The Art of Balance

Kenny Belaey

A few words with Kenny Belaey


MOUNTAIN BIKE TRIALS riding is an extreme test of cycling skills and balance in which the rider attempts to negotiate an obstacle course without a foot touching the ground. Belgium native Kenny Belaey, who rides with the Red Bull Team, is a multiple trial bike world champion—and part-time resident of Bentonville.

Kenny Belaey What prompted you to have a home in Bentonville?

I ended up in Bentonville by accident back in 2013—I was on tour in the U.S. and was hired to perform at the grand opening of the 21C Hotel. By then, Bentonville had already revealed plans to turn the city into a mountain bike destination. At first, I couldn’t believe it—but when I came back in 2018, it was clear that the Waltons had an amazing vision and had done what they said they were going to do. Soon after that, I pitched the idea of organizing a woman-focused cycling event. Then I started planning Bentonville Bike Fest, which debuted in 2020—and the rest is history! Now having a home here was my next step. I’m glad I took that step, because this place is awesome for a cyclist and adventurepreneur.

What makes Bentonville especially appealing to top-level cyclists?

The endless number of mountain bike trails, gravel roads, and also fantastic road cycling options. Plus, the climate with its year-round accessibility to the trails makes Bentonville an amazing destination to live, work, and ride your bike.

How does Bentonville (and Northwest Arkansas) stack up against other favorite international cycling centers?

A lot of other places in the world may offer more elevation, potentially better scenery, and probably more extreme riding. What makes Bentonville so unique, though, is its accessibility to the trails—they made the trails for everyone, and on top of that they’re right by many peoples’ doorstep.

So sorry about this year’s Bike Fest: As I understand it, you were on your way to record attendance. What were your final numbers?

We were on the way to have 20,000 people that weekend. The growth of Bentonville Bike Fest has been really mind blowing. By now, we’re the U.S.’s second largest event of its kind.

I drink Red Bull, but it doesn’t make me as good or as brave as you are! This morning I watched your “Balance” video, when you rode your bike over that deep ravine on a narrow strip of something. Wow! 

That was a perfect illustration of my entire career—of falling and getting back up and never stopping until it works. This video reached over half a billion impressions, and we’re actually working on a second one. So stay tuned!