Sunday, June 24, 2018

Bentonville for President!

Yesterday I rode the 'Back 40' trails, an extensive network of trails North of the town of Bentonville Arkansas which crosses roads a handful of times, just straight across before diving back into the woods. Northwest Arkansas is the kind of place where cars slow and stop at these trail crossings even when it's their right of way. The trails are like nothing I've ever ridden. For each 3 minute climb you will be rewarded with AT LEAST a 3 minute descent because you deserve to be screaming down a flowy rippin' joy ride if you put in a 3 minute effort! And the people here are the kind of people who feel like real friends seconds after you meet them for the first time. Oh, you are a mountain biker, we have so much in common how could we NOT be friends!? And lastly the town itself feels like stepping into the Truman show. The town square is a gorgeous green epicenter around which adorable families swarm, shirtless runners stride down the street and bikers of all types are always cruising through. It's almost too good, causing me to wonder if I was dreaming most of the time I was there. 
Main street at dawn. This is America to me :)
The reason I came to Bentonville was for a fun little interview with John Furner, but I'm going to say I stayed for the trails and people.

The only picture I have from the filming,
I was having too much fun :)
On Friday after the video bike ride interview (more on that when it's ready) I rode out to Hobbs state park to shred trails there, came back to town to meet up with master trail chief Gary, rode some crazy fun jump line/gnar, and then joined Girls Bike Bentonville for their Friday evening ride. It was the perfect day in the life of Larissa, riding bikes from sunrise to sunset, only stopping to drink incredible coffee at ONYX and eat hush puppies at The Press Room. 

On Saturday I rode the Epic Rides race course with Gary in the morning, and then hit the Back 40 in reverse in the afternoon, along with a handful of random trails I found on accident on the way back to town. Along the way Gary and I picked up differend lady shredders to join us on the mission of RIDE ALL THE TRAILS, and the day ended at dusk with TWO $1 scoops of ice cream from the Walmart museum.
My head is still spinning from the ridiculousness of the last 2 days (180 miles of riding, 15,000ft of climbing in a state whose highest point is 2,700ft above sea level, endless amazing people met) and I'm itching to go see Georgia O'keefe at the Art museum in town (it's free!) but here are some pictures from the last two days. 

Perhaps my favorite coffee shop in the land, ONYX Coffee, is where I stopped a few times to re-fuel over the weekend. The lavender latte and avocado toast are incredible, the whole place is stupid cute, and the people there are crazy nice (in CA this place would be full of snobby hipsters).

It felt like I was in Narnia much of the time, just lush green plants everywhere, trees over every trail, creeks, streams and rivers galore, and endless bridges taking you across them. I was loosing my mind for most of the ride on Friday because it was so dang pretty.

 You're just riding along, trying to get back to town at the end of the day and you run into this kind of thing, a MASSIVE wall ride on a jump line that isn't on any of your maps. It's insane. Gary was telling me they are building an average of a mile of new trail every week, so any map you use will be outdated by the time it gets printed. The craziest part is that the women and kids I met all ride this stuff, like no big deal! How is this even real?!

The 'Hub' at he center of Coler trails, a crazy pirate ship looking bridge that drops you into some amazing flow trails and jump lines. Because just starting at ground level is like, way too boring!

And one more picture of epic drops. This one was on a trail that had TWO jumps over the trail, so yeah, HUGE. Gary rode it like NBD and I just stood there collecting flies.

After my adventure to Hobbs on Friday Gary took me to the Pressroom, a super hip restaurant in town. I was already dying from riding so much, but Gary was convinced we should ride Coler trails because the forecast called for rain on Sat and those trails get muddy. These cheddar jalapeno hush puppies saved my life/were insanely good, maybe because I was starving. We need to eat more fried cornbread in CA, hot and crunchy on the outside, soft and tasty on the inside... I'm drooling thinking about them. The re-fuel stop helped me get through 4 more hours of riding, and a few extra hush puppies stashed in my pocket tied me over till we ate dinner at the Peddlers Pub (yep, an amazing bike centric pizza joint with crazy good pizza and salads!)

The ladies of Girls Bike Bentonville. Such a fun group, all crazy strong and skilled, and most mammas! I LOVE that in this town EVERYONE is into mountain biking, moms, dads, and kids. It felt like in this place the sport is anything but male dominated, adding to the 'Is this real life?' aesthetic.

Saturday we started the ride with Melissa, an absolute SHREDDER whose rad kids built a trail complete with drops IN THEIR YARD because there aren't enough trails everywhere hahaha. On the race route there are crazy bridges build because the trail didn't exist around massive rocks, so they just built platforms to connect dirt, and a super pretty waterfall. Oh and a super fun G-out, endless flow trails, jumps, drops... it's going to be STUPID fun.

 Sadly I have no pictures from the second half of the ride, when Betsy joined us, followed by riding with Kyla. When we got back to Melissa's house to meet up with Kyla about 12 little shredders all come out of the woods, I'm not making this up, within 3 minutes of getting to the house there was a SWARM of 6-12 year olds on bikes. It was unreal, like the posse I hope one day MY kids get to run free with. The kids and I all hit the back yard trail in a party wave and then played a quick game of 'circle of doom' in which I was the third person to put a foot down (facepalm).

Then I rode the reverse Back 40 loop, and hit every trail I saw on the way back to town. On the way I found Wonderland trail, a fun jump line up high in the woods and couldn't NOT ride it. I also found Sally, a sweet trail connecting the middle school to town which is just a constant stream of skinnies, drops, and features (oh yeah, there are skinnies and drops and obstacles everywhere here, everywhere!)

And my second day ended as the sun hit the horizon (that's a lie, I was riding for a good 20 minutes after this, got lost, and rolled into town STARVING and so so happy).

Long story short, this place is worth a trip. Yeah I know it's so 'far from other riding', and you may think, why Arkansas when I can go to Colorado or PNW?... but it's worth the trip. There are so many trails you wont ride them all in three days, believe me, I tried. And I was just riding in Bentonville, there are literally hundreds of miles of trails in Arkansas, making it the perfect place for a week long vacation/road trip. The people and food and sigh seeing are worth the trip, and you'll leave a MUCH better mountain biker than when you arrived. And the best part is that you'll spend at least 80% of the time you are riding with the gleeful kid on a roller coaster feeling, flying down yet another flow trail, lofting your bike over rollers and off drops, wind in your face and a huge smile on your lips.

And nothing I write does this place justice.


  1. Wow! Awesome write up, Larissa. Glad you had such an amazing time. See you in October!

  2. Mostly flat state? Next time have Gary take you outside of Bentonville/Bella Vista. Places like Upper Buffalo, The LOViT, The Womble (all IMBA Epics) plus some of the Arkansas State Park trails like the Boston Mountain Trails at Lake Fort Smith State Park, Fossil Flats at Devil's Den State Park or Enders Fault at Woolly Hollow State Park...I'm only scratching the surface.

    1. Yeah, I read the Arkansas trail guide they gave us at Carson City on the plane when I left (already planning where I'll ride when I get back) and everything you mentioned sounded AWESOME! I need a month in Arkansas to ride everything :) LOViT sounds incredible and that 108 mile trail, I wan to ride that!!!!

  3. Larissa,
    We all really enjoyed having you experienced Oz Trails! Your positive force is still FELT here (see what I did there?) We look forward to you returning for the Oz Trails Off Road in October. Plan to come back for a longer adventure and we turn you into a berm blasting/big jump enduro rider for sure!

  4. Hey Larissa

    My brother and I will be passing through bentonville AR in August and are going to have 4hrs to check out local trails. Are the trails well marked, and if you only had half a day to ride what trails would you suggest? Another option is a guided ride through a local bike shop to ensure we ride all the good stuff.Thoughts?