Picture any tourist town with ice cream parlors, t-shirt stores and novelty shops. Take that town and run it up the side of a mountain, add a few hundred leather-clad surly looking motorcycle enthusiasts and you have Eureka Springs Arkansas.
Known for its history, tourism and art culture, Eureka Springs is also home to some sweet-sick mountain bike trails where the Fat Tire Festival was held. I only made it up for the XC on Sunday and that is where our story begins.
Counting down from 10, 9, does this race really start ON a hill? 8, 7, 18 miles on a rigid single speed? 6, 5, I already have the T-shirt to prove I was here, I do not need to actually ride, 4, 3, this could be fun, 2, this could suck, 1, GO.
The pack of Cat 2 boss hogs and single speed lycra lovers took off like a shot up the hill and I settled down early, way too early, right from the start. (that was my grand plan, to not blow up in the first 30 minutes and suffer for the last 90 like my last race)
After climbing up and out of town, past the historic Crescent Hotel, (where Holly and I spent a fall weekend last year drinking read wine and chasing ghosts,) we hit dirt.
I set my sights on a pack of geared riders with baggy shorts that knew how to crank it. I made like Froome and let them pull me until the 2 track turned to single and the roots turned to rocks. Once I was on familiar trail I made my pass to pull back some fruit cakes on one speed bikes that always cost more than those with gears.
The next 2 hours flew by while I was in a state between groovy flow and shake, rattle and roll. Then I pushed my bike. Then I found a groove, and then I had to push it some more. Single speeds on technical steep incline? That requires pushing, often.
I caught a few riders, then a few more with mechanical issues in my pursuit of points in the AMBCS point series. I finished off the day ahead of a couple of guys who stuck it out and several others who pulled the plug. That scored enough points to put me at 6th in the state, with a goal of the top 5 before the season ends.
Slaughter Pen is next on the list and with home court advantage, I hope to make up some points.