Sure you rode the trainer a few times this winter, had some fun weekend rides, even did a couple of night rides. Mountain biking is a year round sport in Arkansas so you should always be ready to ride. Racing may be a different story. Like a desperate mugger, Spring seems to have jumped from behind a tree and pounced on us.
The word at the Spa City 6-Hour race is that everyone was clearing out the cobwebs, brushing the dust off, looking for a little more out of their legs. Six hours on a mountain bike is a lot of spring cleaning but it needed to be done. The weather was great if you were a spectator, the sun gave riders a taste of what we have coming later in the year. After training in the cold for the last few months I’m sure the 80 degree temperature seemed a little excessive on those last couple of laps.
The trails at Cedar Glades in Hot Springs were perfect for fast riding with very little water. The climbs and tight switchbacks provided plenty of challenges for the racers on their own. The feed zone near the finish line/lap counters was packed with canopies from local bikes shops, teams and individual racers.
To get 300 mountain bikers spread out a bit before hitting the single-track, Fred Phillips of DLT Event Management designed a running start, up a formidable hill and across a small field before they would get to their bikes. Then it was off on a short section of paved road, some gravel road and into the woods.
Cedar Glades is a popular race location hosting both this race, the first in the marathon series, and Attila the Hun, the last race of the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series. It’s a great loop trail of just over 10 miles with every kind of riding imaginable. Top riders would go for 6 or even 7 laps in the 6 hours while many realizing their lack of preparedness were satisfied with 4 or 5. I think I might have been satisfied with 2.
Once in the woods, racers negotiate fast, flowy trails, steep climbs, tight turns and some of the most beautiful riding in the state. One and a half miles into the course riders get their first hill, a short steep climb with a sharp turn at the bottom leaving little momentum to ease the legs. The biggest climb of the course comes two and a half miles in. Close to a mile of climbing including more of those tight switch-backs. Once on top, racers are rewarded with a nice long, straight ride where the fastest speeds of the course are usually attained. Then it is back into the trees for more twists and turns, ups and downs until eventually, after ten-plus miles of riding they hit the feed zone, tap the judges table and back out for another lap.
This video follows the first lap (with only a couple of exceptions) through much of the course.
Six racers were able to complete 7 laps with Brandon Melott of Team Soundpony coming in first. Another member of Team Soundpony, Sammy Davidson finished all seven on a single-speed in fourth place overall. The overall results for Solo, Pro and Single-speed are posted. Team Results and Tandem Results now posted!
Congratulations to all participants, it was really a great day for racing and spectating. Next up for the Arkansas Marathon Mountain Bike Series, the Ouachita Challenge.