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For 77 years, Springdale has hosted the Rodeo of the Ozarks at Parsons Arena, celebrating one kind of riding. But Northwest Arkansas has been attracting a new kind of rider in recent years, on a different kind of saddle. It seems fitting that the city is now home to Natural State Rock & Republic, a business aimed at tapping into the passion for cycling developed in the region over the last decade.
Ernie and Scotti Lechuga, cyclists and owners of Natural State Rock & Republic
Founders Scotti and Ernie Lechuga are former UCI Pro Road cyclists who have traveled the world for decades competing internationally in road races and ultra-endurance bikepacking competitions. After winning competitions like the pairs 2019 Silk Road Mountain Race, they decided to put down roots in Arkansas.
In 2010, the Lechugas founded a coaching business to work with athletes in multiple endurance sport disciplines from around the country. Now, they share their passion and expertise with cyclists from Arkansas and beyond. And they build the business beyond just coaching to cater to cyclists of all levels of interest.
NSR&R’s mission is to create community by pushing personal limits and exploring the world by bike, being open to seeing things differently, and valuing the process of growth over performance… to tap into something much bigger than ourselves through shared experiences on bikes.
To create that community, Scotti and Ernie opened their business in the old Magnolia Gardens location, a local landmark adjacent to downtown Springdale and the Razorback Regional Greenway. Amenities include a beautifully renovated guest house that sleeps twenty or can be rented in nine separate suites. The 6.5 tree-covered acres surrounding the house encourage a slower heart rate and deeper breaths. There is even an art gallery on the grounds that hosts local artists on a rolling schedule.
Natural State Rock & Republic offers tours and expeditions for cyclists who are interested in seeing the Ozarks miles away from I-49. There’s everything from a High Country High Life bikepacking experience that includes five nights of lodging along the route to a one-day excursion through the Boston Mountains to Van Buren, with a ride home on the Arkansas-Missouri Railroad to cap off the adventure. They also offer a family adventure and will create custom tours just for you and your group.
If you don’t have all the gear you need for a bikepacking tour, Natural State Rock & Republic can hook you up, and bike rentals are coming soon for folks who are spending some time in NWA without their own wheels.
The Lechugas are also passionate about helping cyclists at any level become better at their chosen sport. By integrating their coaching business into their new venture, Leborne Studio’s coaches – former professional cyclists themselves – can instruct new and experienced cyclists on aerobic and anaerobic fitness using V02 Max and RMR testing and demonstrate the KICKR smart trainer stations available in the studio. Nutritional education and personal bike fitting services are available as well.
Coaches are also available to assist cyclists either 1:1 or as part of a team. They provide hands-on instruction and homework to do between their sessions. Details and costs for coaching and a scheduling portal are available on their website. And don’t miss their blog if you enjoy great storytelling and beautiful photography.
As mentioned before, the grounds and buildings were once an event facility. The Lechugas kept that feature available with rental space available for corporate and personal events and meetings of all sizes. And if you want a weekend getaway without the bikes, they’re happy to accommodate that as well.
Perfectly situated near an up-and-coming downtown and at the halfway point of the bi-annual Square to Square bike rides held in NWA, Natural State Rock & Republic is poised to become a popular destination tourists and locals alike who enjoy spending time in a saddle of a different kind. Naturally.
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