Red Bull Pump Track Championships

It was a rainy off-and-on kind of day Saturday when David and I attended the Red Bull Pump Track Championships held at the Runway Bike Park in the nearby town of Springdale. Crowds were already thick by the time we got there and the air was filled with the bike racing atmosphere that I have grown to love and miss when I’m not around it. We grabbed our raincoats, cameras and joined everyone else that was there to witness some of the world’s best BMX racers and mountain bikers compete for the title of Pump Track World Champion.

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Prepare yourself for a photo overload. I took 2400 photos that day, filling up both cards in my camera. I spent all day Sunday culling and editing them down to a mere 254. The following are some of my favorites. I make no apologies, so grab yourself a cup of coffee (or Adult Beverage) and enjoy.

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Scenes From a Bike Festival

David and I spent Saturday afternoon in Bentonville attending the inaugural Oz Trails Off Road Bike Festival. The festival took over the town square and featured three different distance races: 25, 35 or 50-ish miles each. Racers from all over the country descended upon Bentonville to compete and to celebrate all things mountain bike. There were vendor tents with brightly colored tops touting their brand, food trucks, dogs, small kids, friends gathered together re-hashing their races that they had participated in, beer gardens, BMX stuntmen flying high against the blue sky, music, announcers calling out the racers as they crossed the finish line, caked in mud, happy and relieved exhaustion written across their faces.

Afterwards, David and I stopped at a local coffee shop for a coffee shake, which was quite possibly life changing. I finished up David’s, who said it tasted too “coffee-y” for him.

As if there were such a thing.

It was a beautiful way to spend a Saturday afternoon.



Easy As Sunday Morning

This past Sunday morning saw David and me heading up to Bentonville for David to partake in a mountain bike skills clinic put on by Rich Drew, a pro mountain biker who just happens to live in northwest Arkansas and is one of the nicest people around. It was a jam-packed day filled with basic mountain biking techniques: braking, turning, lifting and dropping, before moving on to the jumping section later that afternoon. David was always slightly terrified of jumping, but by the time the clinic wrapped up around 4:30, he could do it with a great big, little boy grin on his face.

He may be hooked.

We also had a very special guest put in an appearance to help teach alongside Rich, his little boy Dex, who is going to be one heckuva mountain biker by the time he begins kindergarten in a few years. When he rode up on his little strider bike, everyone just melted and clapped. He is truly one adorable little Shredder Boy.

I may be a diehard Runner Girl, but I even learned a thing or two Sunday. Thank you, Rich, for sharing your knowledge so freely and so kindly. Your spirit is infectious.


the bentonville enduro

Or, “the race that almost wasn’t”.

Flash flood watches and warnings were put out two days before Race Day, September 22.

The weathermen were calling for three days of torrential downpours, with 3-5 inches expected.

I began stalking the event’s Facebook page, checking the weather reports hourly and keeping David, who was away on business in Texas, updated with any new developments.

Was Mother Nature going to change her mind and let a bunch of rowdy mountain bikers ride the trails one last time before this Series was to end for the year?

I received a group email last Friday while picking up David from the airport, letting me know that, because of changing weather reports, the race was still on, but beginning at a later time so the trails would have a chance to dry out.

Yippee!

I’m so happy that the event organizers went on ahead and decided to hold the race (after all, they’re mountain bikers, too, so what’s a little mud, right?). This race, held out at Color MTB Preserve, was a real party. I mean, all the past enduros were parties, but Saturday’s race was the last of the series, so there was even more of a party atmosphere. David and I stayed mostly at the Hub, a large area that covers all the trail heads, complete with park benches scattered about where on non-race days, the lone hiker can rest and catch her breath after hiking uphill chasing after her mountain biker husband and son. I did hit some of the trails for a few different kinds of photos, but mostly it was up at the Hub that all the action was happening.

We got to chat with friends that we had made during the racing season, tease a few kids (nicely, though! I just can’t help myself sometimes.), get all kinds of dirty and muddy (that’s what Spray & Wash is for, right?) and just hang out with a great group of people. Mountain bikers are some of the coolest, friendliest and welcoming kind of people I’ve ever gotten to meet. I’m going to miss this series and these people. They sure know how to make a life-long runner feel like one of the cool kids.

And boy, do they know how to shred a trail!


the in between

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A NICA race.

First trail run of the season.

Portraits and bread baking.

Little discoveries along the bike trails.

Spending time with my boys.

The in between moments of my life.

Austin

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Austin's mother asking me if I could do a photoshoot for her son.

But Austin didn't want it to be a regular photoshoot.

Austin is an avid mountain biker, having raced in most of the previous races David and I have shot over the summer this year. He belongs to NICA, a national mountain biking organization for junior high and high school students and spends up to ten hours a day on the weekends riding his bike on the various trail systems in our area.

Last Sunday, David and I met up with Austin and his parents on his favorite trail and spent the afternoon taking his pictures and shooting video as he flew through the air, whizzed by on the dirt and making his mother hide her eyes at some of the stuff he was doing. 

He's an amazing kid, not just on his bike, but he is polite, courteous, enthusiastic and just plain old nice. I don't know who was more disappointed when the session was over, David and myself or Austin. 

I'm looking forward to watching Austin grow as a rider and a young man, and expect to see him at the World Enduro Series in the near future. Thank you, Austin, for a beautiful and fun filled afternoon. 

bella vista enduro race

The other day, I emailed a friend of mine about a recall that Nikon had put out that concerned our cameras. She wrote back, thanking me, and at the end of her email, she mentioned " . . . you have settled into a great place, a very creative space where you really listen to your heart and it shows in your work." 

I was touched by her words, and feel that yes, I have settled into a great place with my photography. I've been trying new things and slowly but surely overcoming my fear of "But-what-if-they-laugh-at-me-or-say-no?" I'm feeling more and more comfortable in my skin and in calling myself a Photographer.

And I never felt more comfortable or at home with myself than last Sunday shooting the latest race put on by the Arkansas Enduro Series out along the Back 40 Trail system, about an hour's drive north of Fayetteville. The weather was beautiful, the early morning sunlight glinting off cobwebs lining the dirt trails and glancing off the handlebars of the riders as they flew by David and myself. There were plenty of whoops and hollers echoing through the little valleys as the racers jumped their bikes off of drops, as well as plenty of "oh, s***!" when unprepared racers came up on unexpected obstacles in the trail. There were crashes as well. I heard one rider yell from a small ravine after his bike wheels skidded off course and he went tumbling, "I'm okay! I've still got all my teeth!". There were less fortunate riders, however, that needed to be carried out on stretchers suffering from mild concussions and other injuries. 

Seeing the first serious injured racer being carried off really drove home the fact that bike helmets can save your life. I just wish more people understood how important they are. 

The next Enduro race is August 18-19, and I'm sure it will be as thrilling and exhausting and hot and dirty and as fun as this race was. 

I can't wait.

For more race pictures that David and I took, please click on this link: "Bella Vista Enduro-July 2018".

 

 

A Thank You Celebration

Wednesday night, David and I drove up to Bentonville to a popular pub for a thank you celebration put on by Gravitas Racing, a local enduro racing team, for everyone responsible for the amazing mountain biking that's available in northwest Arkansas. Northwest Arkansas has become a destination for mountain bikers from all over the country; in fact, Dave and I rode some trails this morning, and as we pulled into the last trailhead, we met a father and three sons from Texas that had driven up to ride some of the trails for the weekend. 

And I made it down in one piece today without any falling over or cuts and bruises! I'm making progress (but it's still as scary as hell)!

Wednesday evening was filled with meeting new people and making new friends, babies and dogs, happy barkeepers and icy cold beer. There was music and food trucks and quite a crowd. Awards were given out later in the evening to those groups that created the mountain bike community here in our little corner of Arkansas. It was fun mingling with all the different people and just having a nice relaxing evening with David. It isn't often that we go out on a "school night", but it sure was a lot of fun being a grown up!