BY MELANIE BUCK –
The Mena/Polk County Rotary held their 5th Annual Wheel A’ Mena Tour to the Top Saturday, September 17, and by all accounts, was a great success. Sixty-five Cyclists truly enjoyed the challenge and were well pleased with the Rotary’s setup of the event.
“Wheel A Mena continues to have a very positive impact on our community and surrounding areas. As the tour grows, participants are now bringing their families and staying the entire weekend to shop our unique downtown, participate in many outdoor activities, view the beautiful scenic attractions, and dine out at our fantastic cafes and restaurants. The tour attracts participants from Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Louisiana. We always hear our participants compliment the beauty of our area and the hospitality of our community,” said Rotarian Sonya Maye.
A 50-mile route was added last year to the 30-mile and 70-mile treks. All three routes began and ended in Janssen Park and the ride took cyclists through Mena, Acorn, some into Oklahoma, and all came climbing over Rich Mountain, Arkansas’ second highest peak.
“The views were incredible,” said one rider. “It’s one of the hardest I’ve done,” said another.
The first finisher in the 30-mile route was Mark Robinson, who finished in 1 hour, 51 minutes. Daniel Williams completed the 50-mile route first in a time of 4 hours and 35 minutes. Stephen Nold, of Grapevine, Texas was the first to finish the 70-mile route and he did so in a time of 3 ½ hours.
The annual event is the Rotary’s signature fundraiser and also their largest of the year. Maye explained that all the money raised stays within the county for programs such as their Dictionary Drive where all county 3rd graders are given their own dictionary.
“Rotarians believe very strongly in Commitment to Service above Self. Our local chapter has approximately 30 members who volunteer in our local community as well as internationally to support education and job training, combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, and eradicate polio. Worldwide, there are 1.2 million Rotarians with more than 34,000 clubs,” said Maye.