Just over a week ago was the 12th Annual Ouachita Challenge. The course begins in Oden, Arkansas and makes a big loop of sections of the Ouachita and Womble Trails. The event consists of a Saturday tour and a Sunday race, with both riding the same basic course and terrain. It is an approximate 60 mile event, with well over 5,000 feet of climbing in single track, gravel road, and a little bit of paved road thrown in the mix. It is a very well organized event, with a large amount of Oklahoma mountain bikers participating. According to the official race and tour demographics for the event, there was a total of 67 Oklahomans competing this year.
This was my second year competing. What really stood out to me this year was the great teamwork between all Oklahoma participants. There was a real sense of camaraderie, and over-the-top support for all Oklahoma racers regardless of what team they each represented. Each time an Oklahoma racer was within site, and I experienced it myself as I was riding, there would be multiple shouts offering to provide aid and assistance – quickly giving anything that was needed to help complete the day. There was no shortage of encouragement for the riders either. On multiple occasions there would be a Team Phoenix or Tulsa Wheel Works rider getting their camelback filled up by Off Camber or Soundpony team members. Then at the midway point aid station on highway 298, it would be Phoenix and Wheel Works working the kinks out of a bike ridden by Off Camber and the Chaingang as the riders refueled. I personally rode up on a member of Team Soundpony assisting with a mechanical issue on a bike ridden by Tulsa Bone & Joint team member.
The sportsmanship of mountain biking is always surprising and refreshing, and it is on display front and center in this great event.
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