BENTONVILLE — The Bentonville Bike Fest kicks off Friday and will include an attempt by one of the world’s best trials for cyclists to set a world record, according to a news release.
The festival, presented by Mobil 1, happens Friday through Sunday at the Mama Bear pump track next to 8th Street Market. The market is at 801 SE Eighth St.
The Bike Fest is a celebration of cycling culture, welcoming cyclists, bike fans and families of all disciplines, ages, skill levels and abilities, according to the release.
“A highlight of this year’s festival will be an effort to break a world record, something I’d like to feature every year,” said Kenny Belaey, multiple trials UCI world champion and founder of Bentonville Bike Fest. “Bentonville is already the Mountain Biking Capital of the World, so breaking a cycling record here just makes sense.”
A crowd of 20,000 people is expected, he said.
Competitions and events include an enduro, a Union Cycliste Internationale trials competition, a BMX flatland competition, the All American sprint race, a gravel event, a new hill climb challenge, a kid’s enduro, Women Shred, the Strider Cup and workshops where riders can learn from Red Bull Rampage athletes at Coler Mountain Bike Preserve, according to the release.
Adam McInnis, Bentonville Police Department’s public information officer, said the city will have its normal staffing on the streets and the department’s bike patrol will also be out during the event.
“Drivers need to be aware that there will be an increase of cyclists in town,” he said. “People need to stay off their cellphones, be aware of their surroundings and go the speed limit.”
The National Weather Service in Tulsa, Okla., calls for sunny skies with highs in the mid-90s this weekend.
“People need to stay hydrated because of the temperature. It’s going to be hot,” McInnis said.
John Robinson of Bentonville said he plans to attend some of the activities. Robinson was on the downtown square Wednesday preparing to ride with friends.
“I really appreciate the active cycling culture we have here, but it can be overwhelming with so many activities,” he said.
The cycling culture is one reason he decided to live in the area, Robinson said.
“It’s fun to rub shoulders with a bunch of fanatic cyclists,” he said.
Brett Hostetler and Judah Beshada of Grand Rapids, Mich., didn’t know about the Bike Fest when they came to the area to ride the trails. The two had been in the area for four days on Wednesday. They may be around long enough to take part in some of the weekend’s activities, Hostetler said.
They came for the trails, Hostetler said. They learned about the festival after arriving in Bentonville.
“We heard it was the Mountain Biking Capital of the World and wanted to experience it,” Hostetler said. “It’s wonderful, and it definitely lived up to the hype.”
Beshada said riding the trails was exhilarating, and he’s impressed with the time, money and care put into the trails. Hostetler said they definitely will make more trips to the area to ride the trails.
The Guinness world record endeavor will feature Jack Carthy from England, who will attempt the “highest bicycle forward step up.”
This record is based on height and is achieved by pedaling a short distance forward, jumping and using the front tire to hook onto the top of an obstacle and then jumping the back tire to the top as well. No ramps will be used, and the rubber of the tires is the only thing that can touch the obstacle in the process, according to the release.
The current record, about 5.87 feet high, was established in London in 2017, according to the release.
Cycling enthusiasts will experience a road bike workshop and Gran Fondo — a long-distance group ride through the Ozark hills, according to the release.
Riders will get a police escort for the last 10 blocks of the city before going on their way, McInnis said.
The city’s reputation as a destination for cyclists has grown steadily over the past decade. The city has 35 miles of hard-surface trails for bike riders and 45 miles of mountain-biking trails, said Josh Stacey, recreation services manager for the Parks and Recreation Department.
“Tourism and the biking economy have been a gift to Bentonville, and the Bentonville Bike Fest is a part of that,” said Kalene Griffith, president of Visit Bentonville. “This annual event, which Visit Bentonville has been a proud sponsor of from day one, continues to help elevate our city as the Mountain Biking Capital of the World and one of the best places to travel to for cycling. We will work hard to see it continue for years to come.”