Bentonville’s cycling population is growing at an alarming rate. We have new riders joining the community on a weekly basis. It’s hard to keep up with the new names & faces that we see on the trails. There are, of course, those leaders who are widely known in our community. There are also those who promote themselves. But there are core riders here who few know…but whose work is nevertheless critical to the NWA cycling scene. Brad Nielsen is one of these riders.
Brad grew up in Arizona, where he started cycling as a youth. As he got older, he transitioned to riding motorcycles in the desert around his home. But, he always came back to his bike. The Phoenix Mountain Preserve was less than 2mi from his home & it was easy to throw a leg over his bike & go hit the desert single track.
Approximately 20yrs ago, Brad moved to Bella Vista & immediately settled into the early cycling culture that was sprouting. He became a fixture in the Mojo riding group. He notes that his favorite local trail is The Ledges. But he also favors Rock Solid, Mad Hatter & Blowing Springs. Thinking of his personal riding history, he smiles. “My first downhill was in 1999, at the Purgatory Resort. I rented a hammered hard tail with 4in of front travel, if you were lucky…The thing is that I just loved it.” He’s ridden at the “must ride” locations here in the United States: Moab, Sedona & Colorado. He’s also been to New Zealand to ride Rotorua. But he insists; “The highlight of my riding life was riding in Iceland with the Mojo group.”
As one of the early mountain bikers in NWA, Brad not only rode the early Slaughter Pen loops, he volunteered to help in FAST work days. His help was critical to virtually all of the Eagle Scout projects which built bridges & structures that we now take for granted. Brad continues to do his part by volunteering for various trail maintenance days. He’s attended all of the Mojo-sponsored trail maintenance events. He’s also been heavily involved with local Boy Scout groups & has taught technical riding classes for his Church’s scout troop. Brad was then responsible for taking these scouts on trips to other locations to ride. Finally, when we built out our current shop – & also our new Mojo Rental location – Brad was there with his tools, ready to lend a hand.
Recently Brad has transitioned to an e-bike. He smiles & quips “I ride an e-bike because I’m compensating for something…my lungs. Due to complications at my birth, I only have 45% lung capacity.” His technical skill-set is definitely there. But he finds that his body cannot oxygenate fast enough for what his riding activities demand. “I got tired of being the last guy on every climb. I got the e-bike because I love to ride & hate the gym.”
Brad has been a staple of the NWA cycling community since its earliest days. He’s been integral to building & maintaining our trails. He’s even taught our forthcoming riders the skills they need to become proficient mountain bikers. You’ll not find Brad leading meetings or Facebook posting about the trail work he does. But, if you watch our local trails, you may see him ride by. If so, say “hello.” Brad has a great sense of humor & enjoys meeting new people.