Scotti Lechuga and her family recently opened a new cycling retreat in Northwest Arkansas. In this Q&A, she shares what prompted them to start it, plus some tips from Scotti if you’d like your family to start biking in Northwest Arkansas. She also shares something even her friends don’t know about her.
Childrens’ names and ages:
Eli and Ethan (twins) 9 years old, then I have two step-daughters, Evie and Rubi, who live out of state and who are 14 and 11 respectively. They spend as many holidays and summer trips as they can here with us!
Where do you live and what brought you to NWA?
We live in Springdale, and being avid cyclists, we’d been looking to move our cycling coaching business this way because of all the cycling infrastructure and growth NWA is experiencing! My husband Ernie and I both are former pro road cyclists, and we’ve owned a coaching business based in Little Rock for over 10 years. We’d been wanting to expand what we offer to include cycling tours and expeditions, and NWA just seemed like the perfect place. So we started looking!
Tell us about your guest house and business.
Our friend Jill Dabbs used to live in central Arkansas where we lived, but has been working with Downtown Springdale Alliance in the past couple of years to develop Springdale. She’d been talking with us about opportunities to grow cycling in Springdale specifically, and called us one day and said, “You guys gotta come see this property.”
The grounds we’re now on used to be known as “Magnolia Gardens”. It was a bed and breakfast/wedding venue, but it had been vacant for almost 3 years when we came to see it. We had wanted to expand our coaching platform to NWA, but when we saw the grounds had room to do everything we wanted AND MORE, we pitched a proposal to the property owners to repurpose the grounds into a cycling retreat, Natural State Rock & Republic.
So now we have a very multi-purpose property, which we opened just a few weeks ago! The 10bedroom/10bath historic guest house is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy. It sits along the Greenway and is walking distance from downtown Springdale. The adjacent building to the guest house functions as our bike fitting and cycling studio. We also have a full calendar of cycling tours, events, and expeditions, all which start/finish at our property. And if you’re not a cyclists, that’s totally fine! We have event venues for weddings, outdoor music, a local artists gallery, corporate meetings — there are so many possibilities here.
What about the biking component?
Cycling has forever changed my life. I picked it up in my mid 20’s after having run for years, and I was able to compete professionally all around the world. The lessons I learned through the sport are so valuable to my every day life as a mother, a business owner, and to being more open and grateful for every opportunity and challenge that comes my way.
Cycling is truly a catalyst for personal growth, and that’s why I’m so keen to encourage others to get involved in cycling. I’ve seen so much growth in myself and in the athletes we coach.
What do you suggest families do if they’d like to get into biking?
START! There is no perfect bike or special equipment you need. If you have a bike already, begin and just get out there and experience…and if you don’t have a bike yet, find something within your budget to get started. Cycling can be an expensive sport to get going, but think of it as a long-term investment in your health and family well-being.
A bike can take you places (literally and figuratively), and our whole family has spent really memorable times together on bikes. Kids experience a whole new sense of independence on bikes when they learn they can see the world at a faster speed than on foot. And if you’re an adult looking to grow your cycling skill, coaching is a fantastic option to learn more.
We provide coaching for every price point and goal, whether you’re just clipping in for the first time, or training for an Ironman, young or older.
What’s the weirdest thing that happened to you as a mom most recently?
Ha! I have a good one. My son Ethan looked at me and said, “Why don’t have you have a job?” My jaw DROPPED. I’ve been working on our new business project non-stop, 100 hour weeks to get it off the ground — everything from peeling wallpaper to building our website to coordinating plumbers, to getting business permits and insurance squared away.
I couldn’t believe what he said, and at first, it hurt my feelings that he didn’t see me working hard. But then I realized…HE DOESN’T THINK I’M WORKING!
I’m enjoying my new job and business so much, that all the things I’m doing don’t seem like work to him. When I had that shift in mentality, it really made me quite happy to realize my child gets to watch me work, doing what I love, so much so that to him, it doesn’t feel like I have a job. 🙂
Where are your family’s favorite places to play in NWA?
We love the Jones Center pump track — it’s a mile from our house, and we go there several times a week! We’ve also enjoyed all the options for mountain biking NWA has to offer. Recently we took off on bikes along the Greenway and did a night ride with lights — the kids loved that!
Tell us about a recent trip you took.
Well…COVID. But before that, we did a family road trip all the way to California and back in our family’s RV. We used to live in our RV when I was bike racing full-time, and we decided to take 3 weeks off from everything and tour the Southwest. I hope the boys remember it when they are older, because it was the best trip ever!
Share a typical day in your life with us.
I like getting up early. Usually I’m up and working by 4:30 or 5am and drink TONS of coffee — I’m a complete coffee snob and drink a whole french press by myself before 6:45 when I wake the boys.
I take the boys to school at 7:45am, then I try to cycle daily, that’s still a huge part of my every day life, even though I’m not racing at the same level as before. I work from home, so I’ll catch up on emails, business projects, or plan for our upcoming tours and events…then if we have guests checking out, I’ll go flip guest bedrooms, clean the guest house, and make sure it’s tidied up before the 3pm check-in window arrives!
Then it’s pick up the boys, take them out either for a bike ride or to their various practices, and most nights I enjoy cooking, but we’ve been so busy lately I’ll often grab food on the run! We typically call it a day around 9pm since we’re early risers.
If you could vacation anywhere in the world this summer, where would you go?
I would love to go to Scotland for a bikepacking tour. They have so many magical routes for cycling there, I’ve been eying that as soon as we feel comfortable that the new business is stable.
If you could magically learn a new skill, what would it be?
I would love to have a better singing voice! I love music but can’t sing worth anything!
What’s something your friends might not know about you?
I was actually once an artist! After college, I sold my art in several art galleries, and I haven’t picked up a paint brush in the last several years due to being so busy with cycling and coaching. But I love the arts, and that’s why I made the common areas of our guest house an Arkansas Artists Gallery!
If you got an unexpected gift of (a lot of) cash, what would you do with it?
100% no questions asked — travel and eat good food.
How do you relax when the going gets tough?
Tough times usually teach me the most important things about myself. So when I do hit a rough spot, I breathe and trust that it’s all something that will work toward molding me into a better person.
When I learned to changed my mindset to accept challenges as opportunities as chances to grow, my anxiety levels and stress levels really decreased. Another life lesson learned through cycling experiences.
Who do you most admire?
I don’t know that it’s one person in particular, but I admire people who are positive and bring positive energy into every day. Being around positive people who are always looking for and attracting the best really creates a sense of collaborative energy that’s fun and exciting to be a part of.
What do you most want people to remember about you?
Such a great question! I want to be remembered by my children as a loving mother. I want to be remembered by others as a story-teller — the woman who shared what she’d learned with others based out of the love and hardship she experienced from her own personal athletic journey through cycling.
One word to sum me up: driven