Trip Reports » 3 days ouachita womble trails
on the 3 days leading up to thanksgiving of this year some friends and i decided to take a little trip into the ouachita mts of western arkansas to test some gear and to have a little fun. we had 3 totaly different types of bikes and setups and here’s a short report of what happened. josh had a carbon stumpjumper with a rear rack setup with most of his gear in panniers, jeremy had a newly builtup salsa fargo with a old man mt rear rack, girlfriend made frame bag and revelate designs handlebar sling setup. my bike was setup pretty much as i had it for a tdr attempt a few years back, a revelate design seat bag and a homemade (thx mom) frame bag that both worked perfectly then and now. tried and true is good. i also had just gotten a revelate front handlebar sling harness so i could go to a dry bag to keep things dry up front. i was a little worried about the sling but it turned out to work fine. the only mod i made was to tape a thin piece of wood across my brake levers to keep the bag off the cables. i am going to redo that design later. i carry sleeping and bivy bags in front dry bag, tools, 1st aid kit, water filter, a 100 oz water bladder with ext hose where i can drink on the roll in the frame bag and all extra clothing in the seat bag. food, toiletries in a wingnut waistbag and camera/phone/snacks in a cheap gas tank bag i picked up last minute at walmart. it worked pretty well but i will probably go with homemade/ revelate designs for the next one. forecast called for rain but pretty mild temps so we where betting the weatherman was wrong, he was right. light to heavy rain every day. anyway we decided to go for it and left out on the ouachita trail north of mena ar at foran gap. the oc trail is known for being rough and rocky. adding a carpet of wet leaves to hidden wet rocks made for slow going and a mile in i cut a sidewall. stan’s out tube in. i had a set of kenda small block 8′s laying around and decided to go with them. i should have known better and now have a heavier set of nevegals on order. i tried to save some $ and weight but it didn’t pay off. jeremy on the salsa had no bike or gear issues but the rigid fork and rough trail had him testing rock hardness pretty regularly. josh on the stumpy had gone with a set of panniers on a cheaper rack and after several hours some bolts on it left us and the rack was riding on his rear wheel. after trying several ideas time was running out and he decided to go with removing one of the bags and strapping it to his back and slinging his camelback on his chest. (the pix i should have gotten) with little load left on the rack it worked well enough to get us going again. josh didn’t look to uncomfortable but i am sure it was a pain to pedal sandwiched between bags. we had to get off the oc to make it to our first camp so we hit gravel making it in after dark. after setting up camp under a shelter (more rain coming) and some warm food it was time to hit the bivy sacks. during the night i heard the storm come in but being under a awning it was no problem. morning was cool but at least rain was lighter and after hot coffee and breakfast we did some bike repairs. i needed to install a better boot on my tire and josh was working on the broken rack. he stole a bolt from somewhere else on the bike and after some adjustments it was good to go. we headed out of camp on gravel to hit a section of arkansas epic trail known as the womble. it has much more flow and is a bit more bike friendly than the ouachita trail sections which where designed for hiking over biking so the second day went pretty smooth, only a flat at most. with more rain coming we decided to hit a spot on the ouachita with some small cabins and after the owner made us some burgers and threw our still wet and dirty gear into his dryer for awhile we where happy to get a shower and to dry off. of course it rained during the night but not a problem. day 3 was supposed to be more trail back to where we left the truck but once again rain was coming so we decided to hit road. 50 miles door to door but even with a stop at the cherry hill store for lunch and talking to the locals for a spell we made pretty good time. all in all we maybe got in only 100 odd miles of varied terrain but had a good time, found some flaws in gear choices we made, heard all of josh’s chuck norris jokes and where happy to head home for the next day with family and friends.