In 2007 there were only three races included in the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Marathon Series, three grueling all day long sufferfests that covered some of the best singletrack trail in the state. Two of the races were held on our two International Mountain Bike Association rated “Epic” trails, the Womble and Syllamo trails. The Ouachita Challenge (April 06, 2014), held on parts of the Womble and Ouachita Trails near Mt. Ida, Arkansas is arguably the most popular mountain bike race race in the state selling out in a matter of minutes during the middle of the night dash to get registered. Syllamo’s Revenge (not updated yet for 2014) is one of the toughest races in the state, held in a remote area of the Ozarks near Mountain View, Arkansas, this race is known for it’s more technical sections. Cedarglades Park hosted the third race of the series, the Spa City 6-hour (March 15, 2014), where racers challenged each other on 10+ mile laps for 6 hours. It’s a beautiful trail that punishes riders through repetition.
Here is some video from the 2013 Spa City 6-Hour:
In 2011 a fourth race was added to the series, The Slobberknocker (April 26, 2014), a gravel-grinder held on forest roads in the Flatside Wilderness of the Ouachita Mountains near Perryville, Arkansas. Steep climbs designed for motorized vehicles and fast rocky downhills punctuate this 70-75 mile race.
This year a new race has been added to the series, at 43 miles it will be the shortest race of the bunch but since it will be early in the season it may be a nice warm up to the suffering to come. The Iron Mountain Mountain Bike Endurance Race (February 23, 2014) held at one of the favorite mountain bike venues in the state, Iron Mountain near Arkadelphia, Arkansas on the shores of DeGray Lake. Fred Phillips of DLT Events who worked to develop the 24 mile trail system on US Army Corps of Engineers property is the race organizer.
Like the Slobberknocker and Ouachita Challenge, a tour option will be available at Iron Mountain for those who only want a taste of the race. The tour will be 25 miles (one lap of the entire course with a little road at the start). For those competing in the series or just can’t get enough of these well groomed, fast trails, you’ll get one lap around a 6 mile section and two laps of an 18 mile section plus the little bit of road at the start.
In it’s inaugural year, the Iron Mountain MTB Endurance Race will have an $800 purse for the long course racers in the open division. Not bad for a first year. Trophies will be awarded to tour riders reminding us all that if there are two or more cyclists riding the same course, it’s a race.
This race exemplifies one of the chief benefits of mountain biking in Arkansas, being held early in February, it’s a reminder that mountain biking is a year round endeavor in these parts. So even though the air is cooling off and there is less light to see by, you have no excuse to stop training, the season is just about to start.
You can keep up with this series and the Mountain Bike Championship Series on the AMBCS Facebook Page.
Below is a map of the first lap of the Iron Mountain Course, run your mouse across the elevation to see what the start and first lap are like.