“We see a lot of riders that come up from Texas and Tulsa,” he said. Chen said there are, of course, a lot of local riders from the greater Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
“It’s a good event. East side Norman has a lot of hills,” Chen said.
Until they do the Conquest, some cyclists may not realize the training opportunity here.
“Some people use this as a training ride for the Hotter than Hell 100,” Chen said.
In recent years, the ride has started and ended at the J. D. McCarty Center, a pediatric rehab hospital for children with developmental disabilities in Norman. The BLN donates the proceeds from the Conquest to support Camp ClapHans scholarship fund. Camp ClapHans is J.D. McCarty’s residential summer camp project.
Chen is the Massage Director for the OKC Memorial Marathon and the Redman Triathlon. He also goes out of state to events, and has served at the 2004 Paralympic games as a volunteer massage therapist. Those are the official Olympic games for athletes with physical disabilities.
He is thrilled the Conquest benefits Camp ClapHans. He also enjoys talking with other cyclists about training and nutrition with cyclists as well as talking about stretching.
“On top of being a massage therapist, I’m an athlete,” Chen said.
Stewart isn’t an athlete, but he looks forward to the Conquest every year.
“It’s always just been for fun. The overall thing is a fundraiser and it promotes cycling in Norman,” Stewart said.
O’Connell’s also sponsors a rest stop. Other event sponsors include Sun & Ski Sports, Buchanan Bicycles, 405 Bicycles and Al’s Bicycles, all of which are located in Norman.
The ride starts at 7:30 a.m. but will have a staggered start this year, varying by route distance in 3 to 5 minute intervals.