What started as an annual winter mountain biking tradition in the Ozark National Forest soon became a yearly, sought after mountain biking challenge. Established in the 1990's by a group of hardcore mountain bikers, the Buffalo Headwaters Challenge will be celebrating its 11th annual ride on January 30.
The challenge kicks off Friday night around the fire with a reggae style jam session and continues Saturday morning at 9:30, when riders set off for the trials. The start and finish line is located at the Headwaters School in Red Star, Arkansas. For those of you who want the full outdoor experience, there will be free camping. You can also go for the more glamorous route, or glamping, as I like to call it, and sleep in the school. The Ozark Off Road Cyclists will also be providing food (I heard they serve a mean grilled cheese), beverages, and entertainment for participants, family, friends and guests.
The Buffalo Headwaters Challenge trails include everything from newly built flow-type trails to rough, rocky creek bed trails. Riders have the choice of participating in the Half Challenge or the Full Challenge. The Half is around 26 miles of single-track and Gravel Grinder trails. Although not as long or rugged as the Full, it’s still a beast of a ride. The Full Challenge is 40+ miles of an assortment of outrageous trails that will push even the gnarliest of riders.
Although these rides are fun, they are very challenging and require intermediate to expert riding skills. Riders should be prepared for harsh winter weather like rain, snow and wind. This challenge is only available for OORC members and friends of the OORC members, so if you would like to participate in the ride, become a member online or register at the Headwaters School. If you're interested in the event but don’t want to ride, volunteers are always needed and are an essential part of the event running effortlessly.
by Marin Eusterman