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Scenery, intricate details set apart Tour de Meers

MEERS  What makes an event special is often the setting itself.

There may not be an event that rings more true for than the Tour de Meers, which took place last weekend in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge.

"Tour de Meers was on the top of our list because of the scenery," said Noble cyclist Jennifer Kim, who rode in her first Tour de Meers ever with her fiance Aaron Anderson. "It really is beautiful."

Race director Cindy Zelbst has lived in the area for decades, but like many, she sometimes takes it for granted.

"I've lived out here my whole life, and a lot of my early years, I took it for granted," Zelbst said. "But now I so appreciate the beauty."

After previously living in Utah where the vast, breathtaking Wasatch Mountains and other mountain ranges offer even greater beauty and opportunities for exploration, I, too, took the smaller Wichita Mountains and the Wildlife Refuge for granted. But after exploring with dogs and friends, going on hikes, runs and watching the Tour de Meers the past two years, I began to appreciate the beauty of the area.

So has Zelbst, who every year drives all the routes  the 10 miler, 22 miler, 36 miler and 60 miler  ahead of the race. On her drive last week, she saw deer and elk together, while a few yards away was a longhorn with the mountains as the backdrop. It was another picturesque moment Zelbst holds dear to her heart.

"In the morning, there's so much beauty people get to see," Zelbst said. "And with each route, it's a totally different view riders get to experience. Most people visualize Oklahoma as 'flat' and don't realize what we have down here. It's really unique scenery."

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