Whenever I’m in NWA for the weekend, I usually try to jump in with the OCA crew in Fayetteville for The Saturday Ride. Today, I decided to give it a go with the OCA Bentonville crew. Will Frank had mapped out a 60-mile loop that headed north out of Pea Ridge over to Washburn MO, then back west on Hwy 90 and across Big Sugar Creek before turning back south to Bella Vista and Bentonville. The route was “vertically active,” tallying up about 4200’ of climbing.
If you weren’t able to get out and ride this past weekend – or do anything outdoors – then the world owes you a BIG favor. It was a perfect, bluebird day. Cool sleeve weather to start, with a quick warm-up under sunny, cloudless skies. Winds were light – a.k.a. zero on the Oklahoma scale. Onyx beverages were comped this morning, to boot, courtesy of Bite NWA, a food festival coming up in June. So, perfect riding weather and free “starter fluid?” You know it’s gonna be a great day!
Our group of about eight rolled away from Onyx right on time. After crossing Hwy 71 at Bella Vista, a mostly gentle uphill tilt of about three miles got the motor revving. We headed north out of Pea Ridge, cruising along Little Sugar Creek before hooking a right turn into a punchy climb that took us up on to Fletcher’s Ridge. Some sketchy chip and seal along the ridge made me feel right at home – like I was riding in Oklahoma.
Cruising along Little Sugar Creek.
The pavement smoothed back out and we rolled up to the C-store in Washburn to find Duncan W waiting for us. After a short break, we were headed back west on Hwy 90, with Duncan in the mix on his gravel bike. The pace pepped up some. In fact, we were drilling it across that ridge for a good bit. I had a hunch I might pay for that later, but it was just too fun.
After a curvy 50-mph descent, we were running along Trent creek and drilled it some more. I asked if we were about to catch a breather, and the response was “Yeah, this big climb just up ahead!” Not the kind of breathing I had in mind. Sure enough, we crossed Big Sugar Creek and started up. It kept going – almost 400 feet over two miles. Will this thing ever top out?
Post-climb regroup. With all that’s going on in the world, we get to ride bikes today!
We regrouped after the climb at Hwy E and headed back south on mostly smooth, buttery pavement. My legs let me know on the two or three punchy climbs approaching town that they were about done for the day.
Duncan rippin’ it through the grass – gravel bike shenanigans.
Thanks OCA Bentonville, for letting me tag along. That was some FINE riding today. I’ll be back for ‘MO’ of it!
Total climbing: 4344 ft