Hidden. Unrefined. Moody || The Ouachitas
The terrain transports you |
to an altered state of mind.
You’re instantly out of your typical riding experience and into some other world…some other place that feels exciting, new, fresh, and untapped. Even the smells encountered are different than what you’d sense on pavement.
It’s earthy and raw.
And when you’re pushing yourself hard on these backroads, all those elements combine into this divergent reality that keeps you wanting more. And that’s why it’s so addicting, no matter how new or experienced the rider may be.
Sylvia’s Revenge - Oct 2018
Natural State Rock & Republic members call themselves the “Dirt Squad” for short. An Arkansas-based gravel club, NSR&R explores and tackles one big “Mini Epic” gravel adventure around the state of Arkansas. The Ouachita route in October was the club’s inaugural route.
At the start of the ride, affectionately called “Sylvia’s Revenge”, energy ran high in the parking lot during preparation. All 14 riders anticipated a great day on the dirt. The weather showed up in perfection: the kind where the biggest dilemma literally is, “Should I start with a vest or not?”
Riders were encouraged to make of the day whatever they wanted. With the support of a follow vehicle, everyone had confidence they could rip their legs off or fall off the group and hang at a more social pace.
Challenged with a hilly route, a 1.3 mile KOM, and terrain that caused several flats along the way, the squad splintered, but oddly enough intermittently regrouped — even though regrouping wasn’t required.
The riders weren’t so interested in racing each other; the environment was much more one of encouragement. The route, the elements of the Ouchitas, and the perfection of the weather built a sense of camaraderie among the Squad.
With dirty, tired legs, all Dirt Squad riders finished the 50 mile route, greeted in the parking lot by an ice cold cooler of Arkansas-crafted Lost Forty beer and a bottle of whiskey to numb the legs a little.
For the next hour, all the riders stayed put, exchanging epic stories and laughter over the events of the day. But to be in on that…you’d have to just join the Squad.