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Ozark bike fest on again after cancellation in 2020

by Celia Storey | March 29, 2021 at 1:55 a.m.
Hap Hall is ejected from his bike into Lee Creek at high speed April 6, 2019, during the big splash contest of the 31st annual Ozark Mountain Bike Festival at Devil’s Den State Park. (NWA Democrat-Gazette file photo/Flip Putthoff)

The second 32nd annual Ozark Mountain Bike Festival is not being canceled by covid, says Assistant Park Superintendant Tim Scott.

The joke at Devil's Den State Park these days is that you only live once but you can turn 32 twice: when you reach your 32nd anniversary and can't celebrate because of covid, and another time because you didn't get to celebrate the first time.

The family-friendly event will dive back into its old place on the mountain biking calendar Friday through Sunday with a full schedule of group trail rides. After 2020 we no longer can say "as always," but, per usual, different outings will be tailored to the needs of beginners, intermediates, women and girls; to cyclists who own headlamps and aren't afraid of rocks in the dark; and also to those confident riders who fear nothing about a 12-mile ride that for newbies would be salute to saddle sores.

The first beginner friendly ride is at 2:30 p.m. Friday on the Fossil Flats trail, and that evening ride among the trees — for beginners and intermediates — is at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Two rides Saturday will be workshops: At 10 a.m., intermediates can improve their skills during a 6.5-mile session on the Fossil Flats Trail. And at 11 a.m. on the same trail, beginning riders will endure — ahem! enjoy — a 6.5-mile workshop tailored to their concerns.

But the hallmark of the weekend is its goofy games and socializing. A reprise of 2019's Big Splash contest is set for noon Saturday. One at a time, riders will race downhill and launch themselves on their bikes into Lee Creek. The idea is to make a splash that impresses the judges on the opposite shore, who will grade each spectacle on a scale of 1-10.

They will hold up cards with the numbers on them. The winner gets ... wet, and so does everyone else.

At 2 p.m. Saturday, a child-friendly skills course will be open near the campground. And after the 4 p.m. poker run on the Fossil Flats Trail, at the 7 p.m. cookout, folks can catch up on the news about the new Monument Trails to be built at Devil's Den.

The traditional weekend-ending 12-miler will begin at 10 a.m. Sunday on the Boston Mountain Multi-Use Trail in Lake Fort Smith Park at Mountainburg. All the other events are in Devil's Den State Park, 11333 W. Arkansas 74, West Fork.

Everyone is welcome and all events are free, although camping is not free. More information about camping is available by calling (479) 761-3325 or emailing [email protected]

And, not to be a wet blanket, Scott says, "Participants will have to follow the current Arkansas Department of Health covid-19 recommendations."

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