Friday, November 13, 2015

Camp Robinson Sportsman Passes-Current Procedure

With fall weather upon us, many of us chronic road riders are ready to get out in the woods, and there is no better place in central Arkansas than the CARP trails at Camp Robinson. Unfortunately, access to Camp does require dealing with a little bureaucracy, but it is well worth it. A sportsman's pass is required to enter Camp Robinson, and the procedure for obtaining the pass has changed once again.

Thanks to David Wonn for passing this information along to me
I spoke to SFC Lacy this morning to get some detail on the process.

If you don't have a current pass, you will be required to stop at the Visitor Center at the main gate, where you will be issued a pass to allow you entry. From the main gate, proceed to the top of the hill and stay to the right to get to the headquarters building. Upon entering the building, signs will direct you SFC Lacy's office. He is there from 8:00-11:00AM, and 120:00-2:00PM, Monday through Friday.
You will need $25.00 in cash (correct change), a photo ID, you auto registration and proof-of-insurance.
I haven't been to Camp since early spring, but there parking area has been improved, portable toilets are in place, and a pavilion and change shelter are under construction. In a meeting last winter, the commander asked how the sportsman pass dollars from mountain bikers was being used, and I believe that our dollars are funding these improvements.
Trail building and maintenance continues to be done by volunteers, and all reports indicate that the trails are in fantastic shape.


Monday, November 2, 2015

'DIA DE LOST MUERTOS' Ride And Festivities, Along With Great Prospects For The East Side

Dia De Los Muertos, or Day of The Dead, is a Mexican holiday which recognizes and remembers friends and family members who have died over the course of the year. The cycling community in Little Rock gathered at Lost Forty Brewery on Sunday for "Dia De Lost Muertos", a slightly more festive event than tradition might dictate, as I don't remember the deceased being remembered with a trike toss.
Here's a description of the event from its Facebook page:

Join us for the Lost Forty Brewing 'Dia de Lost Muertos' End of Season Procession & Pints Ride on Nov. 1st at 2pm.

We'll lay the cycling season to rest with a Dia de los Muertos inspired costume fun ride, a lowrider bike styling competition, tacos, Mexican brunch items, cash prizes for best dressed riders, lots of free swag, a Trike Toss to benefit Recycle Bikes for Kids of Arkan
sas and of course... beer.

Chainwheel Bikes, Arkansas Outside, BikeAR Magazine, Arkansas Times, and El Latino have teamed up with Lost Forty Brewing to bring you the best last ride of the season. Take advantage of the Halloween season, and get those sugar skull costumes ready! We'll see you Sunday Nov. 1st at 2pm - Cheers!

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of enthusiastic participants who went to great lengths to get into the spirit. Sunday was a suitably gray and dreary day, but temperatures were comfortably in the mid-sixties and spirits were bright.

Pictures tell this story far better than I can, so, here we go:

 Addie Teo trying not to crack a smile.
It is really hard to remain solemn when you're having so much fun.

I'm reasonably sure that Chainwheel's Pat Barron is somewhere in this photo.


Outstanding costumes and cool bikes were the order of the day
Dan Lysk and Addie Teo led the not-quite-solemn procession.
Of course, I always love seeing a woman ride in a skirt and heels. The handlebar mounted alter was a nice touch.
I'm not sure the second rider  on this tandem arrangement was much help. Too skinny.
This young rider was getting a lot of encouragement as she negotiated rail tracks, a little traffic, and a large group of costumed riders on the route to the Clinton Presidential Library.
I'm sure that the organizers were please with the large turnout and the enthusiasm for Dia De 'Lost' Muertos. From the response, I would guess that we will see it held again next year. The success of the event says much about Central Arkansas' embrace of cycling, good craft beer, and a vibrant downtown community.
 Only a few years ago, this area of east Little Rock could not have been imagined as a flourishing and rapidly growing entertainment and business scene. The Cromwell architectural firm recently announced that they would be renovating and moving into the Stebbins and Roberts properties at 6th and Shall, and new projects seem to be announced almost weekly that will bring more life to the neighborhood. The success of the River Market District and South Main have helped provide the impetus for more central city growth and, hopefully, the slowing of the urban sprawl that has helped to kill the heart of many cities, Little Rock included.
As discussion heats up on the widening of I-30, it is heartening to see some civic leaders question the wisdom of allowing the growth of the barriers that interstate highways represent to cities. The highway and transportation lobbies are powerful, but the recently raised voices give hope that we might begin to be more focused on infrastructure that supports living in our cities rather than simply speeding through them.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Roadblocks Ahead: Overlook Road and Frazier Pike

In this case, I'm being quite literal.

Overlook Road
Drainage work by the city of Little Rock will require trenching across the road at several points in order to install new culverts. City officials advise that there will be some road closures, and I will advise that there will there will surely be all sorts of sand, gravel, and debris during the course of the work.

 Pipe is staged and some work has begun at the intersection of Overlook and Rebsamen Park Road.
Unless Overlook is blocked below its intersection with Overlook Circle, riders should be able to detour around the construction.

Overlook Road is slated for resurfacing and restriping by the city of Little Rock, with that project likely take place in early 2016. The new pavement will include welcome a bike lane going uphill, and sharrows for the downhill lane.

Frazier Pike- Closed For Business
As part of the land acquisition deal for Wulspun Corporation, the company bought the right-of-way for a portion of Frazier Pike near the port of Little Rock, and has now gated the road, and has placed pipe on the surface.

Frazier Pike is easily bypassed by following the Southeast Trail route along Thibeault Road.
Frazier Pike has long been used by cyclists riding a version of the "Airport" ride to the Terry Park area, but the Southeast Trail takes riders along the parallel Thibeault Road. The closure is not a big inconvenience, but it does reduce the options for travel in the area.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Along The Trail-Driving, Parking, and Bike Demo

Driving and parking
Considering the number trail users and the diversity of their purposes, there is very little real conflict along the Arkansas River Trail.  Most of the conflict that does occur is more likely the result of  inattention than of any sort of malice ( see: The Blissfully Oblivious. People largely learn and observe  the written and unwritten "rules of the road". As a result, riders, runners, walkers, skaters, and even extendo-leash dog walkers, get along just fine. I am aware of a couple of recent conflicts that involved people driving and/ or parking on the trail, and I was a party to one of them.
From conflict to conversation
I was riding near the fishing pier at Burns Park when I noticed that a young man had pulled his pickup down the trail and parked near the pier. I mentioned to him that his actions were illegal and that I was likely to notify authorities. Admittedly, I was in a foul mood, and my tone was likely less than convivial. He responded by suggesting that I do something anatomically impossible and made mention of my mother. I responded with an appropriate rebuke, and was only a little surprised when he jumped in his truck and met me a little further up the trail. I will note that he took the road rather than continuing down the trail. He was a self-describe law-abiding citizen and a nice guy. I explained that driving and parking on the trail was a hot button issue for me, and he explained that he was taking his disabled uncle fishing and had no idea that he had done anything wrong. We shook hands and went on our respective ways. The next day, I rode back up to where he had entered to trail in order to see things from his point of view.
Until this summer, there had been wheel stops where the parking lot meets the River Trail at this location. I have observed several people parking at the pier over the summer, so I got in touch with a NLR Parks employee at that time. I was told that park officials decided that it was too much trouble to deal with the stops when trail maintenance was required so they would not be replaced.

At Burns Park, this signage could read to be directing drivers on to the trail to access handicapped parking and the fishing pier, as had been the case with my new acquaintance. In the absence of a physical barrier here, some clear signage is called for.

Entitled Yachtsmen?? Is It Possible?

I've long expressed my concerns about the potential for conflict in the area of the Rockwater Marina, that happened during a recent event there. Several cars were parked on the River Trail at the intersection with Rockwater Blvd, and cyclists reportedly were forced to dismount and walk their bikes around the parked cars. This is a situation that I only expect to get worse as residents move into the homes being built and as the marina fills more slips. There are many more slips than there are parking places, and folks are going to naturally want to park right at the top of the ramp, which happens to be on the River Trail. This needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. Rockwater Marina has 64 slips, 32 for long-term rental and 34 for transient boaters. I doubt that their small parking lot will accommodate their needs on a busy weekend or for events, but parking is allowed on the "designated shoulder", aka "the bike lanes", on Rockwater Blvd.  There were purposely not designated as bike lanes so that parking could be allowed; however, people will go to great lengths to avoid walking 50 yards to their car. Observe any Walmart parking lot.

This is a frequent parking spot for people accessing the Rockwater Marina, but it is usually one vehicle on the concrete sidewalk. A couple of Saturdays ago, vehicles were parked across the width of the trail.  There is nothing but good judgement to tell them that the practice is prohibited.

Give peace a chance.
While I tend to be very protective of the ART and the safety of trail users, I feel compelled to give a pass to the offenders described above. In both areas, that of the Fishing Pier and at Rockwater Marina, there is nothing telling visitors not to park on the trail and, near the pier, there is signage that could be read to be directing people to use the trail to access illegal parking. Off to the left side of the area in the photo top photo is a small sign prohibiting motorized vehicles, but it is not in the line-of-sight of folks approaching the trail from the lot.

The NLR Bike Friendly Community Committee, of which I am a member, has been a good conduit for getting things like this corrected, but we have not met in months. And, as a few of you have noticed, my rabble rousing in this space has slowed. That said, I'll see if we can spur some action before spring rolls back around.

Looking good
I will compliment the good taste of seemingly all of the new homes being built at Rockwater. I've enjoyed watching them take shape and hope that the resulting community is as cool and funky as the architecture.

Santa Cruz Bike Demo
Angry Dave's is now carrying the Santa Cruz line and hosted a bike demo on a recent Saturday. Diane wanted to try out a couple bikes in their women's-specific Juliana line, and I checked out a new 5010. Diane rides a 26" Cannondale and was trying to decide on whether she wanted to replace it with a 27.5 or a 29er. I liked the 5010 29er, but I couldn't push it hard enough to appreciate its longer travel over that of my Niner Jet 9, but appreciated the opportunity to rode something different. If nothing else, it sold me on dropper seat posts. Diane liked something about both of the bikes she rode, so couldn't decide on either.
Dave and the Santa Cruz rep stayed busy all day with a steady stream of riders eager to try out bikes.
Chad Cradle was having a load of fun riding some new Santa Cruz mountain  bikes.
Unlike me, Chad could really appreciate the merits of the Santa Cruz 5010. The fact is that he's a real mountain biker and I'm a roadie who sometimes hides in the woods in the winter months. My single track skills go from beginner to novice each fall. I think that, so far, I've had one year of mountain bike experience eight times.

Bike demos are held along the trail fairly often, and some are better publicized than others. They are always a great opportunity to get a hands-on feel for current technology or to try out a bike that you may have been lusting for. Remember these simple truths:
1) You always need another bike.
2) Your next bike will likely be more expensive than your last one.


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.