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Press Release

Release Date: September 30, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

ADA, Okla. – Following a two-year hiatus, the Pontotoc Pursuit returned to Wintersmith Park in Ada Sept. 24 to help kick off a week of festivities for the Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival.

The beloved bicycle ride returned with a vengeance on an unseasonably warm fall Saturday, as 64 cyclists rode 8-mile, 30-mile, 44-mile and 77-mile rides.

“I’m just so appreciative of all the cyclists that not only come from Ada, but from surrounding communities and states to take part in our event. Many cyclists are here year after year,” said event co-host and Chickasaw Foundation Chief Executive Officer Johnna R. Walker. “I also cannot express the depth of gratitude that we have for our planning committee and volunteers. They are the backbone of this event and help us spread the word about the event, register the participants, ensure the safety of our cyclists and help us improve the event every year.”

Many Chickasaw Nation employees from several departments collaborate to help make the Pontotoc Pursuit a success. Also co-hosting the event is Chickasaw Nation Under Secretary of Construction and Support Services John Ellis.

Mrs. Walker said the event began in 2014 when Mr. Ellis, Chickasaw Nation Housing Development Director Wayne King and she were approached about hosting the event.

The Chickasaw Cycling Club formed the next year in 2015. Mrs. Walker and Mr. Ellis have served as board members for the club, and Mr. King is a current board member.

The Pontotoc Pursuit was added to the Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival events in 2017.

Chickasaw Cycling Club Board Member Cindy Bowling spoke before the rides began and shared her story of riding bicycles as a child and in college, and eventually getting involved in the club after moving to Ada.

“My son, Jacob Bowling, is the big motivation for me to get back into it,” she said. Her son has Down syndrome. Ms. Bowling said it was difficult for him to learn balance, but a bike camp helped him learn how to ride without training wheels.

The first organized cycling event they participated in was the Pontotoc Pursuit. She met members of the Chickasaw Cycling Club at the event, and she and her son joined the next year.

“The camaraderie of the Chickasaw Cycling Club is what’s kept us motivated over the years,” Ms. Bowling said. “You have to find what motivates you. It might be getting in shape, it might be enjoying time with your kids, it might be snacks or it might be going on an event like the Pontotoc Pursuit.”

She rode the 30-mile route, and her son rode the 8-mile route this year. She said the Pontotoc Pursuit is a great event for all levels of cyclists.

“You can be a beginner up to a die-hard distance cyclist and find something challenging,” Ms. Bowling said.

Prizes given away at the Pontotoc Pursuit included wireless bicycle computers, tail and head lights, bicycle locks, seat bags, smartphone holders, floor pumps, helmets, inflation kits and water bottles. Julie Boon of Slaughterville, Oklahoma, rode the 30-mile route and won the grand prize Giant Cypress 2 hybrid bicycle.

To learn more about the Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival or to watch videos of some of this year’s events, visit AnnualMeeting.Chickasaw.net.