Published June 25, 2021
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The joys

of biking

“There were times when it hurt a lot, but I felt a great sense of empowerment when I finished”

Rhonda Gerrior grew up with an adventurer’s love of bicycling.

 

“When I was 6 or 7, I had a hot pink banana seat with a big basket and real long handlebars,” she recalled with a smile. “I would get on it and take off, being gone almost all day. And when my younger brother got old enough, we would tie a rope to my bike and he would skateboard behind it. That was a lot of fun!”

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Rhonda Gerrior finishes her second race
in the 2021 Saint Francis Tulsa Tough festival
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Photo courtesy Saint Francis Tulsa Tough

Her set of wheels improved as she advanced to Oklahoma State University. There Rhonda came to appreciate cycling’s exercise values.

 

“As much as I romanticized about running, I would always get some sort of runner’s injury,” said Gerrior, now the office manager of Reed Architecture and Interiors. “But with bicycling, there’s no direct impact on the body. When it’s hot outside, I can go fast enough that there’s always a breeze. That’s really nice! And you can go for long distances faster and easier. You can see a lot of different places when you’re riding on your bicycle as opposed to when you were running.”

 

This drew her to the 2006 start of the Tulsa Tough bicycling festival. Having raised her children on bikes, Gerrior appreciated the challenges of lengthy group rides.

 

“When I had my first daughter, I put a baby seat on my bike and rode it all over, which was a lot of fun,” she recalled with a smile. “We’d get up in the morning, I’d pack up what she needed, and we’d just go ride from park to park. We’d do that until I had to go home to prepare supper. It was a lot of fun!

“Eventually, I had three daughters, and each of them sat in that baby seat on the back of my bicycle. Then one day, the seat fell off, and so no more baby seat! So, I got each of the girls a bicycle, and we would go over to Riverside in the minivan, unload the bikes, and ride and ride! I remember Valerie had training wheels. She just rode them until there was nothing left of the wheels! I then took the training wheels off – and she didn’t even realize it!”

 

Even with such experiences, something about Tulsa Tough intimidated Gerrior for about a decade. Then she decided to give it a try – and loved it!

 

“I was really scared, so I went and bought what I thought was the best bicycle that I could afford,” she said of her BMC Team Racer. “In fact, it was a little bit more than I could afford, but I bought it anyway.”

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Rhonda with two of her daughters, Valerie (left) and Tiffany
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Photo courtesy Saint Francis Tulsa Tough

Rhonda’s participated in the last four Tulsa Tough events, completing long-distance races on both Saturday and Sunday each year.

 

“There were times when it hurt a lot, but I felt a great sense of empowerment when I finished,” she said. “There’s times when I’m thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?’ When we ride right past my house, I’m thinking, ‘All I have to do is take a right here, and within five minutes I’m home.’ Instead, I go that extra 25 more miles to hit that 32-mile tally, and then I’m so glad I did. It pushes me to an extra level of fitness that otherwise I would not have pushed myself to.”

 

With this year’s event, Gerrior wore a new Reed Architecture biking uniform designed by the firm’s intern architect Jun Kang Robinson. Jun said her husband Matt Robinson, a teacher with Tulsa Public Schools, has a long history of designing sports uniforms. Together they worked out a design that delivered all the stripes, pockets, and other features Rhonda desired.

 

“It is just a beautiful jersey,” said Gerrior. “There’s so much detail in their design! I actually had people who asked to be on my team, just so that they could have these jerseys! It made me feel good to be able to wear this.”