Northwoods Enduro

This past weekend, David and I drove down to Hot Springs to shoot the second leg of the Southern Enduro Tour, the Northwoods Enduro mountain bike race.

And also to see his dad and to have some of the world’s best BBQ.

The Southern Enduro Tour is a diferent mountain bike event than the one David and I photographed last year. This series of races is based in Texas with three of the six races located in Texas, two in southern Arkansas and the last one in Oklahoma. It has the same sort of grueling conditions that the mountain bikers love, but this time of year, just a wee bit colder.

David and I wanted to use this race as a means to shake off the cobwebs and rust after a long winter of not shooting regularly and to get ready for “our” Series beginning in May. We arrived at base camp mid-afternoon, located the race director and got the map of all the different stages and took a few behind-the scenes photos of life at base camp. It was actually pretty chill, people gathered around a campfire, trying to stay warm on the chilly, overcast day. There was a couple out walking their dog . . . well, the dog was trotting while the couple were on their bikes, pedaling up and down the parking lot. Friends were gathered together, laughing and chatting, the bike repairman was busy getting people’s bikes fine tuned for the next day’s main event. All in all, just a typical afternoon at base camp, the in between time of big sporting events that happens.

Twenty minutes later, we decided to head over to where the majority of the race was going to take place, the Northwoods Trails just up the road from where we were in Cedar Glades.

David and Joe love the trails at Cedar Glades, and every time we come down in the warmer months to visit, the boys always bring their mountain bikes and I bring my trail runners. Cedar Glades boasts beautifully maintained trails, with lots of good flow and ( a lot ) of uphills. I love to run along the pine carpeted dirt because I can run without fearing tree roots or large rocks tripping me up like they do when I run the trails around Fayetteville. The boys love riding Cedar Glades for the same reason, maybe not so much of tripping, but the dirt is gorgeous to ride on.

The Northwoods Trails were no different, maybe even better (and just today I read where the trails are about to get “even more better” with a huge donation from the Walton Family Foundation). When we arrived, we ran into some friends from home ready to ride Sunday’s race.

It’s always fun to see some friendly faces in a new place.

After hiking around and shooting a few riders who were taking advantage of the pre-ride, David and I decided to head back to our “home away from home” over on Lake Hamilton, say hi to his dad and then go eat BBQ.

The next day dawned cold and grey, typical day in an Arkansas winter. We bundled up and drove to the race, hiked in to our spots that we had picked out the day before and proceeded to wait for the first rider to come tearing down the trail.

We waited.

And waited.

And waited.

The race was supposed to begin at 9:00, but as Enduro races are wont to do, the start got delayed, so we entertained ourselves by taking random pictures of the woods and the trail. At one point, I got really cold so I ran laps to where David was and back to my spot over and over to get warm, getting a little silly in the process.

Finally we heard the magic words hollered from up above us on the trail, “RIDER!!!!!!!” and the race was on.

And then our buddies from home showed up, and well, I always love seeing them ride.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. Gravitas Racing (seen in most of the above pix) podiumed, so congratulations to them. Our good friend, Austin, whose goal it was this year to podium, did it, coming in fourth, as did Rich Drew, a local pro mounatin biker who podiumed fifth and was coming back from an injury sustained last year (and is one cool dude). David and I got the cobewebs and rust brushed off, good times and plenty of laughter was had all around and it was just the perfect pick me up in an otherwise drab and never-ending February.