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Episode 118: BikeNWA Shows You Where and How To Ride in Northwest Arkansas

Spread the Ozark love

IANWA - BikeNWA

Randy Wilburn [0:00] Hey folks, and welcome to another episode of the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast. I'm your host, Randy Wilburn. I'm excited to be with you today. You know, certain days when I sit and do this podcast, I'm like, I hope somebody will listen to this, but I'm always amazed at all the people who tell me they love the podcast, and they listen. So, first of all, I just want to give you guys a shout-out and say how much I appreciate every listener, every person who is a part of the eye of the I am Northwest Arkansas tribe. I love you guys from the bottom of my heart. So, I've got another great episode for you. Today I am sitting in front of Bianca Montoya, the Director of Communication and Marketing for BikeNWA. Bianca and I connected a while back virtually, and we have a mutual friend, and I will give him a shout-out because I'm always giving him a shout-out on the podcast. Anthony Sumlin is my main man and he has introduced me to so many people. I always say this and Bianca, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't relationships everything?

Bianca Montoya [1:13] They are. I feel like so many opportunities and fun experiences come from just the people we know.

Randy Wilburn [1:18] They are. I would not be able to do this podcast if it weren't for all the relationships that I've developed and continue to develop on a regular basis. So that’s exciting, and I’m so delighted to be with you today. So how are you doing?

Bianca Montoya [1:32] I'm good. Thank you for having me. This has been long overdue. As you said, we connected. I think it was on Instagram, through Anthony. Anthony, you are amazing. He does the same for me. He's like, you need to talk to this person.

Randy Wilburn [1:45] And we met at BIPOC.

Bianca Montoya [1:47] Thank you, Kim and Bea exactly

Randy Wilburn [1:49] Shout out to those guys. They have been on the podcast before, a really great event; I think we met down at the Fayetteville location. They did a BIPOC event in Rogers, and so we did the whole slow street thing, which was cool. First of all, I would love for you to introduce yourself to the audience, tell them who Bianca Montoya is and then let's just go into BikeNWA.

Bianca Montoya [2:16] I am Bianca Montoya. I work for BikeNWA, which has been such a blessing. I've been with them for about three years, and I’m coming up on my anniversary. I have lived in Northwest Arkansas since 2009. I originally came here from McKinney, Texas, which is around Dallas. I studied at the U of A, which was an awesome experience as well, and I immediately jumped into this area. I started volunteering a lot, honestly, to offset the experience I didn't have for some of the jobs that I wanted right out of college. That was what I needed to do because it allowed me to figure out my passions, and as some people say, your passions will lead you to your purpose. So, years later, here I am, working for BikeNWA and working on making a positive social impact and working on all the things that are close to my heart. So, it's been really nice.

Randy Wilburn [3:15] I love to hear stories like that because I always tell people sometimes when one door closes, right, like those companies that maybe didn't choose you at the time, other doors open and look where you are. Like I say, all the time, if you're doing something that you're truly passionate about, it's easy to get up every morning and do it. You're not sitting there fighting; you’re not hitting the snooze button or anything like that.

Bianca Montoya [3:37] I love to tell people just be patient and continue pursuing and redefining how they look at failure. Because there have been times in my life where a door closed or I left something to move on to something else. And, now I look back. I'm really thankful for all those experiences.

Randy Wilburn [3:53] So, what led you to BikeNWA? Have you been a cyclist all your life?

Bianca Montoya [4:00] Yes and no. This is awesome and a shout-out to my roots. My dad is a full-blooded Pueblo Native American. And so, our family on that side is from Albuquerque. It is really funny because of course, when I was younger, I loved the Disney Pocahontas. Even though that story is incorrect, but I still loved it. Anyway, my first bike was a Pocahontas bike; I loved that, and I rode around to see all my friends around the neighborhood. And then, honestly, I don't think I jumped back onto a bike until I was 24, 25. And even then, it was just something I did for fun and stress relief. All the trails that we have in Northwest Arkansas are so beautiful. So, I started riding the Greenway after work. I would try to do like an hour of riding, and I would never categorize myself as a hardcore cyclist. Anyway, the way that I got to BikeNWA was through a friend. I was in between roles for a little bit and I was freelancing and helping with social media and events. And, my friend Sam Slayton shout out to you, he found that out and he said, do you want to help us for a few months like promote this criterium series race? And I was like, what is that? Because I had no idea. Again, I wasn't in the mainstream. Anyway, so I started helping with that and, then after that was starting to wrap up they ended up offering me a job. Sam was going to move on to Thaden. And so, he's like, I think you could handle this role. And of course, I said, are you sure because I'm not this spandex, awesome champion. And that was when my boss, Paxton Roberts and Sam both looked at me and said, we care about those athletes and the people who are wearing spandex and the more serious riders, but those people are already our cheerleaders. They're already our choir. He said the group that we really want to reach are the people who are just the average everyday folks or the people that need bikes for transportation. We think that you could help reach that audience. I think what's funny is that I think some people will come and see me and honestly might make a judgment as soon as they see me like, this isn't a cyclist. But that's what I'm most proud about is that I get to represent all the folks out there who are just doing it because they want to spend time with their families, stress relief, or whatever makes you happy. Bikes are for everyone, and I scream that from the rooftops.

Randy Wilburn [6:39] You’re absolutely right. So often, I tell people how big of a bike culture it is here in Northwest Arkansas, and I've gotten sucked into it. But, of course, I was that kid growing up with a bike back in the day. I had the sissy bar handles and the banana seat and all that good stuff. I would ride a lot, but I got one of those three-ounce Cannondale framed rode bikes when I went to college. And so, I rode pretty seriously in college, but then I put the bike up. I was adulting and doing adult things, not realizing that I could do adult things and still ride a bike. And, honestly, I rediscovered it when I got here to Northwest Arkansas and it's just been game on ever since. I literally bought a bike Three weeks after I moved here. I went to the guys at The Bike Route, shout out to those guys, and that's where I purchased most of my bikes. I've got a GT grade and a few other bikes. I got my wife a nice bike, got the kids’ bikes, and we just have embraced this bike culture. I should say, I have embraced it, the kids like to ride, my wife, that's a whole other story; I'm not going to get in trouble on this podcast, so we will just leave it at that. She wants to ride, but I just think there's something about bike riding that anybody can do. I got to see those kids from the Bayer Racing team that came here for that Oz Trail event that was put on between Oz Trail and Experience Fayetteville at Centennial Park, which was amazing. Those kids are super. Some of those kids are going to the Olympics. The people that are listening to this, most of you are not going to the Olympics, but you can get on a bike and take advantage of the beauty and the trails that Northwest Arkansas offers.

Bianca Montoya [8:27] 100%. And I love that you say that it really is like anyone can take advantage of what we have here. It's built for everyone. I remember what it felt like not to be so part of what some people would consider a cycling scene. I remember having insecurities about my bike or what I was wearing, and I'm thrilled to think that now those things don't matter to me at all. My first serious bike was given to me by a friend, which I was thankful for, and that bike taught me so much; I loved that bike so much. I think everyone has a bike like that in their life. But I just want to tell people, don't let those things keep you from having a good time. We aspire to be this amazing cycling destination, which we're well on our way. If you go to places like Copenhagen, or Portland, or bigger MSAs or bigger cities, you will see all kinds of people wearing all kinds of things, riding all types of bikes and no one bats an eye. And because it's so much more of a norm there and they primarily probably really look at it as more like transportation. And so, I think if everyone can let themselves be vulnerable for a moment and get into it and realize how much joy it brings them, exercise or health or whatever you need it for, you can like truly appreciate it. It's like getting past like a few of those humps.

Randy Wilburn [10:00] It is a process, and you mentioned places like Copenhagen, Scandinavia, Northern Europe; biking is beyond the culture there. It's just a way of life. You see older women getting on their bikes, not that older women can't ride a bike, like 70 and 80-year older women getting on their bikes and riding to the market and stuff like that. That's just the way it is. So why not have a bike culture like that here in North America, let alone Northwest Arkansas.

Bianca Montoya [10:33] Again, I think about how I got more onto my bike and it was because a friend of mine was riding and he was like, you should do that and at the time, I lived not too far from Lake Fayetteville and I was like, oh, this is a really easy loop. And, so, I started to build my confidence, and then I was like, maybe I will venture a little bit more this way. There are apps I was told that could help you from getting lost. And what's so fun is like, Northwest Arkansas is full of those people that will gently pull you along and show you the way, and I find that like if you are that person and you have friends that want to ride bikes, reach out, and maybe get them a bike that they can rent or let them borrow yours. It's going to take a while to get that culture more embedded here. But the more that we can see average Joe's out on bikes, I believe the more people will try it.

Randy Wilburn [11:26] You're absolutely right. I think that's just the name of the game. You almost have to twist some people's arms to get involved. And then once they do, they're like, oh my, why wasn’t I doing this sooner? I live not far from Lake Fayetteville, so I know that loop intimately. I hit that loop pretty much all the time and I either go around that loop, head south to Mount Kessler, oI take that loop and head North and usually come up to Rogers, or somewhere up here to Bentonville. So every time I get on the bike, I've got at least a 30, 35-mile ride that I can take and still be within 20 minutes of my house.

Bianca Montoya [12:10] That's so exciting, too. That Greenway goes from Bella Vista to Fayetteville. Without the construction going on, I think that's between 30 to 36 miles. So, I've traveled a few places, but I have never seen something like that; it’s almost like the spine in Northwest Arkansas. So, a while back before the pandemic happened, we would do these ebike demos, and so, we would take a fleet of ebikes with Phat Tire, and we'd show up to an event and we just let people try them out. And the best thing that our team recognizes is that no one has ever gotten a bike and wasn't smiling ear to ear and having a great time. And so, as you said, it is just sometimes like pulling someone to try it. And once they do, they're like, why have I not been doing this?

Randy Wilburn [13:02] And I'm always looking for legitimate ways to just get on my bike and ride anytime. The challenge is that I'm a sweater and so if you’re a sweater, that's always the challenge. I'm that kind of guy where I could go out for 15 minutes, and I need to take a shower because I really sweat. That's cool. My pores are open, so I have to find that fine-tune line of how I can do both, right? That's why more businesses are putting showers in their places. I've gone to other places around the country, and I've seen businesses locally here that have a shower and have a place for you to put up your bike. They even have a room where they will repair your bike. So little things like that and you're starting to see that and that shows you how a bike culture seeps into the community as a whole and takes hold.

Bianca Montoya [13:57] I love that. You speak on something so important. So, people are listening to this and like, I want to have a bike shower, I want to talk my team into doing something like this. There are resources for you. We have a bicycle-friendly business toolkit that we created with Laneshift Mobility and Consulting Us. It lives on our website, and it's free, so business wants to go and check that out they can. But then we also have, this is cool, and I'm not sure if a lot of people know this, but the national organization people for bikes, they're awesome. They have two folks that are on the ground here working in Northwest Arkansas to help businesses. So, if anyone is needing that contact or wants to reach out, reach out to me; I’d love to connect you all.

Randy Wilburn [14:43] We will make sure we put all of your information in the Show Notes so that everybody knows how to reach out and connect with you to get any additional information that you mentioned.

Bianca Montoya [14:49] BikeNWA, we like to just to be like a big resource. So, if anyone has any questions, please know our door is always open.

Randy Wilburn [14:57] So let's back up a little bit and get back to the start of the organization. You guys started in 99 and you are a 501(c)3. Can you talk a bit about how the mission evolved, because again, there weren't many people here in 99 as there are now? And there clearly won't be as many people here now as there will be in the next 15 years. So, I mean, you guys have your hands full?

Bianca Montoya [15:24] I wish my boss Paxton Roberts was here because he's been here since the beginning. BikeNWA just started as a small organization that was called a Bicycle Coalition of the Ozarks. And then, after they were beginning to get some momentum and realizing that there was a need, they evolved into the 501(c)3 and that is BikeNWA. We have always been focused on advocacy and education, trying to work with municipalities to understand that there can be updates to infrastructure to make it friendlier and safer for people on bikes and people in cars. And throughout the advocacy and education piece, we have done so much. I'm not going to go into the whole history of everything, but for a while, BikeNWA felt like the only biking organization, Northwest Arkansas. And so, what was happening for a while, things would pop up and then people would be like, BikeNWA can handle that. And, of course, our team was like, yes, we can. I think we can. Let's do this. And I think this is why some people, whenever you ask them about BikeNWA, they're like, I thought they were an events group. I thought they only focus on this. We've always cast such a wide net, so I can understand when people say that. In our past, we have hosted the Criterium Race series, Cyclocross series, and on top of our different things within education, advocacy series. So as years have gone on, what we've realized is that we need to streamline. We need to focus a little bit more on certain areas that need more of our help. And the exciting thing about what's happening this year is we will have a cool announcement about an evolution that we're about to make. Our team is going through extensive diversity, equity inclusion training because all along, that has been the backbone of many of the things we've been doing. But now, we want to dive a little bit deeper and get in with the community. Because a lot of people say, sometimes folks will roll into a community and do stuff to a community and not with them. And so, we want to walk that walk and find where the needs are, work within the community partners that already exist and just dive in. Of course, in the summer, I can release more information about what else we will be doing.

Randy Wilburn [18:00] You got me itching here to find out all this good stuff. You got to stay tuned for important news from Bianca and BikeNWA because I think it's going to be pretty exciting. So, we will just tease it at that and we can go from there. So. One of the original reasons why we wanted to get together as we are recording this in April, and so, whether you're listening to this in May or June of 2021, or you're listening to this in February or March of 2022, the bottom line is that there are significant months in the calendar year where we like to focus on biking. One of those months is the month of May, right? And what is that called?

Bianca Montoya [18:49] May is National Bike Month. I know that's a mouthful; sometimes, we just say Bike Month. Technically, there are two bike months in the year, so May is National Bike Month, and then Cycle September,

Randy Wilburn [18:58] And I was telling you about my experience with that. Tell us a bit of National Bike Month and what you guys hope to accomplish.

Bianca Montoya [19:06] So, May is a month of celebration of people on bikes and the way we do that is we host weekly challenges and overall monthly challenges, and we have our new rider raffles. So, there are opportunities all month, whether you sign up before May or within May, for you to get on your bike, participate and win prizes. The cool thing about it, though, is that it's for anyone, and a lot of people might hear the word challenge and think, oh, that sounds hard, that might be difficult, but the challenges are as simple as riding ten miles this week, or ride five times this week. And those are what the weekly challenges look like. But then we have over a month of challenges and those are how many miles did you get for the whole month? How many times did you commute? And then, we like to celebrate in June with a virtual--- we are still deciding. It might be half virtual or half in person, but we want to give out trophies and celebrate who landed on the leaderboards. But every year it's pretty fun and we have big participation. But this year, we always like to challenge ourselves and get more people who haven't participated in past years.

Randy Wilburn [20:15] I'm definitely going to have to participate because everybody loves the leaderboards.

Bianca Montoya [20:20] We like to share throughout May where we are on the leaderboards, providing a little bit of friendly competition. I say it's fun. We give out gift cards. This year, we have a bike computer from Wahoo they were giving away. For the families out there, we have a kid trailer from Burley. And then real quick shout out to First National Bank this year who stepped in and has sponsored us, and we're grateful for them. It's a fun month of just getting on your bike, log in your miles. We use a platform called Love to Ride, so all people have to do is go online. You can go to our social media channels; the links live there. Sign up for free, and then you can either download the App Love to Ride and sync your rides through there. But if you already have an App like Strava or Map my Ride, you can link through there. But it's as simple as turning on your tracker and going and it can be mindless. You can just get on your bike as many times as you want, but the challenge is just to provide that extra incentive.

Randy Wilburn [21:28] Just to get out and do it. I definitely want to do it.

Bianca Montoya [21:31] You can start a team.

Randy Wilburn [21:33] Just for clarity’s sake, Peloton doesn't count, right? Virtual riding cycling, so spinning doesn't count.

Bianca Montoya [21:41] Spinning doesn't count because I think there is a small loophole there. Because we're still at the fringe of a pandemic, if you do not feel comfortable going outside, and that's the only way you can log, send us an email, and we will work with you. Also, I think Love to Ride has a way that they can track their rides. So anyway, if that's what you need, let us know, but for the most part, we want to get people outside, move around, and commute or do half commutes, whatever works for them.

Randy Wilburn [22:12] It's nice if you have a spinning bike at your house, that's a good workout, but there's nothing like getting out in the great outdoors.

Bianca Montoya [22:21] Yes, I agree. And this is the time of year where the weather- knock on wood, I'm going to jinx this, but the weather's generally okay.

Randy Wilburn [22:30] But you know how it is here. You go from cold to hot right away.

Bianca Montoya [22:34] I think another fun part. So, if you want to participate in the bike month, sometimes it can be a little nerve-wracking doing it by yourself. So, I tell people to get a team together, challenge another group of friends or a co-working team, work within your work team or your family, and create internal incentives. So, whoever wins, gets something so that can be a fun way. So not only will you go for our prizes, but if your team can do something internally, like an incentive, that would be cool.

Randy Wilburn [23:09] And, with all the companies here, so many people would want to participate.

Bianca Montoya [23:13] There are a lot of health benefits, of course, with getting out and being active as much as it can with bike riding. But also, there can be a sustainability piece to it. If you're riding your bike or commuting, then you're cutting back on your carbon footprint. And something neat about Love to Ride is throughout the month, they will show you the Northwest Arkansas stats, so you will be able to see what our carbon footprint was as an area. And then also with the Love to Ride website, we can see how we rank against other cities and areas, so that's always fun. We've done pretty well in the past, but of course, we want to continue that momentum. So, if people need an extra incentive to get involved, I just think that you're helping to put Northwest Arkansas on the map. I think we need some more positive things to put our State on a positive list, which would be helpful.

Randy Wilburn [24:06] All good news is worth having. So, September's event is what?

Bianca Montoya [24:15] It is pretty much the same thing as May. So, Cycle September is the same weekly challenges, same overall challenges. There will be different prizes and things. Then there is going to be more of an emphasis, I think, on the business piece. I am trying to get more companies to sign up and be competitive because the Love to Ride platform we use starts to emphasize and their leaderboards will be the top 100 companies. Walmart has always done pretty well and has been on that list last year, which I think last year was like JB Hunt. Two UofAs have gone on it.

Randy Wilburn [24:55] Tyson?

Bianca Montoya [24:56] Tyson, I think they had smaller teams. So that's another thing, depending on if you do your whole business or just do smaller teams. Luckily, I think we do have representation for most of the bigger companies around here, but more is always welcome.

Randy Wilburn [25:09] There's room for folks here that have a business. Even if you have a small business, you should get involved with this. There is a direct correlation to a healthy employee. It makes a happy employee and makes somebody who will show up for work regularly and won't be sick because they're taking care of themselves and they're on their bike riding. We all deal with bike aches and a minor saddle soreness, but other than that, it's all good.

Bianca Montoya [25:39] The morale piece of it you mentioned, like all the good benefits, but say your team is just now back in the office but they need something to do, I know some of us are still limited because of the pandemic, but getting outside and riding your bike as a team for an hour for lunch. I believe something like that could be attainable.

Randy Wilburn [25:59] I know that there are several groups. We alluded to BIPOC, and I've had the wonderful ladies from Arkansas, Latinas enBici, Olivia and Sophia. They are my aces. I like the fact that those guys felt good enough to want to create an environment where people who like them can go and ride and build a movement.

Bianca Montoya -26:31] A safe space one.

Randy Wilburn [26:35] So talk a bit on one of the bigger goals of BikeNWA. When people say we are trying to be more diverse, it's just trying to get everybody out there on the trail; literally everybody. We are not trying to limit it to the upper class or the middle-class folks who can afford bikes, but even those who can't afford bikes will try to create opportunities for people to get on a bike.

Bianca Montoya [27:01] Oh, 100%. And Olivia, Sophia, Kim, B are the changemakers in this area in that cycling scene, and especially not only for BIPOC people but also women, which I love. People ask, how do you even begin this process to try to be more equitable? And I think the number one thing that we started to address, which we've had a lot of lessons learned, is always positive because you just keep moving forward. We thought, what are the small things we can just start with? And so, the first thing is we need to translate more of our materials, and right now, we're working to getting more Spanish translations out there. And then we're also trying to figure out how we can get more Marshallese materials out. So that would be cool once we can start doing that. The biggest thing you will notice when you follow a bunch of cycling accounts on social media, magazines, ads, and what has probably changed in the past six, eight months, everyone is aware of what the issue was. For a while, all you could see was white, affluent, athletic males represented in these media and all these different outlets. I didn't even feel like I was suitable for this role because I didn't look like that. I'm five foot three, decently athletic. I've gotten a little bit thicker because of the pandemic, but I can still ride a bike. But it's just not feeling welcome. So, our team is working hard to make sure that we're welcome and we're representing. We are trying to tell the stories and show the real people on bikes, instead of just having models and people who don't bike but look like they’re biking. Not that we've ever done that, but other entities I'm sure have in the mainstream media. That's just like the first steps that we're taking. But what's neat is our team is about to go through extensive diversity, equity, inclusion training. Then we're working with Kim and B closer and identifying the areas where we have fallen short. I don’t have that perspective. And from there, doing this research will then allow us to create a more holistic game plan. I'm excited because it's always been the backbone of a lot of things that we do. We do not have the capacity or the resources to do it well. And so now our leadership is like, let's do that. I don't even think I mentioned this, but we work closely with the Northwest Arkansas trailblazers, and now they have a goal of taking, the number has not been solidified, but taking some of the mountain bike trails that we've already put out there and going in and reworking them so that they are ADA accessible. And so, they're working with a community of folks on learning what does that entail? How does that look? How does that ride? And so that's exciting too. I think it's first steps first. Be intentional, be honest with yourself, and continue assessing yourself and asking your community how you're doing.

Randy Wilburn [30:17] Yeah, check-ins are important. How am I doing? I do the same thing. Everything you're saying just resonates with me, and I appreciate all the work you guys are doing to get the word out and make biking an intentional space where you can get something done. I think that's cool. I think it will be amazing to see what this place looks like in the next ten years with all the trails. For the uninitiated, and even for those, and this might be for those that live here and have never gotten on a bike and those that are not from here. Maybe they're considering a job with Walmart or JB Hunt, or you fill in the blank Fortune 50 company or even a smaller company like Ox, or somebody else coming to work for the University of Arkansas. What can they expect from a biking culture here in Northwest Arkansas?

Bianca Montoya [31:15] I would like to say, and I believe this so much because I've been that person who needed help but welcoming, so I think you will find that we are really welcoming. And it's funny because I think if you ask anyone a bike question, they will point you in five different directions.

Randy Wilburn [31:32] And none of them are necessarily wrong.

Bianca Montoya [31:34] There's always a good outlet. And that's the thing I want people to know. There are entities here focused primarily on building this as a destination in a welcoming cycling scene. So, if you have any questions, like where you even begin, we are always available. But even places like Experience Fayetteville has a Bike Coordinator, Brannon Pack, and in Bentonville, you have Bike Bentonville, and that’s Amy Ross. Then again, the bike shops, Peddle It Forward, have this interconnected or intersectional community that wants to lift one another. So, you just got to pick a place.

Randy Wilburn [32:19] There’s no competition either. We are all trying to get more people out here on the trails to ride their bikes and just be aware of all the great stuff that happens.

Bianca Montoya [32:25] If people are looking for ride groups, that's another thing that we have so much of. We’ve got Springdale Bike Club, Friends of Arkansas Single Track, Gravel Grinders. I love their new T-shirts.

Randy Wilburn [32:38] They meet up at the Meteor Cafe and go for a nice ride on the weekend. They go every weekend.

Bianca Montoya [32:45] You will find a lot of groups that are consistent, but then there are other groups like NWA Pride Peddlers, Arkansas Latinas en Bici. It's exciting to see every BIPOC and everyone who's popping up. You should find a safe space that you feel comfortable in and get your skills to a place where you know. People find that sometimes you start with biking, and then you immediately are like, maybe I should start trying mountain bike trails or try gravel. If you'd asked me if I would be sitting here six years ago, five years ago, and riding bikes and riding mountain bikes, I might have laughed at you a little bit because I didn't see myself as that. But I always felt that I would want to do it; I just wasn't sure if it was in my ability and capacity. But I have evolved, and I've tried new things and I'm very thankful for my team for pushing me.

Randy Wilburn [33:40] Well, anybody listening to this is like, Bianca makes me either want to get a bike or dust my bike off and get out there on the trails? Where should they start? Where would you like to direct them to?

Bianca Montoya [33:52] Location-wise?

Randy Wilburn [33:55] The website specifically; just for information. I’m asking because I remember when I was at the Oz Trail Event at Centennial Park, I picked up some great maps of the Greenway and some other places to ride. I know a lot of places, but it's always like I'm learning something new all the time. But for the newbie or the uninitiated, where should they start?

Bianca Montoya [34:18] I think a good place to start. If you are just getting started, I will start with a local bike shop because they have these specific maps you need. If anything you're missing, they should have that or a resource to that. If you have any specific questions, sometimes the quickest way to reach us is through social media. It's usually me at the other end, but I can point someone in a certain direction. Another cool thing is that you can use apps like Trail Forks, and those can be helpful, especially if you're embarking on a new trail. Maybe you're not on the Greenway, but even if you're on a Greenway, it's fine too. It stays with you and shows you that you're still on the right trail, which is awesome. Because sometimes we just need that affirmation, like, am I still going the right way.

Randy Wilburn [35:12] You don't have to go too far off the beaten path to be, as I like to say, behind God's back, because you're so far out of the loop. But the reality is, you're not as far away. It’s probably been mapped. I've done a lot of gravel riding and I'm always finding new trails and I'm like, I don't want to get chased down by some dog or something like that. But there are all kinds of ways for you to figure out where you are.

Bianca Montoya [35:37] You just have to ask a question and that will lead you to all these doors. I think people need to realize this. This area is new to cycling. This is all popped up within the last couple of years. I like to joke and say everything is in its infancy, right? Like toddlers can be messy and all over the place, but they mean well. What you also find is that most of the people who've been riding bikes around here are pretty new, maybe just started two years ago. So I hope no one ever feels intimidated because probably the person you’re going to be talking to you is like, I just got started and this is what you need to know.

Randy Wilburn [36:20] There's always going to be somebody there looking to help you out.

Bianca Montoya [36:24] That's what I love about this area.

Randy Wilburn [36:26] That's great. So, the website is bikenwa.org. So, if people want to reach you or connect with you directly, how do they do that?

Bianca Montoya [36:35] You can send me an email to bianca@bikenwa.org. As I said, you can slide into our DMs on Instagram or Facebook for those in the know. If I can't answer your question, I know somebody can, so I will direct you all to where you need to go.

Randy Wilburn [36:56] So, after a long ride on a warm June day, where do you like to go to maybe imbibe on a nice beverage?

Bianca Montoya [37:09] If I'm in Bentonville, I love Oven & Tap, and they have a cute patio. I can't go wrong there. They also have a great drink selection. I guess it depends on what kind of beverages you're looking for, but coffee-wise, Airship is my go-to. Bentonville got great coffee places, but Cafe 211 is inside the Bentonville Library. Mauricio will take care of you. If you need some potent, that's the place to go. I love any place with a patio and friendly people.

Randy Wilburn [37:50] And the thing about it is Northwest Arkansas has that in spades. Everywhere you look, Rogers, Springdale, the whole downtown Springdale area, and of course, Fayetteville. So there’s a little bit of that everywhere you go.

Bianca Montoya [38:04]

That's so true. And I just feel like as long as we're always striving to be better involved, I think we're in a good place.

Randy Wilburn [38:14] Bianca Montoya, thank you so much for joining us here on I am Northwest Arkansas. I hope everybody got a little bit out of your experiences with BikeNWA, and we wish you nothing but continued success. We wait with bated breath for the announcement coming up in a few months, so just teasing that out there. And at some point in time, we will have to come back and find out what new exploits you guys have undertaken to continue to make Northwest Arkansas the bike capital of the world.

Bianca Montoya [38:42] Yes.

Randy Wilburn [38:44] World domination.

Randy Wilburn [38:48] I appreciate that, and we look forward to connecting with you really soon.

Bianca Montoya [38:53] Yes, same. Thank you.

Randy Wilburn [38:55] Well, folks, that's another of the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast. To learn more about us or read or download the Show Notes from today's episode, visit iamnorthwestarkansas.com. You can listen to this podcast and sign up for our free newsletter to keep up with us and all things NWA. Sign up today. You can subscribe to the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast wherever you listen to it, and please consider rating and reviewing us on Apple Podcasts. Remember, our podcast comes out every Monday, rain or shine. I'm your host Randy Wilburn and we will see you back here next week for another new episode of the I am Northwest Arkansas podcast. Peace.


About the Show:                          

Are you in Northwest Arkansas?

Would you like to join the cycling community? 

This episode is for you!  

We sat down with Bianca Montoya, Communication and Marketing Director at BikeNWA. Bianca sheds light on how the BikeNWA organization intentionally supports and builds a cycling culture in Northwest Arkansas.

Bianca moved to Northwest Arkansas to attend the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. After studying Advertising and Public Relations, Bianca started volunteering with organizations across Northwest Arkansas. Her volunteering spurred her passion for contributing to the NWA community and led her to get more involved in the local nonprofit scene. 

In her role at BikeNWA, Bianca focuses on bicycle advocacy and education. The fact that May is National Bike Month makes it even better. Whether you’ve never ridden a bike before or spend most of your waking hours on the Greenway and local trails, this episode has something for you.  

Key Talking Points of the Episode:

[04:00] What led Bianca to BikeNWA? Has she been a cyclist all her life?

[06:39] Biking culture experience in Northwest Arkansas

[13:57] Building a bike culture

[18:49] National Bike Month and what BikeNWA seeks to achieve in May as well as the remainder of the year.

[27:01] How Bike NWA is creating riding opportunities for all

[34:18] Where should new cyclists start?

Quotables:

“If you’re doing something that you’re truly passionate about, it’s easy to get up every morning and go do it.” – Bianca Montoya

“I love to tell people to be patient and continue to pursue and redefine how you look at failure. – Bianca Montoya

Important Links and Mentions on the Show*:

Bianca’s Email

Bike NWA website

Bike NWA Facebook 

Bike NWA Instagram

This episode is sponsored by*:

BikeNWA

May is National Bike Month! Celebrate alongside BikeNWA as they host weekly and overall challenges throughout the month of May! It’s easy to participate, free to sign-up, and is for all skills and abilities! Visit Lovetoride.net/nw-arkansas today and start logging your rides to win cool prizes!

Signature Bank of Arkansas  

Signature Bank was founded here in Northwest Arkansas in 2005. Their focus is personal and community banking. When you bank with a community bank, you’re investing in local businesses, local entrepreneurs, local charities, and the causes close to home. Signature Bank has worked hard to earn its tagline, “Community Banking at its Best.”

You may ask why bank at Signature? 

Because they put the focus on the customer instead of on having a branch on every corner, this means you can have your questions answered by a real person, whether you’re reaching out to the call center or your banker’s cell phone. You can access any ATM in the country without fear of a fee.  They will refund all of those fees at the end of every month. Finally, they are constantly improving their digital offerings to make sure you can access the best financial tools from your laptop, phone, or tablet 24 hours a day.

Signature Bank of Arkansas is a full-service bank offering traditional checking and savings accounts, investment accounts, business and personal loans, and mortgages.

Give the folks at Signature Bank a call (479-684-4700) or visit their website Signature.Bank and let them know you heard about them on the I am Northwest Arkansas Podcast. 

Signature Bank of Arkansas is a Member of the FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender.  

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Try Canva for FREE today at IamNorthwestArkansas.com/canva

Email info@iamnorthwestarkansas.com to learn more about sponsorship opportunities.

*Note: some of the resources mentioned may be affiliate links. This means we get paid a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.

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