The Sixth annual Wheel A’Mena Tour to the Top sponsored by the Rotary Club of Polk County/Mena was held on Saturday, September 30. A tour record of 96 riders from five states registered to ride a 30-mile, 50-mile or 70-mile route. All routes included a portion of or the entire Talimena Scenic Drive, including Queen Wilhelmina State Park.
The riders left Janssen Park at 8 am with a police escort out Highway 71 North to Highway 270. After a rest stop at the Black Fork Trailhead, they proceeded west. The 30 and 50 mile route turned onto Highway 272 at the Rich Mountain Store and went up the mountain. Thirty-mile riders went to the top and came back down Highway 88 to Janssen Park. Turning right at the Talimena Drive at the Wonder House, the 50-mile riders rode to the ChaHa Vista in Oklahoma, turned back east and came back down to Janssen Park. The longest route, 70 miles, goes to Page, Oklahoma, turns south on Highway 59 and goes south to the Talimena Scenic Drive. They proceed on the Drive back to Janssen Park.
First place finisher in the 70-mile route was Cesar Silva of the Grapevine Chain Gang in Grapevine, Texas. His time was 3 hours 26 minutes. George Escobar of Texarkana finished first in the 30-mile route with a time of 2 hours 30 minutes. Oswald Aslan of Little Rock was top finisher in the 50-mile route with a time of 3 hours 32 minutes.
Sue Cavner, President of the Club, said, “We are so grateful for the wonderful support we receive from many businesses and individuals. They help make the event successful for our club. We also appreciate the City of Mena Police Department, Street Department, Parks Department, and the Polk County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance. Our non-Rotary volunteers, Jim Carazzo, Jimmy Rackley, Lisa Rackley, Kimie Head, Debra Miller, Todd Laing, the Mena/Polk County Chamber of Commerce and the Mountain Valley 4-H Club are instrumental in helping us. The riders are always very complimentary of the beauty of our area and how welcoming local people are.”
Wheel A’Mena Tour to the Top is an annual fundraiser of the Rotary Club of Mena/Polk County. All proceeds benefit local club projects such as providing books and reading opportunities for Polk County children, scholarships for traditional and non-traditional students to UA Rich Mountain, leadership training for county high school students and other projects focused primarily on education and literacy.