Bell & Company Mountain Biking
Story by Callie Sterling
Bell and Company Mountain Biking Team promotes healthy living throughout Arkansas.
The biking team, originally founded by Clayton Bell in 2006, now has over 100 members.
“When we began the Bell and Company team, it was just my dad, myself and two friends,” Bell said. “I never expected it to grow and explode the way it has over the past 13 years. It has been really cool to witness the transition from racing to trail advocacy as well.”
The core principle behind the Bell and Company team and the biking community as a whole in Arkansas is focused on health, wellness and community.
“Our overall goal is to get more people out on the trails, while being advocates for philanthropy at the same time,” Bell and Company founder Richard Bell said. “Our members do not have to pay monetary fees; we ask that they do a minimum of eight hours of volunteer work. We clean the trails together, along with other philanthropy focused activities.”
The Bell and Company team is now led by five core members: Erik Leamon; Wesley Pruitt; Greg Jeffers; Wes Wright; and Jeff Lovelady. Lovelady oversees the financial aspects of the team alongside the other four core members who serve as ambassadors for the team across the state.
Biking attracts riders of all ages, and can be done solo or with your family. Leamon, owner of The Ride, a bike shop in Conway, was drawn to the Bell and Company team when his son began showing interest in mountain biking.
“I officially joined the team about four years ago, because my eight year old son was getting into mountain biking; and I had always liked Bell and Company’s approach,” Leamon said. “The team focuses more about what we give back to our communities. We concentrate more on trail work; being ‘ambassadors’ that encourage; and other community involvement; rather than focusing on the perks that we can get out of it ourselves.”
One way that Bell and Company’s team is giving back is their partnership with a local youth team, by serving as a team sponsor for the Conway Composite NICA team.
“Bell is also a very large advocate of youth cycling by sponsoring a local National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) team to help groom the next generation of cyclists,” Pruitt said.
There are currently 24 teams that fall under the NICA division throughout the state. The riders vary in age from sixth grade to twelfth grade.
“While the training and racing is fun, the NICA league really sees the bicycle as a tool for building character and a strong sense of community into these young people,” Leamon said. “It is so great to see youth from different teams laughing together, encouraging one another and building lasting friendships. Don’t get me wrong, it’s competitive and the racing is intense, but it is secondary to character and sportsmanship.”
In addition to their involvement with youth cyclist through their relationship with NICA; Bell and Company Mountain Biking Team is a highly athletic and competitive team. The team is home to some of the state’s elite cyclists. In 2018 the team won the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series (AMBCS).
“The AMBCS is a season long cross country mountain biking racing series in Arkansas that runs from May until Nov. involving about 10 events. There were six teams in our category; each category is determined by team size. We also got second in the Future Champions Cup, this is the youth riders.”
If interested in learning more about Bell and Company’s team e-mail Leamon at firstname.lastname@example.org; or for more information about NICA or how to create a NICA team visit arkansasmtb.org.