Rain has been missing Arkansas this Spring, and Summer isn’t looking much better. The only moisture is resting heavily in the air while the trails remain dry and dusty. This was the main feature of this years Three Legged Dawg mountain bike race on the trails at Iron Mountain near Lake DeGray this past weekend. This race has been part of the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series for a long time but moved from Burns Park in North Little Rock to these new trails only recently. It is now a part of the Dawg Dayz Multisport weekend that includes a sprint triathlon, duathlon, XTERRA and trail run. We’ll have more on those events later.
The Iron Mountain trails, just off scenic highway 7 between Hot Springs and Arkadelphia, are a welcome addition to an already first class inventory of mountain bike trails we have in Arkansas. With only a couple of short climbs and two rock gardens, most of the 8+ miles of singletrack is flowy rollers (that’s fast with small ups and downs for the non-mountain bikers). The dry conditions did make for some sandy turns which brought on a lot of talk of tire choices among the racers.
Since the parking at the main trailhead is a bit limited for an event this size, the start of the race was set up a bit odd. The race headquarters were situated in the DeGray spillway parking lot with the race start at the top of a hill just before crossing the dam. Racers would start and be reminded of USA Cycling rules here, race across the dam and up the road until they came to a temporary trailhead on the right. It was a U-turn into the woods after about one and three quarter miles of road. After that, other than three road crossings it was all singletrack.
The trail winds it’s way slowly going downhill through the pine and oak eventually getting close to the lake for the gradual climb back up toward the road. One short section has a rock garden that goes up hill and takes a little finesse to negotiate but it’s over pretty quickly. After a short set of switchbacks riders cross the road to one of my favorite sections of the trail, a fast flowing part that goes on for almost a full mile. It’s a section that you can just let her rip on before coming to the next rock garden. This section parallels the road for another mile and much of it has large rocks inconveniently placed along the trail. It’s a gradual up again and to clear it you have to keep your momentum up.
One last road crossing and racers are back in for the final push to the finish. It’s a fast section with a nice little bump along the way where riders can get a little air under their wheels if they are so inclined. For the Cat 3 riders like myself this was near the finish for the others they would go on to do more laps. The finish line turned off the trail but a short section took the Cat 2 and Cat 1 riders back to the start of the singletrack for the next go round.
Once done with the race supporters took racers back down to the race headquarters or they just rode their bikes down the hill where the party was waiting. Music, food (again, thanks Spokes), cold beverages and awards were supplied.
Also, for the story and photos from the first AMBCS race of the year check out The Battle of Townsend’s Ridge. Next race in the series is at the Eureka Springs Fat Tire Festival, see you there. I’ll post a link to results here as soon as they are available online.
Competition in my age group was a little tougher at this race versus Townsend’s Ridge so I didn’t place but I felt that I rode well and had a strong finish. I never put a foot down which is a small victory for me.
Don’t forget to check out our Flickr Page, over 1000 photos from this race including a lot of air shots like the one above. Enjoy.