THE TRAIL BLOG
Build, Maintain and Preserve
Apr 18, 2017 AT 19:24 BY Rob Grunnagle
That is the motto of the Ozark Off Road Cyclists (OORC) – a 20-year-old volunteer powered trail-building organization based in Northwest Arkansas. The club is one of the oldest organizations in the state pioneering the way for Arkansas singletrack. They are proud chapter members of the International Mountain Bike Association and host regular trail building/maintenance volunteer opportunities. We checked in with Executive Director Brannon Pack to learn more about these Wizards of Oz. 

How did you get involved with the OORC?
By riding my bike. From my experience, mountain bikers are all good humans and we typically do everything in large groups. Just being around the scene opened my eyes to the amount of volunteerism that went into the hundreds of miles of trails across the Arkansas Ozarks, and OORC's connectivity with the community runs deep. There was this rowdy group of riders that were willing to put down their bikes and pick up the tools necessary to build a better tomorrow for everyone. They were leaving a legacy and I wanted to be a part of it.

How many members does the OORC have?
We've had over 500 individual member contributions in the last year. Additionally, we have four branches of our organization across the OZ Trails and the state of Arkansas including Western Benton County along the Arkansas/Oklahoma border; Carroll County, which is home to the Lake Leatherwood Trail System, Frontier of the Ozarks, which is in the Fort Smith area; and down into Russellville.

What are some of the challenges OORC faces?
Like most nonprofits, engaging volunteers is always at the top of the list. That said, we are definitely moving in a great direction. In December, OORC broke ground on a new multi-use trail at Gregory Park located in Fayetteville, Arkansas just two blocks away from a junior high school and we've already generated over 950 hours of volunteerism towards the project. Additionally, we've rolled out rad "Volunteer Recognition" awards like stickers and custom bar-ends – all designed for our volunteers to be more identifiable in the community. If you see someone rocking an orange OORC "builder" sticker on their helmet or top-tube give them a high-five. These are the members of our community and the Oz Trails that are making a difference.

How often do you host trail building/maintenance volunteer opportunities?
Monthly at minimum, and that's across the five different groups that currently make up our organization. We are now impacting a quarter of the state of Arkansas with our volunteer efforts towards the hundreds of miles of amazing singletrack we have out our backdoor. I say all the time that one of the things that separates the Oz Trails from other mountain bike destinations is "we ride year-round". Literally. There hasn't been a month in the last year I wasn't on a mountain bike. That is due, in part, to the efforts of many trail advocates that volunteered their time to keep the trail systems maintained and ready to shred 12 months a year.
 
What other events throughout the year can people get involved in?
For starters, there is the annual Buffalo Headwaters Challenge weekend – an event in the middle of winter, in the middle of nowhere, and it’s still the most fun you'll have all year. This past January, OORC hosted the single largest gathering of mountain bikers in the Oz Trails (ever, that we know of). Nearly 500 riders converged on the Upper Buffalo Trail System (an IMBA EPIC) for three days of rowdy good times including live music, food, and some really amazing mountain biking. We like to say it's a weekend spent with 500 of your closest friends.

How does someone get involved with OORC?
We host regular public member meetings on the second Tuesday of the month that are a great place to meet fellow trail advocates and find out ways to get involved. Follow us on Facebook at @OORCclub or visit ozarkoffroadcyclists.org for more info.

What is your favorite Oz Trail?
I have to pick one? Probably Lincoln Lake (Lincoln). I personally have a lot of ownership in the trail. It's still the only time I've built trail while it was snowing. It's "only" a 7-mile trail system, but it rides like 12 with some of the best hand-built techie lines in the Arkansas Ozarks. Combo that with a visit to Mt. Kessler (Fayetteville) on the same day for an amazing experience of some of the best hand-built trails throughout the Oz Trails.

Favorite place to eat after shredding?
That's harder than you think. I like to eat. If I'm looking for 3000 calories after a full day of riding, a stop in at Apple Blossom Brewing Company would be on my list. Their beer selection is great (try a Kessler Trail Ale) and the food is worth it. Plus, if you’re looking for more trail you don't have to go farther than the parking lot to take a spin around Lake Fayetteville.

Wilderness Emergency Extraction
Danny MacAskill | Northwest Arkansas