The crunch of the drying leaves under my feet, a clear blue sky, a cool morning, the kind where as the sun warms the day you can truly feel it when it touches exposed skin. Before long we would be part of a warm and dirty day but for now, well, we were part of the grand show.
The Attila the Hun Mountain Bike Race at Cedar Glades Park near Hot Springs, Arkansas is the final race of the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series (AMBCS). Starting back in April the series includes 11 races across the state.
The Cedar Glades Park trails have long been a favorite of mine. I’ve watched them grow and improve over the years into a first class mountain biking venue. They have also added a climbing wall, BMX track, RC Airfield, Disc Golf Course, ADA trail, playgrounds and other great amenities. Any city that is looking to build a first class adventure park should take a look at the offerings at Cedar Glades. The park is managed by Garland County and is actually built on county land adjacent to the county landfill. This is an excellent use of public land to encourage outdoor play and activity.
So what does all this have to do with “Beer Fairies”? Well, I’m getting to that. You see, our friend Sarah works at a local bike shop (Chainwheel) and also does a lot of bike racing. Sarah is also insane, which is one of the things we really like about her. Saturday while in the bike shop dropping coin on things we didn’t need, Sarah invited Lisa to come out to the race on Sunday and be a “Beer Fairy.” They said that I could come along, I guess I was the fairy bodyguard, so the game was afoot.
So what is a beer fairy? From my experience, a beer fairy is someone who dresses up in a tu-tu and angel wings, goes to
the last place a mountain biker would be expecting beer and hand it out in paper cups, all while ringing a cowbell and shouting encouragement to the riders. To some of the riders this appears as a hallucination but I assure you, it’s real. This is a true story.
Upon arriving at the parking lot we realized that this race was going to be awesome. The lot was full of cars carrying every assortment of mountain bikes. Riders, spectators and kids were all over the place enjoying the beautiful day. As the fairies donned their outfits, the cooler was filled to capacity, paper cups were collected and we were off through the woods to find just the right spot on the course. Having ridden this course 100’s of times it was easy to find our little piece of heaven not far from the parking lot. This was a great thing for the fairy bodyguard as I found out his job included carrying the ice chest.
What better place to find a beer fairy than the top of “Heart Attack Hill?” We would have the chance to watch the riders coming up the hill and than make the turn to the crest and suddenly……there’s BEER! We were in the early part of the course so the leaders were a bit timid to take a cup but the guys and gals in the back didn’t have much problem enjoying a sip. A few even stopped long enough to really enjoy. By the second lap we got a lot more takers, even some of the leaders. It was all fun and with only a couple of sips in each cup it was all safe. I spent most of my time wandering through the woods looking for different camera angles but heard enough of the commotion to permanently equate the sound of a cowbell with beer.
We finally ran out of cups and only had a little beer left so we walked back to the cars for a quick food break and then a lap for ourselves. The trails are in great shape and it was really nice to get out there again. towards the end of our 10 mile loop we caught up with the tail end of the kids race. With a few parents riding with them we got to watch the future of mountain biking in Arkansas. Don’t worry, they’ve got it covered.
So in the end it was a tie. Attila the Hun vs. Arkansas Beer Fairies, everyone is a winner! Arkansan’s sure know how to conduct a mountain bike race.
Also, a quick question, what kind of beer should beer fairies hand out in the middle of a race?