This was my first time to tackle the Hazel Valley Grand Prix. What is HVGP? A 55 mile (5700 feet gain) dirt road ride deep in the Ozark Mountains. With Bikes, Blues and BBQ (3rd largest motorcycle rally in the country) going on there was no better time to take to the sweet dirt roads of the Natural State. I've been hearing stories from teammates for years about this event so I thought it was high time to see, smell and taste it for myself. The first thing that jumped out at me is the over the top hospitality at Hazel Valley Ranch. The event promoter and crew are super friendly. They serve up an excellent breakfast before the ride and a wonderful lunch after. A lot of folks camp out on the property the night before. The second thing that jumped out at me was the facilities. The buildings are top notch. I found it hard to believe that it's only 30 minutes from Fayetteville. Still making discoveries. Get outside and explore folks!
For more information about Hazel Valley Ranch check out the links below.
A perfect fall day. Chilly bluebird with a little fog in the valley.
$30 gets you a free shirt, one incredible ride experience and some great eats.
The HVR crew was super helpful.
The facilities are pretty awesome.
You get the feeling they could service bikes, cars, tractors, buffalo you name it.
The previous nights fire keeping the Snapple boys toasty.
A great scene.
Roger (promoter) gathering the troops. When he said the course isn't marked he wasn't kidding. I highly recommend you bring everything and the kitchen sink. Lots of tubes...oh and umm...toilet paper.
Mountain bike or Cross bike? That is the question of the day.
The most people I would see for the rest of the ride.
A gnarly climb about 3 miles in shatters the bunch. County Rd. 110 climb, .9 miles with 500 feet gain. Believe me when I say it's tougher on dirt roads. 20+% ramps with tires sliding out.
What goes up must come down. Roughly a 9 mile descent. I mean roughly in distance and roughly in terrain. The CX bikes were dishing out straight beat downs to the Snapple crew. Flat number one. There would be 11 to follow.
Handlebar slippages. The MTBers wizzz by with big smiles.
Once the dust settled we were greeted with sweet Ozark goodness...
A shady spot for when things get hot.
The sun poking through made for some interesting photos.
Fun with filters.
Most of the first two hours was shaded. Super cool, but made it tough to see rocks.
After the Bidville Rd. climb (5 miles with 1000 feet gain) we came to this ridge top.
360° of stunning scenery.
Only 8 miles to White Rock. I say that now "only." The climb is 7 miles with 1260 feet gain.
I am not sure what made the climb to White Rock Mountain so difficult. Perhaps it's the two previous climbs taking a toll. It seemed relentless, rounding corner after corner only to see another long ramp. Perhaps it's the rocks disrupting your climbing rhythm. I had a dark moment or two. But then...you make it to the top and you see this view.
HVGP was more difficult then I thought it was going to be. Jason towed me in the last 15 miles. But it was pure adventure. The difficulties of the day were quickly washed away with a Fat Tire, BBQ and pizza. We stuffed our faces and relived the moments together. Good times...Let's Eat!
I cannot say this enough. The CX bike has quickly become my favorite horse in the stable. It is versatile, tough and flat out fun to ride. Dirt roads open up another level of possibilities.
The Hazel Valley Grand Prix has the potential to be a huge event. The route is spectacular. It's hard but doable. The hospitality at the ranch is over the top. I'll be back for sure. If your looking for something different something adventurous. If your looking to feel lost and actually be lost this event is for you. Put it on your calendar folks!