We’re a little late posting this, but here is a recap of the trip we took down to Arkansas a few weeks ago.
As mentioned, a few weeks ago we joined GP Velotek on their annual training camp in Arkansas. The trip takes place over MLK weekend so quite a few people can swing getting away for a longer weekend. We took full advantage of the long weekend, and left Thursday morning for a five day training block.
Thursday afternoon we rolled in to Fayetteville around 1. We didn’t have too long of a route planned, but we still rushed around so we could enjoy the warmest part of the day. Scott, as usual on any of our travel weekends, had memorized all of the routes for us and took us on a loop that previewed the NWA Classic course. For the most part we kept the pace nice and steady just to open up the legs for the rest of the weekend.
Friday we woke up early for breakfast, and then spent the rest of the morning anxious to hop on our bikes. Quite a few Velotekers rolled in that morning and were excited for the 60ish mile loop around Fayetteville. The temperatures had risen slightly from Thursday, which had everyone pretty excited. Coming from the 20-30 degree weather we had here in KS in late December/early January, it was incredible to enjoy some temps in the high 50s. There’s something about that first winter ride that people are able to do in just shorts, jersey, and maybe baselayer that gets people really excited. Every stop ahead or town sign momentarily turned the ride into a 500 m race.
Saturdays route previewed the Hogeye loop of Joe Martin Stage Race. This was the first day we would do some serious climbing and most everyone took it easy for the first 20 miles or so before reaching the first steep climb of the loop. Once we hit the wall, the attacks started to go and was the first real race pace efforts any of us had done for the year. The rest of the day was pretty much the same, being fairly easy until the climbs, where we’d then split into select groups and push it a little bit. The route was a little over 70 miles at a pretty decent pace and weather in the low 60s! Our first big goal of the season is Joe Martin, so it was good for us all to get a little recon in, and test our climbing legs.
Saturday night we traveled further South to Mt. Magazine and stayed in the cabins there. Mt. Magazine is the highest point in Arkansas, and has some incredible riding. Sundays route took us to Mt. Nebo which is a 2.5 mile climb averaging close to 10%. The ride was easy up until this point to keep everyone’s legs fresh. Once we arrived at the climb, Garrick and Benn hit it hard to make a selection. Ian and I tried to match the pace, but couldn’t quite match it on the switchbacks, so we backed off. Kent and Scott took a different approach, starting off nice and steady to avoid cracking before reaching the top. Garrick smoked his own time of 15min from last year making it up in 14:40, Benn and I reached the top in just over 16, Ian and Kent were about a half a minute behind that, and Scott the sprinter killed it in a little over 18min. We took it moderately easy for the rest of the day, having a headwind on the return trip to the cabins. In Danville, we decided to tack on a little more mileage to the route so we could get a century in. The ride was solid, but one of the best parts was the slow climb back up Magazine while the sun was setting. For a mid-January ride, we couldn’t have asked for much more.
On Monday we decided to do a loop around Mt. Magazine, which is a nice 60ish mile route that goes into Magazine and Paris. It was another gorgeous day, but we were pretty tired from the previous four days and were also dragging knowing we had to drive five hours immediately after finishing the ride. Other than a couple of townline sprints, the ride was pretty mild and enjoyable. When we reached the climb to go back up the mountain, we all took it at our own pace. Scott went ahead, while the rest of us stopped to shed some clothing. After about 20 minutes of climbing, Ian and I picked it up a bit in an effort to catch Scott, while Garrick and Benn decided to enjoy the scenery and take the climb more casually. Scott was able to hold on to beat us all to the summit, showing some impressive climbing form. We grabbed some quick leftovers at the top of the mountain, and got on the road pretty quick to head back to KC. The week ended up being about a 20 hour, 300ish+ mile week.