New Tulsa Youth Cycling Group Focuses on Fun and Exercise
Parents of athletes are used to the grind of practice and off-season workouts, and the particular tension that comes from encouraging kids to specialize in a sport at a young age. While we hope that specializing in a sport may have its payoffs in terms of future scholar- ships, many parents also worry that their kids aren’t getting enough time to just play, or to try something new.
Tanner Culbreath has an answer that will appeal to hardcore, competitive young athletes as well as those who may not want to compete but still be active. Culbreath is a dad and cyclist who started Oklahoma Flyers with the help of his friend Tayton Parker, a young cyclist. Parker wanted to start a junior Cyclocross team, so Culbreath put together a “few bike handling clinics, and just spread the invite through the cycling community.” He also found some sponsors who purchased jerseys for the kids.
The Oklahoma Flyers, (information can be found on their Facebook page), meet every week to cycle. Every level of athlete is invited, as long as he or she can ride a bike without training wheels. The type of bike doesn’t even matter, whether single speed or geared. Participants are between 4 and 18 years old. The main idea of the group, according to Culbreath, is “to create a place that they can hang out with each other and grow in their riding abilities.”
While Culbreath is most interested in inspiring movement and community, Culbreath said the Cyclocross season starts in the fall, and the kids can participate in those events. According to him, “Cyclocross is a discipline of cycling that occurs in a park with obstacles like stairs or barriers to hop over.” The events appeal to cyclists because they can be muddy and, because the races are in laps, it provides for spectator interaction.
Since the group began four weeks ago, the number of participants has doubled. Culbreath explained that there are four groups that vary by ability and bike type. Single speed cyclists, the MonoCoggers, do a three- to five- mile lap while Racers ride geared bikes, are experienced at leading workouts, and may ride 10 to 20 miles.
To join the Oklahoma Flyers, all that’s required is a bike and a helmet. Culbreath said that “what we are trying to do is get kids off the couch and involved in a sport that is flexible and fun.” His goal is to let kids experience cycling at their comfort level. Some kids will want to race full-on at every gathering, while other kids are content to tool around with their friends and have a post-ride snack.
Culbreath, a high school teacher and coach, knows that “active lifestyles need to be cultivated and encouraged. Riding your bike should be fun.” This is why the group is open to everyone. While the group “has every intention of putting together an elite level race team,” Culbreath is committed to having a group that welcomes everyone.
To find out more about the group, request access to the Oklahoma Flyers group on Facebook.