New Tour of the Wichitas course provides same thrill for avid cyclists
Long before he was crowned King of the Mountain on Saturday morning in the annual Tour of the Wichitas, cyclist Alex Bowman was biking to and from work.
Bowman — who now works in air traffic control at Sheppard Air Force Base in nearby Wichita Falls and raced collegiately for Texas State in 2014 — used to be without a car so his affinity for cycling deepened with his commute.
“I still actually commute to work every day by bike round trip,” admitted Bowman, who finished second overall and won King of the Mountain for being the first up a grueling hill around mile 26 in the 63-mile race — one of four distances (10, 25, 50, 63 miles). “It’s fun. I like it. As it gets hotter, it starts to get a little annoying.”
With overcast skies at the start of the race, the heat Saturday morning wasn’t too cumbersome on the nearly 500 cyclists that rode through Fort Sill and the scenic Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in the revamped Tour of the Wichitas bike race that started and finished at Henry Post Army Air Field on base.
“One of the best rides I’ve ever been on,” one cyclist told race officials after finishing the Tour of the Wichitas. “I will be spreading the word.”
While Bowman earned King of the Mountain title, it was Clare Murphy who was crowned Queen of the Mountain in the Long Ride. In the 25-mile race, Lauren Eichinger was crowned Queen of the Mountain while Jordan Gengler was named King of the Mountain.
“Honestly I didn’t know which one it was so I attacked every hill, just in case,” Bowman said on how he won the King of the Mountain Challenge. “Probably didn’t help at the end being blown up (fatigued) because I had been attacking every hill, but I really wanted to win the KOM Challenge. I made it to top of every hill first before easing up as the group came back.”
While making a hard left turn out of the Lake Elmer Thomas Park Recreation Area gate, dozens of bikers thanked the Comanche County Sheriffs on the highway for protecting them from oncoming traffic while zipping past Medicine Park and toward Mt. Scott.