Bentonville To Host International Mountain Biking Summit

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BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -- An estimated 800 people from across the country are expected to visit Northwest Arkansas mountain bike trails next fall for the three-day International Mountain Bicycling Associations Summit.

The summit's headquarters will be in Bentonville at the 21C Hotel from Nov. 10 to 12, 2016. The summit will provide educational programs that will focus on everything from safety to trail maintenance, as well as numerous group rides that will showcase trails in Fayetteville, Rogers and Springdale.

Candace Aikens and Matt Edmonson, both from Texas, said the Arkansas trails have a lot to offer, so they have been trying to complete the five trails in the state classified as "Epics" by IMBA.

The two were in Bentonville Monday (Sept. 13) to ride the Slaughter Pen trail system near the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

"We do the Ouachita Challenge a lot, the Womble and the Ouachita Trail, we've done the Syllamo Trail," Edmonson said. "Let's see we just finished Slaughter Pen, the last two days we did the Buffalo Trail system."

Aikens and Edmonson have been coming from Dallas to ride in Arkansas for the past six years.

"You have so much open space here and you have a lot of elevation, it's just perfect for building trails," Aikens said.

Mike Lewis, the Vice President of Ozark Off Road Cyclists, said he has received feedback about the trails in Arkansas from people all over the country and they come to the Natural State for the unique riding experience.

"You can enjoy a flow and go fast and then there's technical trails where it's rocky where you really go to concentrate on what you're doing, so the versatility of the trails in the area is also what people like," Lewis said.

Lewis said the summit will let hundreds more people see what Arkansas trails are all about.

Steve Schneider, the IMBA Regional Director for the South Central Region, which includes Arkansas, has lived in Northwest Arkansas for 30 years and said he only sees the trails improving, especially with the summit in town.

"Arkansas is probably a top 15 destination for the 50 states right now, but I think this will put in the top five," he said.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and IMBA President and USA Executive Director Mike Van Abel made the official announcement about the summit Saturday (Oct. 10) on Slaughter Pen's All-American Trail.