The morning of the first day could not have been better. Starting out from the Holiday Inn in Siloam Springs it was just cool enough for a light jacket. By the time we reached the first SAG (Service and Gear) stop, at the ten-mile mark, it was time to shed the jacket. The “rolling hills,” as they were called in the rider packet, turned out to be a little more challenging than expected; but the effort was well worth it. We were treated to scenic views of green pastures fading into tree-covered hills. There were picturesque farmhouses and barns nestled in the trees. Occasionally we would catch a glimpse of a deer, rabbit, or other local fauna.
At lunch we were able to find out how all of the riders had faired throughout the morning. There had been a couple of flat tires and some scrapes and bruises. One of the riders had to drop out for the day due to a bruised elbow but she intends to rejoin us tomorrow. With lunch finished, we headed out toward Fort Smith.
After a brief downhill ride, we began to climb, and to climb, and climb. Then, after cresting that hill, we were treated to a very fast, but refreshing, ride down the other side. We repeated this several times throughout the afternoon with the last climb presenting us with a gorgeous view of the valley below. Our top speed down this hill was 42 miles per hour. From the bottom of that hill to the hotel was only about six miles. The first riders pulling in there at 3:15. The riders covered nearly 71 miles today.
On a sad note: The ride coordinator, Brian, lost his grandmother today. He is heading home early in the morning. The riders hearts and prayers go out to Brian and his family.
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