Alaina Henderson is originally from New York but currently lives in San Diego. After growing up racing BMX, she now races competitively in the elite class. Since moving to San Diego, she has met a lot more friends that mountain bike that have taken her out trail riding and up to places like Big Bear. For her, mountain biking is all about community, and getting out together with friends for a good time. The transition to a big bike was pretty easy for her, having a solid BMX base, and Alaina plans to start racing mountain bikes pretty soon here. Why? She absolutely loves going fast and hitting big jumps. Alaina’s favorite part about being in Bentonville was meeting new like-minded people and having the opportunity to explore a new area. Second best was having access to try all sorts of different bikes. Her favorite? She enjoyed riding the Rocky Mountain Pipeline most, which felt akin to a BMX bike with big wheels.
Branham Snyder was born in Pátzcuaro, Mexico, and grew up exploring his local mountains on two wheels. Growing up, his interest in mountain biking had entirely to do with gravity, both because his abilities and personality naturally gravitated towards life on two wheels, and because he doesn’t know how to live without the pull of gravity when pointing his bike downhill. These days, he calls Bozeman, MT home and loves exploring the areas loose and rocky trails when he is not racing or working as a professional mechanic. He mostly rides long-travel trail bikes but loves having fun on everything from tiny BMX to big DH bikes, anything to help him express his freestyle side. Branham’s favorite part of Bentonville was experiencing such a cohesive and developing mountain bike community. Out of the bikes? His favorite bikes in the test were the Reeb Sqweeb and Rocky Mountain Instinct BC- What party machines! Or was it “shred sleds?”
Connor Johnson hails from the land of fast singletrack and breweries galore, a place most call Bend, Oregon. Home these days is Salt lake City, Utah. He was lucky enough to have a family that loves to mountain bike, and was dragged out riding early on as a kid. He doesnt think he fully appreciated it until inheriting his dads old Santa Cruz Blur and was able to rip around with buddies in high school. These days, he looks at all of the High School XC Race leagues that have popped up and is very jealous! He prefers the more all-mountain flavor of singletrack these days but would have loved to have been a part of one back in the day. Connor is all about the 29ers these days bikes with more modern geometry that makes you feel like you're in, rather than over the cockpit, that smash down chunder and are straight up fast. He got his fill of 29ers in Bentonville, calling the Trek Slash 9.8 and Rocky Mountain Instinct BC his favorites.
Ikhide Ikhigbonoaremen grew up in Westchester County, NY but now lives in foothills of Boulder, CO. He got into mountain biking back in middle school, ca. 2004, and remembers leaving class and seeing some kids jumping down the stair set in front of school. Back then, he had never really seen a purpose-built mountain bike with suspension and asked if he could take one for a quick spin. Coming from BMX, Ikhide felt comfortable on it, and soon was hopping down the stair sets and hitting drops to flat. Immediately they became friends and started a crew. Ikhide started working at the local bike shop in town sweeping floors breaking cardboard down while slowly getting to learn how to fix bikes. He eventually saved up some money for his first real bike, a Kona Scab, and was hooked immediately, building jumps and trails in the local woods with his friends. These days, he rides trails all over Colorado aboard a custom built Evil Calling and loves to spend summer days at Keystone and Trestle bike parks. His favorite part of riding in Bentonville? I loved meeting all the talented people from different parts of the country. The action sports community is small and its nice to meet more like-minded people focused on chasing their dreams through these passions and sports.
Ilka Hadlock lives in Jackson, WY where she ride bikes, skis a lot, and works as a graphic designer. Born and raised on the coast of Maine, she didnt start mountain biking until moving to Jackson in 2013. As an ocean person, she felt there was a pretty big void to fill when it came to summertime activities. She spent a few months of that first summer contemplating moving home, but then someone loaned her a bike and the rest is history. As a washed-up ski racer, biking came pretty naturally to her. Ilka loved that it got her into the mountains with the same adrenaline rush that comes with fast skiing. When she finally bought a bike of her own, she lived at the base of Teton Pass & rode stuff way above her paygrade and comfort level every day. These days, she still rides the same trails, on her Norco Range, but crashes a little less! Last summer, Ilka raced her first enduro, and her competitive side looks forward to racing more this year. Her favorite part of being in Bentonville? She thought it was so cool exploring a new place with an incredible group of riders. For her, it was super fun to rip around with such a knowledgable, sendy crew. And now she have riding partners in 6 different states! As far as bikes go, Ilka had a tough time picking a favorite, but the Niner RIP 9 RDO was definitely at the top of the list. She loved the way it just plowed over everything with such ease yet climbed so well for a pretty burly bike.
Anne Cleary hails from Bellingham, WA. At home, there is a ton of riding in every direction, but after her first time Arkansas, she could not believe how many features and miles of trail there are in Bentonville. Anne started mountain biking in Vermont on a 2007 XL Kona Coilair with a coil shock. These days, she rides a small Evil Wreckoning, more appropriate to her riding style. For her, having the opportunity to ride 10+ bikes was a unique experience - she could immediately feel the difference in bikes with such similar geometry, and found it hard to let go of a bike and hop on another. Her favorites? Anne loved the Rocky Mountain Pipeline and the Trek Remedy 9.8, which she felt were the perfect bikes for the huge variety of trails she rode in Arkansas. Her favorite moment: On the first day of TGR Tested, the crew showed up at a network called the Back 40 with a van and a fully-loaded bike trailer. They grabbed bikes, riding partners, made a couple of adjustments, and took off. Seeing how many trails there were on the map, they made a group decision to go where the trail takes us and then find our way back when were tired. Her partners were Ilka Hadlock ("we pretty much have the same friend network unknowingly, she even went to prom with a good friend"), and Alaina Henderson. They rode about 25 miles, rotating between three bikes, and threw Alaina right into the ups and downs of what's to love about mountain biking, and guess what, Alaina loved it!