excellent variety of Belgian and Belgian-style beers. We enjoyed our experience and plan to return.
We find a shady spot opposite the Boxyard to watch the races. We can see the start/finish line to the right, and a major curve to the left, which makes for good viewing. The crowd around, and on top of, the Boxyard, is vibrant in their support of the racers, there’s an excellent DJ who spins a lot of totally tubular ‘80’s music, and there’s even a cowbell or two. You can’t imagine how fast these racers go until you see them – even the amateurs – it’s incredible, and exciting. We watch the men’s amateur race, the women’s pro race, and the men’s pro race. There are fireworks at the end of the evening, and fireworks always make me happy.
Much of the local press surrounding this event focuses on the Sunday race at Cry Baby Hill. My acquaintances who have partaken of the Cry Baby experience, confirm that it is indeed a party. Tales of this extreme party atmosphere may drive some people away (and attract others), but don’t let it scare you away from the Friday and Saturday races, which are family friendly. Look for this annual event next summer – it’s a free adventure, and it might inspire you to get out on your own bicycle.