Mountain Bike Capital of the World. The claim is not just for the work that has been done over the past decade, but more importantly, what the plan is for the next decade.
When I moved to the region in 2003, you had to load up the car and drive somewhere else to find a trail to ride. In a relatively short period of time, Bentonville and the Northwest Arkansas region has become a place the rest of the world is making a destination. Let me explain why:
- Bentonville connects to over 140 miles of newly developed purpose-built mountain bike trail, designed and constructed by the best trail builders in the industry, each in competition to push the boundaries of mountain bike trail design and construction. The result is ridable works of art.
- Trails are designed with intentional diversity for riders of all skill levels from the first-time balance bike riding 2-year-old to the top professional (and all in-between!).
- Over 100 trail building crew members, both male and female are on the ground in the region during peak building times throughout the year building an average of over 2 miles of new trail per week around the state.
- The women’s mountain bike movement is strong in Bentonville. The Women of OZ is a Bentonville based all women ran organization that holds beginner training camps, monthly rides, and other events to grow the number of women riders.
- Cycling and mountain biking has become mainstream with exponential growth in the number of families and children riding the trails. The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) has junior high and high school racing teams around the state that compete each fall.
- If you live in Bentonville, you are just a short ride from your driveway to a trailhead. If you’re visiting Bentonville, you can park the car for the week and ride your bike from the hotel or Air B&B to the trailhead, to restaurants and stores.
- Bentonville city leaders are all in on the mountain bike movement from the mayor, the parks director down to the city maintenance team who take pride in maintaining the mountain bike trails and post the latest groomed trail sections on social media
- Visit Bentonville, the city tourism team recruits and hosts national cycling events, conferences, and cycling celebrities on a regular basis.
- A 300-acre park on the west side of Bentonville named Coler is a “mountain bike preserve”. Coler is an oasis of amazing experiences for riders. Hikers, runners and just casual outdoor lovers of all ages. Some of the experiences include a bike and hike in restaurant, an old barn restored into an event center, a camping area tucked into the northern edge of the property with indoor and outdoor showers, and most importantly, some of the most amazing mountain bike jump and trail features in the state. Riders come from all over the US to ride Coler, and some have even made reservations for their wedding on the property.
For those who may be skeptical about this bold claim by Bentonville as the Mountain Bike Capital of the World, just you wait…