A Tough Course on a Perfect Day

Arkansas Cycling & Fitness.

The Slaughter Pen Jam has a full schedule of events happening over the three day run but the centerpiece of the festival is the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series Cross Country race on the Slaughter Pen Trail System. The technical course utilizes six miles of the trail system for the juniors and first-time racers and a full nine miles for the other racers, with Category 3 racers doing one lap of the course, Category 2 racers doing two laps and Category 1 and pro racers doing three laps. This year Bentonville Parks and Recreation Department took over race organization duties. Other changes included modifications to the course layout from previous years races.

Ready...Set...GO!
Ready…Set…GO!

From the starting line, riders traveled east across the field to pick up the single track heading up to the top of the course and the Medusa trail. Riding across the top of the ridge, racers negotiate several rock gardens positioned between longer fast flowy sections. Eventually riders make the turn downhill onto Tatamagouche traveling the opposite direction beneath the Medusa trail. This section is punctuated by several bridges and some very technical rocks. Keep your weight back, carry speed, navigate a good line and you’ll be fine. Once they finish this section they are faced with a gravity cavity feature with a tough climb out before they are on Armadillo’s Last Stand which includes some quick fast flow areas. This section is a really fun ride.

Mountain bike legend Ed Hawkins went on to win his division.
Mountain bike legend Ed Hawkins went on to win his division.
Scott Penrod, making his way through one of the rock gardens.
Scott Penrod, making his way through one of the rock gardens.

Turning again, riders find themselves on New Creek Trail which soon turns into Seed Tick Shuffle, then across a grassy area and onto the first bit of pavement (Razorback Greenway Trail) to head over to the Phase Two Section of Slaughter Pen. Dropping off the pavement quickly, a cut off for the junior and first timers goes to the left while all other racers are faced with The Bush Push.

The Community Bicyclist
The history of the Bush Push (photo courtesy of Scott Scholl)
The history of the Bush Push (photo courtesy of Scott Scholl)

More technical riding throughout the Slaughter Pen Phase II section including the Urban Trail, Angus Chute and the Razorback Ridge takes racers back to the paved trail, then a quick ride through the woods, over a bridge and on to the finish…or…another lap depending on their race category.

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A beautiful, heavy medal went to those who made the podium.
A beautiful, heavy medal went to those who made the podium.

The weather was sunny but not nearly as hot as last year. Rain the last few days left the course relatively tacky with a few wet spots but overall it was fast. Free barbecue from Smokin Joe’s along with jambalaya from Phat Tire Bike Shop was available after the races along with music throughout the morning and a carnival atmosphere with kids and adults riding all around the vendor tents.  This is our third year at the race and the first time I did not participate, I don’t know that I will let that happen again. It’s a great event that I expect will continue to improve and grow. Watch for our article on the entire festival weekend later this week and just in case you missed it, here is the article Lisa wrote on the 10K run. We’ll post a link to the results as soon as they are available online. We have our normal plethora of free photos available on our Facebook page. You can go to Podium Images to find photos available for sale.  See you next year.

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