Arkansas Enduro Series | Race Recap
After twisting and turning through some backcountry Arkansas roads, my teammate Grant Rogers and I found ourselves parked in front of a one room school house in Red Star, Arkansas. We had just pulled into the staging area for the first round of the Arkansas Enduro Series. I was giddy, ready to see what the trails were like and experience the Buffalo Headwaters trail system.
It was the Friday before race weekend, and we were there to practice the timed stages we would be racing and figure out how the next two days were going to work. Unlike most of the Enduro races we do, we didn’t have anyone to shuttle us to the stages on the practice day so we had to do all of the work ourselves. We hoped to see as many stages as we could without completely wearing ourselves out before the races, we ended up riding about 20 miles and climbing 2,100 feet. Usually I don’t ride so much right before races, but this time we both felt like we needed to see as many stages as we could. We ended up still having to ride three stages completely blind and two of them we only got the opportunity to climb up.
After pre-riding, we got back to camp and had to set up and eat dinner. The Red Star school was nice enough to let all of the racers eat inside their school. It was while Grant and I were eating dinner that we realized that neither of us had ever seen a one room school house that was still in use; it was then that it really dawned on us how remote this place actually was.
Saturday morning came bright and early as everyone was getting their bikes ready for the long day ahead. Finally, we got to meet up with our two other teammates that were coming to this race – Eric Smith and Johnathon Ellis. It was time to embark on a day of racing. We were expecting about 21 miles, with 2,000 feet of climbing. The day started off easy, it was cool out and stage one was very straight forward and fast. As we traversed through the Arkansas jungle it felt as if we were in Jurassic Park and some massive dinosaur would just come running out of the woods. After a couple of stages and the temps heating up Grant and I had to stop at a creek to filter some more water so we could make it to lunch without getting dehydrated. After getting more water and rinsing off in the creek we both felt significantly better. Once we got to lunch (with two stages still remaining) the ride data on my Garmin watch showed this was going to be a much bigger day on the bike than expected. At the end of the second to last stage of the day my legs were roached. Stage seven, the last stage of the day was extremely painful and I was on the verge of cramping the entire time. Once day one was done it ended up being 27 miles with 3,700 feet of climbing and six and a half hours on the bike. Everyone else was feeling all that climbing in their legs as well and we still had another day of racing to go. Going into day two trying to recover the best I could was the name of the game.
Day two of racing started off with a five mile transfer up to the first stage of the day which was a repeat of stage six from day one. Thankfully my legs were feeling much better. On day two Grant, Eric, and I all rode together trying to survive the heat. This day was much easier than day 1, with 16 miles and 2,100 feet of climbing. The stages were super fun. They all had a mix of loose gravel flat corners, top speed descents, and technical areas that required a lot of skill.
Once we finished stage eleven, the last stage of the race, we had a massive climb out of a valley to get back to camp and compare times. When the timing chips were turned in, we found out that Grant held onto a narrow lead on Eric – just 8 seconds over 43 minutes of racing – for the win in the expert class. I followed behind Eric in third and Johnathon had an amazing performance to finish second in the amateur men 30-39 class. It was a great weekend for Gravitas Racing, and we are excited for the next race on June 2 in Big Brushy, AR.
The only way this weekend was possible was with the support of our amazing sponsors. Oven and Tap, Mojo Cycling, Bike Rack Brewing, Visit Bentonville, Kimberly Homes Inc, American National insurance – Rusty Cramer, Greater Bentonville Chamber, Skratch Labs, and OZ Trails
Kudos to everyone who put on this race. It looked like a lot of fun! I’m looking forward to round 2!