The fresh-cut trails of Bentonville, Arkansas will be the newest stop in the growing Epic Rides Series, with the Oz Trails Off-Road set for October 5-7. Organizers confirmed the mountain bike race courses Thursday with three different distances on offer: 25, 35, and 50 miles.
The Bentonville area has seen a boom in singletrack mileage after more than $30 million has been invested in trail building. The area claims more than 200 miles of trails in the greater Northwest Arkansas area.
Epic Rides calls the Ozark 25 a “beginner-level,” ride with just over 2,700 feet of elevation gain. Riders will transition to and from different trails, including an urban bike park housed in the Slaughter Pen network before it finishes in downtown Bentonville.
The 35-mile option adds 2,000 feet of climbing dispersed over short, punchy hills and shares the same start as the Ozark 25. This route crosses into Missouri and makes it the first two-state day in the series. Racers then get some technical descending on new downhill and flow trails before finishing in downtown Bentonville.
The Ozark 50 of course piles on more climbing for a total of 6,245 feet for the day. The 50 shares the beginning of the route with the 25- and 35-mile options before jumping on the SBAT and Taylor Homestead trails and also tighter singletrack known as “The Ledges,” an exposed, technical trail that sits above a creek bed.
“Having the finish line so close to singletrack is a testament to how mountain bike-centric Northwest Arkansas is, and we can’t wait for folks to experience, not just the trails, but also the great eateries, bars, and Crystal Bridges museum — all set amongst the trails,” said race promoter Todd Sadow.
The opening round, the Whiskey Off-Road, was held in Prescott, Arizona on April 29. The pro men’s and women’s fields were chock-full with top international and U.S. racers. World Champion Annika Langvad (Specialized) set the pace and won gold on the 48-mile track. It was Langvad’s first time racing the Whiskey.
Keegan Swenson (Stan’s No Tubes-Pivot) beat Howard Grotts (Specialized) in a sprint to the finish and took the victory in the pro men’s field.
The Oz Trails Off-Road is the last stop on the Epic Rides Series. The Grand Junction Off-Road is the next series event, on May 18-20, followed by the Carson City Off-Road, near Reno, Nevada, June 15-17.
Epic Rides expects the Ozark Off-Road, and the other series events to sell out.