In a true test of human endurance and competitive spirit, 20 cyclists had taken to the new Arkansas High Country Route in the first ever Arkansas High Country Race.
The race is a solo, self-supported race according to race director Chuck Campbell. Riders will complete the course unsupported. Each rider is expected to carry all the gear and supplies they will need, or they will have to purchase items along the way. They are not allowed to have a support crew following them along the way.
The course will traverse over 1,000 miles along the better part of The Arkansas High Country Route. The Arkansas High Country Route (ARHCR) winds its way 1,200 miles through the heart of the state. The trail consists of mixed-surface cycling through the hills and hollers of one of the country’s premier cycling destinations. The trail was created by Adventure Cycling Association. This route brings the national cycling organization’s total network mileage to 48,608 miles of carefully researched and mapped routes for bicycle travelers in North America.
ARHCR makes its way through Montgomery County and includes sections of the LOViT and Womble trails.
The Arkansas High Country Race was organized to help promote the trail and establish an approximate finish time for the course.
Cyclists began their journey, which is expected to take around 10 days, Saturday, June 8, at the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. Riders started at daybreak with most heading south along the course.
Riders made their way through Hot Springs and onto Highway 270 where they turned onto Ragweed Valley Road in Crystal Springs. From there they connected with Logan Gap Road, travelled past Alamo and turned onto Collier Springs Road. They then turned onto Owley Road and then Moon Dance Road and then north onto Williams Creek Road. Williams Creek Road connected them with Highway 270 again which they rode into Mount Ida.
The headed west out of Mount Ida on Highway 270 and then turned south onto Highway 379./South Fork Road. This section of the course took them through a portion of the Ouachita National Forest. From South Fork Road they road Northfork Lake Road onto National Development Road 68. They travelled south until they turned onto Martin Simpson Road, which connected them with Sulfur Springs Road. They rode Sulfur Springs Road until they turned West onto Highway 8.
They then turned onto Caney Creek Wildlife Management Road which took them to Albert Pike Road. They circled around Little Missouri Falls onto National Forest road 106. They once again turned West along Blaylock Creek and out of Montgomery County.
Race leaders set a blistering pace, passing through Montgomery County Saturday evening. Some of the cyclists stopped in Mount Ida to eat, or restock supplies.
Nathan Giffee of Eureka Springs stopped at Mount Ida Cafe for a break as he passed through town. He was excited to be a part of the race and expects the event to grow as the race continues in upcoming years.
He added that he had ridden much of the trail in Northwest Arkansas and was pleased with the course in Montgomery County.
Some cyclists were spotted bedding down for the night in town Saturday as well.
The race is truly a test of human endurance with cyclists facing several natural obstacles, as well as recent flooding along the Arkansas River. The weather seems to be cooperating with the cyclists with temperatures expected to cool down for part of this week.
There were 20 cyclists competing in the race with two women competing and one single speed cyclist. Men and women compete on the same course. There is a slight change to the course for single speed bikes to include part of the LOViT trail.
The race will conclude in Little Rock in the next few days.
Cyclists progress can be tracked at http://trackleaders.com/arkhigh19.
For more information regarding the Arkansas High Country Race visit www.arkansasoutside.com/arkansas-high-country-race.
For more information regarding the Arkansas High Country Route visit adventurecycling.org/arhcr.