Flash forward- I can safely say that Matt got "ate up with it". Heber does not have a thriving road cycling community, but he stepped up to a nice Trek Madone, figured out his nutrition and training, and started rolling up the miles. I've ridden with Matt a couple of times since then and, needless to say, he's come a long way, both literally in terms of miles logged and figuratively in terms of becoming a full-on roadie.
I've developed a few viable road routes around the Heber Springs area over the years, but when I got an invitation to join Matt and a group of friends for a ride around the east end of Greers Ferry Lake, I was very interested.
Matt called his ride "Milner's Metric" and had created a route map, but I was still surprised by the extent of the organization put into the ride by Matt and his gal pal Krista.
I have considered doing a ride similar to this, but had concerns about traffic. Matt and Krista used some side roads to cut down on the highway miles and the group gave us more visibility.
We gathered at Matt's house on Saturday and got the lowdown. Matt and Krista had marked each turn on the route, as well as the spots where they had stashed water. They also arranged for a pit stop at a friend's store in the town of Greer's Ferry. A bunch of riders from Searcy made up most of our group of 16 cyclists.
There was plenty of climbing on the route. I soon discovered that I had thrown in with a clan of hillbillies as I was quickly dropped on a couple of the longer climbs. I showed 4000' of elevation gain in the 64 miles on my Garmin.
Fog is common on cool mornings around the lake. It was a little nerve wracking to ride in poor visibility, but early traffic was light.
The sun was soon burning through.
We climbed out of the fog and into the sunshine on a ridge over the lake. Matt celebrates.
Matt and Krista. Krista was alternately credited and blamed for the route, depending on the difficulty of the climb at the moment.
** Photo credit goes to Jason Morgan of The Bike Lane in Searcy.
This was a casual ride with amenities!
We even got T-shirts!
I want to thank Matt and Krista for including me in their ride. The organization far exceeded my expectations, the route was great, and the company was good. I can say that it was also unique in my experience. I've done a lot of casual group rides, some larger, many smaller, but none that had a marked route, water caches, a rest stop, and a T-shirt! It had a little of the feel of an "event ride" without the entry fee, waivers, and inevitable sketchy riders barging into your pace line. It was really a neat model and one that might deserve to be duplicated.
When Matt is not on the bike, he's is a fly fishing guide with Jamie Rouse Fly Fishing Adventures. Fall is a great time to get out on the water and Matt may still have few openings for the season. If you want to be put on some big fish with the added bonus of having a guide who is more than willing to talk bikes, get in touch with Matt!