Fine As A Frog's Hair Split Four Ways
9 Aug 2017
By Natty G.
After leaving the unique, rocky landscape of Medicine Park, Oklahoma, we had our eyes set on a riding location that has been written about quite a bit in the media lately. Maybe you’ve heard of this quiet little southern town known to everyone who lives within a 100-mile radius as the location for Wal-Mart headquarters. But lately, Bentonville, Arkansas has been headlining within the cycling industry for its expanding network of mountain biking trails and freeride areas. A couple of nectarous articles with amazing photography and intoxicating videos were all the beckoning that we needed. They drew us straight to the source, like a baby to mums teat. Bentonville was an absolute must-stop location while on our journey across the United States of America! With any good adventure, there’s meeting new people, trying local beers, warming bonfires, breaking hammocks, and multiple flats! Right?
As the town of Bentonville neared, things became very surreal, like being on a movie set. The surroundings are pristine. It’s a perfect little Southern town with large wraparound porches seen on many of the homes and mint juleps waiting for you at the local bars. Almost all the buildings, which surround Bentonville, were stamped with the Wal-Mart logo, and for an outsider, seeing Wal-Mart branding everywhere is a very odd thing to digest. It reminded us of a movie called, The Truman Show, with Jim Carry. During that movie, everything seemed so idealistic for a man who was living his life—unbeknownst to him...within a reality TV show, produced by a major corporation, which purchased him when he was just a baby. But, enough about that, we parked our camper at the information center and walked over to Phat Tire Bike Shop, which is located right in the main heart of town, to ask about which trails we should hit up first. While focused on a trail map, gleaning important turn-here-turn-there details, overhead, dark clouds were gathering outside. A late afternoon thunderstorm shutdown any hopes for an afternoon ride. Like any good mountain biker, with nothing better to do, we found a local coffee shop to fill the void of non-pedaling with hot coffee and muffins.
While at the 211 Café, we met a chummy fellow named Gary who was in town for business. He overheard us talking and inquired about our mountain biking plans. Just earlier in the week, Gary had met Dustin, a local mountain bike guide for the area. Gary was able to connect us with Dustin, the owner of ‘Slaughter Trail Guides’. Perfect! If you have read any of our other articles, then you know how much we appreciate meeting someone local. The plan was to connect with Dustin for a ride the next day. It seemed that the afternoon thunderstorm worked out in our favor after all! That evening we found enough time to venture out on our own. We explored the network of trails at Slaughter Pen, which is probably the closest network of trails you can reach from town. If you really want to put some miles in, you can park right at the information center and ride straight from town. The Slaughter Pen Trails are a tight, noodle-like network that offers a sampling of just about everything, and for every style of rider. Not only can you find some great technical riding with rocks, roots, and steep terrain, but there’s also flow with jumps and a skills building area. There’s even a pumptrack and a progression of ladder drops. Very satisfied with our evening adventure, we settled in the camper. That night, trying to sleep was impossible, we were as giddy as kids waiting to go to Disney Land in the morning.
That next morning, Dustin and his friend Zack found us parked at the information center. We caravanned over to the Back 40 trailhead, located just north in Bella Vista, AR. After gearing up, we were off to ride some of the fastest, swoopiest trails with rocks that cut like Valyrian Steal, slicing away at our tires. Tires void of tubeless tire sealant beware...as we learned the hard-way with Natty’s rear tire. We never would have guessed that the trails were weaving in and out of residential neighborhoods. For the most part, we felt like we were riding in the middle of a national forest. Hats off to the trails builders for giving us a real mountain bike experience without having to drive 100 miles to nowhere to get a big adventure feeling. However, after 22miles, with 6 flat tires and 5 tire plugs later; we were exhausted, ready for pizza and beer.
That night, we were invited over to Dustin’s house to hangout by a fire and share stories from life on the road. Natty spotted a hammock in the backyard and was ready to take a nap, but her over-zealous enthusiasm must have been what broke the hammock. Sorry Dustin… The next day, we were off to Eureka Springs Arkansas, located only about 40 miles east of Bentonville, to ride at the trail system that surrounds Lake Leatherwood Rec Area. This system of trails are not heavily trafficked, or as well maintained, like its westerly cousin. We did manage to find an awesome flow trail with a huge rock drop and some jumps, which made the trip to this odd little mystical town completely worth the drive!
Some of you might be wondering about the freeride area called Coler Mountain Bike Preserve and the Railyard Community Bike Park. Unfortunately, due to copious amounts of rain, these riding areas were closed. Trey’s heart was set to ride at both those locations, so I guess this only means that we’ll be back some time in future. After leaving Arkansas, life in our truck camper became sticky, hot and buggy. We traveled through the rough roads of Memphis, Tennessee to Huntsville, Alabama. The heat, humidity and insect swarms became oppressive. We try not to camp at RV parks, but when it’s in the 90’s with 98% humidity, running the AC becomes a necessity. We’ll save you from reading about our miles of heat exhaustion, bug slapping, argumentative, hike-a-bike in Huntsville, and take you straight to Florida! Until next time!
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