Video: Riding in Arkansas with Jeff Kendall-Weed

Nov 16, 2018 at 1:45
by Jeff Kendall-Weed  
Views: 12,475    Faves: 60    Comments: 7


Available in 4k here.



Revolution is a strong word. Even so, it feels appropriate to describe how Northwest Arkansas has incorporated a complete mountain bike experience into the region. The ambitious strategy that began in Bentonville, and now expands throughout Northwest Arkansas, paints an exciting new paradigm for what’s possible when developing the sport. These days in northwest Arkansas, mountain biking is molding an entire region into a community of like-minded shredders.

Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
Rather than just ride these trails solo, I wanted to meet some of the folks that have helped grow this scene into what it is today. And it turns out that these guys are rippers!

Like many, I had heard about Bentonville’s significant push for mountain biking. Thanks to the support of my sponsors, including Ibis, Camelbak, Kitsbow, Kali, and the local Best Western locations, I was fortunate to have an opportunity to visit Arkansas to experience the scene for myself. With my own appreciation for how legitimate and mainstream the sport of mountain biking has become in the Pacific Northwest, I figured I could make the most of this visit by meeting and riding with the people responsible for this revolution in the Ozarks. I wanted to learn what they were up to, and perhaps build a new picture in my own mind of how we could bring these strategies to other areas. How can we spread the revolution?

Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
Sampling the trails in Little Rock.

Once I finalized my plans to make a trip, I did what I’ve always done, ever since I was a kid: I asked a fellow rider for some guidance! I shot a quick call to the local bike shop in Bentonville and chatted with long-time local Dave Neal at Mojo Cycling. After explaining what I was up to, it was clear that southern hospitality was alive and well: Dave didn’t hesitate to get me in touch with several key figures in the Northwest Arkansas (NWA) scene. Dave connected me with Gary Vernon, program officer for the Walton Foundation with an emphasis on Arkansas-focused trail and cycling projects, as well as Scott Schroen, director of Oz Trails. Even before I flew in, I already felt like I was going to Arkansas to meet old friends.


Little Rock: A Nascent Destination

Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
Meeting Paul Norris, the president of the Central Arkansas Trail Alliance.

Before diving into what’s specifically happening in Northwest Arkansas, I wanted to better understand what the scene was like before the revolution began. En route to Bentonville, I visited Little Rock, a 3-hour drive southeast in central Arkansas. I first heard about the riding in Little Rock in about 2009. I was working at Ibis, and our company sent a few employees to visit Competitive Cyclist, located in Little Rock at the time. Reports were that there was indeed a riding scene in Little Rock. I’d made a mental note of it, but hadn’t heard much about Little Rock since then. With how much fan fare Bentonville has been receiving, I was eager to visit for myself, and see something perhaps less discovered. And it turns out that it’s still a fairly nascent mountain bike scene, at least in comparison to Bentonville and the Northwest Arkansas region.


Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
Not every rock was little.

Paul Norris, the president of the mountain bike advocacy group Central Arkansas Trails Alliance (CATA), explains, “I’d say we’re about four years behind Bentonville. We’ve been building for quite a while, working with the city, and now we’re seeing the land grants, the highway grants.”

Paul has an extensive trail building pedigree, having spent many years living and building in the Pacific Northwest, as well as riding all over the USA during extensive van life tours. In Little Rock, the trails utilize volunteer build days, and CATA is still a small organization at only 118 members--but it’s growing. In this central part of the USA, mountain biking is still a fairly “fringe” activity. It already has a stronger presence in Little Rock, though, than in many other heartland towns. In fact, Little Rock today feels like it’s on a similar path to that of Bentonville, growing in possibilities and popularity.


Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
No, the trails aren’t jump infested, but if you’re hungry enough, an airtime sandwich can easily be whipped up off some rocks.


Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
Paul and Melanie just completed a massive van life tour of the continental USA, and their bike of choice for riding every type of terrain was actually the fat bike. And the beasts indeed work pretty well through the endless rock chunder that perhaps resulted in the fitting name for the city.

Paul, his wife Melanie, and I rode the Jackfork Mountain Bike trail at Pinnacle State Park, which is still a bit of a marquee trail for Little Rock. We then journeyed to a less affluent neighborhood in the community to ride a Boyd city park. That trail project, one of CATA’s early efforts, reflects its unique strategy of making mountain biking accessible to all.

Having smashed through some proper Arkansas rock for the day, we set our sights on the Northwest corner of the Natural State. The drive from Little Rock to Northwest Arkansas provided a beautiful tour of Arkansas, from the flat lands of the central region to the rolling hills of the Ozarks. And while the Ozarks might not be the tallest mountains in North America, to see the flat lands they rise from puts their elevation into perspective. They might not be massive, but they are mountains, and they are beautiful.

Little Rock mountain biking trails

Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
Little Rock, it was fun to visit. You gave me a glimpse as to what American Heartland is actually like, without a massive push for mountain bike development. There is very much potential, but it is a strikingly different environment than the big mountain states. I’m excited to see future developments!


Bentonville: The Epicenter

Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
Bentonville needs no formal introduction. It is, at this point, one of the most well-known destinations east of the Rockies.

Today, in fall 2018, we are reaching the point where Bentonville needs no grand introduction. It is among the most popular riding destinations between the Rocky Mountains and the eastern seaboard. But the mountain bike experience isn’t just Bentonville; it’s the entire Northwest Arkansas region. Currently, anywhere from three to as many as five professional trail building companies are continually employed in the region. Yes, this means many people earn a living building trails. This is an important point to remember, as it shows one of the benefits of growing mountain biking as a sport: it creates paying jobs, helping communities in lots of ways at once.

The growth of the sport has been primarily within the last dozen years, with much of the growth only recently. The town of Bentonville only began to build mountain biking trails in 2006:

bigquotesGary Vernon says, “I moved here in 2003, and really, there was no mountain biking in either Bentonville or Bella Vista. But it wasn’t until 2006 that we heard a rumor about a trail coming to Bentonville, and that’s the trail system that Tom Walton went to the city council and got approval for, to build 5 miles of trail in Bentonville.”

Vernon now works as a program officer for the Walton foundation focusing on trail and cycling projects. He is also a 30-plus year veteran employee of Walmart.

Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
Gary Vernon keeps a low profile, but the man can ride!

Within Northwest Arkansas, about 150 miles of trail are open to the public. And it’s not just rugged Ozark trails through slick limestone and thick clay-- this includes an astounding number of professionally built trail, much of it with a sinuous flow through tall oaks and pines. And that 150 mile number is actually a low estimate. New trails continue to open weekly.

Bike NWA is the lead advocate for biking in general in North West Arkansas. Bike NWA supports programs and events that foster a thriving, fun cycling culture, and mountain biking is indeed a big part of that. But it’s not the only part. During my visit, I learned that a big part of the leadership and vision for the growth has come from Bike NWA, as well as their bike alliance. The alliance is a consortium of cycling related non-profits that can all benefit through mutual communication and common goals that serve the community. In addition to the trails, Bentonville now has an extensive urban bicycle infrastructure. Greenways and bike lanes crisscross the rolling hills.

bigquotes“It’s exploding, and it’s not going to stop,” says Candice Kozark, special programs coordinator for Bike NWA.


Kozark moved to Bentonville 2.5 years ago, and says she has never once thought about leaving. Working in a career position at Bike NWA, her abilities on the bike are a great work asset.

Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
Gary Vernon leads Jeff Kendall-Weed and Richard Drew through a corner on the All American trail.

One unique aspect of the scene in Northwest Arkansas is the Oz Trails brand. Under the Bike NWA umbrella, Oz Trails has a specific goal of promoting mountain biking in Northwest Arkansas. Oz Trails works on events as well as raising awareness and furthering the stoke for the trails through a content marketing type strategy. Developing the Oz brand for the trails presents a simple, catchy title for businesses to rally behind.

Scott Shroen, director of Oz Trails, explains, “Something I find myself repeating very often to explain what Oz Trails is all about. It is the path that the mountain biker experiences while they are in north west Arkansas. So it’s the breweries, the trails, the bike shops, the rider themselves, all of us together. It’s not me, per say. I might be the one behind the scenes, but it’s not just me. It’s all of us.”

bigquotesScott Shroen, director of Oz Trails, explains, “Something I find myself repeating very often to explain what Oz Trails is all about. It is the path that the mountain biker experiences while they are in north west Arkansas. So it’s the breweries, the trails, the bike shops, the rider themselves, all of us together. It’s not me, per say. I might be the one behind the scenes, but it’s not just me. It’s all of us.”

Scott Schroen spent many years in Austin, Texas, before making the move to Arkansas. Apparently Scott’s friends attempted to have an intervention with him in 2010 when he told them he’d be moving to Arkansas. Now, no one would doubt that choice. Scott leads Gary and Jeff into one of the rock berms on the All American trail.

Local advocacy groups FAST and OORV both advocate for the growth and maintenance of mountain bike trails. With each group’s mission specifically defined, the groups can then focus on exactly what they need to do. This targeted approach has led the mountain bike scenes’ tremendous growth.

One of the coolest things I noticed about Bentonville is that the accessibility to trails could not be better. Right in the heart of downtown, on Northwest 3rd Street, lies the All-American trail, a pumptrack-esque ribbon of golden brown singletrack painstakingly sculpted to bring riders through three trails networks: Crystal Bridges, Park Spring, and finally, to the Slaughter Pen network.

The All-American trail is particularly visionary. It was designed with a goal of exposing the population to what mountain biking is, intentionally built alongside a multi-use path. Walkers see mountain biking up close and personal.

bigquotesWe refer to it as the gateway trail because it’s maximum exposure to pedestrian traffic,” says Schroen. “We see it every day when we ride. People look up at us and say, ‘Mom! Mountain biking! I wanna do that!'


Notice that walking path? The trailbed for the All American trail stays quite close to it.

Yes, Bentonville really doesn’t need much of an introduction to any mountain biker who stays current with the scene in the central USA, but it’s worth noticing all the great things happening there, just as the kids along the All-American trail notice. The All-American trail is a great marquee piece for the town, and as we pedaled from a trendy downtown coffee shop, we passed a public bicycle maintenance station. As the locals told me about their growing enduro race series, as well as about the IMBA world summit, we also waved at droves of Sprinter vans heading into town for Outerbike. Already strong, the scene grows and grows.


Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
On the west coast, wet rocks are generally safe to ride. Sure, they can be unpredictable, but they don’t hold a candle to wet limestone. Here I try to keep the front wheel light to avoid any unexpected washouts.

Many of the trails sport substantial rock armoring.




A Mountain Bike Community: Portraits of the People

Visiting Northwest Arkansas, I didn’t just want to ride the trails; I wanted to meet the folks whose lives have been positively changed by the growth of mountain biking in this town of 35,000 people. In about 15 short years, the sport went from an insignificant blip on the radar to a mainstream activity, and this has directly shaped many local lives. Southern hospitality is alive here in many ways. Arkansas blends the best of southern culture with heartland Americana, welcoming cyclists who bring even more positive energy to the region.

But the business opportunities aren’t limited to the service industry; the mountain bike culture here is growing some rather unique opportunities.

bigquotes“We were welcomed here with open arms” says Bea Apple, a local entrepreneur. “This community is very supportive.”

Bea Apple opened a successful restaurant, the Pressroom, in downtown Bentonville, and recently launched another new venture, Hillfolk, a textile boutique. She shares this bike with her oldest of her three children.

The town is aware that the community needs more than just trails, such as great places to eat, micro-breweries, and an art museum. Bentonville is developing a metropolitan experience with a small-town vibe. We were able to enjoy food all the way from typical American breakfasts to gourmet brewery style dinners, and even had some traditional and warm Vietnamese pho on a cold evening.


Oven and Tap is a great example of the scene in Bentonville. The trendy restaurant actually sponsors the Gravitas enduro race team. Also notable? Scot Nicol, founder and part owner of Ibis Cycles, who was in town for Outerbike. Scot is another guy who absolutely rips on a bike.

Eric Smith, member of the Gravitas race team, is a life long Arkansan. Call me old school, but when riders are really good at jumping, I tend to just assume they are ex-BMXers. Turns out Eric has no such BMX background, he’s simply been enjoying these trails, and the riding community, for many years.


While there is no single person in charge of and pushing the movement in NWA, the local mountain bike community’s positive vibe very much stems from the fact that there are many different key players putting in energy to develop the scene. That said, I was lucky enough to spend some time with a guy who has indeed been hands on involved with the mountain bike growth in Bentonville since the very beginning- Gary Vernon. Vernon has an important position as a program officer for the Walton foundation, with an emphasis on Arkansas focused trail and cycling opportunities, and he has held a key role in the local development. And the guy rips.

With an acumen of decades of riding experience, as well as BMX, moto trials and motocross influences, Vernon and I hit jumps together, rode wheelies for entire city blocks, and generally shredded the daylights outta the trails.

bigquotesA key point that Vernon drove home was, “It’s not just the trails, the town needs the full experience. Trails need to be accessible right from downtown, and not just that, mountain bikers need to feel welcome here.”

Denis Kremenetskiy moved to Rogers, AR, in 2004 to attend high school. He left in 2007 to pursue his dream of racing downhill and working within the cycling industry. After 10 years with top cycling companies all located in California, Kremenetskiy returned to Arkansas to open his mobile bicycle repair business.


bigquotes“I wanted to bring my expertise and knowledge of the bike industry back to Arkansas, where the bike industry is growing and developing every day,” says Kremenetskiy. “There is much more opportunity to start a new business here than in California, where the market is already saturated,” Kremenetskiy explains.

Richard Drew has been teaching mountain bike skills clinics for years, and decided that Bentonville had sufficient mountain bike opportunities that he could actually leave his traditional 9-to-5 job and instead earn a living through skills clinics. There are only a handful of places in North America where that wouldn’t be considered financial suicide--and Bentonville is now on the safe list.


bigquotes“I wanted to work around mountain bikes, my passion, and this is the land of mountain bike opportunity,” says Drew. He adds with enthusiasm, “The people behind everything that’s happening have such incredible vision, and to see a whole community rally behind it, and to be able to be a part of that, there was no I way couldn’t take up that opportunity.”

Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
Pro enduro racer Rich Drew felt so confident about Bentonville that he quit his steady, 9-5 job, and moved his family to the budding hotspot. He teaches skills classes, and coaches a NICA team at Thaden school.


Arkansas NICA league director Kyla Templeton. Kyla had much more of a road background before her tenure with NICA, but now she loves riding her mountain bike.


Professional digital storyteller Garrett Hubbard didn’t solely move to the region in pursuit of a bicycle industry gig. He came for the family-friendly culture, but the quality riding nearby only helped with that decision.

bigquotesIn a pleasant twist, Hubbard found the growing sport actually imbued his work world as well. “My business has now shifted, and 25% of what I do is actually work within the bicycle segment. That’s a dream come true, and one that would have never happened should we have remained in Washington DC.”

Garrett Hubbard is the CEO of the Gravitas enduro race team, and lives only minutes from quality trail.

Historically, to work within the bike industry requires living in the industry hot spots-- California, Utah, Colorado--states known for big mountains. But with the massive growth of the mountain bike scene, many new opportunities exist in NWA. The costs of living and doing business are relatively low in Arkansas, and for anyone looking to set a stake in the MTB industry, Bentonville is now officially on the map.

Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
I’ve seen these uphill lilli-pad things on Slopestyle courses over the years, but never on a legal, public trail. The flow of this feature was super fun, and sending it into the tight, right hand berm was a highlight of the trip.


The Takeaway
As mountain biking’s popularity grows, it makes sense to (literally) spread the love. I was very attracted to visiting Arkansas because I wanted to learn how they have gotten to where they are. And you know what? I would love to apply this model elsewhere. It’s time to think bigger. Currently, many trails in the most popular hotspots are crowded. We clearly need more places to ride, and we do ultimately need a bigger presence of the sport as a whole. I was excited to see firsthand what an innovative community can develop to enhance mountain biking and all that goes with it.


The Arkansas state motto is Regnat Populus: the people rule. And they do.

Bentonville mountain biking trails

Cycle OG
Denis Kremenetskiy, our photographer for this trip, has a really cool story. Born in Russian Siberia, Denis moved to Arkansas to attend high school. Then he quickly left Arkansas in 2007 to pursue the mountain bike dream, which meant a move to Colorado, followed by another move to California. Denis worked at many top companies in California before deciding that a return to Arkansas would have even more opportunities. Photo by Gordon F. Dooley.


Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
Logan Nelson has filmed much of my larger productions in 2018. And he kills it on the bike as well! Note he is riding a borrowed hardtail, and even more notable, that’s a 40 pound backpack full of all our camera gear. He rolled right off this drop like it was nothing.

Riding with the faces behind the Arkansas MTB Scene

Produced, written, and edited by: Jeff Kendall-Weed @jeffweed.
Filming: Logan Patrick Nelson@loganpnelson.
Photography: Denis Kremenetskiy @denismrkt22.

Supported by:
Best Western
Camelbak
Ibis Cycles
Kali Protectives
Kitsbow Cycling Apparel

Photo by Denis Kremenetskiy https www.pinkbike.com u denismrkt22
Follow Jeff on his Instagram, subscribe to his YouTube, or follow him on Facebook. Hope you enjoyed this video!



141 Comments

  • 70 6
 Awesome stuff by Jeff as always. One of the best series to watch in my books. I am starting to notice the same vibe about him as Ryan Leech has. Smiling so much that I get confused... ready to believe they are so kind and stoked that they must be serial killers Big Grin
  • 59 1
 Jeff is a nice contrast to the typical "do you even shred?" bro brahs.
  • 9 2
 @bishopsmike: 100% agreed. I've been following Jeff for the last 2-3 years on YouTube and he's as genuine as can be -- and a heck of a rider. If you want to see what "steeze" looks like, just watch his vids.
  • 40 1
 Thanks Waki. I literally couldn't think of anything more fun that getting to meet cool people, learning their stories, and then riding bikes with them.
  • 21 1
 @bishopsmike: Thanks Mike! But, I must ask, do you shred...? Hahaha jk! I had plenty of attitude in my younger days, now in my 30s, having retired from racing, there's a lot more to appreciate!
  • 3 1
 @cool3: Thanks Cool! There's quite a learning curve to YouTube, but that's been a really fun challenge. Cheers!
  • 2 1
 Being a fellow youtuber, instagrammer, and blogger I appreciate the refreshing content @JeffWeed Been following since you were at Ibis. Keep it up! I'm sure alot of people don't realize all the moving parts and work it takes to bring an article like this to life
  • 1 0
 @projectnortheast: Thanks man! Yeah it's full on to do content like this, but it's also super rewarding!
  • 3 0
 I have only discovered him in the last 2 years. At first I thought, "who is this smiley geeky guy?" But after watching him on a bike he is a flippin dirty nasty cold blooded killer!!!! He is now in my top 3 mtn biking youtubers. Great riding and movies Jeff! Thanks!
  • 2 0
 @WCJMF: Hahaha wow thanks man! I was super into DH racing in the mid-2000s, then super into enduro racing 2012-2016, then started pushing hard on videos the last year or so. Cheers!
  • 3 0
 @JeffWeed: awsome name! Almost as good as Nick Beer!
  • 2 1
 @JeffWeed: you can lay some fat pancakes. Loved every minute of it. Riding and the back stpry. Sweet
  • 1 0
 @JeffWeed: What a great story! Nice work Jeff and crew. Now I actually have a reason to visit Arkansas
  • 22 1
 Amazing what corporate dollars can do when re-invested into a community. It's easy to hate on Walmart, but without their money and influence this scene "probably" would not have exploded the way it has. Props to them and I look forward to a trip to Bentonville in 2019! Cheers!
  • 5 1
 $70 million invested.
  • 14 1
 There has definitely been money invested in the trails, but what I found most inspiring out of my trip was the foresight and organization. Making the trails accessible from the center of down town is sooo ideal, and it literally shows the public what mountain biking is. The organizations behind this were really progressive, with each having very specific roles. That's a huge contrast to what I've seen literally everywhere else, where the advocacy group ends up having to manage everything. Both of these strategies could be applied elsewhere, as long as we are brave enough to think big!
  • 4 1
 @Thustlewhumber: I've heard similar numbers too- nothing to sneeze at!
  • 5 5
 I think the Walton Foundation's influence on Bentonville is a double edge sword. On one hand, it's freaking awesome that they've invested so heavily in making Bentonville a mountain bikers "must visit" spot on the map. On the other hand, there are plenty of small cities elsewhere in the nation (that have employers who aren't Walmart) with prime opportunities for trail building that will never see this level of development. It'd be cool if the Walton Foundation "shared the wealth" outside of Bentonville. Lots of places in the south and mid-west could benefit. I'm sure it's a challenge for other trail organizations in Arkansas who constantly get told "we'd love have those types of trails but we don't have the Walton's, sorry."
  • 5 0
 @JeffWeed: Walmart/Walton foundation money helps. But the lessons are indeed bigger. That trail system does wonders for creating a vibrant town center, and along with the eco system of outdoor recreation, restaurant, breweries, coffee places, what have you, it also makes the town more attractive to people, thus making it easier to recruit folks to move to. I went to grad school at UT Austin in the 90s - and Walmart, despite providing a lot of interesting career opportunities for MBAs and IT folks, was generally shunned in on-campus interviews because nobody wanted to move to Bentonville. I bet that's different now.

As for the bigger lessons - as small towns in beautiful surroundings grow, they have to manage their growth in a way that keeps and enhances what's special about them. Here in Bellingham, our trail systems are a little bit outside of town, and while we're far from Pugetropolis-levels of congestion, that sort of car-dependence doesn't bode well. I'm stoked about the parking lot project at Galbraith - but it would be awesome if there were more/better bus service, or some sort of shuttle, as well as a better bike path connection between neighborhoods and trails.

Or how about schools - we have all these great neighborhood schools. It would be great if it were easier for kids to get to them by bike in a fun way, like they do in Bentonville. Build a few fun trail features along the multi-use bike trails (and vastly expand the multi-use trails so you can navigate the whole town without having to ride in traffic), and you reduce traffic and get kids out moving their bodies before and after school. Same for commuting - we need more buses, with more bike racks, and lots more bike paths away from roads.
  • 1 1
 @g-42: Great points! I'd love to see the inter-urban trail connect Wade King directly to Galbraith and the Chuckanuts. It'd also be great to have legit single track running through Whatcom Falls and directly into down town.
  • 2 0
 @JeffWeed, thanks for coming to hang with us in NWA and for being a great ambassador for our sport. I'm looking forward to your next trip and taking you out to Mt. Fitzgerald, Lake Leatherwood, Passion Play, and whatever trail network gets completed in the next six months.
  • 1 0
 Agreed. Tried to up props, but my phone disagreed. It’s rad but over the top.
  • 2 0
 @Thustlewhumber: ...People for Bikes did an analysis to determine the impact on the local economy. They came up with a number of $139M. As Jeff said earlier, one of the issues Walmart has faced has been getting top talent to move to Bentonville to work at the Home Office/HQ. It's been a challenge dating clear back to the "Bangin' in Little Rock" gang documentary what was on HBO, which was a huge black eye on our state. That has all been cleaned up, and it was 3.5 hours from NWA. But...the stigma was there.

I fully realize that coughing up $70M is no small task, and I also acknowledge that land managers are not always as embracing as ours locally. When you look at what has happened here, it's astonishing, and it's just within the last 3 years.
  • 16 1
 Careful with these videos - us Californians like to find great states (CO, WA, TX) and move there with our ideas on how to make your state JUST as great as ours. Just ask anyone from those states - they love us.
  • 6 0
 Hahaha Jeremiah, I'm originally from Santa Cruz, California, too! Everyones gotta come from somewhere.
  • 3 0
 Californian occupying Colorado for the past 11 years checking in!
  • 4 1
 san diegan living in asheville NC since '04. stay classy san diego
  • 1 0
 @JeffWeed: And with much irony, now live in WA! Razz Glad to have YOU and the family here Jeff, but tell the rest of the crash-cars-when-roads-wet Californian's to move back! Hah!
  • 1 0
 @flipoffthemonkeys: That had to be a big change. And you've now got 4 full seasons to enjoy, very different from San Diego sun!
  • 2 0
 @boxxerace: Thanks man, everywhere sweet is going to get crowded soon enough. Heck, look at Vancouver! It's great to have the WMBC working to massively grow our riding opportunities. The rumors I've heard should mean a pretty legit future for the town!
  • 9 0
 Jeff is like the Dad who's had too many coffees before his kid's soccer game and can't stop encouraging his kid and teammates, except in this case his kid is mountain biking. I love the enthusiasm.
  • 3 0
 Hahaha thanks Lorax! The goal here is to have fun, so why not do just that? Cheers!!!
  • 5 1
 Great feature for not only the riding and available terrain in NWA, but for the people behind the scenes and their role within it! Bentonville is definitely high on the list of MTB destinations. Inspiring to see what it has become. For me, watching this video sparks that desire to get more involved in the expansion of our current networks and development of new ones here in NH. Kudos, JKW and all those involved. Quality piece!
  • 2 1
 Thans Jibba! I only had two days in town, so this is nowhere near everyone that's responsible for the trails and the scene's growth! STOKED that this is inspiring you to help grow the scene in NH! That's a big goal of mine- get more folks pumped to get involved with growing the sport.
  • 4 0
 great video showing how amazing the trail network is there !! but why is @denismrkt22 suspended for
167966 hours or 19 years ?!?!? lol
  • 7 2
 Because he is a total fucking cunt i think
  • 3 2
 Thanks Ayyggss!
  • 3 1
 Man, Jeff has some skills! I moved here to Bentonville a little over a year ago, and the MTB scene was one of the major draws. The area has a lot of other charms, such as miles and miles of forest roads and free camping spots to explore in the nearby Ozark NF and Ouachitas. There's also some lift-supported downhill trails in nearby Eureka Springs, and a few more trail systems 20 miles south in Fayetteville. That paved "walking" trail mentioned actually runs 30+ miles between Bella Vista/Bentonville and Fayetteville. I can't say that everyone is happy about the growing MTB scene, but most welcome it even if they are not a cyclist. They understand being out in the woods and enjoying nature.

Now to decide where to ride today . . .
  • 2 1
 Thanks Ten! There is indeed so much to ride! We only had two days in town, next time I would love to hit the downhill stuff. Cheers!
  • 1 0
 Skills indeed. That manual to drop at 11:00 has some high consequences!
  • 2 0
 @Endurahbrah: True! Just don't drop the front end though, and it'll be fine!
  • 1 0
 Have you ridden in Little Rock? The footage there didn't look very intriguing. Is the terrain just not as good as Bentonville? I would love to ride Bentonville even though I'm spoiled with our North Shore trails.
  • 1 0
 @rrolly: Little Rock is working to catch up, and hopefully they will get there. They have some amazing terrain as well, and as Jeff indicated, they are working hard to increase their advocacy and get more things planned and funded. Camp Robinson has around 40 miles of trail, Boyle Park has around 8, and Burns Park has around 12 (the last time I rode it). They are mostly XC style with an occasional place to get a little air, but they don't offer the features that we have here in NWA.

I can't emphasize how much it's blowing up all over the state though. Between JKW filming this, and the release of the video, an outstanding new trail system called Northwoods opened in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which is about 45 minutes south of Little Rock. In addition, they have over 100 miles of IMBA Epic XC trails in the Hot Springs area. Iron Mountain is close by in Arkadelphia, and there's another EPIC about 90 miles north of Little Rock near Mountain View, called Syllamo.

There are multiple systems being built, and many more already planned and funded. It's a great place to be a MTB'er!
  • 1 0
 @Razorbiker: Thanks for this. If I'm in the area I'll have to bring my bike and have some fun. The invite is open for you to come visit us in Vancouver to experience the North Shore as well.
  • 2 0
 Wow, I used to think that their interstates were their technical riding places and am pleasantly surprised. Thank you Jeff for exposing this and hopefully when I return to Arkansas, I can ride these trails and have fun. Different to bouncing across the state on the highway ;-)
  • 2 0
 Thanks for the note! Yeah there is a massive push for legitimately fun mountain bike trails, it's pretty dang inspiring to see the sport on that scope!
  • 2 0
 The crazy thing is he never even made it to Eureka Springs where the big stuff is (and a shuttle) for Lake Leatherwood and the Passion Play trails. Not to mention Fitzgerald mountain in Springdale where they are building some mega-booters.
  • 2 0
 Silvey, we actually wanted to head to Fitzgerald to avoid the rain. Hopefully on the next trip I'll be able to spend more than just 48 hours in town!
  • 4 0
 NWA is truly as good as it appears to be. The people and trails make for a special place!
  • 2 1
 Is it calling you back home?!
  • 5 1
 NWA comin' straight from the underground.
  • 3 1
 NWA is cool, and Little Rock was a neat spot to see as well. Much smaller scene, but very motivated locals.
  • 2 1
 I watch these and think about how awesome it would be to have something like this close to where I live in CT, and I think I'll start doing something about it...then I wake up. Nice video as always and it's great to see what other places have to offer.
  • 4 1
 NRZ, thanks for the note! Joining your local advocacy group is a great, easy way to get started in growing your local scene.
  • 2 0
 Dude, we have over 100 different legal trail systems here in CT! Old school, new school and tons of jank in between. Mooween was built in a few months, Rockland was also built up pretty quickly. Join NEMBA and see if you can get some trails in town, odds are you can.
  • 2 0
 @yzedf: Thanks for the heads up! I'll take a look, I'm on the shore by New Haven and have heard great things about Rockland!
  • 1 0
 @NRZ: Trumbull has some huge features too and isn't that far from you
  • 2 0
 @yzedf: During the summer I ride Trumbull probably once a week. Great rides in there I just hope they fix the bridge soon! Some of the features are just out my skill set, and if you send them that's insane!! I also ride a lot in Westwoods in Guilford, got a nice loop through there! Maybe I'll see you out there some time! Thanks again for responding!
  • 1 0
 Awesome video. Glad you showed some of Little Rock as well. NWA gets all the love, but the rest of the state brings it too with Iron Mtn, Womble, LOVIT, Syllamo and new stuff on the way in Hot Springs. With major cities like Dallas, OKC, KC & St. Louis less than 5 hours away, there's no shortage of people coming often for 3-day weekends and such, which I think also has helped the boom. I'm in Dallas which has a huge MTB crowd and some nice trails, but not many hills or trees. To be able to hop in the car and be riding in mountains by lunchtime is pretty sweet.
  • 2 0
 Totally! I think of Bentonville as THE hot spot between the Rockies and the Atlantic, but I haven't been to many other spots east of the Rockies myself.
  • 1 0
 @JeffWeed: You owe yourself a tour of the east coast. Be ready for our rocks, though!
  • 1 0
 Don’t tell everyone about the good stuff in “SWA” haha, let them all keep going to NWA!! Eureka is good though, the one place where they got quality over quantity right.
  • 1 0
 I'm now sitting here for the first time ever, wanting to visit Arkansas, no offense intended. Wow, just wow! And how great is it to have a trail system you can ride from work or home directly into, no truck or car with a bike rack and an hour of driving!
  • 1 0
 It's pretty cool, and the way it's all organized was super inspiring for me too. Cheers!
  • 2 0
 It's incredible! I can roll out of my garage, hit the trail in 2 minutes, and ride over 60 miles if I'd like!
  • 1 0
 I love the fact Jeff''s videos make the viewer feel included, irrespective of age and skill level. Nice to see mention of people who have come to MTBing later in life. Even though our riding skills are still developing, we have a lot of real world knowledge to grow MTBing where ever we live...and we're just as stoked as the grommets! If you're lacking motivation at any time though, just watch any of Jeff's videos. Have a nice day.
  • 1 0
 Thanks Stacky, that means a lot to me! Cheers!
  • 1 0
 This is what I needed to watch after a sucky week at work Smile Thanks for the grin! I had no idea about Arkansas. The attitude and people remind me a lot of Corvallis Oregon where it's part of the fabric of the community and collective consciousness. Super cool ~ Thanks Jeff!
  • 2 0
 Sorry to hear about your week, tips! I'll have to head down to Corvallis, thanks for the suggestion! And I wanna ride Ashland with Wild Bill again, it's been too long!
  • 1 0
 @JeffWeed: Smile Check out the Alsea Falls MTB area too, Team Dirt is really shaking things up with their trail building and it's well worth to side trip if you make it out this way. Merry Christmas to you and yours too!
  • 1 0
 There are so many amazing places that don't have trails or clubs or associations or scenes yet. It's so cool to admire a place over the last few years making it happen. Jeff, shine that light and find what's out there! Awesome!
  • 1 0
 Thanks Chris! Bentonville has an interesting story indeed, and heck, the whole state is so different than the PNW, it was fun checking it out.
  • 1 0
 Awesome video @JeffWeed ! You should have hit up the Leatherwood gravity trails in Eureka Springs while you were so close. The whole state of Arkansas has some great trails, but I definitely would have hit something other than Jackfork while you were in Little Rock. Thanks for all you do.
  • 1 0
 Thanks Tony! I only had two days in Bentonville and one morning in Little Rock, so I defaulted to the local's suggestions of where to go. The idea was to ride the "centerpiece" trails, not necessarily find the raddest stuff per say. Next time we'll definitely hit up Fitzgerald, Hot Springs, Eureka Springs, and much more in NWA. Cheers!
  • 1 0
 I really enjoyed this. In fact, I enjoy all your videos. I love seeing that humungous smile & the sheer desire to ride. You are so easy to watch & listen to. It's so nice to see someone that is truly interested in the sport & your riding ability is next level stuff. Thanks Jeff, you are my favorite rider amongst a sea of joeys. And huge kudos to Logan as well!! Sending that drop on a hardtail w/40 lbs of gear - wow!
  • 1 0
 SO RAD to be a part of this!!! You are a great dude Jeff and it was an honor to help you tell the amazing story that is happening here in Northwest Arkansas! It's hard for a video to do it justice and I'd love to see more people make the trip to enjoy EVERYTHING this area has to offer! The trails are certainly a large part of it, but there is just so much more. Of course the money is being provide, but the vision, and guidance, of the town leadership is what sets this place apart. I left a great career to move here and give back to the community in the best way I knew how, Skills Coaching. My family and I have been embraced and so many opportunities have presented themselves. I'm proud to call this home and I'm excited to be an ambassador for many years to come! Please reach out if anyone want's to visit. I'm more than happy to help you make the most of your trip to the Oz Trails!
  • 1 0
 Are you still teaching skills clinics up here? What’s the best way to reach you
  • 1 0
 Very inspiring article and video Jeff! I just wish some decision/policy makers around here (Austria, Salzburg, near Leogang Bikepark) would have that kind of vision and encourage legal trail use and building instead of telling mountain bikers to gtfo and go to the bike park.
  • 5 1
 Jeff is cool. Did walmart pay for this spread? Legit question.
  • 8 1
 Thanks Golden! Nope, I have no connections to Walmart or their foundation. This project was sponsored by Best Western, Camelback, Ibis, Kali, and Kitsbow, that's it.
  • 2 1
 @JeffWeed: madskillz as always Jeff. Your down to earth candor is appreciated. Keep it coming!
  • 2 0
 @Golden-G: Thanks so much!
  • 3 0
 I can verify that Bentonville is LEGIT! It totally surpassed my expectations. I'll be back soon. Great vid @JeffWeed.
  • 3 0
 Thanks Noah!
  • 1 0
 @JeffWeed: @NoahColorado Need a Noah/Jeff collaboration in Fruita. Make it happen!
  • 1 0
 @Thustlewhumber: That's a great idea! Just watch, it might end up happening! I haven't seen Noah since Eurobike a couple years ago, he's a good dude!
  • 1 0
 It’s always a treat to watch @jeffweed videos and got us so psyched to visit AR ????. I think of where we moved from, Maine, and would be awesome to have sometging like this there... Also that Ripmoooo ????
  • 2 0
 Thanks Hasank! The scene in Bentonville really inspired me, in particular, the way the various groups are organized is pretty next level. That's indeed my trusty Ripmo- it's the most versatile bike in my quiver, so it's a good choice for a trip like this. Stoked to be riding for Ibis!
  • 1 0
 An interesting insight into why people move from big, fast-living cities into smaller ones where true contact with others actually exists.
  • 1 0
 Totally! Having done the same type of move fairly recently, it's refreshing to get out of the city.
  • 1 0
 We moved here from Dallas and it was the best choice we've ever made! It's truly a small town and the vibe here is incredible. There is so much opportunity around cycling and the entire community has embraced it.
  • 3 2
 Excellent vid, Jeff! Median home price in Bentonvile $223K. Median home price in Bellingham $416K.
  • 4 5
 ..but it's Arkansas, I'd rather live in Bham in a van (1hr from N.Shore 2hrs to Squamish, 3hrs from Whistler, CGP) Median yearly appreciation in Bham is 10% Bentonville 2%
  • 6 1
 @DirtMcGuirk07 van life works great before a family and kids, but I can really see the advantages to getting started in a place like AR that has such a lower cost of living. Especially when the riding is legit!
  • 1 0
 @JeffWeed: lower cost of living usually equals lower rates of pay....
  • 4 0
 @TeamTrailParty: lower cost of living also means less risk if you want to take a chance and pursue a career that you're truly passionate about, and in this project, most people moved to AR to do exactly that.
  • 1 1
 @JeffWeed: it was a reply to @scuttg and more meant as an anology no need to respond. I got a lake house with a family and kid just south of Bham,,but still rather live in a van down by the river in the PNW than a lot of places
  • 2 1
 I really enjoyed this video! It looks like a great place to ride. I will definitely have to look for Jeff's YouTube videos!
  • 2 1
 Thanks mightyz!
  • 2 0
 It's always a good day when there is a new Jeff Kendall-Weed video!
  • 2 0
 Thanks man!
  • 2 0
 Hey, there's my buddy Rich Drew!
  • 2 0
 Rich is a good dude!
  • 1 0
 @huntstyle
I did one of his (Richard Drew) clinics back in North Texas. Met him racing the Dino Enduro in Glen Rose Tx. as part of the Southern Enduro Tour. Talented rider for sure!! Didn't realize he had moved to Arkansas... My wife and I just visited Mountainburg, Arkansas south of Fayetteville for some trail riding at Lake Fort Smith State Park and Devil's Den State Park. Can't wait to go back soon!
  • 1 0
 Forget reefer madness, this is my kind of weed, thanks for another great vid Jeff.
  • 1 0
 LOL thanks man!
  • 1 0
 How is this place in the winter? Rideable/doable as a mid winter mtb vacation destination?
  • 2 0
 You can ride pretty much year round here ... it was 60 degrees today when I hit the trail Smile
  • 2 0
 It's usually killer! The majority of the trails are rideable year round and there's a lot going in case you have a day or two where you can't ride. Let me know if you decide on a trip, I'd love to show you around a bit.
  • 1 0
 That stoke is contagious in Arkansas and in this piece. That’s some good reporting there, Mr Weed.
  • 1 0
 Thanks Rocky! I'd love to do more of these videos in the future!
  • 1 0
 Great video Jeff, may need to think about replacing that editor though... Wink
  • 1 0
 Ha! I definitely made a 2am mistake in the credits there!
  • 1 0
 Bentonville is great, bit while you are there check out passion play for some real gnar
  • 1 0
 So many good vibes! I kinda wanna fly to arkansas now and just hug all those people ahahaha
  • 1 4
 Looks like a great scene. Best thing is, it sounds like kids on their bikes again as a normal part of their day. At the moment, 35 degrees, 81% humidity, and rain on Friday.......I am sure cost of living is part of the draw as well for the transplants, the average humidity there is oppressive.
  • 2 1
 To be sure, it's a much better place than Chinle, AZ.
  • 4 1
 If we want MTBing to be relevant in 10-20 years, getting kids stoked on bikes now is key! And not just a little stoked- stoked enough to "brave" heat, humidity, and snakes!
  • 1 0
 @JeffWeed: Charles from Willbros here! On your next visit, maybe rounding up some of the young local shredders would be a great addition. We have 10 year olds hitting Drop the Hammer like it's nothing, and hitting every inch of the black diamond trails at Lake Leatherwood. We even have a few 8 year olds that rip that stuff. The youth movement is strong.

I also wanted to clarify one thing. Gary recently reported in Seth's video that the Walton Foundation has invested $70M. Last year, they hired an outside group who conducted a study to try to quantify the impact, and last year it was $139M in returns to the local area. So...as you were highlighting, they went big, but the reward has been big. I think most of us felt like this was a passion of Tom and Steuart Walton, who are both accomplished riders as well, and that this was more about improving our area to entice better talent to come work for Walmart. The bonus is to see how much impact it has had on local businesses in the form of tourism dollars. Now that the ROI has been established, my guess it it will be full steam ahead on continuing expand.
  • 1 0
 Definitely one of my favorite riders on PB. Got style got fun.
  • 1 0
 Thanks so much man!!!
  • 1 0
 great trails...that trail in the city was awesome
  • 1 0
 Totally cool to see trails that run through directly through the heart of town!
  • 1 0
 So happy to see Paul and Mel! Community makers! OR misses you
  • 1 1
 Hats off to an older guy charging, but that bow-legged table needs to be addressed....!
  • 1 0
 Who’d have thought?!
Not me. But now I think...
  • 1 0
 Haha right?! The first time I heard about AR was from the Competitive Cyclist guys, then nothing for a ~5 years, then saw the PB article in 2016 that Danielle Baker wrote about Bentonville. Ever since that article I've wanted to check it out!
  • 1 0
 It's such a killer place! So much more than just the trails, great food, coffee, arts and nightlife.
  • 1 0
 Loving these vids on the east coast/ heartland riding scenes!
  • 1 0
 Thanks Matt! I hope to get east again soon!
  • 1 1
 Wow! I want this.
  • 4 1
 My biggest take away was that their big picture dreams and goals, combined with really good organization of advocacy, trail building, and promotion, is a template we can apply elsewhere. It just takes thinking really, really big!
  • 5 0
 @JeffWeed: I think other places think really big. There are plenty of places here in CO that think huge and try and plan for it but the powers that be and land managers will never let it happen because of backwards entrenched ideas. The speed at which Bentonville has been able to develop their area is astounding and amazing and its because their managers, town people etc bought in and wanted it. And yeah, maybe CO will get there some point but the length of time is excruciating with no reasons other than they just don't want it here or they have to cater to hikers all the time. Its unfortunate for a place with such potential for better trails and one that was once considered a mtb mecca.
  • 2 0
 @ianswilson815: Yes, sometimes the powers that be do not have the communities interests at heart. I look forward to more communities making improvements that will support their current and future citizens rather than pleasing the status quo.
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