Little Sugar MTB

I am signed up for the Little Sugar 100k in October in NW Arkansas. I’m coming in from Colorado and am very excited for the fitness (altitude boost) advantages. That being said, the course and elevation profile looks very different than Colorado mountain riding with big climbs and big descents. Does anyone have info on the course, ideal tires for the terrain, etc…?

That looks rough. Longest climb is 1.5km longest descent is 1.9km. your going to be going up and down non-stop the whole way. Think lots of short sweet spot/threshold efforts.

Oh and it’s a Leadville qualifier too…

Yes, this is going to be constant short threshold intervals for 5+ hours haha

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I’ll be curious to hear your experience. My wife’s family lives close-ish to that area so we’ve considered planning a trip down where I could do the race and she and the kids could spend some time with her family

We’re actually going to be down there in a couple weeks and was thinking borrowing a car and driving over to Bentonville to rent a mtb and riding some of the course or at least some of the other trails around the area since I’ve heard it’s fantastic riding. Not sure if it will work out logistics wise though, we’ll see

Nice. I have heard the trail network is fantastic. I’ll report back on this thread after the race. I am using it as a qualifier for Leadville next year and an opportunity to ride in a new place and put this year’s Leadville fitness to use.

They discussed tire choices on the most recent episode of the Bonk Bros podcast…takeaway seemed to be to make sure you have sufficient sidewall protection.

ETA - the trails around Bentonville are fantastic. Some of the best in the country.


Thanks. I’ll give it a listen!

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Info as of 1.5 years ago. The East side is much more prototypical cross-country than the West side.

I did the West side loop and there was only one 2-3 mile section that I would consider pedally. Continuous "up-a-holler’ climbs and ‘down-a-holler’ ripping descents. 100/100 is under-biked for this endeavor. I would say 120/120 is probably sweet spot. 2.35 inch minimum tire size with flat protection. Tire inserts not a bad idea. It’s not particularly loamy - mostly gravelly limestone dry dirt mixture. Even the big berms are made of gravel with occasional baseball size baby-heads. The quality of the trail experience was directly correlated with how recent the trail crew had come through to ‘buff-out’ the trail.

The East side was probably 50% similar to the West with the climbs not quite as steep and more pedally sections. The east side is definitely the preferable side if you are picking between the two.

If you bring your racing ralphs, aspens, race kings or other racing-style protection tires with smaller knobs I’d say you are risking 50% chance of flating. The flats are usually not dyna-pluggable. Usually a slice you need to boot/tube with a card or dollar bill.


Payson McElveen did the course a few days ago and said it was going to crush souls. My soul is very easily crushable too so it might not bode to well in October.


Well that’s a great way to get people to sign up. Good luck riders, I’ll be busy recovering from my 222 mile gravel race 10 days prior…

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Any favorite tire recommendations for a course like this? I have race kings on my race wheels, but need a set to cover these type of conditions…

See above re: the recent Bonk Bros podcast…one thing was pretty clear was that Race kings were not a good tire choice for Little Sugar.

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Yeah, that’s why I’m asking. Not sure when I’m going to have time to listen and figured polling people wasn’t a bad idea.

Can’t remember what tires they did say would be good (I don’t ride MTB so the names were meaningless to me) but 2.4 seemed to be the recommended size.

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Funny, I’ve sliced up two race king protections out there…… you would have needed to thread fishing line to fix.

Bonk bros suggested Maxxis Rekon (not race version) which is a hard recommendation to disagree with. Our crew (from MN) changes over from 2.35 Bontrager XR2s to 2.4 XR4s when going to Bentonville. XR4s have held up reasonably well, but we weren’t racing so not sure how much speed we gave up. Good luck with whatever you go with!

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A Maxxis Ardent up front in 2.4 and either another another Ardent in the rear, or perhaps an Ardent Race 2.35 in MaxxSpeed as a faster rolling rear alternative, both with EXO casing would be reasonable.

Schwalbe Nobby Nic 2.4s in Super Trail if you favor extra protection would be another way to go. The Super Trail adds an additional layer of sidewall protection on top of the Snake Skin that is on the Super Ground.

Kenda Karma 2 with SCT in 2.4 might be another alternative. They ride similar to a Nobby Nic. I’ve used them in less punishing terrain so can’t speak to how they would hold up in Bentonville.

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Thanks. I’ve had good luck with Race Kings on other courses, but also sliced the hell out of one on the very first ride on my local trails and gave the bike a nice sealant bath, so need to find something that fits the bill for training and rougher / rockier courses like this.

Hello, I am Bentonville local and will share my plan. I pre-road about 2/3rd of the course on Sunday. I do a lot of miles on those trails.

I will be running Barzo 2.35 Front / Mezcal 2.35 Rear (both with TNT casing) with no inserts. I’m 170# and will be running 21 / 23 PSI. I’ve had some nasty sidewall cuts on the Vittorias, but mile-for-mile I’ve had less trouble with Vittoria tires than other brands, especially Maxxis XC tires with EXO. I don’t run Maxxis anymore. Also I think the Vittoria Syerra is a bomb proof tire, however I like the feel of the Barzo/Mezcal better and I think the Syerras sucks in wet conditions.

The course is going to be brutal. It’s about 85% singletrack, with most of the singletrack being loose over hard with a lot of chatter. The first half of the course is going to be non stop climbs and fast descents, averaging around 130 ft of climbing per mile. There’s a lot of little “kickers” that will require your lowest gear and they really take a toll on legs after an hour so so. If you go out too hard you will pay dearly the next 4 or 5 hours. Unfortunately the way the route starts people are going to be gunning to get into single track in a good position and everyone is going to smash the first couple of climbs. I encourage everyone to try to dial it back the first hour!


I can only stand about 20 miles of that type of undulating riding at a time. Concentration is going to be key, because you’ll be flying through some creek beds at full speed past rocks and trees one inch from your handle bars and there’s a hard turn and now climb over these roots up the other side. Over and over. Yesh.
Absolute Bikes only had Maxxis tires recommendations when I was there two years ago. I ran Vittoria Mezcals with no problem. Barzo/Mezcal would be good too. It’s a fun place to ride, so have fun.


Thanks for the info. I’m really pumped for this. I did the OZ50 2 years ago so I’m glad a race is coming back to Bentonville.

I have Rekons with EXO+ ready to go for this race. I will try to find a flat repair solution that’s heavier duty than Stan’s darts.

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