Cold, Cold, Cold. I woke up and immediately checked the weather on my phone, 25 degrees. This was going to be one of the coldest sporting events we’ve covered this year. No, not the Little Rock Marathon. We left that event to this guy to cover:
This road cycling race has the feel of a competitive tweed ride. Although there wasn’t much wool and the bikes were modern, this kind of racing feels old school. Ten groups of five started at Plantation Agriculture Museum State Park in Scott, Arkansas racing in a large clockwise circle passing Tucker, Arkansas near the half-way point. Course designer, Justin Slarks of Chainwheel even made sure to get some gravel roads in the race.
Race organizer Ian Hope said, “A complicated algorithm along with personal knowledge of the riders was used to seed each team for the staggered starts.”
The course used parts of the popular Harper Loop and even touched on a portion of the Cross Winds Classic course. It also added many roads that the riders were unfamiliar with. The five person teams were instructed to stay together and cover the entire course. There was no stipulation as to team make up and three or four of them were coed.
As the race started we followed teams through much of the first 15 miles noticing that several had already gotten off course. The course has no marshals or volunteers at intersections, no signs or other routing help other than the map that was given to each team. Racers couldn’t just hammer through the course, they had to pay attention.
The wind was calm at race start but it picked up a bit just in time for the long open ride on the North and Western portion of the ride. Before coming into Tucker the ride hits the first of two gravel road areas. This first non-paved section was the toughest of the two due to lots of loose gravel making it hard to keep a straight line and thus slowing down the racers.
A short bit of pavement and racers were back on gravel road but this section was much harder packed and lead teams kept up a 20+ mph pace. As they turned toward England, Arkansas, the teams were back on pavement moving quickly through town and heading back toward the river for the final section heading back into Scott.
The course goes through a row of large, old pecan trees. In the summer this is the only shaded part of the ride giving cyclists a short respite from the sun. A short jaunt around one of the many bow lakes in the area and they were back in Scott for the finish. Just shy of 80 miles. 80 flat miles. The challenge in this race is the lack of downhill sections where riders can take a break. It’s 80 miles of constant pedaling.
The finish area was full of the camaraderie that follows these small events. Temperatures had warmed up to the mid 50’s which kept almost everyone hanging around. The winners cheered the rest of the teams in, everyone mingled about telling stories of the ride, planning the next race or future training sessions and just catching up.
We hope to have video from the race in a couple of days but for now enjoy the photos on our Facebook Page.
1st Place – Frown Fighters
2nd Place – TWAT
3rd Place – Gearhead Cycle House
4th Place – Tuckered Out
5th Place – Short Bus
6th Place – Road Ninjas
7th Place – 901 Racing
8th Place – Three men, a babe and a baby
9th Place – Leborne Ultimatum
10th Place – Pickle Posse
Most beastly rider: Alex Palencia
Most shattered rider: Brian Buerger Chuck Richesin (tie)
Biggest personal victory: Jill Pryor
Most elated smile: Jill Pryor
Most miles logged: Pickle Posse
Race Director’s Award: Gearhead Cycle House for being the most honorable bunch of fellas!