OZ Trails mountain bike race was held on October 6, 2018. The race started with a neutral rollout from downtown Bentonville, Arkansas into the foothills of the Ozark mountains. The course then entered the shade cast by the forest’s expansive pine tree canopy, where over 400 racers converge on a selection of the finest Northwest Arkansas (NWA) singletrack, occasional double track, and paved segments.
Racing or riding in NW Arkansas should be on everyone’s list. Our contingent of four consisted of:
Guy Sutton: 50 mile, men 45+
Pascal Bonaventure: 50 mile, men 45+
Dan Mahlum: 50 mile men open
Ben Jones: 50 mile men open
Layne Sutton: 35 mile junior men
The hardest part(s) was American Airlines flight delays and FedEx not finding our vrbo rental in Bentonville. After getting situated finally on Friday night we had some fun at the bike expo downtown, Walmart capital of USA. Racing Saturday started out with a fast 8 miles of road and bike paths before hitting miles of rad single track. Dan was amongst leaders until his group made a wrong turn. The mistake was costly, but he was back to passing the rest of us in short order (albeit a few matches spent). The OZ trails were deceptively rough on our EXO Maxxis tires. Rain during the race reduced dust to zero, but created a bit of anxiety at a few rocky areas and wet leaves. Temps and humidity were surprisingly high for October.
Layne had a non restorable sidewall tear and had to get a ride back. Dan’s virgin rear tire looked like it lost a fight with a sushi chef- mechanical issues costing him well over an hour and much running to get patched up but he remained positive and didn’t whine or quit. I flatted (tire plugs and CO2 to the rescue) and made a few wrong turns but hung in there and was very close at times to fighting for the top step. I’m still removing Stan’s and mud from my exterior.
Pascal was not feeling his best (only way I can keep him in sight) and finished behind me for 3rd. Maybe he should have had the bacon and IPA at 30 miles. Ben “I’ve only ridden a few times this summer” Jones had a phenomenal day, crushing us on titanium hardtail with aspen tires. I think he was 5 overall. Thankfully for us grey hairs he races open men.
The luscious trails are constanty undulating with a good degree of flow turns, doubles, optional lines and a sprinkle of technical. I would classify as intermediate terrain.
The vibe here from Uber drivers to MTB vendors and locals was very friendly. Despite some setbacks we all escaped with minor injuries, free stuff, tall tales of adventure and full bellies. I look forward to more good times on the MTB with my friends.