My Pulse News

Mena, Arkansas, News covering Polk County and the surrounding area

Wheel A’Mena is rolling around soon

Article and photos by Ethan Nahté

Cyclists will be tackling one of three routes on Saturday, Oct. 7, in the Wheel A’ Mena 11th annual bicycle tour, taking on the second largest peak in Arkansas. Rich Mountain is 2,681 feet above sea level while Mena sits around 1,171 feet — a little over a quarter-mile difference in elevation. All three routes described below include 2-plus mile-long stretches of ride with an average of 7% grade or greater with maximum grades reaching almost 12% grade in a few places.

All skill levels are welcome, and first-time riders to Rich Mountain, which there were a few last year who had scouted the route by car and rode it the first time during Wheel A’Mena 2022. Riders come from all over, including parts of Europe.

The official Rotary Club website has a link with an in-depth Ride with GPS map that breaks it all down, but here is a look at what the rides consist of.

The parade will begin at 8 a.m. where cyclists will begin their route from Janssen Park. All cyclists will ride the same route the first 15 miles from Mena. They will begin at the park, travel east to Mena Street, turn south, cross the railroad tracks, turn left at the red light onto Hwy. 71 N.

In previous years there was a Mena Police escort from Janssen Park to the Mena city limits. The Polk County Sheriff’s Department then escorted the cyclists from the Mena city limits through the Acorn community to Hwy. 270. Southwest EMS also followed cyclists up Hwy. 272 to The Wonder House last year.

At Hwy. 270 they turn left and ride toward the state line. At the Rich Mountain community is where the separation begins. Those riding either the 30- or 50-mile routes will turn left at the Rich Mountain Country Store and start the ride up the mountain on Hwy. 272. They will each ride to the intersection of Hwy. 88 and turn right, pedaling to The Wonder House at Queen Wilhelmina State Park. The 30-mile riders will then turn around and head down the mountain.

The 50-mile route continues past The Wonder House, across the Arkansas/Oklahoma state line and travel to the Chaha Vista, where they will turn around and head back past the state park and down the mountain.

Those riding the 70-mile route do not turn at Hwy. 272. Instead, they will continue riding on Hwy. 270, cross the state line and continue on to Page, Oklahoma. At Page they will turn onto Hwy. 259 until they come to a sign indicating the Talimena Scenic Drive by-way. After turning left onto the by-way, they’ll take a right on the Talimena Scenic Drive and follow it up the mountain, past The Wonder House and back down the mountain.

The end of the race is back at Janssen Park. There will be multiple rest stops with first aid and feed stations where volunteers typically have bottles of water and other items to replenish energy.

There is still time to register. The early registration fee is $70 until 12 a.m. CST, Oct. 1, when the fees increase to $75. Registration deadline is Thursday, Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. CST and can be done through their website or Facebook page.

Keep an eye on the Wheel A’Mena Bicycle Tour to the Top Facebook page for updates and street closures on the day of the race. The Pulse Facebook page will also have the street closures if provided in time and announcements will be made during the news hours on KENA 104.1 FM.

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