When Greg Lindley and Matt Crafton were first approached by the Rogers Chamber of Commerce to bring a biking element to the Frisco Festival more than five years ago, the avid cyclists rose to the occasion by creating two unique events -- Race for the Spike and Frisco 5 Poker Ride. Both events were so successful that, in 2015, the duo were able to create the Rogers Cycling Festival, a three-day event focused solely on their favorite sport. It has since exploded into a nationally known spectacle with nine different races -- two of them sanctioned by USA Cycling, the governing body for bicycle racing.
"Last year, total, for the entire weekend, we had over 550 riders," says Lindley. "This year, we expect it will exceed 600."
Rogers Cycling Festival
WHEN — July 27-29
WHERE — All over Rogers
COST — Varies, depending on event; see website for details
INFO — 619-3197 or rogerscyclingfestival.com
"We're drawing people from all over the United States," says Crafton. "We've got registrants from Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, New York and, of course, all over Arkansas and Missouri, coming here. It's great to see these cyclists coming in and enjoying a weekend of fun in Northwest Arkansas."
The popularity of the event might be a result of the creativity exhibited by some of the quirkier races. Take Race for the Spike, for example: This competitive event allows bicyclists to channel their inner Superman as they compete against an Arkansas & Missouri train traveling from Avoca to Rogers. A mountain bike option added in the last year or two increases the challenge, taking the riders on trails around Lake Atalanta as they race to reach the Rogers station before the train. Winners receive an engraved railroad spike.
"The key to beating the train is that you either have to be a strong rider or, even for the folks like me that are much more recreational riders, if you can stick with a pack, you can move at a much faster pace than you can move by yourself," notes Lindley.
Lindley and Crafton say they were careful to make the festival friendly to riders of all skill levels so that it would appeal to both professional and recreational bicyclists. Several of the races are group-oriented, designed for small gatherings of friends and family members who want to participate together. The Frisco 5 Poker Ride allows a group to travel a two-mile paved course around Lake Atalanta, collecting a poker hand from different stations as they go. Instead of requiring a group to be the fastest, this race rewards the group who receives the best poker hand. And the prime object of the Family Glow Ride that occurs at dusk on July 27 is to encourage families to ride together.
But there's no dearth of competitive races, including The Wheel Sucker, Walnut Valley Road Race and the RATS Kids Mountain Bike Race, a race that is sponsored by the Rogers Area Trail Supporters.
"We've seen a lot of interest in the local youth," says Lindley. "This race is in its third year, and it's still growing. We want the kids to be out there on the course in as safe an environment as we can provide."
Crafton and Lindley credit city support -- from the mayor of Rogers to the Chamber of Commerce to the local police, fire and EMT departments -- for the success of the festival and the ability to share their personal love of bicycling with Northwest Arkansas.
"One of the many things that I enjoy about a good family ride is how much more detail you notice about your surroundings," says Lindley. "The houses you're going past, the historical buildings, the scenery. ... It's incredible. And [so is] the interaction with the folks you meet on the Razorback Greenway."
"[The festival] is a way to emphasize that you don't have to be a professional bike racer to enjoy cycling," says Crafton. "Get out, get on a bike, get out in the air, get the heart rate going -- that's what we want to encourage. We want to host the awesome bike racers, but we also want to just encourage people to get on their bikes and ride."
NAN What's Up on 07/22/2018
Print Headline: All Spun Up