The Riverside Classic Mountain Bike Race has taken place in the middle of Summer at Burns Park in North Little Rock for years. A 5 mile to 7 mile course that takes riders over rocky terrain, steep climbs and fast downhill sections but has always been a hot race. Usually in late July, the last race of the AMBCS series before the August break, parts of the course feel like riding in a furnace. This year the race date was moved to June 21, the Summer Solstice, a possibly cooler time of year. So much for the plans of mortals. Recent flooding from the Arkansas River caused Burns Park officials to cancel all events for the month of June, possibly a premature move as the mountain bike trails and trail head parking remained well above the floodwaters.
The race also had new race directors, Frank and Sarah Webber, of Mountain View Epic fame, had taken over race organization duties. They were faced with the challenge of moving the race to a new venue on relatively short notice. The good news was that Fred Phillips of DLT Multisport, the previous race director, stepped up to help the Webbers not only move the race to Iron Mountain near Arkadelphia but also help with organization.
A new course was designed bringing in some of the oldest parts of the system to give racers a different experience than the 3-legged Dawg race that would happen on November 1. It should be noted that the 3-legged Dawg was originally held at Burns Park before the Iron Mountain trails were built. The Iron Mountain trails are also currently being expanded so later in the year there will be approximately 5 new miles of trail to enjoy.
Over 100 riders were able to adapt to the change and showed up for a great day of racing. I feel there would have been more but being Father’s Day, many may have had other plans. Of course in Riverside fashion, it was hot., very hot. Temperatures reached well into the 90’s with high humidity. Luckily the toughest climbs were not included in the new course layout.
Lisa and I had volunteered at the last minute to help out. Lisa helped with cyclist safety at one of the man road crossings while I was stationed at the base of a rock drop just in case there was an accident. I think they just figured it would be a good place for me to take photos. I obliged. Luckily they were taking good care of the volunteers and although my spot was away from the start finish, they made sure that this volunteer got fed.
This is easily one of the best trail systems in the state. Due to being in one spot the entire race, the photos are all of the same place…but what a place. If you’d like to see photos of the rest of the trail system check out one of our many articles about Iron Mountain. You can also see the results of the race here.
The video below is from my vantage point for the day. It might seem kind of boring, until, of course, you see yourself taking the drop.