The hundreds of miles of single track crisscrossing Northwest Arkansas is some of the best in the world, but it wouldn’t be half of what it is today without the people who ride it,
maintain it and advocate for it, creating a place where Lindsay Custer, Nate Fields and countless others have connected as friends, teammates, colleagues and partners. Lindsay bought her first mountain bike ten years ago in 2010. That same year, Nate started working at a bike shop in downtown Bentonville. Their love of bikes is what led to a love of each other and helped build the foundations of a community that years later would surround them as they exchanged vows at the Lake Leatherwood bike park.
As Nate and Lindsay stood holding hands on top of the massive stone hub that serves as the launching pad for several downhill trails, Nate’s sister, who officiated their wedding, compared marriage to mountain biking. It involves getting over obstacles, she said, fast and fun downhills, hard work, sweat, occasional crashes, and even some blood and tears, but with a certain joy and determination, you pick up your bike and your love and you go back up the hill to do it all again. Except this time, the husband and wife took their guests along with them. Donning helmets with dresses and button down shirts flying, the wedding party sprinted down rock gardens and over jumps to the taco bar below.
Looking at all the people dancing in the grassy field surrounded by strung up lights and handmade decorations, it’s easy to forget the Northwest Arkansas biking community wasn’t nearly as robust just a few years ago. Lindsay and Nate have been a part of it since the very beginning and the guests at their wedding are a testament to their involvement. Since buying her mountain bike because she heard a rumor about the trails in Bentonville, Lindsay has tried her hand at racing everything from crit to enduro and eventually got elected to be the president of Friends of Arkansas Single Track.
The organization holds several events throughout the year, as well as regular Wednesday night rides that attract dozens of riders. Nate is now a company mechanic and during his time at the bike shop he’s helped countless riders build their first bikes and then kept their second and third bikes running. He also spends several weekends a year providing support at a variety of events, from the Arkansas Enduro Series to the Buffalo Headwaters Challenge put on by the Ozark Off-Road Cyclists.
The guests at Nate and Lindsay’s wedding are also a testament to the myriad of people who contribute to make the community what it is today and what it will be in the future. As the sunset on Lake Leatherwood, the newly married couple was surrounded by family, who has supported their passions, and friends, who are trail builders, volunteers, advocates, racers, leaders, new mountain bikers and veteran ones. Together and in their own ways, they’ve created a place where a downhill mountain biking wedding just feels natural.