Ouachita Challenge Approaches

The Ouachita Challenge is next weekend in Oden, Arkansas. The Saturday event is a laid-back Tour while Sunday is a full-bore race to the death - with an 80 mile option if you're feeling particularly awesome. Other than Jim and Wendy, I don't know of any other GORCer doing the race. Kirby, Steph, Bryan, Matt (me), Lisa T, Larry K, John D, Scott (scooter), John T, Rob H, Josh n' Tammy, and er, if there's more I'm forgetting, will be riding the Tour on Saturday. Logistically it just works better for most as taking a Friday off is easier than racing on Sunday and driving back Monday.

Several riders will be sporting single speeds and I anticipate they'll do just fine. This is my fourth year riding it and I've died at the end every time on the geared bike so I'm taking my historical data into account and not going down that path of complete destruction.

The course this year starts off on the Womble and ends on the Ouachita. The two trails are ying and yang. The womble is buff, flowy, valley/ridge sweetness. The climbs may be long but they aren't ridiculously steep. After the Womble there's a fair amount of gravel road before hitting the Ouachita. Or Ouchita, whatever you want to call it. This trail was never designed with bikes in mind and it shows in places. The climbs are stiff and large boulder fields keep riders on their toes (and feet while they walk the sections.) The difficulty lies in pacing the ride. The Womble begs you to rail for 20-30 miles but then the Ouachita simply blows you out, hence the ride up, along, and down Blowout Mountain. The end never comes soon enough but when it does - for me anyway - the end can feel worse than the last miles of riding.

But it's fun. It's adventurous. It's an excuse to ride somewhere you never really go no matter how much you talk about it on message boards or coffee shops. After you've ridden it once, it gets in you and you can't wait to stay up till midnight and register for the next annual Ouachita.

It is a challenge. You would love it.

Info: Ouachita Challenge Website | Tour Map

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