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The opening night of the weekend long mountain bike festival coincides with downtown Bentonville’s monthly First Friday event when US National Champion Mike Steidley and Hungarian Champion Adrian Lengyel exhibit their trials riding skills.
In trials, cyclists navigate around obstacles, making jumps over and on top of obstacles, demonstrating balance and strength without putting a foot down. There will also be a BMX stunt show by Real Encounter, a Christian outreach ministry comprised of professional BMX, Motocross and Skate athletes. These events are family and spectator friendly.
One of the sponsors of the event, Friends of Arkansas Single Track (FAST) “is a dedicated group of volunteers working together to develop and maintain the Bentonville, Arkansas off-road trail system at Slaughter Pen mountain bike park and Blowing Springs in Bella Vista, Arkansas.
FAST promotes off-road cycling, hiking, and trail running in Northwest Arkansas, “educates the community, and is working to make our community bike friendly and safe. In addition, FAST is growing the amount of volunteers by encouraging a fun, family friendly, and team-like atmosphere.” Their dedication to the fun, family friendly, and team like atmosphere is evident at every mountain bike race where the FAST kids toe up to the starting line and ride with smiles and intense concentration while family and friends root them on.
On Saturday, bring your bike and be prepared to ride! There will be events throughout the day: exhibitions, education, and many opportunities to ride your bike. A bike parade, kids races, ladies rides, more trials competitions, a poker ride, and a BMX race are on the schedule for Saturday.
If you aren’t familiar with the Slaughter Pen trail system and want some local help, there will be guided rides. Vendors will be on hand with food, including breakfast, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The music starts early too with a DJ in the morning and more live music in the afternoon sponsored by Downtown Bentonville, Inc.
If you are a laid back kind of pedaler, there will be a ride to dinner on the square or you can bike to a movie at Lawrence Plaza. The Slaughter Pen Hollow Trail System connects to the North Bentonville shared use paved trail which will take pedestrians or cyclists to the Crystal Bridges Museum within minutes of all the festival action. Many of the trails around the museum are multiuse and cyclists can test their skills on a half-mile introductory trail built by Progressive Trail Design parallel to the pedestrian path. Progressive describes this trail as a gateway trail for beginner mountain bikers to challenge their skills. If you want to watch all the bike action, but don’t have two wheels, test the trails on foot with a 10K Trail Run in the morning and live music and food throughout the day.
The weekend culminates in the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series Cross Country Race on Sunday morning. The AMBCS series brings riders from all over the state as well as many from surrounding states. Gather along the final yards before the finish to cheer the riders leaving it all out on the trail with a sprint to the line. Come on out, bring the family, enjoy the music, and the cavalcade of cyclery. Help FAST and the city of Bentonville continue their exceptional contributions to the livability of Northwest Arkansas.
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