Monday, July 6, 2015

Stage 2-Illneverwin Won!

Team "Of course I still love you" had the stage winner, the ever-whiny Andre Greipel (OK, I don't like the guy) beat out Mark Cavendish and Peter Sagan after Cavendish was left to fend for himself by his lead out man Mark Renshaw as Renshaw faded 400 meters out.

Illneverwin had the winning rider and scored 483 team points on the day.

Illneverwin, drop me an email at with you contact info and I'll hook you up. You join an exclusive club of owners of the JBarCycling coffee mug.

Stage 3 is looking brutal, but no prize will be awarded today as I try to line of prizes and winning criteria for the rest of the Tour. I won't run any spoilers this early in the day and I don't know the results, but I had the TV on and there will likely be some more big changes after today's stage.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

And Our First Winner is....

Jason Warren's Team Busted Can O' Biscuitss piled on 380 points.
I'm not sure about that extra 's' on biscuits, but it's a winner so I will assume it has some kind of race ju-ju...or that Jason counldn't get his finger off of the key.
Jason wins a T-Shirt from Angry Dave's Bicycles in Park Hill. Thanks, Dave!
Jason racked up the big points with stage winner Rohan Dennis and third place Fabian Cancellara. He's follow closely by Michael Chaffin's Chaffin's Ride and Of Course I Still Love You, managed by the prophetically pessimistic Iwillneverwin. Those two teams tied at 323 points.

Sunday should end in a sprint finish, and the winner will get the much sought after JBarCycling coffee mug.
Coffe just tastes better from one of these!
This custom designed, quality crafted, limited edition, cant't be bought-in-store, not-seen-on-TV item will go the the highest scoring team on the day among those who have the winning rider. In the unlikely event that nobody has the winning rider, highest team score for the day takes it. With a prize like this, there is sure to be a lot of figurative elbow-throwing, bumping, and head-butting in the final kilometers.
I hope to have the prize list completed and the prime stages lined out in the next couple of days. Some of our prize sponsors got hard to fnd over the holiday week, but we're off to a great start.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Tour de France 2015-We're Off!

While it is Independence Day here is the good ol' US of A, many of us will be slaves to our TVs and DVRs for the next 3 weeks! The Tour kicks off today with a short individual time trial the determine who first dons  the yellow jersey.
Time trials are seldom exciting to watch but a long one can often decide a grand tour. I'm glad this version is short, as is the Stage 9 Team Tine Trial.
To kick off the winning in the JBarCycling Minileague, the team with the winning rider and the day's highest team point total will win a T-shirt from new prize sponsor Angry Dave's Bicycles in Park Hill. Dave has generously offered 3 $20.00 gift cards, along with a couple of his cool T-shirts and water bottles. I don't have Dave's logo yet, but we're glad to have him aboard!

Another new sponsor, Ozark Outdoor Supply, is in with 2 $15.00 gift cards and a 20-oz Yeti insulated mug worth $30.00. Thank you, Jim!

Several other sponsors have promised swag, but I won't commit them until I get specifics. As of this morning, we had 41 teams, so there is bound to be plenty of trash talk before this is over. Thanks to the prize sponsors and to all of you team directors for playing.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Vacation Time In Salida- Our Favorite Bike Town

We have been in Colorado on a much needed vacation. While I always have good intentions of keeping up the blogs posts, it is hard to come inside and sit down in front of a computer in a place that has so many opportunities for outdoor fun.
The timing was good for being out of town, as our local riding scene was in a bit of disarray, with trail closures and a killer gnat invasion along the river. Things are finally approaching normal here on the home front, though the gnats are still swarming like flies in many areas, at least they have been thinned out a bit.

Salida, Colorado

We head to Salida, Co, each summer at this time to run rivers, ride bikes, visit our many friends in the area, and generally enjoy the bliss that is small-town Colorado in June. This year was a little different, as the Arkansas River, like here, was at historic high levels. Normally, I shoot for the peak flows that occur in early summer, but things were just a little bit too rowdy this go 'round. My local paddling buddies did not share my sense of urgency to get out some of the harder runs, which was likely a good thing. They can wait until things settle down, and a swim on a stretch like The Numbers at 4000 CFS would be a very bad thing. Recovery of a swimmer would be difficult and corralling a kayak full of water would be unlikely. We settled for good judgement and  some easier stretches of water.

Salida is a bike town of the first degree. While you will see kitted up road riders passing through and serious mountain bikers abound, most folks are just riding bikes to get where they're going. Like many mountain towns , the town of Salida  itself is quite flat, lying as is does in the valley along the Arkansas River. It sits at about 7000 feet in the shadows the 14,000' peaks of the Collegiate Range, making for a great climate and spectacular views. Everybody has a town bike, most equipped with some sort of basket, crate or bags for cargo. Kids roam the streets in little packs and bike racks are everywhere, though often full when things are hopping downtown. 

Diane does the town bike thing with her usual style.
 We stopped in a Benson's for a meal and some music. Most business have more parking for bikes than for cars.
The Colorado culture is cool with Willie. He enjoyed the walk to dinner and good live music, though he could not appreciate the local beer. Many places offer outside dining and dogs are welcome. 
The new elementary school has plenty of bike racks. School is out, but bikes are primary transportation for most of the town's kids. We loved seeing little packs around town, just being kids on bikes.

Drivers around the area invariably yield to cyclists and pedestrians. I owe it to the fact that most drivers often bike and walk. We found that we would hold up traffic if we approached a cross walk and tried to wait for a car to pass. Locals are just very aware that they are sharing the road and they typically do so quite graciously. We seldom got in the truck unless we were going boating.

Road Rides
I'll admit that it took me a while to warm up to road riding around Salida. Until we hooked up with some local rides, we often found ourselves on a busy highway or doing dead-end loops. We are discovering that there are many good routes that offer lonely back roads, fabulous scenery, and destinations such as Poncha Pass or the Mount Princeton Hot Springs.  

Diane with friends Connie and Lynn Dean at Poncha Pass. The 7 mile climb from Poncha Springs to the 9000' pass is a "baby pass" by Colorado standards, but still a challenge for us flatlanders.

The secondary roads around Salida make for good riding and views like this are the norm.

Mountain Biking
Diane and I always enjoy mountain biking, though we tend to default to the road. That's a bit of a pity in that we have access to great single track both here in Arkansas and around Salida..

Salida was named as a Top Destination  by Singletrack  From that article is this statement:

How, for example, could Salida, CO rank higher than places like Moab and Whistler? Well, a big reason is that Salida has more singletrack trails within 25 miles of town than either of those places–and far fewer riders sharing the trails. 

The Little Rainbow Trail was built to add some intermediate single-track to the local inventory. You can start in town and ride to a 4-mile gravel grind before enjoying about 6 miles of downhill, or, you can ride up on the single-track.

Friends David Wallace, Mike Smith, Diane, and the mysterious Mr. Cone take a break at a road crossing.

We're often encouraged by our friends to make the move to Salida.It is tempting, as there is much to love about the location and lifestyle, but our roots here are simply too deep. Hopefully, there will come a time when we can extend our stays beyond the usual vacations.In writing this article, I came across a nice post at  on why NOT to move to Salida.
It pretty well summarizes things.

Most folks who visit Colorado are drawn to familiar place names or areas where they may have skied--Breckenridge, Vail, Aspen, etc. I should probably keep this to myself, but I suggest that if you're planning a summer trip out west, check out the Salida, Buena Vista area. In addition to the cycling, the Arkansas River provides some of the best kayaking and commercial rafting in the country. You won't find stack of condominium projects or trendy shopping centers in Salida. You'll find local shops, great food, a thriving art scene and cool people. You can always go a couple of miles to Hwy 50 if you have a craving for fast food or Walmart. VRBO's offer good lodging options and there are good camping spots and a few hotels in the area. If you get serious, drop me a note and I'll share some details.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Game on! Velogames Tour de France JBar Minileague #25133048

In case you are not familiar with Velogames , it is a site that allows you to pick riders from the pro peloton to form a team that competes with thousands of other teams worldwide, can join minileagues in order to narrow the field and compete within your own community or circle of friends. You work with a budget of 100, and the riders all have an assigned value. Read the scoring rules if you want to gain some insight on selecting your final team. It is simple to sign up, free, and adds a new element of interest to following the Tour de France or other major races.

I have formed formed the 2015 JBar Cycling Minileague, code #25133048,  so sign in, choose your team and follow the prompts to join the league. It is very easy to go back and change your team selections right up to 1400 CET, Saturday, July 4, so you don't have to agonize over your first picks.Just get it done. I believe that cut-off  translates to 7:00AM CDT if you want procrastinate. 

Last year, we had 28 teams, with an exciting finish as Kelly Thompson edged out Team Mattox. Here is a link to one of the articles:

Some fabulous prizes were awarded to winners in various designated categories, including gift cards from Chainwwheel and Spokes , a CARVE jersey, and a couple of the exclusive JBarCycling coffee mugs.
You don't have a chance of getting one of these babies anywhere else, and it costs nothing to enter. Amazing, but true!

I made it up as I went along last year, and will be making it up some more over the next week. My goal is to spread the winning around while still awarding a good team choice. There will be also be a  DFL prize for the Lanterne Rouge,  A couple of local merchants have already agreed to help out with prizes and I'll be looking around for more. In the event that you are already in a league, you may join more than one league.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Big Dam Bridge Open

It was announced that the BDB was to re-open today, Friday, and reliable reports indicate that is is open, though work is still under way to clean the trails.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

River Trail Clean Up and Conditions Report From The North Side

The long line

Shovels glinted in the hot southern sun. Angry heat radiated . The long line of sweating bodies rhythmically scooped and threw the dirt to the side. Dust hung in the still air as thousands of hungry buffalo gnats bit and flew into eyes, ears and noses.  "The Man" stood in the shade, invisible eyes watchful behind black lensed glasses, dog nearby, eager for the chase.
No, this was not a scene from the Paul Newman classic Cool Hand Luke, but a hot Tuesday in Burns Park and the folks behind the shovels and rakes were cyclists helping in the post-flood clean up of the River Trail. "The Man" was ranger Ian Hope and Shep was hoping to get a shot at a goose or an inattentive  squirrel.

Volunteers from the cycling community pitched to help clean the Arkansas River Trail at Burns Park
Ian speaks to a TV reporter as Shep lobbies for an ear scratching.
This is how the trail looked a few days ago. City crews were able to move off most of the mud with their loaders and sweeper. Our task was to move back the dirt "curbs" that formed to allow the sweepers and blowers to more effectively operate..
Bud Laumer and Jim Britt dug some drainage cuts where the trail-side grade has been raised by the deposited silt.Bud made a good point in that the newly elevated trail-side grade could pose a danger to riders forced to veer off the trail by eliminated run-out space and may also cause drainage issues. 
Charlie Roberts of SimplexQ has a remarkable and well-known penchant for neatness, as demonstrated here by his precision raking.

Beyond the park
After a couple of hours of shoveling, I ran by the house for a quick rinse, grabbed my bike, and took advantage of my work visa to tour some more of the closed trail.In short, the area between Burns Park and the Big Dam Bridge is closed, it's a mess, and it should be avoided for the time being. Among the more annoying/maddening problems are the massive swarms of gnats. On the NLR side at this time, they seem to be one big cloud. While they are present in other areas of the trail, their density from the soccer fields to the BDB is daunting.

The gates are closed at the north end of the BDB, Cook's landing is closed, and, as of Tuesday night, no work had been done to clear the area of mud and debris.
While the trail between downtown and Burns Park is clear, some damage is apparent. The posts holding the cable along the trail west of the rock quarry have been undermined and have fallen.

Many folks suffered far worse in the recent floods than those of us here in the Little Rock area, but we will still face a long clean up. Two Rivers Park has re-opened, so riders can again make their way to the west. The rides east of town are unaffected, and there are big doin's at Camp Robinson on Saturday. There are also certain to be more opportunities to pitch in and help. Thanks to the hard working folks who have done so already.

Update on trail work from Mark Rogers of the BDB Foundation:
The second river trail clean-up day is officially on for this Saturday, June 13. We will meet at 9:00AM at the NLR side of the Big Dam Bridge. Bring shovels, rakes, wheelbarrows, and any digging and earth moving tools. We will be moving a lot soil this time. The Big Dam Bridge Foundation will be there with cold water, sports drinks, and sodas. If you use and love the Big Dam Bridge, please consider showing up and helping. Pulaski County plans on opening the gate on the NLR side of the bridge on Monday, and there is a LOT of work to be done to get the trails on the NLR side ready.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

All-A-CARP ride, trail run and cookout event, June 13th at Camp Robinson

Get yourself out to Camp Robinson for this!
 Wille sez, "The Camp Robinson CARP trails are the coolest"
The CARP and CATA crew sez, "Yeah, what Willie sez is the truth!"

From Central Arkansas Trail Alliance:

Join CATA and CARP for the inaugural All-A-CARP ride, trail run and cookout event, June 13th at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock. Come and enjoy the Camp Robinson trails, including the new Merlin's Revenge, Flatlands and By the Numbers trails, as well as some re-routed sections.

Where: Camp Robinson in North Little Rock
When: Saturday, June 13 starting at 9 a.m.
What: Trail runs and rides for all skill levels, including kids, beginners, and women-specific rides

No Camp Robinson pass? No problem!
How: Three-day ($5) and annual ($25) passes will be available on site
(kids under 16 ride/run free)

Refreshments will be available on the trail, plus a grilled lunch and beverages included for a ride fee of only $12 per person. All proceeds will be dedicated to CATA's trail maintenance and stewardship of trails in central Arkansas!

Want to get your Camp Robinson Sportsman Pass early? Here are the instructions:

Unfortunately, we have a scheduling conflict for this party in the dirt. We'll be pedaling and paddling in the Rockies, but I hope that there is a big turn out. The trail work that has taken place at Camp over the last couple of years is nothing short of amazing and even with recent rains, I'm told that conditions are great. 

The River Trail will likely still be a mess from the flooding, so air up those fat tires and get out to Camp! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

A More Refined Ride-2nd Annual Little Rock Gran Fondo

The 2nd Annual Little Rock Gran Fondo went off without a hitch on Saturday, in spite of consistently gloomy weather forecasts and near-daily heavy rains in the preceding weeks that gave those forecasts great credibility. Overnight rain gave way to light showers which faded as the 8:00-AM start approached, and, unlike last year when riders were left standing in the rain awaiting a live TV roll-out, only to be delayed again at a nearby rail crossing, the ride started on time and the pack rode smoothly out of town.

Riders await the start.

The promoters skipped the champagne toast that opened last year's inaugural event. Better weather and improved logistics  made for a better start,

When the promoters laid out the 68-mile course last year, one goal was for it to be distinct from other event rides in the area, and they succeeded. Where rides like the BDB100 and MS150  are defined by some notable climbs, and others, such as the CARTI Tour de Rock and the Wampoo Roadeo take place on the pancake flat prairie, the Gran Fondo starts out with a steady diet of rolling hills, then transitions into flat roads about a third of the way through the ride. Many riders are slightly taken aback by the 2000-plus feet of elevation gain and loss that takes place without encountering a single identifiable climb. While the flat roads on the return leg are welcome, the last few miles around the Clinton National Airport are almost always windy and can punish tired legs. One somewhat snarky rider made the comment that Parks and Tourism had to be involved in promoting a ride that toured the airport, an industrial park, a correctional institute and a waste-water treatment facility, but most of the ride cruised through sparsely populated forested areas.
The rest stops were spaced at 23-mile intervals, evenly splitting the mileage, and were well-staffed with volunteers and well-stocked with food and drink. A Mavic support vehicle patrolled the route, complete with the ubiquitous Mavic yellow bikes filling the roof racks, added practical help for those who needed it, and a pro-tour air for those of us who just got a kick out if it prowling our local ride.

The post-ride party was also an improved version of last year's event. Lost Forty was on hand passing out canned pilsner (and Pale Ale to those who knew to ask)

I Win.
My friend Joe Jacobs of Arkansas Outside greeted me at the finish. "I just rode 40-miles instead of 68, but I've already had 3 beers, and so has your wife. I win."

Actually, Diane had just started down the path to 3 beers, but she was enjoying the day and her exuberance is apparent.
The crowd enjoyed fine weather, great food, good music, and cold beer.

Several of Little Rock's best restaurants were turning out first-rate fare, and Loblolly Creamery was on hand with delicious hand made ice cream. The food at the Gran Fondo is definitely a step above normal group ride fixings. OK, two steps.

Dunk The Mayor
Mayor Mark Stodola was on hand to help raise money for Ron King's Recycled Bikes For Kids. He sportingly subjected himself to 30-minutes in the dunking booth, and I took a turn. As I told the mayor, I've taken a few shots at him over the years, but this was the best, yet! 
 Mayor Stodola awaits his fate.
..and the pitcher delivers!

While I have expressed my frustration with the lack of progress by the City of Little Rock on many cycling issues, Mayor Stodala has proven over the years that he is supportive of the cycling community. He is in a difficult position due to his limited powers as mayor and the relative strength of some of the state's major political players whose interests lie in the path of progress on the cycling/pedestrian front. And, then there is  the speed bump that is city director Erma Hendrix, who is against all things 'bike". I say that to make clear that there was no malice involved as I wound up and delivered a perfect strike on my second pitch.
Thank-you Mark, for playing the game and for being a very good sport.

More winners
As things wound down, the prize drawings started. When you hear "prize drawings" at these events, you expect water bottles, maybe some lube, a T-shirt, or a multi-tool. Once again, the promoters and sponsors went big. The prize list included a Garmin 510 bundles, Mavic tires and a massage package, a 1300.00 Mavic carbone wheel set, and the grand prize of a $3000.00 Cannondale frameset.
 The prizes were big!
"It shoulda' been me", was a common refrain when the frame winner was announced.

Once again, Michael Chaffin and Tony Karklins, along with Jason Warren of title sponsor Arvest Bank and Spokes owner Mat Seelinger, raised the bar on cycling events for our area. As I congratulated Michael on the job well-done and improvements over last year's ride, he responded in his usual low key manner, "We're not supposed to get worse." Great job guys.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Flood Update- BDB NLR Ramp Closed, TdR training ride cancelled.

From NLR Parks' Jeff Caplinger:

The river level is still on the rise and expected to crest at 23' tomorrow evening.  Due to this:
-       The NLR Arkansas River Trail is closed between the Big Rock Quarry and the Big Dam Bridge.  We expect the section of trail between the Quarry and Burns Park to be open by Wednesday, based on current predictions.
-       Burns Park to the Big Dam Bridge will be remain closed well into next week and then once the river recedes enough will we be able to begin clean up and do not know how long that will take.
-       The Big Dam Bridge will only be accessible from the Little Rock side - the GATES on the North Little Rock have been CLOSED by Pulaski County Road and Bridges until sometime next week.

Please be patient with us and the river as we try to make the Arkansas River Trail safe, passable, and clean.

I want to encourage you to notify other riders to NOT go around or move or remove barricades, signs, and caution tape.  Once these are moved or removed it gives other users the perception that the trail or area is open when it is not.

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact me.

Jeff Caplinger, CPRP
Project Coordinator
North Little Rock Parks and Recreation
phone: 501-791-8540
fax: 501-791-8528

The situation as of Wednesday Night with the river still on the rise:

This THV11 News Truck accessed the BDB by driving along the levee from Cook's Landing on Wednesday. They may need their massive snorkel at this location by Friday.
Riders could use the levee to reach the BDB on Wednesday, but that door will be closed for a few days.


Our riders safety is our number one priority. With that in mind, the final Tour de Rock Training Ride scheduled for this weekend (Saturday, May 30) has been CANCELLED due to the potential of hazardous road conditions and inclement weather

The Little Rock Gran Fondo goes rain or shine, though may be called due to dangerous conditions. If it is ugly, I may bag it and just call my entry fee the price for the post-ride party and meal!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Packing Your Bag To Hit The Road

I try not to be condescending in this space. Well, OK, sometimes I can be a little condescending, but only toward folks whom I deem to be narrow-minded, willfully inconsiderate or voluntarily ignorant. I say that to preface this little article which directed at the less experienced riders among us.

I've encountered several riders over the last few weeks who had flatted and either 1) did not have a flat kit, 2) had a flat kit but had used their tube and/or CO2 previously, or, 3) had everything they needed but didn't know quite how to execute the repair.
I'll address the situations in order with yet more unsolicited advice:

1) With cycling events and the long rides of summer upon us, no road rider should be without a flat repair kit. That's true even if you're just cruising the trail, but vital if you're going to head out on the road. Somebody will inevitably stop to help you, and it's really appreciated if have your own stuff and you can use the opportunity to learn from your good Samaritan.

A small flat kit can easily hold all that you need. This kit has 2 tubes (powdered with talc and wrapped in plastic),  2-CO2 cartridges, tire levers, inflator, 3 Allen wrenches (4,5,6MM), spare contact lens, key, and that universal fixer, cash in small bills.
 It is an optical illusion that the bag looks as big as Willie. It is quite compact.

2) It doesn't help to have a flatted tube or blown CO2 in your bag. Keep back-up tubes and CO2 cartridges in you personal stock. They are not expensive, they don't go bad, and it is far more convenient to restock your flat kit if you have it on hand.
I stopped to repair a flat  for a couple of women a week or two ago. They had apparently been equipped with a tube and a CO2 between them, which they had used the day before.If you have never had a flat, it's easy to be confident with minimal gear. I gave them a tube and used one of my CO2s to get them going. I also suggested that when they visited their local bike shop to restock their kit that they buy at least two of everything.
For about 25 or 30 bucks you can stock some ride insurance. It's not bad policy to have a tire on hand, as well. I'd rather but this stuff at my convenience that be rushing to the bike shop at closing time. 

3) Local bike shops and groups sometimes do clinics on changing flats and making minor repairs, but it is pretty easily learned. If you are not really confident in your abilities, practice at home. Pull up a video on YouTube, let the air out of a tire, and practice. Use your floor pump to re-inflate, but be certain that you know how your inflator works. Most instructions consist of: screw in CO2 cartridge, seat inflator on stem, back out CO2 slightly to inflate. 
Read the directions. 

I post something similar to this article at least once a year, but some things are worth repeating. I'm sure that Diane will tell you that this article is better than some of my stories that she has heard too many times over the years.

Trail Flooding---Eating My Words...

...and washing them down with muddy water.

The trail west of Burns Park was already under water Friday night with more to come. Plan your weekend rides accordingly.

I need to re-calibrate my trail water-level estimator, or simply defer to the folks at NLR Parks who have elevation maps. 
The deep end of the pool is for big dogs only.

The March weather looks like it will continue until June. Pack a sweater and a rain coat for the holiday weekend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Post Flood River Trail Conditions- Revised

This update from NLR Parks Wednesday evening. Though I think most of the trail will be rideable at 17.1 foot stage, this is "the word":
WEEKEND PARK and TRAIL FORECAST - Progress has been made with cleanup efforts around the Burns Park dog park and soccer complex, and along the Arkansas River Trail. However, the river level is back on the rise and is expected (as of 2:00 pm today) to crest at 17.1 feet Friday night and into Saturday morning and remain near that level throughout the weekend. Therefore, some of the same areas may and will flood again and we will have some closings continuing and lasting through the holiday weekend:
- Burns Park Soccer Complex and fields, Dog Park, and Victory Lake areas will be closed to all users;
- Tournament Drive will remain closed to all users between Championship Drive and Arlene Laman Drive allowing no access to Victory Lake, dog park, and the soccer complex.
- Arkansas River Trail will be closed to all users between Burns Park and the Big Dam Bridge;
- Arkansas River Trail - east of Riverview Skate Park will remain closed;
- Isabella Jo Trail - southern end will remain closed;
- North Shore Trail - southern end will be closed;
- Pfeifer Loop will remain closed.
Some areas and their impact from flooding through the weekend:
- Burns Park Victory Lake boat launch will remain underwater;
- Burns Park Soccer Complex - moats around soccer fields
- Burns Park Dog Park - underwater;
- Arkansas River Trail - by Burns Park Victory Lake will remain underwater;
- Arkansas River Trail - immediately west of the western end of Burns Park underwater;
- Arkansas River Trail - east of Riverview Skate;
- The pavilion at Cooks Landing and the base of the Big Dam Bridge will be underwater.

Things were getting back to near-normal on the North Little Rock side of the Arkansas River Trail before more rain fell overnight and into Wednesday morning. With the exception of the S-turn bridge just east of the Pfeifer Loop, the trail was dry and rideable on Tuesday night. A few areas in Burns Park and along Cunningham Lake that were submerged are still dirty but city crews have been busy cleaning off the worst of the silt and muck.
The situation is dynamic and subject to change by the hour, as the river is forecast to rise again, though not to last weeks levels.
The Arkansas River peaked last week at around 21'. Current information as of lunch time Wednesday 5/20 predicts a rise to 17.1 feet by Saturday.

A group of riders approach as a city worker sweeps the dog park lot in Burns Park Tuesday night.

In spite of the closed gates and signs to the contrary, the trails were open to riders. That's not an official statement but the large numbers of riders who were crossing paths with busy park employees was a clue that it's Ok. I think they mostly want to keep auto traffic out for the safety and efficiency of the crews doing cleanup.Please be respectful of the fact that these guys are on the job.
Ian and Shep doing their part.

I ran across ranger Ian Hope and goose dog Shep as they employed a blower-equipped ATV to clean silt from the Victory Lake parking lot. Shep was alert and keeping a wary eye out for geese or aggressive squirrels.

I'll provide updates as my schedule allows, but I think that cyclists will be able to ride the length of the NLR trail over the weekend, assuming no more heavy rains upstream. Some detours to higher portions of the trail may be required, and some park roads and parking areas may still be closed.
The Little Rock trail sections and Two Rivers Park trails are open other than the ongoing construction detours downtown.
Go ride your bike.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Remembering Zuli- About A Dog

This has nothing to do with bikes, but it is something I very much need to do. It is very personal but needs sharing.
People who know me know that I love dogs and that I have always had a special place in my heart for my dog Zuli. Most of our cycling friends may not know our dogs, but they have been full-fledged members of our boating family for many years, so this is also a way of letting them know of Zuli's passing.

Sunday night, we had to put down our Zuli dog. Zuli was simply a very good dog who brought a lot of joy to most of the folks she encountered, but especially to me. We were often asked what kind of dog she was. My pat answer was that she was a blue-eye, leopard-spotted, flop-eared, bob-tailed dog. And a damn fine one; best of breed, I'd venture.

Zuli was picked up from a ditch near Lonoke by a soft-hearted neighbor as part of a batch of miscellaneous mutts that had been dumped by the road. The neighbor called and said we needed to see this puppy. We had just had a conversation about getting a second dog and had decided against it. We took a look and Diane simply said, "We need to take her with us". She was 10 pounds of blue eyes and spots, about ten weeks old and instinctively housebroken and loving. We had picked her up on our way to a Canoe Club Rendezvous, bought a tiny harness, leash and food on the way and introduced her to our boating community. She won hearts, ate the harness, and licked beer off of the tops of every can she encountered. She was my dog.
I had to add this photo of Diane with Zuli as a pup.


Zuli on shore patrol with Josie at the Cossatot.

 Diane's dog Josie was already an accomplished river dog when Diane and I got together, and Zuli followed suit. They rode on the decks of our kayaks, ran the bank, swam the river, or hitched rides on the canoes or rafts of friends as they made their way down the creeks of the Ozarks.

Taking a break at the Cossatot.
This is one of my favorite photos of my little family. Buffalo River  
It's good to have friends! Zuli and Josie on the Big Piney with Jeff and Darla

Josie was 8-years old when we got Zuli, and we considered her to be getting old. She spent most of her days sleeping in an open closet at Diane's house and seemed to be slowing down. Little did we know that the introduction of of a wild, pesky puppy would give her new life. After Diane and I married, our house was often the scene of furniture-moving, floor-shaking "dog wrestling", punctuated by wild growls, sharp barks, and mad, chasing sprints around the house. Josie was remarkably patient, often allowing herself to be dragged by her tail across the hardwood floors. Whenever she decided that enough was enough, she would pin Zuli to the floor and order was quickly restored.

 Josie was always the boss when she decided she'd had enough.

Zuli and Josie were quite a pair, and Josie lived to the ripe old age of 16.

Then came Willie.
Some months after the passing of Josie, we were open to getting another dog and Willie joined the clan.DNA testing showed him to be a finely bred Golden Retriever, Maltese, Poodle, Dachshund, Beagle, Chihuahua mix, and he fit in nicely. Zuli laid down the law to establish the pecking order as Josie had with her, and we were a two-dog family again.

Willie is very laid back and Zuli had settled down by the time he arrived, so things were not quite as rambunctious around the house as in previous years, but they were good partners.

This is my way of saying goodbye to a little friend who brought so much joy to us for so long, and a way of sharing her passing with our friends who had the pleasure of knowing her lip-curling grin and her flying-dog routine. Zuli had a great, long life for a small dog. She was active and could still easily clear a 4' fence at age 12, so she got the most out of what she was dealt. Not too bad for a mixed up pup dumped on a Lonoke roadside.

It has been a tough couple of weeks here at the JBar Bunker. Diane's Dad, Ted Hannah, died last Saturday a week after his 80th birthday celebration. Ted led a full life as a Naval aviator, making over 300 carrier landings, and as a successful engineer, executive and family man. He was a great guy and will be missed by all who knew him. Diane said that Ted had really wanted to get another dog recently but his declining health would not allow it. He always loved Zuli, so I've got a mental image of Ted approaching the Pearly Gates with a blue-eye, leopard-spotted, flop-eared, bob-tailed puppy on his heels. "She followed me home. Can I keep her?"