Three things are good to have when bicycling your age in miles on the Razorback Greenway — plenty of water, snacks and a tailwind.
Word from the greenway grapevine is that a ride in miles to celebrate a birthday is becoming popular like ice cream and cake. It’s a worthwhile goal for a rider turning 21 or one who just cashed their first social security check.
Summer is prime time to do it, even if your birthday is in winter. My birthday is in December, but I like to wait until it warms up, like June, to celebrate with a long ride on the Razorback Greenway.
The weather forecast for Monday, June 12, promised the perfect day. Partly cloudy with a south wind 10-15 mph and a high of 86. The game plan was to start at Lake Bella Vista at the crack of dawn and ride 31 miles south along the greenway to Fayetteville, then 31 miles back to Bella Vista to rack up 62 miles.
That may sound like a lot, but when all you’ve got to do all day is pedal a bicycle you can cover some ground. I’d be riding south early when there’s little wind. By the time I turned north, that promised south wind ought to be kicking, giving me a nice push. During summer, wind is almost always from the south.
Mine was the only car in the parking lot at Lake Bella Vista for my 6 a.m. start. What a great time for a ride. It’s nice and cool with no breeze. Smells of honeysuckle, cedars and freshly mowed grass greet riders as the trail meanders south to downtown Bentonville.
Sleepy pedalers get a quick awakening climbing a steep hill at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. A giant rabbit scared me out of my wits at Crystal Bridges. Turned out to be one of the museum’s art pieces situated along the trail. From Crystal Bridges it’s gentle up and down, pleasant riding through Bentonville, Rogers and Lowell.
I took a break at Lake Springdale to munch some snack crackers and chug some water. It’s good to eat before you’re hungry and drink before you’re thirsty. By now people were heading to work and traffic at some of the street crossings in Springdale was heavy. When the little green man on the pedestrian traffic signal tells you it’s OK to cross, you’ve still got to watch out for people turning right or left into the crosswalk.
My bike doesn’t have an odometer, but mile markers along the greenway make it easy to track your progress. When I got to Lake Fayetteville the half-way point was close. I figured if I did a loop around the lake that would put me in the 62-mile ballpark when I got back to Lake Bella Vista.
Another break at Veteran’s Park at Lake Fayetteville was in order. I ate half a sandwich I’d brought along, a granola bar and sipped more water. I figured the next 31 miles might be a struggle, but the south wind fixed that. I zipped right along through Springdale and into Lowell.
There’s one teensy downside to a tailwind. If it’s hot with a 10 mph tailwind, and you’re riding 10 mph, it’s like there’s no breeze at all to cool you off. But I’ll take a tailwind over one in my face any day.
My favorite stop of the ride was at Generations Church on Silent Grove Road in Springdale. They’ve got a picnic table out front right next to the trail under a pair of tall oak trees. The shade and breeze felt so nice I dozed off. On Sundays the church puts out an ice chest of free water for people on the greenway. Talk about hospitality.
A hill at The Great Wall of Lowell rates high on the wheezer scale. Here the trail hugs a high retaining wall of stacked blocks south of Monroe Avenue. After that, the greenway curves through fields and meadows in south Rogers where that south wind has room to really crank. In a jiffy I coasted into the Horsebarn Trailhead for another rest. I was close enough now that I could smell the end.
Lake Bella Vista came into view and I started thinking about my birthday ride last June. One of my wise-guy friends piped, “Well you didn’t really ride your age because if your birthday is in December you should have ridden 61 and a half miles.”
Picky picky. So for good measure I rode a little extra once I reached the finish, just to make sure I’d truly pedaled my age.
I still had some gas in the tank at the end of the ride. Maybe that means I’ll do another birthday ride next June, and tack on one more mile.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NWAFlip
Sports on 06/20/2017