This will be Spring in Arkansas. Most of the hardwoods will be budding. Temperatures can vary widely from very mild in the 70's to very cold, below freezing.
This time of the year the weather can change abruptly for the worse as it did in 2002. It is best to come prepared for either situation.
We have been doing variations of the Ouachita Challenge for many years, with the first "official" Ouachita Challenge being held in 2001. We have been able to tolerate whatever the weather has thrown at us so far.
Some years we have been able to ride in shorts and short sleeve shirts, where other years required leggings and extra clothes for rain and wind protection.
Make sure that you have brand new brake pads installed. A wet day will destroy most brake pads.
Your bike should be in tip-top-shape.
Safety in the Woods
Pace yourself. You will encounter a little bit of everything. Highway, Dirt Road, Single Track. Some of the trail has very steep climbs that will put the best of riders off their bike for a little hike-a-bike.
There are creek crossings, rocky areas, some very fast sections and some areas that are very narrow. If you are feeling nervous about the width of the trail and the steep drop off, walk your bike for a while.
If you have a mechanical failure, or an injury do not try to exit off the trail on your own. Wait for an official Ride Guide, to assist you or get to the nearest Course Marshal and ask for help.
If you see another rider in need, do what you can to help and then report the problem to the next Course Marshal.
Water- You should be equipped with a full 72 fluid ounces of water or fluid replacement of choice. That should get you from one Aid Station to the next.
Food- Energy bars and gel will help get you from one Aid Station to the next. For those who complete the 60 mile ride, expect a 7 to 9 hour ride and pack accordingly. Food will be available at the check points as well as water.
Tools & Parts- Carry two new inner tubes, patch kit, tire pump, spoke wrench, Allen set and chain tool. This is a minimum. You can not plan for every possibility but you can try.
How to Ride this BIG RIDE!
If this is your first Ouachita Challenge, or your first BIG DISTANCE mountain bike ride then plan to go long, not fast.
If you want to finish the Ouachita Challenge or complete as much distance as possible, here is how you do it.
First: Pace yourself for the long haul. Do not over tax yourself on the early climbs. There will be many hills and charging up the first few may be fun but it will cost you later.
Second: DON'T CRASH!!!. Inadvertent dismounts from your bike not only risks injury to you and your bike but also robs you of energy.
Third: Drink early and often. Eat a little something every hour or two as well as water and Heed.