PRYOR -- Asked how he would
spend the rest of his day, 80-year-old Hubert Polluk had
a simple answer.
"Relax, drink beer and eat pretzels -- like everyone
else," he said jokingly.
Polluk -- known to most FreeWheelers as "Hubie" --
had just finished the fifth day of the Oklahoma
FreeWheel for the 21st time. He is one of many FreeWheel
veterans who return to the tour year after year.
Wearing a long-sleeved, green-and-white checked
button-down shirt, khaki shorts, sandals and, under his
helmet, a faded cap, Polluk is one of the most
recognizable participants on FreeWheel.
"I don't like the advertising," he said about cycling
suits that include logos. "Even if they paid me, I
wouldn't advertise. I advertise myself.
"People notice me; they don't notice that."
But his attire is not the only reason people notice
"Why do they know me? That's very simple: Because I'm
different," he said.
Polluk was raised in Silesia, a small village in
Poland, where he grew up with no electricity or running
"The horse, wagon and cow were stable pillars of
society," he said.
As a child, Polluk rode a bike
to and from school, so bicycling is nothing new to him.
"As a kid, I always bicycled, unless there was a
horse and buggy," he said.
Polluk moved to Tulsa in 1951 after he was a prisoner
of war during World War II. Seven years later, he became
an American citizen.
"I escaped, and I'm still on the run, except this
time I'm on a bicycle," he said.
After working several jobs, including picking up pins
at a bowling alley for 2 or 3 cents each, working as a
sweeper in a machine shop and building sleds, Polluk
eventually became a physical technician after attending
night classes at the University of Tulsa.
He has five children, 12 grandchildren and four
great-grandchildren, and he still rides his bike most
With a love of storytelling, Polluk never hesitates
to find a new listener, a quality that makes him a
favorite among many FreeWheelers.
"You can pull up beside him, and he'll start telling
stories," said Chuck Haley of Springdale, Ark. "He'll
just talk your leg off."
Although some FreeWheel alumni stop participating in
the 400-mile trek across Oklahoma in their 70s and 80s,
Polluk said he still looks forward to the journey every
"It's a sense of accomplishment," he said. "I get to
meet some of the old friends and then miss the ones
who've fallen out. It's almost a separate entity or
community of its own."
His daughter-in-law, Sharon Polluk, said he would not
miss FreeWheel for anything.
"He won't go anywhere or schedule a vacation or
anything," she said.
Polluk said his good health and early morning regimen
keep him going. "I don't prepare at all," he said
Polluk added that he has been to the doctor only one
time since World War II and does not take any medicine.
He begins every day with his own set of calisthenics,
including pull-ups and push-ups.
"My son can't even do them," he said.
"No, I can't, but I can sure get to camp before you,"
said Steve Polluk, his 49-year-old son, who also lives
Over the years, Hubert Polluk said some things have
changed for him during FreeWheel.
"Surprisingly, I did the same route three or four
times, and I never had to walk, but now I have to
sometimes," he said. "The hills have gotten steeper."
After 21 years, Polluk said he does not plan to miss
a FreeWheel and that he is ready for the last two days
of this year's ride, which will end Saturday in Baxter
"I'll do it till I break a leg," he said.