One of the best things about riding bikes is how it brings people with a common interest together and connections are created.
Last November when BC Bike Race attended ROAM Fest in Sedona, we met 300 other women who are equally passionate about mountain biking, and about exploring new places and new trails. Karen Stark, our Marketing and Retail Manager connected with Ashley Patterson from Bentonville, Arkansas. By the end of ROAM Fest, plans were in the works for a riding adventure in Bentonville. In February, Karen headed south to ride bikes with new friends in new places.
Bentonville is the fastest growing mountain bike region on the continent with 2 miles of trail being built every week. Dirt is trucked in from 30 miles away to build a broad range of flow, technical and machine groomed trails. The clay doesn’t drain so riding is not possible in the rain but there’s a large enough trail network that you can usually find somewhere to ride. People are paying attention and it’s estimated that 50% of the riders on the trails are from out of town.
With only 3 days to ride, the locals had to choose where to take their out of town guest. They hit trails in the Coler network as well as The Hub and Slaughter Pen areas. The Blowing Springs, Back 40 and Little Sugar networks will have to wait for the next time unfortunately. Too many trail networks with not enough time to ride them all is a great problem to have.
The trail development is funding largely by the Walton Family Foundation. The Walton Foundation has gone to great lengths to create a bike-friendly culture by providing a bike fleet for employees to share, along with bike storage and maintenance.
Women of Oz
Early last year Ashley put a call out to see if there were other women like her who like riding the Ozark trails. Seventy-five women showed up for their first ride, and the Women of Oz (WOZ) was born! More than 600 women have ridden with the group now. On the Saturday group ride that Karen joined as a guest, there were 150 club members riding together.
The objective of WOZ is simple – get more women on bikes by removing the barriers they may be facing. Whether it’s not having a bike or needing some skills to start having fun, WOZ has solutions. It’s a supportive place for women of all levels to come together. Local businesses are on board and provide sponsorship for events and host social events for the club.
The riding was so much fun and the community even more so. Karen had a great time in Bentonville and feedback was that everyone should get down there to explore this growing mountain biking destination. Get it on your calendar for 2020.