Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fayetteville wrap-up

Most of this is copy/paste, so if it is seems kind of weird, that's why (these were written over a 3-4 day period on the Earthriders message boards). Enjoy. I did. :)

So I've been spending the week down here in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Not really a riding trip, but I have had some time in the evenings to squeeze some mileage in. We all know about the bigger trail systems in northwest arkansas, ie: Devils Den, Leatherwood, Slaughter Pen, Upper Buffalo, and Hobbs. Of course not owning a car I was more interested in local trails (as in riding distance from UArk) and have had some pretty good luck.

Lake Fayetteville

Had one of the best rides of my life tonight too/from/at lake fayetteville on Tuesday evening.

left around 10 and rode down the road east of campus about 1/4 mile to the skull creek paved trail. really cool 12 foot wide MUP that was lighted for the first couple miles until passing through the I-540 underground tunnel. This trail connects to another MUP called the Mud Creek trail. Rode that as well. I was looking for a turn, but missed it and ended up riding the whole trail until it ended at a road. too the road back to the main road, then back to the road I was looking for that had a bike lane (vantage). Rode that north to another east-west bike lane (zion). Then turned north on yet another MUP into the Lake Fayetteville area. found the dirt and rolled around the lake to the very end of the off-road trail, then turned around and came back, then did another around and back cause I had so much fun the first time. wanted to go another but i knew it had to be near midnight-ish so I took the bike lane/MUP's all the way back to sunset st north or UArk. Really cool to be able to ride trails/lanes for a whole ride.

I had heard bad things about lake fayetteville, mainly that it is extremely crowded. Well I can see why. super fast and fun trails. really flat, just enough roots/rocks to make it interesting (sometimes). Kind of confusing sometimes as there were some offshoots, most that generally went down/up real nasty stuff (old fall line trail). The main line through though (once I figured it out) was super super fun though, especially in the dark with absolutely no one else on the trails The only complaint was that I was only running a minewt bar light set up and needed a head lamp as well so I could go faster Had to ride 50-60% of normal to stay within my light in the woods. Hopefully yet another new light will help the speed thing out.

Overall, the Ozark Off-Road Cyclists are doing great work rerouting/closing old fall line trail to make a really nice 5+ mile loop around the lake. I recommend this trail if you want to have a fast ripping time, and make sure you try to hit it in non-prime usage times.

Dennis Moore's Trails

Wednesday afternoon I visited to local shop in downtown fayetteville, highroller cyclery, to scoop some more trail info. picked a good day to go in because they have a wednesday evening group mtb ride. The ride leader/shop mechanic Jonathan Sebring offered me a ride out to Farmington to ride some private land trails owned by Dennis Moore. Mr. Moore is a rider and has graciously opened 8+ miles of kick ass single track around his land on top of a mountain. And when I say kick ass I mean kick ass.

First off there is a 3/4 of a mile climb straight up a mountain. Did I mention it goes straight up a mountain? Like straight up. I made it up the first grade and was churning at probably 5 rpm before the second grade started, which was insane steep. Jonathan was also on a single speed rigid 26r, while the other 3 guys we were with were on fully geared full suspensions. ALL of us were walking. 2 guys had full XX set up and ran out of granny gear. It is an insanely steep climb to get up to the trails by the blue water tower, but once up there

I have ridden a decent amount around NW arkansas before but nothing around like these trails. The rock gardens were ripping!! The trails/terrain actually reminded me a lot of swope park. We rode along a ridge then there was another push up the mountain to the next ridge. UP there we rode literally around the whole mountain counter clockwise along the upper ridge through some seriously awesome rock gardens. The trail tread is not burned in like we're used to in KC, even what you get on most other Ark trails. Because it's on private land and a ways from civilization (10 miles from campus area) the tread isn't burned in perfectly. But man, that made the adventure aspect even that more fun.

So we rode along the ridge for awhile and fixed a few flats between a couple of us, then got to go down and down and down some more Through some real serious rock garden (probably about 1/2 mile+ long), riding through huge boulder faces (a lot like swope) and ripping back down halfway down the mountain on some awesome, technical single track. We eventaully came to a gravel access road that was perpendicular to the main road up. Here was an absolutely breathtaking view of the town of farmington below in the valley. wish I had a camera on me. By then it was getting pretty dark and so we ripped back down the mountain on the gravel road...that took about 3 seconds and was probably the second fastest i've ever gone on a bike (near equal to taking a road bike down mission road hill). Enjoyed some $.40 wings and $4 pitchers afterward...10 wings, 1 pitcher and generous tip, 11 bucks.

Mr. Moore allows riders and hikers on his trails at all times. Just park at the bottom of the hill, read his signage and be respectful. The go enjoy some of the best trails you'll ever ride.

Lake Sequoyah

Mapped route:

Well, it turned into more of a road ride, but sometimes I guess that happens Absolutely beautiful scenery riding to/from Lake Sequoyah from/to Fayetteville. Awesome views of the mountians to the south. I was actually wishing I had a road bike to ride out around there; I'm sure the local roadies go out that way. Nice super wide shoulder and lanes, low traffic, and accessible to mountain climbs everywhere. Of course I opted for the flat routes since I was on the SS MTB, which kind of sucked actually, unless you like to spin like crazy for 9 miles

Got to the trails at Lake Sequoyah (the actual lake is awesome, kind of reminded me of a mini Leatherwood tucked in between some mountains with an old WPA era stone dam). There are two different out and back trails at Lake Sequoyah, the Rookery and the Kingfisher. I started out on the Rookery which ran along the southern east side of the lake. This trail would have been really fun if it had not been completely overgrown. Definitely in need of a good weed wacking. other than than the trail ran within 10-15 feet of the laake at all times, giving you sweet views. One spot you will go into the lake if you don't manuver your bik right. The singletrack was super flat and fast, no roots or rocks to speak of (The OORC also built these 2 trails and did a great job). It was fun riding other than the super tall grass I was riding through on 6 inches of tread

The Kingfisher trail is across the road, right outside the gate of the marina/trailer home. This trail was super wide open for the first half, really looked like double track, but again it was in need of a trim. The second half after the turn around the lake got into more wooded area trail like the Rookey trail, minimal rocks and roots (very minimal) and again super fast smooth singletack (if it was trimmed). This trail is also an out and back so I turned around and headed back to the marina area to road ride back. No more bus wacking for me.

All in all they weren't the best trails I had ridden so far down here, short mileage (maybe 6 miles total on the two out/backs), but they're by far not the worst I have ever ridden in my life. I think with just a simple trim, these two trails would be really fun to rip back and forth for a few hours. I'll try them out again this winter or when I know for sure they have been cut back.

Mount Sequoyah

View from atop Mount Sequoyah looking west over Fayetteville.

Hopped back on the road to Fayetteville, got to Happy Hollow road and turned north to start the climb up Mount Sequoyah. The road will take you about halfway up the mountain and is totally rideable (32-18 SS 29r). On your left you will see a huge kiosk and a paved trail randomly entering the woods. The paved trail takes you about a 1/4 mile in to a shelterhouse where the singletrack branches off in like 8 directions from there. I found out real quick that these are probably mostly hiking trails. Very terrible construction, lots of fall line stuff. I made the decision to just hike-a-bike up to the very top of the mountain so at least I could ride back down Had a nice little hike up a ridiculously graded/eroded/rocky mess and got to the top. If I would have had rear suspension I would have gone back down, and actually saw a coupe guys on full DH bikes ready to jump in (There are two enterances to the trail, at the very top of the mountain where I now was and the lower enterance on the east side). They were quite impresssed by the fact that I had came up the trail instead of gone down it. The two fellas confirmed my suspesions that the only riders out there really were DH guys who started at the top and just ripped it down, which would be extremely fun other than the fact i was on a rigid 29r with 80 mm front suspension and other than that it was just hikers that used it. I'd ride them again if I had some more squish and a shuttle Even saying all that, I would assume it's probably a 3-5 minute run down the hill, really short.

Mount Kessler

Basically to sum this up real fast, it's like someone transplanted swope park on mount kessler and vice versa. Terrain is eerily similar. I swear a few times I was riding at home Huge rouck boulder faces, sweet rock gardens, armoured creek crossings, huge crib walls/rock work, massive bench cuts, big drops/step-ups, small drops/step-ups, fast flowy flat single track, tight windy tree pinched singletrack, lung bursting climbs and ripping downhills. Absolutely an awesome mix throughout the mountain.

Starting off, I met with a couple guys I rode with Wednesday at Ozark Mountain Smokehouse on Hwy 62 west of I-540. You go up the mountain on this steep, extremely long climb (~15 minutes) a little more than midway up the mountain to enter into the single track. From there, I thought we had climbed a lot already, this was only the beginnning. It was like going up the first switchbacks at swope, but 5x as long. The worst part was I think was that it was all doable on my 32-18 29r, albiet I was at a very hard grind. We went through some sweet bouldering and one creek that had to be walked because of washout. Definitely was wishing for a 19/20 on the rear about 20 minutes into the single track climb up. Was definitely glad I had the bar ends on. About 5 minutes later we came to a clearing getting towards the top. We (I) caught our (my) breath, stashed some bottles and took of to the eastern side. About a 40-45 minute climb total to start.

Climbed just a tad more then ripped down hill for a little bit, then did a huge climb again (~15 min) and came to another intersection. This is where I found out that these trails are basically a series of stacked loops (I think 4-5 total). we continued on around the ridge to "lookout 1" looking over the to the southeast across prime ozark scenery. Looped around some more and hit "lookout 2" which had views off to the west. awesome spots, really want to get back to them in the fall

Continued along the ridge to another loop that went back doen the mountain a little then sent you off a perfect 3-4 foot drop that you couldn't help but hit because you're going so fast. Then through an area they called "rock city" which was damn near identical to 8-pins in that it was a bunch of rocks, step-ups, drops, tight turns, etc. And it was about 3/4 a mile long! Intense workout. We looped around some how somewhere and ended up doing this section the other way as well. very very fun. Lots of huge boulder faces, large stone, great rock work, tight benchcut mountain singletrack. Very fun section of trail. We had a little bit of a climb back up to the original clearing spot, but compared to the first climb and the second from the east side back up this one on the west side was cake. We re-watered thankfully cause we were all out, then got to go back down the 45 minute climb. It took less than 10 to get back down and I had a pretty good scare hitting some loose gravel at probably 45 mph., I was told my bike was sideways in the air (good ole moto skills came back thankfully).

To sum up, these are some of the best trails I have ridden in my life, if not the best. It has absolutely everything. When paired with Dennis Moore's trails, fayetteville can boast some absolutely kick ass singletrack. I will definitely make time for both these systems every time I am in fayetteville from now on, and hopefully include them on all future NW arkansas trips mixed in along with Leatherwood, Devils Den, Slaughter Pen, Hobbs, and/or Upper Buffalo.

FInal Thoughts

Fayetteville had some pretty nasty local trails, that no one knows about (other than Lake Fayetteville). Definitely going to be including Mount Kessler on any arkansas trips, and hopefully moore's too. really sick systems. Lake Sequoyah would be nice with a trim and maybe a few more miles of trail, if possible (don't know what land they have to work with). All in all, a trip that wasn't geared at riding at all brought some of the best rides I've ever had. Very nice people down in Arkansas, bike shop guys helped out big time on the trails, Jonathan Sebring took me on two rides to two different private systems, that were really sick. He's not exactly a bad rider either: USAC results Super nice guy too. He should be coming up to dominate some KC cross stuff later this fall and we have to return the visit to Slaughter Pen Hollow for their jam the first weekend of november (XC, Short track, Trail run, Trials, and Mountain Cross!)

ok, i bet this post is really long. There's pictures, embedded links and good prose. Must say I'm really on top of this one :)...outie.

peace and riding!!!

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