Hailey’s Ozark Gravel Doom FKTJan Heine
“Navigating the unknown was the most challenging aspect of the trip, but also the most rewarding.” Hailey Moore’s intrepid solo ride over the Ozark Gravel Doom, the 378-mile (608 km) bikepacking route in Arkansas clearly left strong impressions. That’s not surprising, as the DOOM, as it’s affectionally called, remote and traverses challenging terrain. The route’s creator, Andrew Onermaa, described the course: “It averages 110 feet of elevation gain/loss per mile, is 85% gravel, resupply is limited, and cell service is almost non-existent. It was just this January when Brett Stepanik became the first person to complete the route completely self-supported…”
Hailey rode the course in 2 days, 15 hours and 30 minutes – setting a new FKT (Fastest Known Time) in the process. Sharing her impressions of the route, she related: “The Ozarks are verdant country – steep, punchy climbs in the trees that give way to open ridges up high. The ridges are often separated by creeks deep in the valleys.” Hailey equipped her Rodeolabs Trail Donkey bike with Rene Herse 700C x 48 Oracle Ridge (rear) and 700C x 55 Fleecer Ridge (front) tires for this challenging ride. She was happy to report: “I had no bike or tire issues whatsoever.”
One of the biggest challenges – apart from high water in the creeks after the spring-time rains – was planning her resupplies to coincide with the limited opening hours of small country stores. “This is the most food I’ve taken with me on a bikepacking trip,” she was reported to have said at the start of the ride.
What is next for Hailey? She explained: “Knowing that I’m on the hook for the Unbound XL has been weighing heavy on me – I’m excited but also nervous. I felt like I needed to tick off something that would feel harder than the XL, to really check in with myself physically and mentally in a testing situation away from home. The ITT [Individual Time Trial] on the DOOM loop certainly provided this opportunity.”
We look forward to following Hailey’s dot on the Unbound XL, the famous gravel race across the Flint Hills of Kansas. And she’s promised to write a story about her big ride in the Ozarks for the Summer 2022 Bicycle Quarterly.
Photos by Kai Caddy, who met Hailey at a few spots on the course to shoot visuals for the upcoming Bicycle Quarterly article.