Archive | April, 2011

F.A.S.T Spring Ride “EPIC”

20 Apr

First off, Given the nature of my last post, I am using the word “EPIC” because it is in the title of this ride. It does not change my feelings on the subject.

Now that we have cleared that up, I thought some of you might like to hear about our ride last weekend. Some of you may be aware of the group F.A.S.T Friends at Slaughterpen Trails. These guys are AWESOME! They are very active in the maintenance of the trails at Slaughterpen Hollow in Bentonville and they are also very influential in getting more clearance for new trails in the Northwest Arkansas Area. Each Spring they put together a great event called the EPIC which covers a good variety of trails and back roads in the Bentonville / Bella Vista Area. The Highroller Crew has participated in the event in the past and a good time is had by all. The F.A.S.T. guys and gals really know how to do it up right with a BBQ and Band at the end and well organized Shuttles from the end back to the start at the Bentonville square.

Jonathan, Chuck, and I decided that we would meet at Highroller at 8 and ride up to the start in Bentonville then switch over to our Mountain bikes for the ride. We awoke that morning to strong cold winds out of the North. We figured it wouldn’t be too bad once the sun came out, and started off for the ride.About an hour and forty minutes later we entered the square and made our way over to Phat Tire to reclaim our bikes. Thanks to the Phat tire guys for letting us stash them for the night.

We still had some time before the start so we rode across to the Station Cafe for our second breakfast of the day.


After Registering and getting our numbers we all gathered up in the square for instructions. Gary outlined the route and gave instructions about the shuttles from the finish. Woody from Progressive Trail designs got a mention. All eighty of us waited anxiously to get on the move.

Eighty Riders came out for the Ride

As we started out on the trail I marveled at seeing so many riders of so many different ability levels on such varied equipment all riding together. We started on the All American trail. Riders in front of me as far as I could see and as far behind me as I could see . The twisting easy flow of the trail made it tempting to stop and take a photo but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Some moments just can’t be captured. For me, this was one of them.

We rode through a little of Phase Three before heading to the Urban trail. With so many riders I found myself doing multiple track stands waiting for riders that couldn’t negotiate certain sections. The trails had yet to get technical, and I was surprised at how bottle necked everything was getting. At the first opportunity I jumped up to the front group and joined Chris who was already there.

After the Seed tick Shuffle we rode Armadillo’s Last Stand. Without doing anything else we finished out our time at Slaughter pen and headed over to Blowing Springs via some of Bella Vista’s Beautiful paved trails. Blowing Springs is beautiful and truly needs to be ridden to be appreciated. I was sad that we didn’t ride more of it.

Blowing Springs

After Blowing Springs we found a sunny spot to wait for the rest of our group. Once we were back in the saddle it wasn’t long til the halfway point. Just before it the trail took two routes, The harder PinkforPain route and the more tame green route. I was very happy to clear the pink section. It made me feel good about eating a couple of cookies that the F.A.S.T. volunteers had provided.

After we visited with other riders at the stop. We all headed out through some neighborhood roads around a golf course and then out onto a more well traveled road.The course continued along the side of the road and then into some really fun creek bed riding with lots of places for catching air. Somewhere along the way we encountered a guy whose rear der had broken. Jonathan was able to fix him up and at least get him riding again.

Trailside repair

After riding through a quarry Chris had to stop and change his flat and our group split up with Liz, Lindsey and Myself heading on thinking that Chris and Jonathan would catch up soon. We rode on and on and still no Chris or Jonathan. We finally popped out of the woods onto the last section of dirt road right before the finish and were surprised to see Chris and Jonathan heading toward us. I guess they found a short cut or missed the trail. It was nice to be able to ride into the finish with the group that we started with.

After downing a beer that I assume was complimentary and chatting with a couple of people about when the next shuttle was arriving; I decided it would be a good idea to just ride back to Bentonville and hope to meet my ride somewhere along the way. I made it about six more miles before my wife called and said she was in the area. I missed out on the after party but had a great time over all.

This is what a cooked set of legs look like

Thanks to the F.A.S.T Club for the great event.



The Quest for Epic

6 Apr

Recently I have spent a good amount of time on planning my next long ride. I came up with a couple good ones and showed one to some of the people in the shop. “Whoa… that’s epic.”, I heard from several people. After the second time hearing it I knew it could wait no longer. I must address “The Epic”.

I have noticed that lately the word “epic” is used frequently to describe cycling. “Epic” gets thrown around all the time these days. I have heard it used to describe bike rides ranging from mountain bike rides to road training camp, to morning bike path commutes (yes really).

"and then.... I had to ride my bike through a creek!"

Perhaps, we use it to try and relay the events of our ride to our audience in an impressive manner. Maybe we do it to fill the void of explanation that exists between what we feel and experience on the bike and our ability to use the English language to convey these sensations to others.

I feel like the majority of the people out there are using it just as a catch all phrase to describe why they enjoy riding.  We have a great sport, but it may not be epic very often. I like a good big ring tale as much as the next guy, but I think that the word “epic” can rarely be used to paint an adequate picture of most of our rides.  As the usage in our sport’s culture spirals out of control I come to wonder what it really means.

This is what I came up with from

1.noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition, usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style: Homer’s Iliad is an epic poem.
2.resembling or suggesting such poetry: an epic novel on the founding of the country. (OK so some might argue that riding is poetry in motion.)
3.heroic; majestic; impressively great: the epic events of the war. (most of the time when I am riding I should probably be doing something else like mowing the yard and taking care of other business. Therefore, not heroic nor majestic)

4.of unusually great size or extent: a crime wave of epic proportions.

(Of all the definitions very few can be linked to our sport very often. So, Why the excessive use of the word as an adjective for our rides?)

I guess I have the fine gentlemen at Rapha to blame for this. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Rapha site and visit it daily. If anyone gets to use the word in reference to cycling, it should be them. Rapha has managed to bring visual poetry to the pages of the internet with their majestic photography, extended rides, and well written narratives. These are, however, a far cry from what we hear normally in the shop as riders relate to us how “epically” cold it was on their ride, how they rode an “epic” dirt section, etc.

I will admit that there have been some instances in my cycling life that I would categorize as “epic”. These times are generally the result of little to no planning, unforeseen environmental obstacles, poor time management, or bad advice. These days are some of my more memorable moments on the bike, both good and bad. These rides influenced by some catalyst will always be a part of my cycling life, but I’m not sure I want to relive them.  I have also noticed that the trend toward longer distance events like the grand fondos and sportives seems to be drawing on the allure of the “epic”. Sure they are long rides and they are undoubtedly tough, but I wonder how “epic” an organized ride can be.

Sometimes there is only you and your shadow to appreciate the "EPIC"

In the quest for epic it seems that we push ourselves to ride ridiculously hard and long all the time through less than ideal conditions. Epic is not just a “Ridiculous exercise in sadomasochism”; it happens only rarely in regards to cycling, but when it does it is truly amazing.

I don’t mean to sound like a know it all. In the end it is all subjective, but I resolve to monitor my use of the word. If I do an extremely long ride in adverse conditions pitted against the world and the gods then I might just use the term; but only if I write a long narrative poem about it first.

Who knows perhaps there is some possibility that the long ride I am palnning could turn epic somewhere along the way. Check out the route and see if you want to ride along with us.


Thanks for reading, and feel free to send me your “epic” stories. I would love to read them.