Attila strikes again…

UPDATE: Race Results are in and 65 photos are available on Google+ and Facebook.

If I was asked what my top 5 favorite mountain bike trails in the state are, Cedar Glades at Hot Springs would be on it. I’ve been riding those trails for something like 8 years. They are fun and flowy with some nice technical sections, a few heart stoppers, some sweet, long downhills and all in a beautiful setting…next to a landfill. It is one of the best uses for the buffer space between the public landfill and private property. I last wrote about it two years ago, the last time I rode it. Pretty sad really. I blame building another mountain bike trail and then building a bike for keeping me from her but it’s really just me being lazy. Just a bit over an hour from Little Rock, I really have no excuse. While covering the final race of the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series this Sunday, I was reminded of what I’ve been missing.

One of the many young riders on the course this year. (Sorry, no beer fairy for you)

I hitched a ride with some friends, one racing and the other a beer fairy. If you don’t know what a beer fairy is see the old post from two years ago. Frank is one of the stronger riders in Arkansas and was set to win the Championship for his age group and Sarah is a favorite crazy friend. After helping Sarah get her beer cooler to the top of Heart Attack Hill, I then set out to take photos and a little video of the race. The trails looked great and I noticed a newer section where I left Sarah. I walked through some familiar area and eventually to a couple of bridges where I watched juniors and Cat 3,2,1 racers come through. I was really impressed with the number of kids racing, whole families like I’m used to seeing at the local soccer fields were here on bikes. Moms and Dads were busy getting them all going and doing some last minute coaching.

A rider goes for the hand up.

As I was heading back to help out Sarah I came across another friend who’d had some bad luck and used up all his CO2 on tire problems and was dropping from the race. We walked back together and were soon both working on refilling cups of beer and picking up discarded cups. I was also able to grab a little video as racers came though a couple of sections. You might notice that my title shot was taken in the same area two years ago. We finally called it quits and headed back to the finish line.

(The cowbell in the video is coming from the beer fairy, The Cat 1 riders who did 3 laps tend to now salivate whenever they hear a cowbell)

Some other shots on the course:

A nice little downhill section was the reward for a tough little climb.
One of several bridges on the course.

Frank was getting finished up and Sarah was going to go read some so I took this as my opportunity to go ride a bit. I wasn’t going to do much but then I ran into another friend. David, a friend I usually see out on the Jackfork Trail when I’m doing maintenance came by and we decided to ride together for about 7  miles. The trails were in great condition with a lot of new re-routes that really improved the ride. It also seemed to be berming up nicely. The climbs weren’t bad but I needed to go checkout the awards. I was able to talk David into heading back as he had already raced the whole course earlier.

All kinds of people enjoy the local mountain biking scene.

Since this was the last race of the series the awards ceremony went a little long (race awards and series awards). As I waited for Frank to get his award I found myself sizing up the Cat 3 over 50 guys. So I’ve got until spring to get ready for the next season and see what I can do. The only actual mountain bike race I’ve competed in was a 100 mile on-off road race in Oklahoma several years ago. I’ve mountain biked in a lot of adventure races but never an actual cross country race and certainly not a whole series. I think I’ll see if I can talk my wife, Lisa, into racing also. In the meantime, I should be training at Cedar Glades.

Some of the younger riders getting their awards.
I also promised Frank to put his photo in the article. (The guy in the middle)

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