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THERESA GROSS - Chick Mama

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2016 Arkansas  continued...

...continued the ReCap

 

I know this is really long so here is the bullet point version for my boys:

  •  It was the BEST Ride yet and the only way to find out why is you have to read the whole thing. LOL

We had 26 participants, 19 riders and 7 on security. This year was much different. Our first time riding all pavement on the big ride and spending 2 hotel nights. I must say I felt a little bad picking a ride destination 5 hours away but after running across this trail I knew personally I needed to have tires on it. It's the Razorback Greenway which had just opened in May 2015 when I found it that summer. I tend to plan my next year's trip before even going on the present years.

 

The Razorback trail boost of 37 miles of gently rolling hills connecting multiple communities between Bentonville and Fayetteville. If I could recruit even a few couples it would be worth planning for my own personal experience of riding it. I have to admit I had a lot of encouragement from riders by them telling me "you plan and we will go"' I was overwhelmed to have 13 couples sign up for this pretty committed ride.

WE LEAVE FRIDAY OCT 30th...

A lot of changes this year. Mark & Ted decided to support security by motorcycle. Arkansas is beautiful and why not combine passions ---Mine for biking and his for biking with a motor. We got in early after trailering the motorcycles and bikes. Our plan was to scope out the trail and our break stops along the trail. I don't like anything left to chance. Nancy and I hopped on the back of our husbands bikes to scout it out. What a good thing we did. We discovered quickly the trail was under construction on the 1st 2 miles which meant moving my starting lot down to Bark Park. It was tricky finding these spots and a good thing we did our homework or I would have had 12 cars running in circles trying to find the trai lhead. I took advantage of this opportunity to get some concrete information from a local biker at the beginning trail head. But little did I know it was opposite day. All his advise was dead wrong or reversed. He had us going away from Fayetteville even to start the ride. He also made a point of warning us about a big biking event that weekend which was bring in 10,000 bikes to participate. My heart sank. How can this be? We don't even like Creve Coeur on a weekend and I'm picturing all of us crowded on 37 miles of trail knee deep in bikers. He also claimed all the parking lots would be filled up all weekend. Well happy to say he was completely misinformed on all counts and once again things worked out perfectly for the group. Disaster averted. After feeling pretty good about tomorrows plan it was time to check out our dinner destination Peddlers Pub and try a flight of beer. I gotta make sure it OK for my riders, right!

SO LET'S RIDE ALREADY....

​After a 5 hour drive and one overnight it is finally time to do what we came here for. Everything went smoothly getting to the trail head. After 5 years it is like a well oiled machine watching everyone getting geared up and ride ready. We were actually 30 minutes ahead of schedule and had 2 less miles because of the construction. I figured we would be in by 3 at this rate. Predictions of 78 and sunny ALL weekend. We were blessed again. But first, before we head out I have my 4 pages of announcements which I am happy to say was only 2 this year. Everyone really looks forward to that. LOL  Now it's time to ride. I am a little nervous as this is much different than we are use too. Yes, the pavement is great but it also means a lot of spurs and bifurcations in the trail. I set my GPS to biking and prayed to stay on course. I have 18 bikes on my heels counting on the fact I know what I am doing. 

Things were going great - everyone was keeping together - we all had a similar pace. It was only a few miles in when we appoached the first climb. No! not yet, I'm not ready for this yet - but we had no choice. It was there upon us and we all had to climb it. It was a doozy. We really had to dig in. Once we got to the top and enjoyed a brisk downhill there before us was another one. This was going to be harder than I thought. It might be easy pavement but it as been laid on boot-camp type elevation. I had actually thought about it we are in the Arkansas mountains. But I gotta say there is a huge sense of  accomplishment when you make it without getting off your bike. The trail took us right past Crystal Bridges Museum and it was beautiful. Everyone did great and dug in. Only a few miles from our first break and we had word of someone down. It was Patty. She apparently tipped over not being able to get her foot our of her pedal cages. She was ok but it sent our motorcycle security screeching to the rescue. This incident will forever more be named "Patty Down" per my husband.

THE TRAIL COULDN'T BE MORE SPECTACULAR

It was even MORE AMAZING than I could ever imagine. It surely did not disappoint - almost sensory overload. Every turn more beautiful than the next. I felt at times like I was on Disney perfectly constructed ride. We had a beautiful two lane slab of concrete, not even asphalt, with a yellow center line. We just followed the yellow brick road so to speak and then it happened. This large, ominous, red sign, smack in front of us in large daunting letters DETOUR. A bit unexpected but I'm sure the trail department will take care of us. The signage had been great to this point. So off we go following the signs while leading 18 bikes. All of them counting on the fact I got this. It went well for a while. We were heading south to Fayetteville and then it happened the voice on my phone said "turn around" a sudden halt by me and pile up of bikes behind me. Everyone sighting their phones hoping 19 heads were better than one. We definitely missed something. It was impossible to figure out where we needed to go or how we missed the signs. As luck would have it a passing biker was able to give us directions and after a 5 minute explanation and a lot of blank looks on our faces, he graciously offered to personally guide us. I know we would still be somewhere between Bentonville and Fayetteville right now if it wasn't for him crossing our path. In fact as we aimlessly followed through construction, on sidewalks and shoulders with many areas having no detour signs, I was sure we would need breadcrumbs to find our way back. The detour added at least 3 miles and now we were actually back on schedule. Which I love. The following short breaks all went well. The trail took us around the beautiful Fayetteville lake before our last stop for lunch.

LUNCH at APPLE BLOSSOM BREWERY

 

Our motorcycle team was there at the trail head to parade us into a well deserved late lunch paired with beer, of course. They were ready for us and everyone had a break from the sun as we ate and drank before the final 9 miles to the hotel. I must say in retrospect that flight of beer might not have been the best idea. Those last 9 miles were some of the hardest. One hill lead to the next and we all cringed when approaching a wonderful downhill section only because we know it meant going up it tomorrow. I am not sure what happened to my schedule but the unexpected 2 hour lunch and flat tire upon departure had us not pulling into the hotel until 4:45. I moved our 7pm dinner to 8pm in order to give everyone a well-deserved break from my schedule and some time to enjoy the hot tub, pool time and patio hour and a shower before dinner.

Sunday came early especially for those going to 7am mass. We stayed on schedule and got on the trail at 9am. In an effort to make really good time back to Bentonville I changed our lunch stop to Taco Bell over Houlihands. Everyone was facing a 5 hour drive home on Sunday. I must say when I made that part of my morning announcements I got several chuckles since we road our hearts out and it still took until 5pm to get in. No one believed it could be done faster going back. We also all felt like today was going to be harder. I scheduled only 3 breaks for the way back. I must say we were all a little worried about the hills we had to face on Sunday. Surprisingly enough it was fairly easy for the first leg. Yes, we faced some hills but the ups weren't as bad as the downs and our average speed was riding at 12.5 over the 10 mph on Saturday. We "knocked it out of the park" on Sunday. Personally I felt much better on Sunday than Saturday and made sure I had no beer today. We had 12 miles before our first break which is over an hour. Everyone can get pretty spread out especially with street lights and hills where some may walk them. We held up at 6 miles giving everyone a chance to regroup and a quick drink then plunged onward. We sailed into our first break at Fast and Friendly. Probably not the best part of town. It was definitely more Fast than Friendly. Tammy organized taking Taco Bell orders and collecting money. We agreed to make our next regrouping at the detour sign. Everyone was skeptical about finding our way back and we wanted all 19 of us together for this tricky section. The bread crumbs I left the day before were sure to be eaten by bird by now and hopefully someone remembered the way. This was our longest leg with no stops, a good 13 miles with super intense hills. We really got separated - every man for himself on this section. I was in heaven on Sunday. I had given up the reigns and let anyone so inclined to take the lead. Boy its nice in the back just following and listening to my music. We all finally gathered at the detour and took off together. It wasn't too bad - we successfully navigated the 3 mile detour right into Taco Bell.

OUR LAST LUNCH went from sit down to TAILGATING FAST FOOD

 

What a great idea this turned out to be having our lunch at Taco Bell. Saved on waiting for service, waiting for food, waiting to drink beer that wasn't a good idea anyway and waiting to pay. The Security Team out did themselves on prepping for our lunch. They were there waiting with our orders purchased, bagged and sitting on the truck tailgates. We parked our bikes, sat in the grass and had a great little parking lot tailgate party. Why had I not done this before? Oh I know. They don't have Taco Bell's in the small town of the Katy Trail. In fact many town don't even have a place to eat. This worked out great. Now time to get back on the trail.

 

BOY, ARE WE LOST!!!
 

So here is where we made our big mistake and quite frankly it wasn't until I got home that I realized what happened. As it was we passed up the trail to eat at Taco Bell and had to go back. But the trail was right behind us so we used the GPS and decided not to back track but jump on here. Fred found a grass hillside and we all did a little mountain biking to access the Razorback trail or so we thought. About 2 miles in things started to look questionable. Then we are passing things I don't remember. We had seen no official signage like in the past. There were many decisions and no markers. We were definitely LOST! We found 2 guys also trying to get to Bark Park and followed them a bit but they too had no idea where they were going. Anyone with a GPS was more than welcome to take the lead as Vicky took this job a few times. As it turned out our beautiful trail 2 lanes wide with a yellow center line soon turned into a broken overgrown single lane asfalt path that was leading us to the back of an industrial center. We were really LOST. But just then as a gift from above, our second guardian angel appeared right before us. A biker rode right up and offered, not only direct us, but lead us to the Bentonville lot. If you can picture all 19 of us, in our pink, following this local biker like little chicks through parking lots, on shoulders, on and off sidewalks, cutting through school yards and down wide 4 lane roads making our way back to our cars. I would say she lead us at least 7 miles. Then it happened again 1/2 miles from our destination and we see a huge banner TRAIL CLOSED. What? It was a long way around and a mammoth hill if we could not find a way to go forward. So guess what we did? We all went around it because how bad can it be that the trail is closed. I think at this point everyone was willing to climb over construction or through water to get back. We were lucky once again, it was closed for mountain bike racing and they were packing things up. We all rode in together finally back on the Razorback and I am happy to say made my 2pm arrival time. Everyone loaded up and most were home by 7:30pm. Not bad riding 39 miles and driving 5 hours and still home at a decent time. We accomplished a whooping 79 miles over 2 days and brought home amazing memories of fun, friends and fellowship - not to mention teamwork and discovering the brute endurance we all have tucked away in us. Great Job everyone - Can't wait for next year. I already got the trip planned in theory. Be looking for that announcement. I can guarantee it will be close and have many options for shorter riding.