It may feel like the mountain bike race season is winding down in Arkansas with the end of the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series (AMBCS) at the Attila the Hun race in Hot Springs last month. Serious competitors know better. The next three months will be spent preparing for the start of the Arkansas Marathon Mountain Bike Series in March. Others of course will take it easy for a while and will have a little extra challenge as the season approaches.
The marathon series consists for four races starting in late Winter and running through the end of Spring. There are a few changes from last year, so here goes:
The Spa City 5 Hour –
When: March 13, 2016
Where: Cedar Glades Park, Hot Springs, Arkansas
Why: Why not start where we left off? The Spa City 5 Hour race utilizes most of the Attila the Hun course. This is a great first race for the season since the multiple lap format allows those who haven’t tuned up their bikes or bodies an easy out. Over the years this has been a popular race with out of state professionals like Tinker Juarez and Rebecca Rusch. The course is pretty straight forward with a few technical challenges, tight turns, one long climb and classic Arkansas singletrack making this a challenging event for any racer. Spectators enjoy the party atmosphere in the pit area of the race as they cheer on racers through each lap. (website)
Registration is open
The Ouachita Challenge –
When: April 2-3, 2016
Where: The Womble and Ouachita Trails, Oden, Arkansas
Why: So popular they have two versions. This classic race covers major sections of two Arkansas IMBA Epic trails- the oldest, The Womble, and the newest Epic, The Ouachita National Recreation Trail. This race has also attracted well known riders including one of the founding fathers of mountain biking, Gary Fisher. Starting at the Oden School and using local gravel roads to spread the pack out, this race soon climbs into the rugged Ouachita Mountains with rocky, steep ascents and fast, tight drops on the Ouachita Trail. After a short road section, the race rides one of the premiere mountain bike trails in the state, The Womble. The tired racer is faced with less technical riding but a few tough climbs. The downhills and views will put a smile on your face. For those looking for a slightly easier ride, sign up for the tour the day before the race. Make sure you take advantage of the pancake breakfast at the school gym. Spectators should stay at the Oden School and cheer finishers as the make their way up that one last hill to the finish line. (website)
Registration opens December 14, 2015 at 2:45 am CST. Yes, it’s that early and you better wake up to do it, this race has been known to fill up in minutes.
Syllamo’s Revenge –
When: April 30, 2016
Where: Syllamo Trails near Mountain View, Arkansas
Why: Syllamo’s Revenge is back in the series in 2016. A long time staple in the marathon series, the revenge features some of the toughest, most rugged trail in the state. This is another Arkansas IMBA Epic trail and it doesn’t disappoint. Starting at the campground at Blanchard Springs the racers are quickly separated by a tough climb into the mountains and will then spend the next 50 miles riding some great technical trails with wonderful flow and incredible views. This is the only series race in the Ozark Mountains, don’t miss it. (website)
Registration is not yet available.
Iron Mountain Marathon –
When: May 7, 2016
Where: Iron Mountain Trails near Arkadelphia, Arkansas
Why: The series ends on possibly the least technical race of them all. A couple of leg burning climbs and a lot of fast flowing trail. Word is that the new White Zone Trail will be incorporated in this year’s race. If the 50 mile race is too much for you, do the tour at just 28 miles. Seriously, train this course even if you’re not doing the race, it’s that much fun. (website)
Registration is open