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HAD A GREAT TIME ON THE OUACHITA CHALLENGE. IF YOU WOULD THANK ALL OF THE SUPOUT PEOPLE AS WELL. LOOKING FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR ( WELL I WILL BE IN A WEEK OR SO). THANKS AGAIN AND GREAT JOB TO ALL.
STEVE PERRY-


Let me make a few comments. I did Leadville last year and have been asked to compare. Leadville was harder and longer. It was not a fun ride-no way, no how! The OC was fun from start to finish. It was as good as any of the famous epics that I've ridden in CO or Utah. To quote others, "all the riders were friendly." The trails were what mtb bikers dream about. You accomodated riders of all levels. Your "Mom" rules! Single speed riders must be from another planet. Sign me up for next year.
Tom Burks-

I just wanted to thank you and all the volunteers for a great ride.
Mark LeBlanc-

Thanks for putting on a good event, weather was great, trails were in excellent condition, good camraderie, enjoyed fri's pasta. I checked on all side of the trail riders as I went, of which there were very few, all were ok, even the one who crashed somewhere near top of Suck Mt hikeabike, which turned out to be an unforseen butt kicker, had only riden the OT once the opposite direction a couple yrs ago. The scene of the uphill crash was right after the guy on the SINGLESPEED passed me, that, was impressive, he'd already helped the crashee up by the time I got there, and another guy stayed with to help him, he looked tired and momentarily dazed but able to go on. Was going to finish with the singlespeeder following him down Suck but missed the turn off the old road bed and wandered in the mud a bit before getting on track and lost him in the meantime. Overall, and because of the hikeabike and climbing in the final third, it was tougher than I'd thought it would be, worthy of being considered a 'challenge' at any level. I did not get on the bike yesterday. Thanks again,
Rick-

I just wanted to say we has a great time at the challenge. What a ride! It was my first time to ride your trails and they were fantastic. You did a great job and we appreciate your work. I know you get "suggestions" all the time, but we thought it would be a good idea for you to increase your entry fee and give a challenge T-shirt to participants. You could keep it simple and make them all X-large. Great "badge of honor". When do you expect to begin sign-up for 2004? Thanks
Kenny Rigby-

First of all let me say THANK YOU! It was a GREAT and well done ride. I know you put a lot of yourself into this race but it was a huge success. I hope I get a spot next year. Again, thanks for a perfect event. You and this course have broadened my horizons as to what I thought I could accomplish.
Ken Munson-

Thanks for putting the Ouachita Challenge together. I know you put in several hundred hours of work and just wanted to let you know I appreciate it. Thanks again!
David McFatrich-

PLEASE pass this on to all the volunteers. I did not have time to say this in person and wish I could have. I want to express my thanks and gratitude to all that helped make this event a great experience. My family and I had a great time, and a great ride. Thank you all very much. Thanks,
Mike b.-

I would like to thank you for organizing this event and giving me my best trail ride in my short but fun experience in mountain biking. See you next year! thanks,
armando m.-

First of all, thanks again for the organization of the ride - it was a great ride and a beautiful day that you had ordered. I did complete all 60 miles of the challenge and when the time comes for arrangements for next year, I would like to receive information about it. I appreciate it and thanks again!!
Bill Priestley-

I appreciate it. I am looking forward to coming back next year. It's a great experience on a beautiful course.
Michael Christen-

First let me say thanks for a great event! I know you and all your crew worked hard and long to put this together and it is very appreciated. Although my finish time looks mighty impressive at 14:32 it really should be 16:32, at least that is the time by my watch. Last year when I signed up I was glad to see the note about Ed Hawkins hoping to do the "60 at 60" thinking maybe there would be someone else in my age group that I might be able to keep up with. Boy, was I wrong when I saw that he finished in the terrible conditions of 2002. Then later I was really blown away when I saw he was a World Champion in USA Cycling. So, even though I would like to be able to brag about beating his time, I am just happy to have finished. I too completed my "60 at 60", although it is a little stretch cause I won't be 60 until August. Of course by NORBA rules I AM 60 so I will take it!

Whoever named Suck Mountain was right on. I am glad you reversed it this year. I doubt I would have gotten very far if that part had come early. Thanks,
Alan Brown-
Paducah, KY

Thanks for such a great day! and too all the volunteers that kept everyone on the right track. It was the best mountain biking experience I have ever had and am already thinking about next year. The only problem I had was a broken chain and thanks to Tony from Little Rock ( one of the many nice people I met that day) I was able to fix it and finish all 63 miles. Thanks again for putting on such an awesome ride!
- Jeff Schrader - Ohio

Thank you so much for putting on a wonderful ride. Your guide, Matt long, was very helpful. The aid stations and sandwiches were great. Please put me on the Ouachita newsletter. I definitely would like to return next year.
Sincerely, Jordan Chaney-

2003 Ouachita Challenge
A Challenge Indeed...

Words & Pics by Marcel Slootheer © 2003

For years Clifton had talked about how great an event the Ouachita Challenge is. Even though the format has changed over the years the most important ingredients have remained the same; an endurance mtb ride in Arkansas that includes the Womble trail and the Ouachita trail, some of the sweetest single track in the USA. For those who are not familiar with the Womble and Ouachita trails, they are just 5 hours South-East of OKC.
When I decided to sign up I wasn't even sure if I would make the registration list. You see, there was a limit of 200 riders and when I mailed in my form there were already 188 riders signed up. I wasn't too dissappointed when 2 weeks later the final list was published and my name was not on it. But my luck changed, only a week later the limit was increased from 200 to 250 and suddenly my name was on the list. The interesting thing was, there were only a few people from Oklahoma signed up, and Walt Brittain was the only one I knew.
When I saw my name on the list I quickly realized I had a big problem; 3 spare tires around my waste and not enough time (lame excuse) to get rid of them! But I did remember why I signed up in the first place, to ride some of the best single track around! I have ridden some great, and well known, trails in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New-Mexico so it's easy to forget about how good the Womble trail is, even though I have ridden it several times as part of the OEF Womble Weekends. It has everything that a single track junkie like myself wants to experience on a good mtb ride; fast flowing sections, slow & technical stuff, difficult climbs, lots of contour type trail, creek crossings and a lot of scenic stops along the way. And for the first time I was going to ride it the 'opposite' way, the way the locals ride it. Since I had never ridden the Ouachita trail I could only go by the many stories I had heard; how much more difficult it is than the Womble, extreme, brutal, etc. So I was looking forward to start riding that section after 40 miles of Womble... Yes, the most difficult sections were scheduled for later in the day. Really my only objective was to have a good time and ride as far as I could. I had ridden maybe 2-3 hours a week in the months prior to this event, now it was time to ride 60 miles with 5,000 or so feet of climbing in only one day...

On March 29th Walt and I joined the other 248 riders at 8 in the morning in Oden, on a day that turned out perfect for riding. The temperature never went above 50 but also never dropped below 40. The wind was out of the North but the Sun was out most of the day - not like last year when most people never made it to finish because of the rain and low temps. Walt and I were going to ride together as long as our pace was compatible. We would go our separate ways if things didn't work out but we ended up riding 95% of the time together. My objective was to ride smart, ride an easy pace and make sure to eat something every hour. The ride started on the road, after a few miles the pack was already spread out and we didn't have any problems when we hit the first single track section and small stretch of road that would bring us to North Fork lake (where the OEF Womble 'hardcore' rides always ended). We started to grind our way up the trail looking for the good stuff - fast downhill's! This trail is good for those that know the art of ascending AND descending. The steeper climbs require good balance, an eye for the best line and a good dose of commitment, otherwise you'll be walking quite a few sections. On the descents it really helps if you can read the terrain and don't use the brakes like on-off switches. It's all about keeping the momentum going for ya! After only 10 miles it was clear that this was going to be a good day!
During the ride we would talk to other riders when we were traveling in groups. There is nothing better than railing a trail with a bunch of good riders - you know what I'm talking about... Anyway, we were making good progress and were ahead of 'schedule'. There were several checkpoints put in place that you had to reach before a certain time. If you were too late you would not be allowed to continue to prevent that people would be out in dark without lights. We never had a problem with this, even though we probably stopped for at least 5-10 minutes every hour. The checkpoints had plenty of water and food; the organization was excellent. But we didn't just rely on the event organizers to bail us out - besides the 3 spare tires around my waste I brought my HAWG filled with goodies; 100 ounces of Gatorade, a bagel, 2 bananas, numerous bars and gels and some beef jerky. Besides food I carried some tools, 2 tubes, a shock & tire pump, my (infamous) box of screws, bolts & nuts, some zip-ties, a shifter cable, a small first aid kit and last but not least, my 10 year old camera. Fortunately we didn't need any tools, or even worse, the first aid kit. We had no mechanicals and didn't have any crashes...
Even though we were riding a pretty decent pace and passed a number of people, we also got passed by the locals - who were riding their single speeds... Those guys rule! One particular group of 4 riders motored by us and made it all look way too easy. That doesn't necessary mean that you'll see me riding my single speed next year :-)
Eventually we arrived at the last checkpoint/bail out, appropriately named 'Gut Check', 40 miles into the ride, at the bottom of Suck Mountain. We did the spare tire check, ate some food and rode on. The hike-a-bike up Suck Mountain literally sucked! At the top it connects to the Ouachita trail, which wasn't as bad as I thought it would be - a little rougher than the Womble but still a good ride. Both of us started to feel tired though. It started to show on the technical (downhill) sections; we were all over the place. The climbs were also more difficult but I managed to clean some tricky stuff and that really helped me with staying positive. After several more miles of up-down-up-down sections we reached the last long downhill, a section with 40 or so dirt jumps! My upper body was toast by the time we finally reached the road, which would lead us to the finish back in Oden. 6 miles later we reached that finish, after 8 hours of being 'out there'. What a ride!!!
I can only highly recommend this event. The organization was great. Way Too Much Fun for that kind of money! Thank you to all the volunteers! I also owe Walt a thank you for hanging with me; I know you could have finished way ahead of me. Charles Long, thanks for tuning my bike before this ride - it was perfect.

From the Earth Bike Fellowship in Oklahoma. www.okearthbike.com/roadtrip/032903-OC.html for more photos and information.

ohpossum-
My friend and I were #99 and #100 to complete the whole 63 miles. There weren't many people behind us, but we weren't dead last!

It was a great ride. I survived a flat on Blowout Mtn (how ironic, huh?..I mean, really, how can one flat a tire when you spend more time walking next to the bike than riding it??) and a lost-then-found flask of Gu on the same stretch of trail.

The debilitating leg cramps hit at about 45 miles. They made for slow going past Checkpoint 3.. I was never so happy to see a dirt road when I
finally got to the last checkpoint.

Notable Moments:

* The scary fast decent off of Blowout Mtn into Checkpoint 3. When I finally got through the rock gardens and on the other side of the mountain I had just minutes to make it to CP3 before the cutoff (didn't know they extended it at the time). It was a no-brakes, hang on for dear life, sprint to the checkpoint. I made it there at 3:03 and was happy to hear I had 27 new minutes to catch my breath. What a ride! I'll never forget that bit..

* The two Juliana riders that my friend and I blew past on the last fireroad segment, only to be politely passed by them as we walked up the next hill . We never saw them again

* The 3 or so guys that were will me on the last segment of trail. We were all suffering and it made it a little better to be suffering together. One guy in particular gave me some inspiration. He said, "If I can make it to the fireroad, I know I can make it to the end.." He was right, once you make it to the fireroad, just knowing that you're almost done is enough to get you through it. I caught that guys name at the end of the ride and promptly forgot it M-something..anyway, thanks man!

* Getting to the end right as they ran out of yellow bracelets! Oh well, that's motivation to ride a little faster, and cramp a little less, next year..

* My buddy Boatner who was with me through most of the last section. He made the suffering a little better

Thanks to EVERYONE that volunteered to make the Tour and Race happen. Ya'll are the absolute best!!!!

Can't wait for next year! Pics (and maybe some video) to come!

op (Brian)

I was the last rider to make the revised 3:30 check point cut off. I arrived at 3:28 and didn't even have time to fill up with water (maybe I could have, but I was so suprised to hear I was still in it, that I went on). I rode the last 13 miles with no water. The trail sweeps were right behind me as I would push my bike up every hill longer than about 20 yards and then have to stop and recover. My feet were completely blistered from getting wet at the big creek crossing, and it was every thing I could do to just put one foot in front of the other. Several times I commented that I wished they hadn't changed the cut off time and that I had been pulled. I ended up catching up to the only other two riders left (they got flats) and we rode the last 8 miles to Oden together. Total ride time: 10 hours.
This is the toughest thing I have ever done physically.
-Steve

Took the wool socks advice, too, and I'm glad I did. My shoes stayed pretty wet after riding the creek, but my socks seemed to dry out pretty well. No blisters. I did have about 5 minutes to walk around and squish the water out of my shoes while my friend put his shoes back on . I think that helped.

I really enjoyed the tour. We made our goal to finish this year. After training hard for about 6 months, there was no other option. Each of the prior two years I did progressively better (36 then 42 miles) but each involved severe cramps which ultimately took me out. This year I was able to keep the cramps from totally locking me up, but there were some really touchy moments.

Hope to be back again next year.
Boatner-

Man I had a blast. What a great ride.
_________________
Whaaaa Hooooo
Wampuscat -

My thanks to the OC crew & volunteers for a tour ride I won't soon forget. It was my first , but not my last. I had brake problems on Blowout Mountain and had to take the bailout route back to Oden, but next year I'll be back to do it all.
Lynn-

Everything was really well organized and supported, just like last year. The OC is definitely one of the premier events around. Congratulations to all of you who put it on for a job well done, and thank you. Especially the non-riding volunteers. I love seeing them out there and chatting with them
wooglin-

Congrats to all! Man this was a tough one! Did it! Thanks to all that worked so hard to put this on, I know how much time and effort goes into this stuff and I just want you to know its appreciated!!!
This is the toughest event I've ever done, Looking forward to next year!
Don. -

 

 

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