Race season traveling officially began for me last weekend. Skipped out on Friday class to hop into the Wallermobile with Josh Stamper and Waller to head south to the Oauchita Challenge MTB Race. Six hours, 1 keg regulator and at least 3000 calories of crap later and our mangey selves stumbled out of the car to the cabin that Mr. Pattersnap and his lady had reserved for the crew in Mena, AR. Kels and Adam joined us shortly after and the weekend festivities soon began to liven.
Our new sponsor Barnyard Brewery provided us with a keg of their Chocolate Stout and Irish Red for the weekend and with the combination of Waller's engineering degree and Stamper's agri-rigging we managed to have fully pressurized and regulated beer for the rest of the weekend.
The Cycle City boys joined us at the cabin well into the night while everyone was asleep/passed out from the ale. So by our 8 am wake up call we had 7 dudes and 2 ladies crammed into a cabin that is roughly the size of my living room and bedroom combined. The rest of the morning was spent pre-riding (for the racers) and enjoying (for those of us less prone to need the excess pain this early in the season) some wicked AR singletrack. We got our cruise on at the Womble turnoff and I was awe-struck at how flowy and smooth it was. Front-range ribbons but with gradual elevation that never left you hating ascending. Not to brag but we looked pretty durned slick in our perfectly matching baby-blues.
An aside but this was the first time that I have ever ridden with Jeremy Haynes outside of a race situation. Super strange thinking that this cat has been in my cycling life for the last 11 years (sold me my first mtb, watched me dismount over my first cross barrier, got me on a swank team, made me want to be a cross promoter, blah, blah, blah...) but I had never just ridden with the dude.
That afternoon Kels, Adam, Waller and I got to go on a nice little hike through some local trails in search of Earthquake Ridge bouldering area. We hiked 4ish miles through the Earthquake ridge trail which had some gorgeous scenery. Watching the sun start to descend over the Oauchita skyline is something that every midwestern outdooorsman should experience at least once.
Turns out the Boulders weren't on the trail but instead just off the road another 1/4 mile up the road. So we ended up hiking for no reason but the sheer pleasure of enjoying each others company. The boulder's were underwhelming to say the most of them. 15 foot max topouts and not enough space or level ground to safely bail left me crimping things that were well within my ability. On the upside it gave us a chance to tie on our bandanas, rip off the shirts and do a little Sharma-esque camera posin'. Felt good to send like a gnar-brah in the warm afternoon woods as opposed to the rec center's bouldering wall.
The next day we rolled out of our beds at 5am to rainy, dismal skies so that the team could go attempt to race for eighty miles while Jaime and I chased them around playing team director in the Wallermobile. Stamper has the goods on race day if you want some of those digs; but I pretty much spent the day dozing in a lounge chair taking breaks only to lube chains, fill bottles and motivate the Cycle City cats with my ever so concise wording.
So here's to chocolate stouts, dry trails, mediocre boulders, and the circle of dirtbag kids who I have been calling my friends for more time than kosher.