Congratulations to Scotti and Ernie Lechuga who finished the Arkansas High Country Race route in a record time of 5 days, 18 hours, and 24 minutes. Find the details on their ride here, including a reflection from Scotti…

Posted by Miles Arbour

Main photo by Danil Usmanov (@usmanovdanil)

Going into the Arkansas High Country Race, although not part of the grand depart back in June, Scotti and Ernie Lechuga were expected to ride fast. The couple is no stranger to endurance events, each stacking up national titles as professional cyclists in road events over the years, and this year they won the pairs division at the Silk Road Mountain Race. They now run an athlete coaching business together, Leborne Coaching, out of Little Rock, Arkansas. Although there is no official pairs division at the Arkansas High Country Race, organizers say there is now, and the duo’s record will be recorded. Finishing early Thursday morning, their unofficial time was 5 days, 18 hours, and 24 minutes (05:18:24). Congrats!

Here’s what Scotti had to say about the ride…

I completely underestimated the challenge this course presents. It is no small undertaking to ride this route, even if you are taking your time. The course creator, Chuck Campbell, has strung together some of Arkansas’ most beautiful and historic places using remote backroads where you won’t see cars for hours at a time. It connects the Ouachita and Ozark Mountain ranges, the miles being dealt out in thousands of small, punchy climbs — most of which are over 10% gradient. These aren’t mountain passes with long generous descents for recovery after. These are choppy, steep, pitchy climbs that devour your legs over the course of the ride. Within seconds of completing one, you are at the base of another one. It is a slow-moving, gritty, and absolutely stunning course. I’ve lived in Arkansas for over a decade and didn’t know some of these places existed. Streams and rivers with crystal clear water, thick dense forest with moody fog and wild animals, scenic overlooks of pastoral lands, and historic towns that make you wonder how they’re still even on the map.

We set off on November 1st at 7am from the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock with intent to break the fastest known solo time. We rode it as a pair, and we know that makes things different, but for us it wasn’t so much about breaking the existing record as it was setting up the opportunity to challenge ourselves with a goal in mind. We packed as light as we could and treated it as a race. We finished the route in 5 days 18 hours 24 minutes, with the last 60 miles into a cold rain and headwind!”

  • Scotti Ernie Arkansas High Country 2019
  • Scotti Ernie Arkansas High Country 2019

We also can’t forget about the riders of the grand depart who took off from Little Rock on June 8th. Out of the 19 riders who were registered on Trackleaders for the event, nine scratched and 10 finished. Mike Dicken of Lander, WY took first place with a time of 6 days, 9 hours, 9 minutes. James Meredith of Bono, AR took second with a time of 6 days, 14 hours, 19 minutes. Nathan Griffee of Eureka Springs, AR took third with a time of 6 days, 21 hours, 47 minutes. Ally Mabry of Missoula, MT was the first female finisher with a time of 8 days, 15 hours, 9 minutes.

To learn more about Scotti and Ernie, you can check out our Rigs of the 2019 Silk Road Mountain Race article, plus check out Rugile Kaladyte’s Silk Road Mountain Race finishers portraits. Scotti and Ernie also plan to share more detailed reflections on their experience via Instagram, so give them a both a follow at @scottilechuga and @ernielechuga.

Congrats to all of the participants of this year’s event, and for those interested in the 2020 Arkansas High Country Race, you can check that out here. Also, find the Arkansas High Country Route (Northwest Loop) route guide here.

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