Riding in the River Valley charity bike event set for Dec. 5 – Times Record

Riding in the River Valley charity bike event set for Dec. 5  Times Record

University of Arkansas-Fort Smith students have organized a charity bike ride to raise money for soft trails on the proposed canopy trail park along the Arkansas River.

The Ride the River fundraising event will kick off at the U.S. Marshals Museum at 2 p.m. Dec. 5. Students in Kristin Tardif’s Collaborative Capstone have organized the ride as a part of their class.

The approximately 12-mile charity ride will begin in the parking lot of the U.S. Marshals Museum, with riders using the Greg Smith Trail and the Levee Trail to complete the round trip. Those comfortable with road cycling can begin their ride at The Bakery District at 1:30 p.m. 

The group hopes to see around 100 riders at the event, and was about halfway to that number on Friday, said John McIntosh, facilitator for the group.

Students in Tardif’s class choose a community-based project to spend their semester working on, McIntosh said.

“This particular group that I’m facilitating wanted to study the trails in Fort Smith and the park systems, in particular the new parks that are underway and being planned,” McIntosh said.

He said the students learned from a local engineer about a group of cyclists that were interested in going ahead and starting on the soft trails.

“When the class heard that it sparked their interest,” McIntosh said. “They said ‘well if we can raise a little money to help these groups of volunteers get a kickstart, maybe it will raise more awareness of the project itself and hopefully it can get funded in the next couple of years.'”

The group took a particular interest in the proposed .85-mile-long canopy trail and connected soft surface trails that would be located on the 330 acres near the Arkansas River and Riverside Drive.

Entry fee for the ride is $10 and all proceeds will be matched by corporate sponsors, with funds from the ride going toward the development of the soft trails at the proposed Canopy Trail Park located between the Arkansas River and Riverfront Trail.

Funds raised will help with renting the heavy operations equipment to clear the new soft trail for the volunteers, who will complete the handwork necessary.

The new trail is expected to open in late 2022 and will be suitable for walkers, runners and bicyclists.

There will be an after-ride party at The Bakery District featuring live music and food trucks, as well as drawings for prizes provided by The Woodsman Company.

Registration for the ride closes at noon on Dec. 4. Riders can sign up at RiverfrontFS.com.

Event partners include Hanna Oil and Gas, The Bakery District, The Woodsman Company, CyberSpyder, Park Partners, 64.6 Downtown, River Valley Cycling and Frontier Ozark Off Road Cyclists.

Abbi Ross is the business and features reporter at the Southwest Times Record. She can be reached at aross@swtimes.com or on Twitter at @__AbbiRoss