Biking gives McRae resident way to connect with community, family

By Lisa Burnett Originally Published March 7, 2013 at 10:43 a.m.
Updated March 7, 2013 at 10:43 a.m.
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Lisa Burnett

From the front, Steve Lercher, who developed the Lercher 15 Trails in McRae, rides mountain bikes with Jason Morgan and Tanya Lercher, Steve’s wife, along one of the trails on Steve’s family’s property.

— For Steve Lercher, his dream of having his own bike trail and being involved in the community is coming true.

He recently developed the Lercher 15 Trails on the 550-acre livestock farm he grew up on in McRae, along with his 14 siblings.

The “15” in the name is because of the number of children in the Lercher family, and the fact that the trail is 15 miles long.

Lercher got into biking about 18 years ago when his sister-in-law asked him to do a charity “road ride” for the American Lung Association.

“After that [ride], I was hooked,” Lercher said.

Lercher and his wife, Tanya, did some road riding, then started riding mountain bikes on some old four-wheeler trails on his parents’ farm.

When Lercher started developing his trails, he said there wasn’t a place for mountain bikers to ride in the White County area. He said making the trails on the farm was another way to stay connected with his family.

“We’ve been working on the trails for the last five or six years. We’ve been improving our trails out here and adding to them,” Lercher said. “Really, the last two years, we’ve really worked at it, and now we’re up to 15 miles of mountain-bike trails on the farm.”

What’s unique about this particular set of mountain-biking trails is the fact that each mile marker on the trail has the name of one of his siblings on it.

As time progressed, Lercher found other ways to make the trails longer and more enjoyable for bikers.

Lercher’s trails are on a farm, but inside one of the barns that previously housed chickens lies a biker’s paradise.

“[Bikers] can come in here and get out of the weather,” Lercher said.

The old chicken barn has a bunkhouse and restrooms with showers, where Lercher said the bikers could potentially camp out if they desire.

To spark interest in the trails, Lercher said, he, his wife and Jason Morgan, who owns Bike Lane in Searcy, have been hosting group rides on the weekends.

“They can come out and ride with us for free; then after they’ve ridden with us a couple of times, they could get a membership,” Lercher said.

Lercher said he is requiring memberships to the trails because he likes to know how many people are riding on the trail, for safety reasons.

When a new biker comes to Lercher 15, Lercher guides the rider through the trails so the rider can get a feel for the course and get to know the area.

Lercher’s future plans include adding a “kiddie” trail on the property so young riders can have a place to ride their bikes in White County. Lercher, an assistant principal at Southwest Middle School in Searcy, said he hopes to spark interest in biking for children in the area.

“I would like to start a children’s bike club,” Lercher said.

He said that while he is promoting biking, he may possibly offer some classes on how to change a flat tire and on bike safety.

Lercher said he will host the Cane Creek Classic, a charity ride for his church, on April 6, the first event he has hosted at Lercher 15.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501)244-4307 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

Online Reporter Lisa Burnett can be reached at 501-378-3887 or lburnett@arkansasonline.com.

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