A Perfect Day to Race Mountain Bikes

It was a weekend of inaugural events. Having a front row seat during this latest growth of outdoor participatory sports is quite the ride. Saturday was spent in the mountains just south of Lake Ouachita at the first Lake Ouachita Vista Trail 100K Run; Sunday was spent in the mountains just south of DeGray Lake at the very first Iron Mountain Endurance Mountain Bike Race.

Robert Mooney of Team Arkansas Cycling & Fitness enjoying a downhill section.

Robert Mooney of Team Arkansas Cycling & Fitness enjoying a downhill section.

The Iron Mountain Bike Trails comprise some of the longest machine groomed mountain bike trails in the state, built by some of the best trail builders we have. Bermed turns, sweet, flowy downhills and smooth climbs make for a fast course. The Iron Mountain race is the newest installment in the Arkansas Mountain Bike Marathon Series, bringing the number of races to five. At 42 miles long, it’s the perfect first race of the season before the longer more technical races at the Womble, Syllamo, Cedar Glades and of course the Slobberknocker. This was also the first time that all of the Phase 2 trails at Iron Mountain were used including what is in my opinion, one of the most enjoyable downhill sections in the state.

Heavy traffic in the woods.

Heavy traffic in the woods.

Nearly 200 mountain bikers showed up at the DeGray Lake spillway area to take on the challenge. Many were riding more for fun as part of the tour, a shorter ride allowing for a more leisurely pace. Aww, who am I kidding, when more than one mountain bike shows up, the ride quickly turns into a race.  The starting section was structured as a road climb, taking racers up from the spillway parking lot, over the dam and eventually dropping them onto a long downhill section that starts near the high point of the trail. Once riders reached the bottom, they had a short road section and then dropped into one of the newest sections of trail. This is where racers encounter the first trail climb of the race, eventually getting up and over the top before dropping back down to the spillway. From here the race would do two laps of the entire system and the tour would do one lap.

Sam Williamson of The Community Bicyclist enjoying the climb.

Sam Williamson of The Community Bicyclist enjoying the climb.

The lap started with riders jumping back into the woods for a climb before descending a fast and flowy section back to a road below the dam, followed by the toughest hill of the race. This section is used for downhill races and includes some jumps and bermed turns. Of course pedaling up the hill is not as much fun as bombing down it and can take a lot out of the legs. Once back at the top near the area they originally entered the woods, racers were the oldest part of the course. Tired legs are greeted with a tough rock garden as they pedal across the ridge before finally crossing the road and heading down a beautiful winding trail toward the lake.  From the bottom near the lake, riders made a short climb back to the upper ridge and headed back down towards the area below the dam to entering the woods for the climb and drop to the spillway again. This would be the end of the 25 mile tour, the race went on for another lap to make it a 42 mile race.

Brother & Sister Micah and Mischa of Team Spokes in a rare family portrait.

Brother & Sister Micah and Mischa of Team Spokes in a rare family portrait.

The weather was as close to perfect as it could get for the racers. Overcast during the race with temps in the 50′s to 60′s allowed the racers to push hard without overheating. Finishers were greeted with music, friends and food. Staff from nearby DeGray Lake Resort State Park were on hand with potato and vegetable soups, perfect for refilling the fuel tanks of tired racers. It was a great race and a wonderful way to touch base with many of the riders from last season. Old friends from Brickhouse Racing were there (read Andrea’s take on the race) and a lot of new faces were on hand from surrounding states.

Coming into the finish line in the spillway.

Coming into the finish line in the spillway.

I put together a little video from the race in  areas that I was taking photos, enjoy and please share.

Iron Mountain Endurance MTB Race 2014 from ArkansasOutside on Vimeo.

The age group medals were nice.

The age group medals were nice.

Results are available on the DLT Events Website.

We have two sets of photo available for sharing, downloading, likes, comments and tagging on our Facebook Page:

Photo Set 1        Photo Set 2

Next up in the series is the Spa City 6 Hour, a loop race at Cedar Glades Park near Hot Springs.

 

  • Yuri Cook

    Thank you for the great event photos.