Rule of 3 banner with sunrise in the back

Rule of Three 2023 Recap

Rule of 3 is a cycling event in Bentonville, Arkansas, in which riders endure 50- or 100-mile courses that cover single track, pavement, and gravel. People from all over the country come to experience this event, either as a team or as solo riders, and it seems the Rule of 3 community grows each year. This year RO3 took place May 19-21. Book-ending Saturday’s big event were shakeout rides, scavenger hunts, happy hours, breakfasts, and more social-gathering opportunities for the riders. Throughout those social events, participants are encouraged to gift someone something from home – a hat from their local bike shop, local beer, coffee, pin or patch. This is the “Bring a Gift for a Stranger” rule – who knew rules could be so heartfelt?

Rule of 3 prides itself on having challenging and demanding courses. The 50-mile course had 3,400 feet of climbing and the 100-mile course had roughly 7,400 feet of climbing. Remember – this isn’t just riding 50 or 100 miles. It’s riding across technical mountain bike trails, chunky gravel, and road all on the same bike.

Four riders at the start line

Photo by Kate Austin Photography

With an 8 a.m. start time, 1,400 riders trickled into the venue early Saturday morning. Individuals and teams staged for their staggered start and in some instances, it would be 14+ hours before they returned. At mile 13, riders escaped the singletrack for only a few pedal strokes before crossing E. Lancashire in Bella Vista and hopping right back onto the dirt trails. Some were having the time of their lives; some were really going through it already – flats, crashes, begging for smooth, even pavement. With 87 miles to go for the 100-mile riders, it would be just the start of a long day in the Arkansas sunshine and humidity.

Riders at a team check point stop

Photo by Kate Austin Photography

Riders marched on, making their way through the hills and hollers of southwestern Missouri and northwest Arkansas. Albeit a hard day, there are some fun touches to the daunting ride. Teams have checkpoints where they must complete a task – silly ones like eating a donut without your hands, eating a Fruit by the Foot like Lady and the Tramp, or playing cornhole – to keep riders entertained and smiling throughout the day.

Collage of podium photos

Photos by Kate Austin Photography

At the finish, after pushing their limits for 50 or 100 miles, riders would complete cyclo-cross-style obstacles with barriers to jump over with arms and legs aching and sprits semi-depleted. They would then cross the finish line and be high-fived by race directors and greeted with a finisher bag. After rapidly consuming burritos from Brightwater, beer, and other goods, riders made their way to the Specialized/Dan Hughes photo booth to commemorate completing the arduous day. The environment at the venue was rounded out with food, drinks, music, awards, fellowship, and contests for best tan lines, haircuts, and costumes.

Female rider crossing the finish line

Photo by Kate Austin Photography

Rule of 3 is what you make it. If you spend your ride complaining and wishing you’d never signed up, you’ll be miserable. If you spend your ride enjoying time on your bike, encouraging other riders, and finding joy in the suffering, you’ll have very fond memories to look back on. It is not meant to be easy; it’s meant to stretch your body, mind, and soul to its limits. Check out Rule of Three 2023 results here.

A few testimonials from the comments section on Instagram:

@bikezoogmoney Absolutely positively a most amazing experience! Thank you so much for all of your efforts to make it happen! I’ve done a bunch of endurance events over the years and this one is right up there near the top! See you next year 👍

@the_mechanic_michelle Is registration open yet for next year? I’M READY!

@brenton.keith Just an incredible event and so well done in every way! The aid stations, team fun and a fun course. Even the finish w all the twists was a neat idea. Excellent job by this entire team and had a blast!!

@michaelvaughnlambert So many emotions from one of the most challenging and dynamic courses in the off-road scene in the US in Bentonville, AR. 

Rule of 3 race directors are Lauren Pickman and Andy Chasteen. They put in hundreds of hours to make this event special for everyone involved – riders, volunteers, vendors, and spectators. We hope to see you at next year’s Rule of 3 taking place May 16-19, 2024.