Missouri may not be known around the country as a destination for mountain biking (all the better as far as we're concerned, because that means fewer people on all the awesome trails) but if the rest of the country knew what we were up to around here, then perhaps we'd see more out-of-state plates at the trailheads.
Let's put this another way. Various regions of the country have large, over-arching networks of singletrack connecting various localized systems. For example, Colorado has the 486 mile Colorado Trail, Colorado and Utah share the 142 mile Kokopelli Trail, North Dakota has the 96 mile Maah Dahh Hey Trail, the Appalachian states have the 2000+ Appalachian Trail, and so forth. Thankfully, Missouri can add its very own Ozark Trail to the list with over 350 miles of trail, and 225 of those being continuously connected! The best part is that there is even more to come as a result of the hard of work countless volunteers, and the "curating" organization - the Ozark Trail Organization, or OTA.
Much of the OT lies within the Mark Twain National Forest, and provides a stunning showcase of what the Ozarks have to offer when it comes to beauty, seclusion, and... well, uh... nature. Long have we at Team Seagal considered the OT to be our spiritual headquarters, as you can probably tell by browsing through our archives. This is because the OT, or at least the sections that allow mountain biking (of which there are many) provide the rider with a reminder as to what "real" mountain biking is - riding singletrack in the woods on rough, not-necessarily-groomed-to-perfection trails. It is about as far from "park" riding as you can get. What do I mean by "park" riding? Quick, short loops, well maintained, machine-built trails that only require a 10-20 minute walk out to the parking lot if you have a flat/mechanical; where all you need is a bottle of water and minimal-to-no supplies. The OT won't let you get away with that kind of bullshit!
This race passes through 4 sections of the OT - starting with the southern end of the Karkahgne Section, then the Middlefork Section, then the Trace Creek Section, and finally ending with the Courtois Section, which dumps you at the finish line of the Bass River Resort. This is not your many NUE-style 100 mile race that incorporates a lot of gravel mileage into the route. (And I do not mean to imply that those races are easy - just a different terrain.) This is over 98% singletrack, and instead of a handful of monstrous mountaintop summits, you'll be pummeled by 50+ short, punchy, rocky climbs under 400 ft of vertical gain, and leave you wondering how a climb that is so "short" felt so damn long.
Some of us have theorized that by the end of the first section, 50% of the entrants will have dropped, not realizing how fucking hard that trail would be. But if you can make it to either the Hazel Creek or Berryman Campgrounds before dark, you can rest for the night, and have an less-daunting ride to the finish line in the morning. (My prediction: no one finishes in under 10 hours.)
Either way, this race proves to be epic, in every sense of the word. And thanks to our very own Lawman, who knows this trail better than I know the inside of a stinky balloon, it is one of the most ambitious "one-day" races I've ever heard of - both in terms of it's difficulty (which should NOT be underestimated) and it's logistics.
Here at Team Seagal HQ, we've already put into place a training regimen involving our new secret training tool, a toilet seat that weighs our dookie:
This race will be so hard, that only the most dank jenk will have any effect on your state of euphoria after completion. Let me tell you though, if you manage to complete this adventure, you'll be happier than Criss Angel listening to his favorite LP:
In the meantime, you had best start preparing yourself for this undertaking. And to do so, we have started compiling a list of things you should start doing regularly in order to harden yourself for coming onslaught of pain you will have to endure on the OT, come Sept 6th:
- covering your saddle with sandpaper, and start riding in cotton tighty-whiteys
- switch from using energy gel packets while riding to packets of wasabi
- chop down trees every day with just an axe
- turn off your hot water heater
- complete a Chubb Trail century
- Incorporate more Napalm Death into your music selection:
Here is the race flyer: http://ozarktrail.com/ot100mtb/OT100-flyer.pdf I should clarify, this isn't our race. But we're excited for it. Also on the Ozarktrail.com website, you can find VERY well done, comprehensive and high-quality maps of each trail section - these are worth purchasing if you are considering this race. (I picked up all 4, and they are seriously impressive.)
Registration opens in just a few days - June 15th!
Go here for moar info: https://www.bikereg.com/ot100mtb
Consider this to be a public service announcement, because remember, at Team Seagal, we are about education.
-Casey F. Ryback