By Alex Roberts
A lot has changed in Northwest Arkansas since I moved here. But even after 21 years, my favorite way to explore the area and find new gems is through back roads exploration on my bike.
I guess I’ve always been a gravel cyclist. It was pretty easy to be one growing up on several hundred acres of family land with logging roads throughout. I remember riding my BMX bike on gravel roads imagining I was Greg LeMond winning the Tour, and I trained for Olympic glory by venturing farther and farther on my 10 speed.
My first real mountain bike was a gift from my mom just before I started my freshman year at the U of A. Within just a few weeks of moving here, I was no longer content to just turn around when the Wedington mountain bike trail hit the gravel road. So I turned right onto gravel and explored the National Forest. Soon after that I was leaving the trails at Devil’s Den in favor of the jeep roads and was rewarded by such finds as old home-sites and small family cemeteries. I took dirt roads south from the Brentwood rest stop and found myself at the spillway standing between Lake Shepherd Springs and Lake Fort Smith before the lakes were joined. And I’ve been finding special places like these ever since.
These articles will highlight such places. They will focus just as much or more on a destination as they will on details of how you can reach it on roads that are a mix of pavement and gravel. In addition, it is hoped that they will motivate you to go explore and find your own hidden treasures here in Northwest Arkansas and the surrounding areas. Feel free to share with us those that you discover.
The selection of gravel bikes and equipment is expanding rapidly, so we’ll also discuss gravel-specific bikes and gear from time-to-time. I’ll let you know what I like and what works for me. I’d also like your input on what you use and dig.
I’ve always believed in the therapeutic benefits of cycling, even if it’s just a mental reset and recharge from a stressful day. For me, there is no better therapist than the silent gravel roads of Northwest Arkansas where all you hear is your tires rolling over the stones and your heart beat as your ascend one of our many punchy climbs. Just be sure to stop every once in a while, not just to take a breather, but also to take in the beauty of the Ozarks.
Sounds good. Would like to see info on which gravel/adventure bikes are affordable while still being quality bikes.