OVER THE HILLS AND THROUGH THE HOLLERS
OZ Gravel is saying what we already know: the world’s best gravel is Made Here. There’s no better way to experience the unique character of a landscape than to ride a bike through it. And if you’ve got the right bike, there’s no limit to how much of that landscape you can explore.
That’s not officially the tagline for the new OZ Gravel initiative – an offshoot of the singletrack-focused OZ Trails org – but we think it may as well be. OZ Gravel is rooted in our playground and testing laboratory, the allroad cycling ecosystem surrounding Bentonville and beyond. OZ Trails’ singletrack is great, sure, but why not ride everywhere? In a nutshell, that’s the project’s aim: To grow and support the burgeoning Arkansas gravel community by sharing knowledge, connecting cyclists, and inviting the uninitiated into the scene.
One obvious barrier is lack of knowledge on where to go. This is a community and accessibility issue, and Team OZ claims to have solved that with “curated routes that take riders on beginner, intermediate and advanced courses throughout the area.”
Have we ridden all the routes? Admittedly, no. Not all of us, not every route. (We’re trying, but real life gets in the way sometimes.) Do we trust OZ’s statements about the beauty, accessibility, and exhilarating nature of the gravel ribbons they’ve curated? Yes, absolutely. How do we know? Because we have an inside guy.
Andy Chasteen, the AR cycling everyman who also contributes bike-testing nous to ALLIED, launched the effort and helped map the routes. There may be someone in the region who knows the routes and nooks and champagne gravel stashes better than Andy, but we haven’t met them.
For more details, we reached Andy on a call while he was in the field, taping off the course for his own tarmac/singletrack/gravel race, The Rule of Three. Andy loves Arkansas-by-bike, regardless of the surface. And he’s not shy about it.
“We’re fucking proud of our local scene and our local trails,” he profanely enthused. “It’s where we tested the ABLE. It’s where we developed the ECHO. It’s in the DNA of our favorite bikes in the world, because it’s our favorite landscape in the world.
“We’re already the Mountain Bike Capital of the World,” he continued (qualify the statement with “self-appointed”), “but some of the best gravel riding is also right here, hidden in these hills and ‘hollers’.” Regardless of the regional accent you bring to them, Arkansas’ hills and hollows are everything Andy plays them up to be – and more.
Again, how do we know? This time, we are the insiders. From the gravel-tuned ABLE to the allroad versatility of the protean ECHO, our bikes are shaped by these trails, these roads, and the unique characteristics of Arkansas gravel. It’s hard to beat the varied scenery and surfaces available on any given ride in the region, and it’s hard to find a better platform to experience them than the bikes that were made on them.
The buds on the trees; the cool, breath-fogging mornings of breaking camp; the rhythmic feedback of tires chattering across gravel – that’s what we mean when we say ALLIED bikes are Made Here.
Racing bike? Check. Adventure party bike? Check. Equal to bikepacking abuse and startline intensity alike, the ABLE is pure gravel. The only limit? Your imagination.
Buttery tarmac one day. Chossy gravel the next. The ECHO is the only bike engineered for peak performance on your next ride, regardless of where that ride takes you. One bike. Every ride.