Epic Riding At Syllamo|
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Trying to figure out where to go for that summer mountain biking trip is often like trying to negotiate traffic on a Los Angeles freeway during rush hour. There are people everywhere, even on the side roads that supposedly no one knows about. Sometimes the only way to guarantee a good time is to go a bit off the beaten track (bike commuting in L.A. anyone?). So for this year's mountain biking trip, why not skip Utah and head to Arkansas.
Arkansas? Okay, so if you're like most people, the only thing you think of when you here Arkansas is Bill Clinton. But stretch your mind a little farther and you'll find that Arkansas is also home to the recently completed Syllamo Trail System, the country's largest mountain bike-specific park. With 51 miles of color-coded trails, this park is funówith no hint of Rumsfeldian irony. Already deemed "epic" by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), there's something for everyone at Syllamo. Located just outside of Mountain View in the Ozark -St. Francis National Forest, the park boasts rocky, technical singletrack and gentle rollers. One adrenaline-boosting quad-buster is Stairway to Heaven, steep switchbacks on the 12-mile Scrappy Mountain Loop. The trail heads into a limestone canyon with giant 40-foot rock slabs all around. It's enough to make any jaded Moab rider ooh and ahh.
Syllamo is located in a dry county; so don't expect to find your post-fat tire Fat Tire. Instead, boogie at one of the folk music capital's summer jams in the town square.
Or unwind on a relaxing paddle of Buffalo Nation River. Mountain View is about two hours from Little Rock, where you can rent bikes at Competitive Cyclist from $50 a day ( www.competitivecyclist.com).
However you go, get there before the hordes do. The cat's out of the bag.
For more information, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/oonf/ozark/recreation/syllamo_bike.html.