Kali is loading up the truck and headed to Outerbike in Bentonville, AR. If you don't already know, Outerbike is a series of bike demo events to beat all bike demo events. We will be hitting up the one later this month in Arkansas, setting up our tent, loaning out some lids and generally taking in all that is Bentonville. We have heard, read and seen the pictures and it appears there are some amazing two-wheeled adventures happening down there, but we decided to reach out a local expert, prior to arriving, to get the download. In the process we learn a little about our Ride Series MTB Skills Clinic coach Richard Drew and he hits us with some insider knowledge on Bentonville. We love that and hope you will to.
You are not originally from Bentonville, can you tell us a little bit about where you're from and how you got to Bentonville?
I'm not from Bentonville, but I started visiting about seven years ago. I was born in Boston, raised in SoCal from 2-14 years old, then high school and college in Phoenix. Lived in Dallas for ten years before moving here a little over a year ago. I was balancing a corporate job as a Product Trainer for the Ford Motor Company and trying to build a career as a professional Enduro rider. The growth in Northwest AR has been amazing over the last five years and I saw an opportunity to take The Ride Series MTB Skills Clinics there full time. It's an amazing community and I can't think of a better place to raise our three year old son Dex.
It's only been recently that Bentonville has started to get a reputation as a epic destination for the fat tire set? Is it because they are finally building trails or was there an actual effort to keep Bentonville's singletrack on the DL?
It's been legit for awhile, but it's now reaching a critical mass where people all over the world are hearing about it. The Walton Family Foundation, Tom and Stuert in particular, have invested a great deal of money and passion into seeing the OZ Trails become a global destination. I'd argue there's no place in the world that can match the sheer volume, diversity, and accessibility of the trails here. I've yet to see someone visit that isn't absolutely blown away by what's here.
How would you describe the riding there?
Diverse. From raw singletrack, to machine built flow, we have it all. What we lack in elevation we more than make up for in creativity. There's something for everyone and the same trail can be ridden by a beginner rider or a seasoned pro, and they'd both have a blast.
While we are in town for Outerbike, what is the one trail we just have to make sure we ride?
The currently under construction, just for Outerbike, All American Trail. This trail emanates essentially from downtown and heads north through Slaughter Pen. It has been the "gateway" to OZ for a few years now and it's being extended quite a ways. It might just be the most creative use of space for a trail that you've ever seen. Flowey single track, rock features, berms, and some killer jump lines await. You also can't miss the crown jewel of Bentonville, The Coler MTB Preserve. It literally has everything you'd want in a trail system, including a rad Dual Slalom track called Thunderdome.
We have a night off and we want to get a bite to eat and a cold beer, what are the three places you recommend we don't miss?
1) Oven and Tap: Upscale eats, amazing pizza and great drinks.
2) Pedaler's Pub: The name pretty much says it all.
3) 8th St Market: Home to Bike Rack Brewing, The Holler and Yeyo's Mexican Grill, amongst other things. It's the perfect little market for everyone.
What is the one thing people who never visited Arkansas, and specifically Bentonville, be surprised to find out?
I think everyone would be surprised at how metropolitan it is. The WalMart vendor community has brought in people from all over the world and their impact is really felt.
What bicycle are you currently riding and how is it set up specifically for the type of riding you are doing in Bentonville?
I'm really digging the Pivot Switchblade right now. It's an incredible bike for this area because of its diversity. It's plenty capable of hitting the big stuff, but it pedals like a dream. My setup is Industry Nine Enduro 310 Carbon wheels with Hydra hubs, they are lightweight, but super durable. Maxxis Minion DHF 2.5 EXO front and rear, with Cushcore of course. I also ride with plenty of tire plugs, the rocks here can be sharp. Also, always wear knee pads when you ride here.
It’s probably not where you think it is: It’s South of Missouri, West of Tennessee and East of Oklahoma.
Highest Point: Mount Magazine at 2,753 feet above sea level.
State Bird: The mockingbird is indeed the state bird.
State Instrument: The fiddle, of course.
Other attractions: Besides epic mountain biking they also have the Alligator Farm and Petting Zoo in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
Events of note: The World Championship of duck calling is held in Stuggart.
Trails: Bentonville has over 60 miles of networked trail systems.
Historical Event: Keith Richards was famously pulled over in Arkansa in 1975 for reckless driving.
Don't forget to swing by the Kali booth at Outerbike and say hello to Kali Krew member Nikki Tufte.