Thursday, December 18, 2008

What's a Womble?

I don't know where the name comes from but one such "Womble" is a stretch of epic singletrack mountain bike trail that snakes its way across 35 miles of Arkansas ridgeline in the Ouachita Mountains.

Currently plans are cookin' for a slew of Iowa boys to descend upon said ribbon of dirt sometime early spring. Last year I was part of a small group that headed to north central Arkansas for a race/tour event known as Syllamo's Revenge. It was wicked fun two days of riding in the uber rocky, killer steep Ozark Mountains. You can read more about that trip here. I'm stoked to be heading back to AR but I think this time I'll go ahead and skip the smashing-my-face-on-a-log part.

The Womble is supposed to be much smoother, flowy and generally more benevolent than Syllamo. Most accounts say some of the hills are killer, but nothing that a solid intermediate rider couldn't handle. Sounds good to me. Some of the guys are talking about bikepacking the route, meaning you rig up all your camping equipment and everything else you need (like food) on your bike and adventure into the brush. That sounds more like work and less like fun to me. I'm not against bikepacking at all, in fact it sounds like it might be fun to try, but for a great trail, like the Womble, I'm much more interested in having my unfettered bike whooshing down the trail. Plus, I'm really going to work on dropping some poundage over the winter, so just loading my bike back up with weight after that doesn't sound good. There are enough campgrounds and resorts, along with lots of options to loop back off the trail on a forest road, that I'm not worried about finding a compromise.

Here's a video I found of the trail. The one I wanted to link doesn't seem to work on my blog, so this one is an AETV sorta promotional vid. Its got some bike footage along with some interviews. Watching the host newbie struggle along is a little painful, but whatever. The second one is more to my liking. Its a helmet cam vid. Unfortunately its not very good quality, but there's a sweet trail dog booking along with them. Helmet cam vids of great trails are a bitter sweet thing. I really enjoy watching them, but at the same time its a reminder that you're not riding there or anywhere else.

This blogger does a nice write up of Syllamo, Womble and the Ouachita (which we might ride a part of too). I came across his site over a year ago when I was researching a ride down Haleakala (I'll have to tell that story sometime). I bookmarked his site because he's been so many places and he takes great pictures and writes some compelling commentary. He's a pretty accomplished rider and says Syllamo is a real booty kicker. Reading that made me feel pretty good because I was hanging in there on the 50 mile Revenge right up to the point I cracked my mug (well, there-is-that). Come to think of it, I hung in there even after denting my grill, but then I got sorta lost....yeah, gonna skip the getting lost part on the Womble too. This guy also does a nice job of documenting Wombloisty as well.


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Is my mountain bike OCD showing yet?

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