Monday, October 5, 2015

Pedestal Rock 40- Buffalo River Country in the Fall

Interesting road rides just keep appearing here in the Natural State. While at the BDB100 Expo, I took the opportunity to visit with Dirk Merle (merl-ee) who was manning table to promote the November 7 Pedestal  Rock 40 and 20 Bike Ride at Witts Springs.

Follow the link above for ride details and registration. They are also seeking volunteers to help with the ride.
WE ARE SEEKING MORE VOLUNTEERS!! To volunteer, email Janis at 

 The locale grabbed my attention because I have a long love affair with the area that is rooted in 30 years of kayaking Richland Creek, a tributary of the Buffalo, and other nearby Ozark creeks. Witts Springs lies along highway 16, and is best known to the boaters, hikers, and horse riders who know the wonders to be found just off of the pavement. I won't say that it is remote, but when I started boating in the area in the early 80's,  long stretches of state Highway 16 were not paved, and washouts and downed trees blocked the road fairly frequently. I remember reading in the newspaper when telephone service was brought to Ben Hur, really more of a bend in the road with a place name than a community, west of Witts Springs. Of course, that was more than a few years ago, when most people actually read a newspaper.

For many serious boaters, Richland Creek defines Ozarks paddling. This high waterfall marks the approach to Richland Falls, a river wide drop of 10-12 feet. The creek is most frequently runnable in winter and early spring, though 2015 saw a rare July 4 rise.

The terrain is hilly, but the route is mostly rolling hills, without the many miles-long climbs that you'll encounter on the drive up.

Donation, lunch, and camping.
The  ride organizers call for a $40.00 dollar donation to benefit the Witts Springs Community Center. The donation will get you a T-shirt, post-ride lunch, and free camping at the community center. Showers and restrooms are available at the Community Center, as well. 

 Some lodging and camping options are listed on the ride website, and there is also camping at the Richland  Creek Campground a few miles away at the confluence of Richland and Falling Water Creeks. If you go for the weekend, take your hiking boots and plan a hike to Pedestal Rocks or from the Richland campground up to Twin Devils Falls. That hike requires a couple of creek crossings in order to reach the twin water falls formed at the confluence of Big Devil and Long Devil Creeks. In high water, those creek crossings are sketchy.  Here is a link to a video of some friends running those falls at high water.

This Richland Creek crossing at the confluence with the Twin Devils Creek might be a little chilly in November, though at current water conditions, it would be more of a shallow wade than a swim. 

I can't help but veer off into boating, as that is the heart of my romance with the area, but every time I am there, I think about just how cool it would be to ride those roads. The pavement is good, the scenery is spectacular, and roads are lightly traveled. This is a ride worth checking out.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Big Dam Bridge 100- Can This Be The 10th BDB100?

Time flies when you're having fun, and I guess that I've been having a blast over the nine years that have passed since the Big Dam Bridge opened. The bridge opening was on Saturday, September 30, 2006 and the inaugural BDB100 took place the next day on Sunday, October 1.

This was the first "official" ride over the new Big Dam Bridge in 2006. 

Diane and I were invited to be among the Garver folks to join the VIP crowd at the ribbon cutting and the first ride across the new bridge. Having watched the construction on a near-daily basis, it was an thrilling moment to actually ride across the BDB with its sweeping views and dizzying height, while pondering the possibilities of the many routes that it opened for cyclists. 
I don't think the BDB was yet open when this photo was taken by a Garver photographer, and the Two Rivers Park Bridge was not yet even a twinkle in Judge Buddy Villines' eye.
2006 marked the beginning of Arkansas's biggest cycling event.

With no Two Rivers Bridge to safely funnel riders to the roads west of the city, it made sense to keep most of the 2006 route north of the river. There was enthusiastic buy-in on the parts of Maumelle, Mayflower, Conway, and other communities along the route, so one of the biggest challenges to organizers was how to incorporate the Big Dam Bridge itself into the route. 
The solution was to start and finish near the Burns Park soccer fields, where around 1000 enthusiastic riders lined up for a mass start and then immediately took a hard right turn onto the River Trail in order to head the the BDB. It was a thrill to cross the bridge en masse and then head back toward downtown Little Rock on closed roads. After crossing back to downtown North Little Rock, we headed up the trail toward Maumelle Blvd., to Mayflower and beyond for a circuit around Lake Conway. Along the way out, the ride crossed the old tooth-rattling wooden bridge near Burns Park. There had been a lot of conversation among riders as to how that would go, but it went well as local riders were aware of the danger, and by then the ride had spread out quite a bit.
The 2006 BDB course would likely be considered far too sketchy for this year's bigger crowd, though the 2015 NLR start is somewhat reminiscent to part of the original. Staggered start times and trail improvements should serve to help spread the peloton out early on. 
The thought of 1000 riders crossing the old wooden bridge over Shillcut Bayou was a concern for many of us in 2006. The 2015 route will benefit from a wider, smoother bridge surface and a better approach.

Growing Community-Growing Event
Like the BDB100, our cycling community has grown and matured over the years. The course changed  most dramatically when the opening of the Two Rivers Bridge made possible a grand loop crossing the Arkansas River at Toad Suck and added a notable climb in the form of Wye Mountain. Traffic control on Maumelle Blvd. had always been a problem, particularly in the afternoon of the ride, as stragglers came in for hours. Now the course been has moved yet again to the more rural south side of the river valley, making for a less disruptive, safer, and more scenic ride. The ride has grown to around 3000 cyclists, and the activities surrounding the event have evolved in quality and increased in number.
When the BDB100 was introduced, there was an idea to model it after the hugely successful Hotter'nHell100 in Wichita Falls, TX, which was already drawing over 12,000 riders. We haven't achieved that magnitude, nor is Central Arkansas situated in the wide open terrain of the Texas-Oklahoma border region, and thank goodness for that! While HnH is undeniably successful, the event also has the reputation of limited facilities and price-gouging hotels the go along with having a big event in a small city.

My 2006 bike log shows that my 100.11 mile ride took 5 hours and 17 minutes. The finish "festivities" consisted mainly of food and Gatorade returned from the rest and perhaps a beer vendor. The organizers ran out of finishers pins long before the last riders came in. As I recall, I snagged a beer from somebody, and may have gotten a burger or a hot dog as I waited for Diane to come in from her first century. We had no expectations, so that was a fine afternoon. Compare that to this year's Expo and post ride party.
I've only missed one year of the BDB100, but I had a good excuse. In 2009, Diane and I were spending 18 days kayaking the Grand Canyon. I'll give up a ride for that experience every time.
Riders were already filling downtown hotels Thursday evening, bringing tourism dollars with them.

On Saturday, a revived Main Street Argenta will be the scene of live music, including a Big Dam Blues Party that stretches until midnight, multiple local craft beers, and many food opportunities as thousands of cyclists, spectators, and locals in search of a party crowd the street. With the guidance of the Big Dam Bridge Foundation and the good organization that continues under the hand of Fred Phillips' DLT Events Management, the Big Dam Bridge100 has enjoyed steady growth and and  has developed a solid reputation as a quality event that attracts cyclists from around our region.

When we all ride out on Saturday morning, keep in mind how cycling has helped change the shape of our community for the better, and we are all a very dynamic part of it.

Be safe.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

New Rider Clinics At Spokes-Ignorance Is Bliss But It Won't Fix A Flat

OK, as many of you know, I'm pretty marginal as a user of social media, so it won't come as much of a surprise that I don't pay as much attention as I could to my own JBarCycling Facebook page. I post links to my articles and have welcomed local shops and clubs to post there as well. This morning, I noticed that Spokes was holding a New Rider Orientation Clinic hosted by Eric Easterly and Leah Thorvilson, so I decided to drop by.
This class covered bike cleaning and lubrication.
I had not seen the previous announcements, but I found out that this was the third class in the series that Eric and Leah had held. The sessions are held more or less monthly and previous topics included fixing flats, proper shifting, and making minor mechanical adjustments.
Eric was thorough and patient in explaining each step of cleaning the bike, adding in bits about the function and features of various components as he went.
I keep my bike pretty clean, but Eric put me to shame with the clean he put on this rig.
This apparently was their smallest class to date, with six students, and most of the riders had attended all three sessions. Eric mentioned that he would do a class on wheel truing, and I'll be first in line for that. I do most of my own work, but have shied away from messing with my wheels. That said, my wheels road have seldom needed to be touched and disk brakes allow me to ignore the minor wobble of my mountain bike wheels.
Most of us start out knowing very little about modern bikes, and we are often hesitant to reveal our ignorance to our presumably more learned friends. I have a near insatiable curiosity about anything that I use, so my first few years on the bike were spent reading, pestering friends, and annoying the shop guys. Simple things like using barrel adjusters to fine tune my shifting totally eluded me until took one off and disassembled it.  Of course, then I had to replace the cable and adjust my derailleur. Using barrel adjusters is very straighforward, but it took me two years to figure out which way to turn it. I blame the shop wrench who gave me the old "lefty loosy-righty tighty" line. He knew what he meant but confused me completely. (Lefty-tighty is more like it to my perception. A counterclockwise turn of the adjuster tightens the cable. )
You can always learn something if you start off ignorant enough....
I will confess that I am not above the arrogance of thinking I know more than I do. My first demo ride on a bike with STI shifters (if you don't know what that is, you're likely riding them. ) was on a Cannondale from Competitive Cyclist, then Bikeseller. I knew that the shifters were the little levers at the brakes and promptly shifted to the small front ring and the smallest rear cog. Hmmm, now what? I called Craig Zediker just before closing time at the shop, who explained between snorts and chuckles that the brake lever was also used to shift gears. Eureka! What will they think of next!?
So, if you're new to riding, accept that you need to learn a few things, many of which you have no idea that you need to learn. Look for opportunities such as what Spokes is offering, pester your friends, ask the guys in the shop where you bought your bike or have it serviced, or even stop somebody on the River Trail if you have an immediate need. Most people who have a bit of knowledge are glad to share. Helping others is a rewarding and empowering thing, so let folks help you. You're doing them a favor.
 Follow local bike shops and clubs on social media or get on their e-mail list.
Other shops in town also offer events to welcome new cyclists and help them learn some skills or just meet like-minded riders. In fact, Chainwheel is hosting a Ladies Night on October 8. This looks like less of a technical event than an opportunity to meet other riders and learn about group rides and clubs around the area. Take advantage. Heck, we can all use some new friends.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Southeast Trail Dedication-Wednesday September 9, 10:00AM

I've posted a couple of articles about the conception and development  of the Southeast Trail segment of the Arkansas River Trail System. Now, it is time to make it official with dedication ceremonies taking place at Dassault Falcon Jet .

Wayfinding sign on the Southeast Trail

This press release from Lynn Bell of Metroplan:

Metroplan Announces the dedication of the southeast trail

Wednesday, September 9, 2015, at 10:00 am
Dassault Falcon Jet
3801 E 10th Street, Little Rock, AR 72202

LITTLE ROCK, AR, September 4, 2015 — Metroplan announces a dedication ceremony to celebrate the completion of
the Southeast Trail. This newly designated bike route extends east and south from the Clinton Presidential Park, past Dassault Falcon Jet, the Clinton National Airport, and the Little Rock Port, to the David D. Terry Lock and Dam and
Dam Site 6 West Park.

The 13-mile bicycle trail is an addition to the Arkansas River Trail System and its 88-mile Grand Loop, bringing the total miles of trails and bike routes in the system to well over 100. The trail offers flat terrain, low vehicular traffic, and diverse landscapes of farmland, industry and the Arkansas River.

Partners and supporters of the project include:

·         Dassault Falcon Jet: Antoine Ajarrista, Senior Vice President and General Manager and Jeff Griffin, Vice President
·         The Little Rock Port Authority: Chris Mathews, Port Authority Board Chairman and Bryan Day, Executive Director
·         Pulaski County: Judge Barry Hyde and Barbara Richard
·         The City of Little Rock: Mayor Mark Stodola and Jon Honeywell
·         The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Titus Hardiman
·         Little Rock Parks and Recreation: Mark Webre
·         Clinton Presidential Center: Debbie Shock
·         The Arkansas River Trail Task Force: Rob Stephens, Chairman
·         Metroplan: Jim McKenzie, Executive Director and Lynn Bell

Maps are available here:

Metroplan is the federally designated metropolitan planning organization for the four-county region of Faulkner, Lonoke, Pulaski and Saline counties. It is a voluntary association of local governments that has operated since 1955.

Much credit for this project goes to Rob Stephens, who chairs the Arkansas River Trail Task Force under the auspices of Metroplan. Rob is an energetic volunteer whose quiet, behind-the-scenes efforts continue to produce results from which our community benefits. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A New Ride Added To The Fall Calendar: Ozark Trail Festival, Heber Springs

The Ozark Trail Festival Bicycle Ride takes place on Saturday, October 10th, with the 55-mile ride rolling out at 7:00AM from Spring Park in scenic downtown Heber Springs. The 20-mile Fun Ride starts at 7:30. The flyer indicates this to be the "3rd annual" OTF bike ride, but I believe the first 2 included only the 20-mile route.
There has been a lot of effort in recent years to develop trails and bike routes in the Heber Springs/Greers Ferry Lake Area, much of that effort under the auspices of the Greers Ferry Lake Trails Council and its president, Frank Wimberley.
The 55-mile route follows most of the course I wrote about last September as "Milner's Metric". That ride was organized by local rider, trout guide, and friend Matt Milner. Matt and galpal Krista laid out and marked the course, stashed water along the way, and arranged a support station near the halfway point. It was a great ride along a route I had hesitated to try solo due to concerns about traffic.

Milner's Metric included some great views of fog-bound Greers Ferry Lake. Expect the same, perhaps without the fog, on October 10.
The Ozark Trails Festival ride promises traffic control by local law enforcement agencies. While most of the ride is along quiet back roads, the support will be welcome on a couple of highway stretches.
I got a kick out of the Mountain Man logo on the GFL Trails Council site. I felt I had fallen in with a pack of mountain goats on Matt's ride as they left me gasping and distanced me several times. I recorded 4000' of climbing in 64 miles on that little adventure.

October is a great time to head to the hills, and this ride promises to be a good one. We have a place on the Little Red outside of Heber, so it is very convenient for us, but Heber Springs is just a little over an hour from Little Rock. There are also special rates at the local Holiday Inn Express and plenty of camping opportunities.

The ambitious among you can use this as a warm up for the Arkansas Bicycle Club's Joe Webber Arky100 taking place the next day, Sunday, October 11, at Sheridan.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Accidental Interview With Judge Barry Hyde

One recent busy morning, my phone rang and an unfamiliar number appeared. I answered I my usual business hours manner, but got no response. After a couple of, "hellos", I hung up, only to have the number ring in again. This time, I was greeted by Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde, who explained that he had been guilty of having taken a bite of his breakfast bar as the phone started ringing and was unable to respond when I picked up on the first ring. Such are the hazards of being a busy multi-tasker.
Hyde then went on to explain the he had been trying to call John Burton of the Pulaski County Road and Bridge Department. He realized his error when my contact information popped up, but was polite enough to call me back to explain.
 Not being one to let an opportunity pass me by, I asked Barry if he had time for a few questions. He was quite gracious and we had a nice conversation on a few topics relevant to cycling in Pulaski County. The judge is a cyclist, so his experiences and impressions are mostly first-hand.
Barry Hyde at the start of the 2014 Little Rock Gran Fondo

Pups, Poop, and Parties
First, I asked about his intent to close the bike-pedestrian bridges to dogs due to the continued problems with poop going uncollected by dog owners. He reiterated that this is a near certainty. Regular trail users and visitors complain, the situation is unsightly and unsanitary, and the regular cleanup required is expensive.  Threats and efforts at educating the offenders have not produced results, so a dog ban is likely to occur.
We also discussed nighttime closure of the BDB. I mentioned some of my trifling complaints about the weekend evening crowds- large groups blocking the bridge, cigarette and cigar smoke, and the litter left behind. The judge seemed to correctly consider these to be minor problems. The bad stuff happens long after most of our evening rides are done. When the area clubs close, party crowds move to the BDB to carry on. While drinking and smoking in public are both technically illegal, Hyde's bigger concern was the subsequent behavior that includes vandalism and throwing objects off of the bridge.This got some coverage in the mainstream media several weeks ago. It seems that a late-night closure is likely at some point, but Hyde noted that a 5:00AM opening time would accommodate commuters and early morning recreational users.

Smile, you're on camera
When the LED lights on the BDB were upgraded near the end of Judge Buddy Villines' administration, the project included the installation of surveillance cameras. After Hyde took the reins, it was pointed out that the cameras relied on memory cards and were not connected to the Internet. In order to retrieve data, somebody had to go climb a ladder and pull the cards. Needless to say, that was not an elegant situation, but there was no data service available at the bridge.
Hyde found that the City of North Little Rock was installing a high capacity data line for the Murray Dam hydroelectric plant, and worked with the City to tie in 16 live web cameras to that service. As a result, both the Little Rock and North Little Rock police departments can monitor the bridge cameras, some of which have IR capability. That is not to say that the PDs are monitoring the bridge with regularity, but they have the capability to do so as the need arises, and can also retrieve footage of specific times in the event of an incident. Response times of the police to the bridge have been somewhat slow, but the time of a 911 call can be used to seek evidence from the cameras.If you see suspicious activity that may not warrant a call, note the time. It may be useful later if suspicions turn out to be warranted.

I appreciated the judge took a few moments to visit and share a little insight. I consider Judge Buddy Villines to have been a visionary and his accomplishments are many, but on thing that Buddy lacked was a "wheels on the road" perspective. I perceive Judge Hyde to be an able manager with an eye to the broad interests of the county as a whole, but some of his view is from the saddle. That can't be a bad thing for our cycling community.
Looking forward
Pulaski County has applied for grant money with the goal of extending the River Trail to Pinnacle Mountain State Park. I have no idea what shape that will take, as the park itself is expansive and just getting to the park boundary would not get us very far. There have been discussions over the last several years of trying to develop a route through the park with cooperation from Arkansas State Parks, but that was beyond the scope of my short conversation with Judge Hyde.
Not quite a bike path.
We were all excited a few years ago when it was announced that Pulaski County would build off-the-road bike paths to Maumelle Park. We were equally disappointed when we saw what was built. I'm confident that any future trail construction will be to a higher standard and actually give riders the option of getting off of the road. That would be good for us and for the local drivers.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Vuelta a Espana Minileague 21151213

The Tour de France JBarCycling Minileague was quite successful, with 47 teams, some nice prizes, and a lot of BS trash talk. The Vuelta starts tomorrow and I've been asked by a couple of team managers if we were going to do another minileague. The answer is, "yes, barely."

 Tour Minileague prize winner David Gambill, aka "Spank", picking up his Yeti mug at sponsor Ozark Outdoor Supply

The scale of the Tour games created a lot of clerical work for me. It was absolutely worth it, but I can't do it again. If you've already picked a Vuelta team, I invite you to join the JBarCycling Minilague. It's not too late to get on board. Log into Velogames and pick your team. The Vuelta is going to be some great racing this year with most of the world's top riders vying for a coveted Grand Tour win.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

NLR River Trail Segment Closure Ahead- Thursday

This from Jeff Caplinger of North Little Rock Parks:

The Arkansas River Trail in NLR will be closed Thursday, August 20 from 7:00-AM until early afternoon between the Big Rock Quarry and Burns Park.

 The bollards supporting the safety cables along the river in this area washed out in the recent flooding and must be replaced. There is not an easy detour around this area so plan your ride accordingly. You don't want to be caught on the wrong side of things if you ride early.

 This means us. Depending on the set up for the task, riders have been known to ride through work zones. Please let the crews get their jobs done.

The summer flooding left behind a wide range of challenges. The sand and mud is mostly gone, and it looks like the potholes are getting attention as well.

Jeff also said the Ranger Ian Hope has work day scheduled for Pfeifer Loop for Thursday, and the Loop should be open by the weekend. From the tracks I've seen from the trail, it looks like some riders and work teams have already been in the area. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Saturday Report: More Tacks on Barrett Road; Down Dog Rescue Effort: Chainwheel Good Citizeneship

Tack Attack On Barrett

Riders report that tacks were once again strewn along Barrett Road, this time in the area of the hill just north of Highway 10. I had been through the area a half hour before with no problem. I was lucky in that I passed before the tacks were dumped or simply had an opportune path.
I can only imagine what would motivate someone to do something so chickenshit. I imagine some 17-year old punk, awakening on a Saturday morning, agonizing over the fact that he is cursed with a tiny penis and that his acne is only getting worse. After watching some cartoons and eating his breakfast of Cap'n Crunch, he borrows his mother's car and picks up his buddy, who likely only hangs out with punk because he can borrow mom's car. Together, they plot the best gag ever, which is to go throw some carpet tacks on the road where good folks, with better lives and more ambition than these guys will ever have, ride their bikes. "Har, har, I gave somebody a flat tire....but I still have a tiny penis. I thought it would be better than this."

Good Deeds Along The Trail
Service Stop
In front of the Pinnacle Valley Restaurant, I noticed the Chainwheel tent set up and a cooler of ice water set out for riders. I stopped in and found Bill at his work stand busily going over a child's bike as a road rider waiting to have his over-shifting front derailleur looked at.
In spite of the heat, Bill was having a good time being out of the shop and among the people.

Bill said this is the second time they have set up to provide complimentary roadside service at this location, and Chainwheel will likely try to do it monthly. I consider things like this to be gifts to our community and to be a sign that out local shops are interested in doing more than just selling a bike. Thanks, folks!

Dog Rescue

Riding just a few miles up the trail, I came across a cluster of people huddle alongside the trail in Two Rivers Park. It didn't look good, and I at first assumed that it was a rider down. What I found was that a group of riders being led by Dan Lysk had encountered a couple whose Lab was suffering from an apparent heat stroke. Gino the dog, was a large, older retriever, and in obvious distress.They were about halfway between the bridge and the bathrooms on the trail with no easy way to get a vehicle in or Gino out, as he weighed about 90-100 pounds. Someone was on the phone to a vet as we tried to cool his paws and get him to take some water. I rode up to see if we could remove the bollard near the restrooms to drive in, and called some of my contacts to see about getting a key after finding it locked.
By then, a plan had been hatched. Lisa Bush's car was at the park and she had a sheet, which was put into service as a makeshift stretcher.
Gino was already doing a little better by this point. This were not looking good for him a few moments earlier.

As we cleared the way for the litter bearers, we ran into another long-time Chainwheel mechanic, Eric Blaty, who was riding with his boys, pulling a tag-along and a trailer. Dan had mentioned that perhaps we could find somebody with a trailer, and when Eric heard the situation he said, "I've got a baby in there, but we can take the dog." His youngest, Easton, was soon bouncing down the trail on the shoulders of a good Samaritan and Gino was getting a smoother ride. Those Chainwheel guys were earning good deed points today!

The doggie ambulance in action.

Easton heroically gave up his ride in the luxury coach to Gino, and then was shy about getting his photo taken in his very apropos "Hot Dog" t-shirt.

Dog days are not good days for dogs to be out for exercise.
People who know us know that we are dog lovers, as are Dan Lysk, Addie Teo, and most likely all the other folks who stopped to help, so we were very disturbed by the sight of a dog in such dire straits. It has been reported on local news that at least 3 dogs have died due to heat while hiking with their owners at Pinnacle Mountain State Park this summer. Gino's owners said that he lived outside and was well acclimated to the heat, but dogs have very limited capacity to dissipate heat. Once overheated, they are in trouble. The temperature was already near 90, which is not terribly hot, but the dewpoint was 77, which is brutal. Our dogs always want to go wherever we go, so it is up to us to exercise judgement. On days like today, dogs are better off snoozing in the house.
Gino was sitting up and looking much better by the time the rescuers got him to his owners' vehicle, but I believe that he had a near miss this morning.
Trailwise Willie sez, "I'll sleep in today, thank you."

Along The Trail -Southeast signage up, Isabella Jo Trail cleared, CARVE BDB rides getting under way

Things have seemed fairly slow in the trail news department, but there are always some developments.

Southeast Trail 
Signs have been erected along the Southeast Trail from the rear of the Clinton Presidential Park to the Terry Park. Follow the Arkansas River Trail east along the river below the Clinton Library to follow the newly marked Southeast Trail. From there you begin the flat 13 mile ride to the park at David D.Terry Dam. Credit for this effort goes primarily to Rob Stephens of the ART Task Force. Rob has worked to gain the support of area businesses and other entities, including the Clinton National Airport, Dassault Falcon, and the Port of Little Rock, among others.

Southeast Trail signs have appeared, along with some generic "Bike Route" signs and sharrows. Most of the route was already part of Little Rock's bike plan, and there were no construction costs, other than for signage. Versions of this ride have been enjoyed by cyclists for many years, so is is nice to have a prescribed route. It is similar to the Scott area with some industrial areas thrown in and the traffic greatly diminished.
Since my ride last Sunday, wayfinding signs have been erected and bike racks have been installed at the
Clinton National Airport.

Airport/Temple Street Sign
This sign is near the Terry Dam

The Clinton National Airport welcomes cyclists with high speed WiFi, a Starbucks location, restrooms and a fountain with a bottle fill feature. The restrooms and fountain are under the escalator on the entry level.

The Southeast Trail adds another facet to our still-growing trail system. Thanks got out to Rob, Metroplan, and the various  entities along the route that supported the project.

Burns Park Isabella Jo Trail

The Arkansas River Trail on north side of the river suffered from the recent minor flooding, even as efforts were still underway to clean up from the larger previous flood.  Though the logs, navigation buoys, dead carp, and much of the sediment had been cleared from the most recently flooded area, a hard pack of dried mud remained. The folks at NLR Parks have had their hands full the last couple of months, but Jeff Caplinger and  ranger Ian Hope report that the trail is near ready to ride.

Almost cleared and ready for action. 

On the subject of Pfeifer Loop, Jeff says, "We are also keeping an eye on the Pfeifer Loop Trail for it to dry out enough to hold a work day to get the debris and trash removed.
  Pfeifer Loop as seen from the paved trail is virtually surrounded by a wall of large logs, driftwood, and trash. I'm curious to see how the interior has fared. I'm sure that it is a mess. 

E-cort Service
( I did not want to use the words 'escort' in conjunction with the word 'service" above because the last time I did so in reference to LR Marathon support duty, the article got spammed by  hookers, Indian "models", Russian bride services, etc, for a couple of years.)

I ran into George Rhode  and a group of riders on Thursday preparing to set out on a training ride for the  upcoming CARVE sponsored BDB training rides. Yes, the preceding makes sense. Read it again if you need to.

Preparing to pace a five-hour BDB 100. George Rhode outlining the plan for a training ride.

Many recreational riders aspire to ride a five-hour century. CARVE and the Big Dam Bridge Foundation are teaming to help riders succeed in that ambition by providing pace riders and domestique support for the upcoming Big Dam Bridge 100. This is a fund raiser, so there is a fee, and you still have to ride your bike 100 miles in five hours. That said, it is much easier to do so in a protected group where you do not feel obligated to pull, have rolling support, and you know that the people around you are committed to the shared goal. Training rides will be taking place over the next few weeks, and my understanding is that those rides are open to all.

Now, go ride your bike, and take care. it's hot out there.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Breaking Down A Ride -Wampoo Roadeo

Wampoo Roadeo

The Wampoo Roadeo a couple of weeks ago was simply a whole lot of fun. The course is dead flat and covers familiar, yet interesting, terrain.It was hot, but not unbearably so. The rest stops were well spaced and quite adequate. I didn't see as much SAG as in some past versions, nor did I see anybody needing it, so that is no complaint. We did run across the aftermath of one crash that warranted an ambulance ride, and heard of another, but the groups that we were involved with were spared any such incidents.
At the sign-in. There were a mess of Mello Velos and Rev Rock riders visible on the road and helping out, along with Major Taylor Rock City Riders and other groups.

This ride, a fundraiser to support the Marilyn Fulper Memorial Fund, has evolved into  a very nice event, and  it seems to be a little different each year depending on who volunteers. Last year, for example, there seemed to be a lot of on-the-road support, but there was not so much as water at the finish. I took note because we had jumped on a fast group, skipped all of the rest stops and came in with empty bottles and bellies. The year before, we had been greeted with cold drinks, snacks, and ice cold watermelon, so our expectations were high.
The finish area support for the recent ride was the best ever, with Loblolly Creamery providing cold chocolate milk and ice cream in addition the the watermelon, ice water and other refreshments.

3 rides in one....
For our little group, the day evolved into what seemed almost like three very different rides.
Part 1- Leaving Scott, we settled into what was likely the second or third group on the road. There were 20-30 riders in a double  line, working well and rolling along pretty smoothly at 20-23 MPH for the most part. That is easy riding on the flats in a group that size. Riding two up like this in a solid group is one of the great pleasures of cycling. Conversations come and go as you find yourself riding beside friends, acquaintances, or strangers, you can relax a bit, and you can pretty much take as little or as much of the workload as you want. As is frequently the case in event rides, our dynamic soon changed. Some of our bunch needed water so we made a stop at about mile 26, which was needed by some of our riders, but which immediately altered the complexion of our experience.

Part 2-We left the stop with eight riders, still in a double line, which meant everyone was in the wind a quarter of the time as opposed to a 10th or less. A couple of riders decided to do 50 miles and dropped off at the next stop, and we were soon a group of 5. We discussed our strategy and decided on a single line, taking 1 minute pulls, and pretty easily maintaining a 20-22 MPH pace. That put only one rider in the wind at a time as everyone took about 20% of the load. We rode like this for what I'd guess was about 15 miles, and the short pulls really helped to keep everyone fresh while maintaining a good pace.
A note on group ride strategy-
It seems that there is a certain machismo associated with going to the front and taking long monster pulls. That is great when there are strong riders in a group who are willing and able to take the responsibility, but what often happens is that other folks, whom I'll call "the rest of us", feel compelled to take an equal share of the load. That often results in weaker riders blowing up and being dropped or simply having an unnecessarily  miserable ride. In larger groups it is pretty easy to simply sit on when you need to or just rotate through. In a smaller group such as our 5, I think it's important to recognize what works best and talk about it. I appreciate that Bill Torrey called for the 1 minute pulls so that we were all clear on the plan. Rather than looking at my computer all the time, I found it easy to count 80 pedal strokes when it was my turn to pull. My cadence was showing about 75 RPM, so that was an effective way for me to keep time.
Also understand that it is OK to say, "I'm done, cooked, toast, bonked, can't take another pull" and just sit in. Your friends would rather have you along as a passenger, as I have been too many times, than not have you along.
It was a hot and brutally humid day, and the conditions took their toll on some riders. I actually felt better as it warmed up enough for the sweat to evaporate.

Part 3- We made a second stop when we sighted a large group of riders at the last support station, pausing briefly to top off bottles and jumping in with a massive bunch. The wind had picked up a bit, so we were glad to have the refuge of the pack, but it was not a time to relax. It was a disparate group with little organization behind the front group of riders, so it became a bit of a defensive ride.It's just a fact that big mixed groups in an event ride are going to be a little sketchy. There were plenty of folks in the pack that I know as experienced riders just sitting in like I was, accepting the accordion effect  and constantly making small adjustments. It is always interesting to hear newer riders asking the same questions I asked not that long ago, "why we keep changing speeds....who's stopping up there...why do they go so fast coming out of corners???....
One rider who had sat in with us for a bit earlier in the day turned to be a said, "Why does everybody keep rubbernecking". I looked up and down the line to see if I noticed heads turning as I considered the question. The guy was strong but had mentioned earlier that this was his third group ride, and I finally caught on that he was referring to the seeming random braking as when freeway traffic passes an incident in the opposite travel lanes and slows down as everyone looks, though the road ahead is clear. I did my best to explain.

Cold finish to a hot ride-peaches and cream ice cream. I assured this rider that the photo was not at all about her, though she was showing pro skills by choosing the shade and post-ride ice cream.

 I had a great teacher and it still took a lot of hours on the bike to start to understand things like how the simple act of a rider at the front standing out of the saddle can result in a rider 5 wheels back having to overlap a wheel or grab a handful of brake a few seconds later. Or, why riders in the back in a turn have to race back on the catch up because the front riders are well clear and are back up to pace.
There were no egregious fouls such as ear bugs or aerobars in this group, and none of my comments are meant as criticism; simply observations of things that occur in almost every group ride. These are not the well-orchestrated movements of a seasoned race team or even of groups of friends who regularly hit the road together. They are simply some of the things that make every big ride different, yet the same in many ways. Riding is about being fit, making friends, some competition, and, hopefully, learning from each new experience.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Tour Final: Froome Finishes in Yellow--Team Pancake Finishes Perfectly Golden Brown

The last week of the Tour has been interesting, if somewhat predictable. American Tejay Van Garderan's tearful departure due to illness on stage 17, Garaint Thomas's dramatic head-first crash into a utility pole, Nibali's attack and stage win on Stage 19, and Quintana's desperate race for second place on Alpe d'Huez all made for a bit of drama, but the baseline has been has been the steady performance of Chris Froome and TeamSky.

In the mini league, there has been more excitement. My phone has been blowing up today, as I hear about side-bets, dinners and beers won and lost, and some general, "take that final score bXtch" smack talk.
In the last few days, I could look over my shoulder and see the glow of the lantern rouge as my team has dropped to 45th  place, while Matt Milner's Ridin' Dirty rose to the top of the heap, only to fall to the middle of the pack, along with most of the previous top level teams. There have been massive shifts in the league over the last couple of stages, and I'm just relieved that my team did not come in DFL.

I've made similar mistakes in choosing my team in each of the last couple of tours. I've stuck with Mark Cavendish, though his star is waning, and I've mostly ignored Peter Sagan, whose consistent performances and all 'round ability have made him the perennial green jersey holder. Even without a stage win, his close finishes and dominance of intermediate sprints make him solid gold for a fantasy team. My second sprinter, Kristoff, disappointed as well. History was against my GC pick of Alberto Contador in his attempt to pull off a Giro-Tour double.
I'll know better next time, but may not finish any higher.

It appears that we had some late joiners, as we started the Tour with 41 teams and finished with 47!


1--Team Pancake Dumas Garrett       7221 points 
90.00 Bike Tune up from Arkansas Cycling and Fitness

2--Team Spank   David   7158 points
Yeti Insulated Mug from Ozark Outdoor Supply

3--Kool Aeros Micho! 7089 points 
25.00 Spokes Gift Card

Lanterne Rouge - The lanterne rouge refers to the red lantern which was hung on the back of the caboose of trains. It also refers to the last place finisher. DFL as it is known in many circles.

Our lanterne rouge goes to Drewsky of Team Moffeed with 3516 points.  Angry Dave's T-shirt and water bottle.

Drew was concerned early on that his wife was going to beat him, as there was some trash talking going on at home. Well, Drew, it was worse than that.

There had been a protracted battle for last between Cliff L. and Matthew Parrish, but both bumped up to some degree of respectability in the final days of the Tour. In doing so, they missed out on any chance of winning anything, while Drew somehow manged to sprint, slog, flat, bonk, whatever you do to race to the back of the pack, to claim a prize.

It is interesting to look over the teams that did really poorly, as all looked good on the front end. Drewsky had Contador and Nibali, along with Michael Rogers, Joaquim Rodriguez, and Stage 16 winner Rafal Majka.
Crazy stuff.

Previous Stage winners:

Stage 17  Angry Vikings  $20.00 Gift Card from Angry Dave's
Happy Viking? gettyimage from Velonoews

The Vikings were 5th in points for this stage but Jeremy had the winner, Giant-Alpecin's Simon Geschke. Jeremy had some insight, liked the Viking-style beard,  or was just lucky. Geschke has raced at the top level of the sport for at least 8 years, going back to Team Milram in 2008, and has had a grand total of 3 wins.

Stage 20 Road Rash- Chico  25.00 Spokes Gift Card

Chico had Thibaut Pinot and the top score of 638 points on the day
Stage 21 Speed Racers Ted Tedford  $20.00 Gift Card from Angry Dave's

Have I mentioned that I really don't like Andre Greipel? I guess he showed me that my sentiment has very little influence on his success, as he has emerged as the Tour's top sprinter.

I hope you've enjoyed played the game. If you have won a prize, please contact me so that I can hook you up with the sponsor. If for any reason you will not be claiming your prize, let me know that as well. It has been fun for me to watch the progress of our teams, but I will admit that the Tour coincided with some incredibly busy weeks for me. That made for less frequent updates that I had planned, and I was unable to follow the race as closely as I usually do.

Thanks again to Angry Dave's, Arkansas Cycling and Fitness, Ozark Outdoor Supply, and Spokes, who sponsored our fun with great prizes. There was nothing in it for them beyond community spirit and a desire to join in the excitement. Shop with them and tell them "thanks" when you do!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Leave No Trace Takes Stage 12; Argh...takes 13, and Team Marshmallow got all puffed up on stage 14. Upcoming Prize Points

Rob Stephens of Team Leave No Trace claimed to have no idea what he was doing in picking his team. Now he claims the exclusive JBarCycling coffee mug as a result of his 518 points on Stage 12, and his selection of Jaoquim Rodriguez. Purito, as Rodriguez is known, was the first rider to top of the massive Plateau de Beille, claiming his second stage win of this Tour. 

The stage 13 winner was Team Argh managed by Dave McWhorter, with Greg Van Avermaet. Dave wins a $15.00 gift card from Ozark Outdoor Supply. Dave, please drop me a note at and I'll get you hooked up with your gift card.

Stage 14- OK, I didn't declare a prize for this stage, but the biggest point winner on the day and  likely our youngest directeur sportif, is Alison Gambill, age 9, of Team Marshmallow. Alison picks up a T-Shirt from sponsor Arkansas Cycling and Fitness. Alison seems to have an endless collection of stylish sparkly shoes, so it is probable that she will be a road cyclist.
I'm not sure, but Alison may have gotten some advice on her team picks.....

Here is the prize list for JBarCycling Minileague for the rest of the Tour:

Stage 17 Digne les Bains to Pra-Loup -Top score among teams with the stage winner:
Angry Dave's -20.00 Gift Card

Stage 20 to Alpe d'Huez Top score among teams with the stage winner:
 Spokes-$25.00 Gift card

Stage 21- Paris! Top score among teams with the stage winner:
 Angry Dave's -20.00 Gift Card

Final Podium:

Top Score- Arkansas Cycling and Fitness Bike Tune-up, valued at $90.00

Second Place:Yeti Insulated Mug from Ozark Outdoor Supply, valued at $30.00

Third Place: $25.00 Spokes Gift Card

Lanterne Rouge- DFL This position is being hotly contested! The winning loser will be rewarded by Angry Dave's with an Angry Dave's T-shirt and water bottle.

Prize Winners: Please drop me a note at so that I know prizes are being claimed and so that I can verify the winners to the sponsors.

I've been asked by some out-of-town winners if someone else can pick up their prize. The answers is yes.  It's yours do do with as you see fit. Just let me know who will be picking up your prize.
 Also, our sponsors have been generous in providing our prizes and my hope is they get some payback by gaining a customer or two. These are all local shops who depend on our community for support. Whether you win or not, please shop with these merchants and thank for their support. Even though my team seems to get closer to the lanterne rouge every day, the league makes the Tour a bit more fun.

Friday, July 17, 2015

How To Be Gentleman/Lady Cyclist

GCN Videos can be both informative and entertaining.This is worth a watch for the good advice and a chuckle.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

100K at 100F- Wampoo Roadeo This Saturday

In truth, and we're all about the truth here at JBarCycling, the forecast for the weekend has moderated a bit, with a forecast high of a balmy 97 for Saturday's  Wampoo Roadeo metric century. The ride is a  fund raiser for the Marilyn Fulper Memorial Fund. Registration is on site at the All Souls Church, 4601 Walker's Corner Road, Scott, AR (Off of I-440, take Highway 165 east  to Scott. Take a left at Hwy 161. U R there). You will see bicycles and people dressed like you.

But, seriously, folks...
It is going to be hot, with dew points reaching into the mid-70s. That mean you will sweat like a pig and get little cooling effect for you efforts. Start hydrating right now. Really. Get up and go get a glass of water. Drink it down.

Be prepared to exceed your ambitions-

Last year, I planned to make a stop or two, but the fast train was just too good to get off of, so 2-hours and 45 minutes later, we rolled into the finish with empty bottles, empty pockets, and a mighty thirst. Even if your plan includes all of the rest stops, be prepared with your own food, some electrolytes, and maybe an extra bottle if you think you might need it.
We have a lot of new riders in our growing cycling community, and this is a great chance to experience an "event" ride prior to the BDB100, Hotter'n'Hell100, MS150, and other upcoming big rides.  Prepare for the unexpected. There are well stocked rest stops and plenty of SAG on this ride, but it is good practice to look over your bike, particularly your tires, and check your flat kit before heading out on any long road ride. Be capable of being self-sufficient, even if you know help is close by.

This is the 7th Wampoo Roadeo. It is a low pressure, well-supported event. It can also be a good chance to clock a fast ride if that is your goal.

Registration starts at 6:00. Ride rolls at 7:00AM. There are 50 and 35 mile routes as well as the metric. RevRock Cycling and the Mello Velos are among the sponsors. Feel free to abuse me if I've missed others!

After there ride, you'll be treated to cold watermelon and delicious Loblolly ice cream and that's not all!!!
You may win one of these fabulous prizes donated by  generous sponsors:
Angry Dave's Bicycles: 3 tee shirts and 3 water bottles, 2 @ $25.00 gift certificates
Arkansas Garden Center: 2 @ $25.00 gift certificates
Crush Wine Bar: $25.00 gift certificate
Mugs Cafe: $25.00 gift certificate
Galaxy Furniture: $25.00 gift certificate
Arkansas Ale House: $25.00 gift certificate
Riverfront Steakhouse: dinner for two @ $70.00
107 Liquor: $25.00 gift certificate
Spokes Bike Shop: 2 @ $25.00 gift certificates
Fresh Market: $25.00 gift certificate
Beer Making Kit
Road ID: 5 @ $15.00 gift certificates
Ryde Revolution: 5 free sessions

I'll see you out on the road.