Wednesday, February 18, 2015

FREE BEER!!!!! Well, Kind of free--Little Rock Gran Fondo

Last year, I was pretty excited about the first Little Rock Gran Fondo. Michael Chaffin of the Capital Hotel, Tony Karklins, then of Orbea, and Jason Warren of Arvest Bank were the ring leaders, and I knew that they all had some first class ideas as to what they wanted to include within the event experience. That meant good swag, good food, and a far better-than-average post ride street party. Heck, Lance Armstrong even made the ride.

For the most part, they pulled it off. Though their weather control was a little sketchy, we did manage to avoid major deluges out on the road and the post party actually saw some rays of sunshine before the bottom dropped out. Things were a little slow to get underway as riders stood in the drizzle so that a local TV station could get a live shot of the roll out on their morning show.

Waiting in the rain for a train (not a country song, but should be)

After a delayed start, last year's Gran Fondo riders soon had their rhythm, only to see it interrupted by a train at the first rail crossing we encountered. That actually added a little ironic humor, since at the start we had been told that we would have to stop " in the very unlikely event of a train" at the crossing.

In the end, blue skies and sunshine capped off a first-rate rider experience.

From Michael Chaffin, here is the early word on this year's Fondo:

LRGF registration is now officially open. $99 ($75 for the Medio Fondo) early bird special runs through the end of February. Then price increases to normal ($125 for Gran Fondo, $99 for Medio). Same format as last year except we've added 50 spots for those wanting a shorter distance. Registration is limited to 250. That number seemed to work well. We'll stay South again but add some new territory. There will again be two great rest stops (one for Medio) and the food festival at the end. Each rider receives a comp entry into the food festival...which now includes 2 free beers! Additional tickets can be had for $35 each. More details about the course, Chef line-up, etc., to follow in the coming weeks. Also, training rides are planned to begin the first week of March.

Many folks seemed to struggle with the registration link last year. I have tested the link above and it takes you right where you need to go. Also, there are links on the registration site for a Facebook page and a blog where updated information will be posted.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

NLR Trail Closure-Broadway Bridge Precurser

In this case, "precurser" likely means the minor cursing the will be followed by months of major cursing when the Broadway Bridge is ultimately closed for demolition and construction.

The contractor for the Broadway Bridge has established a small village of construction trailers  along Riverfront Drive, and has a work barge staged at the nearby Riverfront Park. The first impact on the River Trail will take place sometime in the next couple of weeks as the trail will be closed from the Willow Street gate (Willow Street runs along the east side of Dickey-Stephens Park) to near the Union-Pacific RR bridge to the west. My understanding is that they will be removing some pedestrian stairs and other non-structural bridge components as they prepare for the bigger job at hand.
Cyclists will be re-rerouted to Riverfront Drive, while runners and walkers will use the adjacent sidewalks.

The map above shows the location of the upcoming River Trail detour.

The trail will closed from this point near the Willow Street Gate
 Willow Street and Riverfront Drive behind Dickey-Stephens Park. Traffic is currently not heavy, but the 4-lane divided road tends to encourage high speeds.

I have some concerns about how cyclists, runners, and other trail users will fare on Riverfront Road. Concerning striping and signage, Chris Wilbourn,  NLR Planning/Traffic Engineer (Director), shared this information in response to my inquiry:
Yes, there will be additional signage (See Attachment-map above). No lane striping at this time.  Signage for cyclists is “Share the Road”.

In addition to what is shown on the attached plan, NLR Traffic has added a temporary pedestrian crosswalk and associated signage at Karrot*, redone the pedestrian crosswalks at Willow Street and will be adding a couple of warning signs prior to the Detour on both ends.

Detour signage shown and described above is schedule to be installed this Friday; however, it may stretch to the first part of next week due to the weather.

 Riverfront at Smarthouse Way. Westbound riders will turn left here. Karrot St,* mentioned above, is directly across Riverfront from Smarthouse Way. The temporary crosswalk is shown here.
 This new asphalt trail takes detoured riders back to the ART near the Union Pacific rail bridge.

It will get worse before it gets better....
This detour will be a minor inconvenience in comparison to the mayhem that will accompany the closure of the Broadway Bridge, and will provide us with an opportunity to see how having bike traffic on Riverfront will work out. The difference being that Riverfront is relatively lightly used now, but when the 20,000 cars that normally use the Broadway Bridge daily are diverted, many, if not most, will use Riverfront to access the Main Street and I-30 bridges. It appears to me that the road is wide enough to support traffic lanes and a bike lane and I hope that, if possible, re-striping the road to that end will be considered. 

Impact on tourism
This particular stretch of the Arkansas River Trail serves not only local commuters and recreational riders, but it links the rest of the trail system to the Clinton Library, Clinton Park Bridge, the Junction Bridge, downtown hotels, Argenta, the River Market District, and a bike rental location . As a result, it is used by the many visitors to the area who wish to use the Arkansas River Trail. Due to the dysfunctional state of the trail on the Little Rock side along Cantrell Road, most folks  coming from Little Rock choose to cross the Clinton Park Bridge to access the River Trail. The trail is a proven attraction and I  think the local tourism economy will suffer if steps are not taken to assure that visitors can safely access it from downtown. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

JBar Sermonette, Number Unknown-More Pinnacle Valley

Since my buddy was struck by an unrepentant driver on Pinnacle Valley Road a few weeks ago, I have engaged in quite a few conversations and have made some observations of riding in the area.

First, let me say that things are unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. Folks in leadership positions within Pulaski County Government, Arkansas State Parks and at Pinnacle Mountain State Park have expressed a desire to improve the situation on the roads west of Two Rivers Park, but there is not an easy fix and none have the financial resources for adding shoulders to the existing roads or building dedicated bike paths.

It is somewhat ironic that we really have a lot in common with the drivers in the area. Like them, the cycling community would like to have infrastructure that would allow us to safely get the hell out of the way. Until that time, we need to learn to work together as best we can. I don't hold out much hope for reforming many Roland commuters, but we should be able to ease things a bit if will just pay attention. 

Please pay attention and be polite

I'm always resentful when rider behavior is blamed for all conflict on the road, and I'm quick to defend cyclists on the whole, but I shake my head at some of the things that I see. Last weekend as I rode back in toward Two Rivers Park on County Farm Road, I observed two female cyclists heading west on road bikes and in full kit (I mention that for context-they should know better.) taking the entire lane as two cars were held up behind them waiting for an opportunity to pass. They were riding two abreast, one near the center line and the other near the white line, chatting as they rolled along at 12-14 MPH, seemingly oblivious to the patient drivers behind them. The sight distance is long at that point and I kept waiting for the riders to do something right. Not only did these riders not move to the bike lane, but they made no effort to acknowledge or work with the drivers at all. That's not sharing the road. That is hogging the road. Ladies, not only are you potentially inflaming already strained relations between cyclists and drivers, but you are simply being rude. If you had been driving a car that will only go 15 MPH, you would likely have eased to the side of the road to let other drivers pass. And then you would get a better car.
Being on a bike does not mean that you can't use good manners. In fact, our vulnerability should drive us to have very good manners.

Pinnacle Valley Road At Highway 300- Don't Gather There

A few months ago, my small bunch of riders had stopped on the shoulder on highway 300 at the end of Pinnacle Valley. A state park ranger pulled up and asked us to move down the  shoulder and back from the road so that we did not block the line-of-sight for drivers at the stop sign there. That makes sense.
A few weeks ago, a pair of my friends were sharply admonished by another ranger for stopping there and told to get off the shoulder and on to the grass. That made less sense, and no reason was given for the command, but they complied.
Subsequently, I have spoken to Ron Salley, superintendent of Pinnacle Mountain State Park. They have become sensitive to groups of riders stopping to regroup or gather at that location, with large groups often simply stopping in the road. Admittedly, I have been in groups which have done just that. The park gets complaints from drivers and the situation can be dangerous for riders. When stopping at that intersection,  please don't stop on Pinnacle Valley Road, and move far enough away from the corner on the shoulder of 300 so that your group does not block the view of drivers at the stop sign.
We are creatures of habit and  groups tend to use the same points to gather. In this case, we are drawing the ire of drivers and park officials alike, so let's try to work with them. We need folks like Ron Salley on our side. He has been very supportive of the cycling community and we do not want to be perceived as making his job harder.
Pass it on.

Pinnacle Valley Restaurant opening

This restaurant at Pinnacle Valley and Beck Rds. is in the "soft opening" stage. Based on the posted menu, the fare will consist of catfish, barbecue, burgers and similar fare. The Budweiser signs are up in full force and there was a notice of application for a mixed drink permit several weeks ago.
What does this mean for riders? In the event of a bonk, you will be able to refuel with a hot dog and fries for $4.99. It will also mean an increase in traffic and some of those drivers will have had a beer or a cocktail, which is all the more reason to exercise good road riding practices in the area.
I have no idea of who owns or manages the business, but most merchants welcome a cycling community that patronizes their business. The few businesses that I have encountered that did not appreciate cyclists were those who felt put upon by groups coming in only to use their restrooms, fill bottles, or take a break in their parking lot.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dear Counsellor, Thank you for your concern and the cool refrigerator magnet.....

Yes, the attorneys of our fair city and the surrounding area were quick to follow up on the filing of the accident report from my car encounter last week. Why, the Taylor King Law Firm of Arkadelphia was so concerned that they sent me four letters in a single day!!! Much to my disappointment, King was one of only a few firms that did not include a refrigerator magnet. He did, however, include the largest "post-it note with longhand script to look like a personal message". I'm glad know that he is "on my side and by my side", though if he is really by my side, that could be a little creepy. I don't know the guy, so why is he there?

Traffic accidents are good for the printing business and the post office, and accident reports from the NLRPD cost 15.00 each, so personal injury lawyers have a cost associated with lead generation, along with stiff competition.

Rainwater, Holt & Sexton handily won the battle of the lawyer refrigerator magnets with their Razorback football themed entry. The Minton Law Firm walked away with the "Mr. Practicality" award for including a calendar.

Thank goodness that Michael Crockett is there to "save me from a nightmare". I wish he'd been there the other night when I dreamed that I got a chance to play some music with Johnny Cash and my E string broke. And then Johnny told me that my best original tune sounded just like "Wagon Wheel". I was bummed. Double bummed. Perhaps Crockett could have either woken me up or quickly slapped on another string. Given the fact that the man in black has passed on, I feel like I missed my only crack at getting him to give my song a listen. Maybe that wasn't a full blown nightmare, falling into what I refer to as "frustration dreams", so I may have been out of luck even with Crockett on my side.

Some folks give ambulance chasers a bad name...

I'm glad that I don't need the services of these guys. They serve a purpose, but can also tempt honest people to go for some easy money and serve as a vehicle for dishonest folks to scam the insurance companies. I had a minor accident in my truck a few years ago while returning after dark from a ride along the river. In negotiating gridlock concert traffic near then-Alltel Arena, I had a 4 MPH fender brush with another vehicle. I was at fault, but the officer said, "I can't give you a ticket for this.", due to the conditions and the fact that the police were directing traffic. Unfortunately for the other driver, he was driving his girlfriend's car on a suspended license and with no proof of insurance. I thought the cops were going to have to cuff the young man as he threw a fit, stomping around the scene and raising hell after being told they would have to call a wrecker or have someone else drive the car home for him. I felt bad about his misfortune. That is, until I found that he had engaged a "personal injury consultant" who sent him to a chiropractor, where he was found to have "soft tissue injuries" and claimed several thousand dollars for treatment and "pain and suffering" from my insurance carrier.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Along The Trail-Sweeping The Desktop

"Along The Trail" is a catch-all title for this semi-regular feature that attempts to touch on just about anything of interest that I run across during the course of rides along the Arkansas River Trail. Sometimes, a couple of items are enough to provide adequate content. At other times, photos and minor news items pile up until I decide that it is time to sweep the desktop. Here we go with one ofthose scateershots!

Work and commerce
I'm always intrigued by the equipment and people that keep the river traffic flowing and the systems working along the river. Little boys are always excited by big machines and that excitement dims only slightly with age. Having grown up in North Little Rock, that Arkansas River has always been a part of daily life, even if only in crossing one of the bridges daily for work and play. The site of my office for several years on East Markham is now the approach to the Clinton Library. My window there offered a close up view of the wildlife, rail lines, and barges that occupy the river and its banks. When my company moved to an industrial district away from the river, I missed it greatly. Then came the Arkansas River Trail, along with my addiction to riding bikes, and I once again found myself close on the banks of the Arkansas on a regular basis. There have been a few nice ride days in the last couple of weeks and I've tried to take advantage of them!

It is always interesting to see maintenance being perfomed on the dam gates. You rarely get to watch a large crane in operation from 90 feet up and only a few feet away.

Technicians from Koontz Electric have been replacing the LED lights on the BDB. They finished the first phase and will be back soon to complete the job.

Even commercial barge traffic can create an inspiring scene on a day like this one.


Aonther work barge has been moored at the North Little Rock Riverfront Park.
I was trying to get a shot of three boys checking out the crane, but their mothers quickly snatched two of them up into a pose. The third and smallest of the boys managed to make a quick exit after giving his brother a swift kick to the crotch.
It was a windy day and it looks like the small dog is about to blow off of his leash as the little girl hangs on for dear life. OK, it wasn't quite that windy.

Trails and hanging out 

North Little Rock reached an agreement with Fort Roots to allow them to move the fence back far enough to widen a remaining unfinished stretch of the Highlands Trail along the bluff. Part of the project was a new walk inside the fence for patients and employees of the facility. It looks like things are progressing. I expect that at some point the trail will be closed for a few days.
The Highlands Trail offers great views up and down the river. Access from River Road and Paul Duke Drive.

This couple found a great place to string up their hammock, soaking up some sunshine above Big Rock Quarry.

Big Rock Quarry, looking toward the hammock site from the Emerald Park gazebo. I didn't want to get the happy hammockers busted for hanging close to the edge and ruin their spot for them, but was assured it was a one time thing.

From the BDB, even a cell phone snapshot of the sunset is worthwhile.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hit By A Car-Reporting Gets Personal

I awoke early Saturday and decided that I'd ride down to join the CARVE Saturday morning ride out east. The group was pretty small, about a dozen riders, and was quite civilized, with a steady pace and good conversation. After returning to the submarine parking lot, I rode up the River Trail a short distance in order to bump my mileage over the 50-mile mark, and then headed toward home through Argenta and up Main Street. As I often do, I turned on my front and rear blinkies for the ride through town. I was feeling good about my morning on the bike and was looking forward to my "second breakfast." That's the big breakfast that is best enjoyed after the ride. I was content and in a little groove as I rode the last mile home.

And then I got hit by a car.

I was riding up the hill on Main Street and had just crossed over I-40 when I was struck from the rear. It's funny how quickly you can evaluate things. The sound as my DuraAce rear wheel was struck was much like the ping of a big-headed driver hitting a golf ball or a solid hit in college baseball. I went from about 10-MPH to 23-MPH and regained control of the bike as I shot across the adjacent traffic lane. I knew immediately that I had been hit by a car and wondered what blow would fall next.
I was wearing a bright blue jacket and I had a bright-as-hell Thunderbolt flasher on my seatpost. It was a little after 10:00AM. I never heard the car.
After once again failing my JBar E.R.P. (Expletive Reduction Program) pledge, I got off the road. The driver stopped and I called 911. My first question was, "How could you not have seen me? Were you on the phone?" He had two young children in the car and was looking for the westbound ramp to I-40. I went back this afternoon and drove the stretch, which I have driven tens of thousands of times over my lifetime, just to see it from the his perspective. The road curves slightly to the right, but there is no reason for him not to have seen me. I don't think he was going very fast and there is clear sight distance for hundreds of feet.

Red bits of bumper embedded in the GP4000

As we waited for the police to arrive and then again as the officer completed his report, we had a civil visit. The driver was a very nice young man who was truly sorry, and thankful that he had seen me in time to brake right before he hit me. He pointed to the tail light as what finally got his attention. My rear tire was a bit shredded and has a little embedded bits of red bumper in it. I haven't given my bike a thorough going over yet, but it appears to be OK. The driver was cited for unsafe driving and the very nice NLR police officer offered me a ride home, which I gladly accepted.

Some Conclusions-Call Me Mr. Lucky
I was doing everything right. I was riding in my proper lane. I had on brightly colored clothing. Though it was broad daylight, I had a very bright flashing red tail light and a small white front flasher on my bars to increase my visibility.
The driver seemed to be a very nice, responsible young father who lost focus for a moment while behind the wheel. We're both fortunate that the consequences were not life-changing. As it is, he'll have some points on his license and I'll bill him for what damage was done. I got very emotional while telling Diane why there was a note with a police report number on the kitchen counter. I could have been out of the blog business and the driver could have been facing much more serious charges and consequences. I'll gratefully accept the luck.

Riding bikes on the road is dangerous. Some infrastructure improvements like bike lanes and paths could certainly make things safer for all of us, but we take our chances out on the road. And the driver that hits you may not be some resentful a-hole trying to make a point out on Pinnacle Valley Road, but is just as likely to be a nice person who takes his eyes off the road for a moment. The result is the same.

Retrospective on my masterful bike handling
As I went about fixing that big breakfast and draining the adrenaline fueled emotion of a near-tragedy, I noticed that my left knee hurt. Checking it out, I found I had a coin-size oozing injury at the center of my knee cap. I couldn't image what I could have hit until I threw a leg over the bike to do a little modeling. My conclusion is that my bar end struck my knee as I was thrown forward and to the left. The impact likely checked the turning of the front wheel and saved my ass. Yes, it was amazing that I thought to use my knee in that manner. (insert wink here).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Prepare to shift! Cantrell Road Pipeline Work Update

As mentioned in previous articles, the work to replace a pipeline near Episcopal Middle School on Cantrell Road has, and will continue to disrupt traffic along the River Trail at that location. This notice arrived from Sandra Ballew, Asst. Project Manager:

With regret, we are going to have to close the bike trail on North Street starting Monday, Feb 2 through Friday, Feb 13th.    One suggestion is the cyclist could stay on the south side of Cantrell on the sidewalk or if City has north side of Cantrell ready they could move over to that side.  We will have a trench dug laying pipe on North Street so it will not be passable.  We do have message boards in place with the notice of closure as of this afternoon.

Anything you could do to get the word out to the cyclist would be appreciated. 

Sandra Ballew, Asst. PM

S & J Construction Co., Inc.

Though it is possible to use the sidewalk on the south side of Cantrell, there is at least one utility pole that will require a dismount to pass. The city has widened the sidewalk in some areas on the north side of Cantrell to make it possible to ride around the utility poles there. This is the preferred detour, though it does require riders to cross Cantrell and deal with the 6 driveways on that side of the road near Dillard's HQ.
Westbound riders can cross at the light at the ECS driveway, while westbound riders will need to plan ahead and cross at the signals at either State or Chester Streets. Eastbound riders can use those signals to re-cross Cantrell to regain the bike route along Markham St.
There should be some temporary signage in place to help direct trail users. The best plan is to avoid the area for the time being.

I will say that the contractor has stayed true to their promise to keep the trail passable during construction. It is a big project in a tight spot and they have made a real effort, in cooperation with the City of Little Rock, to meet the needs trail users.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Rider Struck On Pinnacle Valley Road

While on a ski trip to Park City, UT, last week, I saw that I had missed  a phone call from my friend and ride partner Dumas Garrett. Conversation with Dumas is always interesting, so I gave him a call back.
"Hey, Dumas, what's up?"
"I got hit."
That's never a good thing to hear, but for cyclists, it almost always means some degree of injury. Dumas quickly let me know that he was OK, other than some road rash and a few bruises, and then he related his story.
He was taking advantage of the fine weather Sunday before last, riding west on Pinnacle Valley Road near the intersection with Beck Road, when he sensed a vehicle approaching him from behind. As most of your are aware, this area is very popular with road cyclists; however, road cyclists are not so popular with many area residents and other drivers who frequently use the road.
The approaching vehicle turned out to be a pickup, and Dumas's first reaction was, "Shit, this guy is way too close". I may be paraphrasing there, but that would have been the vocabulary that best expressed my own thoughts, so bear with me. It was about then that Dumas realized that the truck was pulling a boat an trailer and that he was going to get hit. The traffic lanes are narrow and there is no shoulder on Pinnacle Valley, so there was no escape route even if Dumas had had the time to react. I would guess from the subsequent attitude of the driver that he used the road frequently and that he was consciously passing close by so as to scare or intimidate. Most of us have experienced that type of behavior and worse from resentful drivers on Pinnacle Valley Road.

Pinnacle Valley Road near Beck Road. Two narrow lanes and no shoulder. The strip in the foreground is what some locals like to call a "bike path".
Dumas said he clearly remembered the view of gravel as his face approached the ditch. The driver stopped and his first reaction was to berate Dumas for riding his bike on the road when there is a parallel "bike path". Huh?
First and foremost, cyclists have an unmitigated right to ride on the public roadways of Arkansas. Second, what the driver referred to is not a bike path by any recognized standard.

When then-Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines announced a plan for bike paths along Pinnacle Valley, riders were thrilled. When we saw the product, not so much. 

This narrow, poorly constructed and unmaintained strip of asphalt is marginally serviceable as a sidewalk.

Dumas was assessing his injuries and the damage to his bike as this scene unfolded. A family who had been travelling behind the truck stopped to make sure that he was OK and to offer assistance as needed. Dumas was hurt and shaken. His front wheel was trashed, along with his fork, helmet, and glasses.

After determining that Dumas was OK, my next question was to ask whether he had called the police. He had not. While I understand that he was in the midst of a scene and mostly just wanted to get home and lick his wounds, I was disappointed to hear that for several reasons:

- The driver was definitively in violation of Arkansas' "Safe Passing" law.

27-51-311. Overtaking a bicycle. (a) The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a roadway shall exercise due care and pass to the left at a safe distance of not less than three (3) feet and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken bicycle. (b)(1) A person who violates this section shall be subject to a fine not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100). More penalties for causing an accident (2) A person who violates this section with the violation resulting in a collision causing death or serious physical injury to the person operating the overtaken bicycle shall be subject to a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1000) in addition to any other penalties prescribed by law.

While a $100.00 fine isn't much of a penalty, it is a violation and I would assume that it would be reported to the driver's insurance company. Hey, kill a rider and it goes to a whopping $1000.00.

- The cyclist deserves compensation for damages. I don't have the build list of the damaged bike, but I would guess that replacing a wheel, fork, helmet, and glasses will cost $1500.00, give or take. Those are the big items that were named, but it is likely that bar tape will have to be replaced and most mechanics recommend replacing bars after as hard crash. I haven't ever been able to put a firm price on road rash and peace of mind, but it would be expensive.

- The cycling community needs to stand firm in sending the message that it is not OK to buzz, threaten, hit, or otherwise abuse riders. If the driver had run another motor vehicle off the road and caused significant damage, there is no doubt that the police would have been called, the offending driver would have been cited, and damages would have been paid. We are not second-class citizens. We are taxpayers and voters. Among my cycling friends, there are doctors, educators, mechanics, business owners, bankers, housewives, lawyers, nurses, accountants, home builders, firemen and police officers. WE are sons, daughters, grandfathers, uncles, aunts, and your neighbors. In other words, we are regular folks. While the mere act of riding a bike may strip away our value in the eyes of the small minded, we won't be pushed off the road. We belong there.

Stories of incidents like this will always bring out the haters who want to relate tales of rude cyclists hogging the road and running stop signs, etc etc, etc. True, there are some bad riders, but I would invite those folks to start making the same kind of mental note whenever they see a driver talking on the phone, texting, rolling a stop sign, speeding, passing improperly, tailgating, making a lane change or turning without signaling. And then I would ask them which group poses the greatest danger to others, a cyclist on an 18 pound bike or a bad driver in a 3000 pound SUV.

Ride safely and be careful out there. There are a lot of bad drivers, but don't let them scare you off of the road. We belong.
Let's go ride.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Little Rock City Board Kicks Complete Streets Down The Road

Led by the unlikely pair of city directors Lance Hines and Erma Hendrix, the Little Rock Board of Directors last Thursday voted to put off consideration of the proposed Complete Streets ordinance for at least 90-days.
Understand that the "Complete Streets" ordinance  is not just about bikes. The intent is to compel consideration of all users of the public streets when new streets are built or when significant reconstruction takes place.

WHEREAS, pursuant to Little Rock, Ark. Res. No. 13,675 (April 16, 2013), the Board of Directors 6 stated its desire to adopt a Complete Streets Policy, meaning a policy for all transportation improvement 7 projects within the City of Little Rock, including the construction and reconstruction of public roadways, 8 to accommodate all anticipated users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation users, 9 persons with disabilities, freight haulers, and motorists, and ......

Hines wants to give developers more time to chime in on what is already little more than a watered down resolution,while Hendrix is dead set against anything that has to do with bicycles. Hines does at least does likely have a constituency in the conversation, as most developers seem to react in knee-jerk opposition to anything that would impose additional standards, regardless of the benefit to the community or to their property values. That is understandable, though short-sighted in my view. Hendrix, on the other hand, has oddly decided that accommodations of any type that may benefit cycling are an affront to the African-American community. On the subject of bike lanes for Daisy Bates Drive:

"With it being named for a historic black woman, we don't want bike trails on that street. If I don't respect my color, who will?" Hendrix is quoted as saying.

She then steadfastly refuses to explain her position by saying, "I don't talk about bicycles."
I'm simply confused by her stance.

If you choose to follow the link above and read the proposal, one can see that the ordinance is without teeth and key facets are preceded with qualifiers like,
"As feasible, the City shall incorporate ......"The ordinance then includes a list of exceptions such as perceived excessive cost and possible low usage. In other words, there is not much in the proposal that the anyone can actually be held to, and Little Rock famously allows exceptions for just about any kind of development that comes along. A drive along the Highway 10/Cantrell Road corridor is a prime example of how Little Rock handles a good plan.From Imagine Central Arkansas The Highway 10 Scenic Corridor design overlay district is the result of visionary citizens in the 1980s making a great plan for the orderly development of Highway 10 in Little Rock (a/k/a west Cantrell Road). The goal is to keep this area pleasant for all those who travel it, whether they be residents or traveling to Pinnacle Mtn, Lake Maumelle, etc. It's the law in Little Rock (Code Section 36-343 through 36-348). Many of LR's current city planners, administrators and Board members ignore it, siding with developers by granting exceptions to the law.... 
Little Rock has been trying for several years to shape a Complete Streets policy that will be palatable to developers and, subsequently, to the City Board. One driver for adoption of the policy is that the City is striving to earn "Bicycle Friendly Community" status as awarded by the League of American Bicyclists. Little Rock has applied in each of the last several years and has garnered, at best, an honorable mention. Among the requisites are the adoption of a Bicycle Master Plan, which the City has done, and a Complete Streets policy.

For those who fear that adoption of such policies would be a hindrance to growth, I would point to the Arkansas cities that have earned recognition from the League. They are North Little Rock, Conway, Bentonville, and Fayetteville. I don't think that you could name another four cities in our fair State that have seen more positive development in recent years.
Little Rock continues to be stymied by a city government that thinks small and suffers from a lack of leadership. That's unfortunate, as we have had visionary leadership in both North Little Rock and Pulaski County governments in recent decades, while Little Rock seems satisfied to be pulled along for the ride.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Weathering The Spell* plus updated Sportsman Pass option

*or, The art of avoiding depression when the weather sucks.

The recent spell of winter weather has kept most folks off of the bike. For the most part, I have been among them. I'll ride in the cold, but I avoid riding in the rain and I sure as hell avoid riding in the cold rain. Add a demanding workload, even with the slightly longer days, I have not been able to manage anything in the way of after work rides. Even headlights, warm gear, and the promise of post-ride satisfaction won't get me out after dark in a cold drizzle.

Last Saturday's forecast gave me hope of getting in some quality time in the saddle, but I needed to ride early and the predicted early morning temperature was in the teens, rising into the low 30's over the course of the day. That is manageable on the road bike, but it is quite comfortable on the mountain bike, so it was off to Camp Robinson! I haven't spent nearly enough time on the dirt this winter, so  I was overdue, anyway.
Our Willie dog doesn't even raise his head when I get on the road bike. He's learned there's nothing in that for him, but as soon as I pick up my hydration pack, he goes on high alert. That usually means a mountain bike ride and he loves to run the trails at Camp. With the exception of squirrel forays, he runs ahead of me, usually at a pretty steady pace, though I think I have caught him checking me up on the downhills before bolting to drop me on the following climbs. In other words, he behaves much like everybody else that I ride with.

Willie is an impatient ride partner. In spite of the fact that he's been lax in his training, he ran 9 miles and was ready for more.

The trail surfaces were hard packed and clean. Most of the creek surfaces were firm, as well.
 Even with temperatures in the mid-20s, the combination of low speeds, shelter from the wind, and the interval-like efforts of mountain biking, it was a very comfortable ride. The hard part is convincing yourself that it will be OK once you get out the door.
 It's hard to find trail conditions better than this, anywhere.
The trail conditions at Camp were superb, thanks to the many hours of work done by volunteers like Basil Hicks and the fine folks of the Central Arkansas Trail Alliance. Water crossings have been hardened (and I don't mean frozen, in this case) , bridges have been built and trail have been rerouted to more sustainable paths. I will confess that I have not been paying my work-in-kind dues this year. I have done a bit of leaf blowing and brush whacking in the past, but my small efforts pale in comparison to the job that has been done over the last couple of seasons. I stuck the higher ground, so the trails were dry for the most part, and frozen elsewhere. The sun was starting to thaw the surfaces as we finished up, resulting in a little mud.

When I moved Willie from the driver's seat to the backseat of the truck, I discovered that his belly was caked in frozen mud, earning him the new rap name of Icy Mudflap.
Riding at Camp Robinson
I don't know the current trail mileage at Camp, but I'm guessing 35-40 miles. Difficulty ranges from easy to "someday I'll get up that without getting off of the bike." Camp Robinson is an active military facility and you must obtain a Sportsman Pass to ride (or hunt, fish, etc). Things have become a little easier on that front, in that passes are available at the main gate visitor center from 10-6 Monday through Saturday. They cost 25.00 and exact cash is required. Save yourself some frustration and make sure that you have correct change, along with your drivers license, auto registration, and proof of insurance. After you have a pass, it is a simple matter of signing into the log book upon arrival and signing out when you leave. You will need to show your ID and pass at the gate.

My friend Joe Jacobs at reports that Camp now offers a $5.00 3-day pass, thanks to the efforts of the Central Arkansas Trail Alliance. This is great news!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Central Arkansas Update-

The BACA meeting that took place Tuesday, January 6, produced some good information and discussion with representatives of three key entities within central Arkansas; those being Pulaski County, the City of Little Rock, and the City of North Little Rock. Here are a few key observations:

Pulaski County

Though Judge Barry Hyde reminded us that he had only been on the job for two days, he seemed to have a good command of the current state of things. He spoke briefly about what led him to run for County Judge, his experience in the state legislature and in business as a successful general contractor, and his broad goals for his tenure as judge.
First, let me say that Hyde is a rider. I've never been out on the bike with him, but I heard through some of our common business associates a couple of years ago that Barry had started riding. That fact is important to us, as he knows first-hand the value of out trail infrastructure, and has also experienced some of our shared frustrations with trail maintenance and things like the "tack attacks", having fallen victim to "about 40 tacks" in his tires on one otherwise fine day.

Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde preparing to hand out maps of the new Crystal Hill Road trail link to Maumelle.
This 14' wide trail along Crystal Hill Road will join the Maumelle trail project and intersect Maumelle Blvd just west of I-430.
Hyde pointed out that a new trail section joining the River Trail to the newly expanded Maumelle Trail system was already planned and funded under Judge Buddy Villines. The trail junctures at I-430 are still sketchy due to the on/off ramps and heavy traffic, but the new route will help cyclists safely avoid the heavily travelled Maumelle Blvd.
The new judge touched on a number of topics. His top priority is public safety and resolution of the long-running issue of overcrowding at the Pulaski County jail. He pointed out the value of the River Trail system in bringing industry and talent to the area, saying, "Smart, young people want to live in a cool place...." and things like the trail system and bike infrastructure  are highly valued when it comes to making a decision about where people want to live.
While Hyde pointed out that his primary responsibilities lie outside of the Incorporated areas of the county, county government is responsible to all of the citizens of the county. He said that he was disappointed that a means of completing the Arkansas River Trail near Dillard's and the Episcopal Collegiate School had not come about, and that he would "encourage" completion. He was careful not to assign any blame, and was positive in his comments. He is, after all, an elected official, and much of his success will come through cooperation with the City of Little Rock and its civic and business leaders.
Barry Hyde had my support in the recent election, and I look forward to seeing him in action as judge. I know through some business dealing that he can be passionate and willful, but he is also thoughtful and willing to listen. The shoes of Judge Buddy Villines will be hard to fill, but I am hopeful that Judge Barry Hyde will provide good results with his own brand of leadership.
The City Of Little Rock
LR Bike-Ped Coordinator Jeremy Levno brought us up to date on activity on the south side of the river.
Jeremy asked Little Rock residents to contact their city directors ahead of the scheduled January 20th vote on a Complete Streets policy.
Little Rock has failed thus far in its efforts to gain Bike Friendly Community status as awarded by the League of American Bicyclists. Despite real progress and strong Bike Friendly Community Committee composed of citizens and city staffers, applications are pretty much a waste of time until the City adopts a Complete Streets policy. In general, a Complete Streets policy requires the city and developers to evaluate the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, and any other non-motorized transportation and and include accommodations for those users. This could mean sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic calming measures, or multi use trails. While such accommodations are proven to increase property values in adjacent areas and enhance the quality of life for the tax paying citizens who use them, there is a knee-jerk reaction among most developers and some politicians that this is somehow a bad thing.
Little Rock recently reduced the number of traffic lanes and added a bike lane on a portion of Louisiana Street downtown as part of the Bicycle Master Plan to create safe routes throughout the city. The implementation was based on extensive traffic studies and many months of discussion and planning. Unfortunately, it was not communicated well to some local business owners and there was appreciable backlash and confusion. Traffic managers went back to work to improve on signage and lane delineation, and things have calmed on that front.
There is also a plan to create bike lanes and traffic calming measures on Daisy Bates Drive. Little Rock City Director Erma Hendrix has somehow decided that bike lanes are a racial issue, as if Little Rock did not have enough real racially divisive issues.
You can read some of the discussion here on
"With it being named for a historic black woman, we don't want bike trails on that street. If I don't respect my color, who will?" Hendrix is quoted as saying.
All I can say to that is, "HUH?" Bike lanes get people out of their cars and in touch with their communities. I simply cannot fathom how she has decided to make this a racial dividing line, as the central Arkansas cycling community is one in which people simply get along, regardless of race, and there are large numbers of African American riders among both recreational riders and cyclists who use bikes for basic transportation.
Ms. Hendrix is guilty of stereotyping her constituency and cyclists, groups that are not mutually exclusive. I'm not sure if her words were spoken thoughtlessly or if her political worth depends on divisiveness, making her position more calculated and all the more disappointing. In any event, the City has backed off of plans to implement it own Master Plan, apparently out of fear of Hendrix, as the plan was apparently supported by most residents of the area and by entities like Philander Smith College, the Quapaw Quarter Association, and the principal of Central High School. I guess if Ms. Hendrix's goal is to stop progress and maintain the status quo in her district, then she has been successful for the moment. This goes down as another disappointing chapter, albeit a small one, in Little Rock's efforts to show itself to be a progressive city.
North Little Rock
 Burns Park Ranger Ian Hope reported that the NLR Bike Friendly Community Committee is reforming with Alderman Charlie Hight as the chair. Willa Williams had been leading the committee, but her position was dependent on a grant and funding ran out last fall. Thanks go to Willa for a job well done.
Ian Wanted to remind riders of the traffic pattern at Championship and Tournament Drives in Burns Park. Riders passing on the River Trail through from either direction have yield signs, while cars heading toward the river and turning left or right have the right-of-way. Riders usually blow through and cars almost always stop, but REMEMBER, at this location the through traffic is to yield. I know it is frustrating to yield, only to have cars stop and wave you through when they have the right-of-way.
This is a poorly designed intersection and the present signage came about as folks attempting to reach the launch ramp had to sit through long streams of soccer moms exiting the park during tournaments. Feel free to complain about the signs, but obey them for your own safety.
Arkansas River Trail Task Force
Rob Stephens spoke about the 911 location markers along the trail, and the implementation of the system. A few of the trail markers have been found to have come loose, while others seem to have been pried up and taken as souvenirs. The medallions are affixed with epoxy and plans are to find a more secure means of attachment.
Rob hinted at a fresh Arkansas River Trail System project that would take advantage of some existing designated routes. He likes to quietly go about doing his homework before he goes public, but I know that he has got some things simmering that will  be welcomed by the cycling community. Stephens and the ARTTF operate under the auspices of Metroplan and do a whole lot more for our benefit than most people realize.

Monday, January 5, 2015

BACA Meeting Tuesday Night-Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde.

From BACA:
Don't forget to join us tomorrow evening for the BACA Quarterly General Meeting at US Pizza in Hillcrest at 6:30.
Our new Pulaski County Judge, Barry Hyde, will be there to introduce himself. He has some big shoes to fill so come and introduce yourself and show him how important cycling is in Central Arkansas. We will also be discussing Little Rock’s Complete Streets Ordinance, which after much delay, is finally coming up for a vote in January. And 2015 is the year... of Close the Loop! Come enjoy good food and good friends and help us continue to build a safer Central Arkansas for cyclists!

Pack the house for Barry Hyde. Barry is a cyclist but he needs to see that we are an important constituency.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Miles- Another Year On The Bike

Well, another year has come and gone, and many of us compulsive types are evaluating our year on the bike. For a lot of folks, that may include finishing times in events like the BDB or Tour de Rock as we  measure our progress or lack thereof. For others, race results might define the year, but for every rider who is counting anything, a tally of total miles is a factor in defining the annual body of work.
Any time you get a bunch of riders together this time of year, you'll hear discussions on the subject. When somebody asks you, 'How many miles did you ride?", it is usually a prelude to them telling you how many miles they rode, especially if they are pretty sure they rode more than you .
So, before we go any further, "How many miles did you ride?"

Riding a bunch of miles is usually a good thing, but is possible to let mileage goals become the master of your ride plans. I've always claimed that my mileage is just history and I mostly let the chips fall where they may. That said, I'll admit that I did not want to end the year with 5947 miles, so I wandered around the River Trail for 54 miles on New Years Eve with temperatures in the mid-30s. I had taken a day of vacation so I started mid-morning, stopped in to the Heifer Village Cafe for a flatbread turkey melt, and got home in plenty of time for a football overdose that left me snoozing on the couch. It was far from being an epic ride but, being a numbers guy, I felt that I had accomplished something, however unimportant.
Big Miles: Chasing a phantom
When I started riding, a neighbor took me under his wing and taught me a lot about riding on the road. He also happened to be a guy who road an incredible number of miles and who rode almost every day, being an early retiree. I couldn't match his schedule, but by his example I started racking up some miles. It took me a while to figure out that my mentor was a bit of a freak. Another buddy, who we will call Mr. T, was a long time rider, and was taken aback one January at my answer when somebody online asked what my mileage goal was for the year. I hadn't even thought about it, but responded that I didn't have a goal but figured I'd ride around 5000 miles. My phone soon rang. It was Mr. T with the question of, "Do you know what kind of a commitment 5000 miles is?"  No commitment at all, I said, just an extrapolation of a 100 mile per week average, which was about what I was maintaining over the winter. 

After that Mr. T asked me frequently about my mileage. We had always been somewhat competitive, but I was a newbie on the bike and I happily shared my numbers. I finally caught on in June when he blurted, "I don't care how many miles you ride. I'm going to ride more." I won't say that I was shocked, but I will say that my response was, "OK, I'm not going to tell you my mileage, anymore."  Did I mention that Mr. T and I were a bit competitive?
From that point, we were playing a game of blind man's bluff. I just kept on riding, and got occasional reports from mutual friends that Mr. T was racking up some big miles, soon surpassing my efforts, though he didn't know that. I had conceded shortly after we started, but I found that a mutual friend had been feeding Mr. T bogus information concerning my accumulated mileage. "I saw Mr. T the other day and he asked me how many miles you had. I told him around 6000...", or 7000 or whatever he knew would serve as a poke at that time. Mr. T chased that ghost right up to New Year's Eve and rode over 9000 miles for the year, tripling his biggest previous year. He also didn't get back on his bike for a couple of months. He had chased the fun out of riding. That was my first full calendar year on the bike and I finished with around 8300 miles, still my biggest year to date, but I was also still in love with the bike.
Riding your bike is supposed to include fun!
If there are points in that story, they are that you shouldn't let an arbitrary goal drive the enjoyment out of your ride, and that you only really win a competition if somebody else is in the race. That's not to say that goals are bad or that all rides are going to be fun. Suffering on the bike is part of the drill if you want to get better, but if you find that you dread more rides than you are enjoying, it's time to re-evaluate.
More Miles Don't Equal "Better"
Sure, you've got to ride to improve your performance. I've been pretty consistent in riding about 6000 miles per year since I started riding 10 years ago. I've ridden over 7000 a couple of times and under 6000 once. My typical rides involve cruising the River Trail and getting out on the road with a few friends for longer rides. Some are harder than others, but few qualify as training for anything more than going out and logging a bunch of miles. If you want to race or drop everybody on the big climbs, you need to add some structure and intensity. That's called training, and it's usually not as much fun as riding. My mileage prepares me perfectly for riding around in circles on the River Trail. Racking up a lot of miles just means that you ride consistently, not that you're a badass.

Sorry, your trainer miles don't count.

I had this conversation recently with a rider who had logged a very respectable year on the bike, but he included a few thousand "trainer miles" in his total. It may be on your Garmin, but if you can't map it, it's not a ride. It's training.

Here's a fake Bob Dylan with a few words about trainer miles.The Spanish Bob Dylan tribute band is as real as miles logged on the trainer, but more entertaining. Here's "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere"

PS: It's also bad form to refer to a 62-mile ride as a "century" unless the word is preceded with "metric".

Go ride your bike, log your miles, and check back with me next year. If you come up to me around New Year's Day and ask, "How many miles did you get?", I'll assume that you rode more than 6000, but I'll bite, anyway.  "About 6000. You?"

Monday, December 29, 2014

Along The Trail: Pot Luck

A lot of folks are taking some time off over the Christmas and New Year holidays and, for many of us, time off of work means some time for the bike. Daylight is a precious commodity this time of year, and not to be wasted, even if sunshine has been hard to come by.
Staying in town for a day off during the week has a different feel than a weekend or an out-of-town vacation. Your spouse may have to get up and go to work or customers may call, but you've got the freedom to have another cup of coffee and finish the newspaper. It always reminds me a little bit of a day skipping school.

On those days off, I seldom ride with an agenda, but I always get great pleasure from dropping in for lunch somewhere. I don't leave my bike on the street out of my sight, so security is a consideration for me. Many places don't mind a bit if you simply bring your bike in and lean it in some out-of-the way place, while others have a place in sight where you can lock up.

Cafe@Heifer Village   is a great choice. I'm a bit of a regular at Heifer. They have daily specials, good salads and soup, and a burger that is among the best in town. There is a bike rack near the back door and it is visible from both inside and from the outside dining area. It is also isolated from the street and pedestrian traffic, making a lock largely unnecessary.
Wheel around to the back door of the Heifer Cafe.

It's easy to keep an eye on your bike while enjoying some really good food.
Diamond Bear on North Broadway, NLR, is easily accessible from the River Trail, has some good pub fare, local brew, and bikes racks near the door. I really like the atmosphere at Diamond Bear- friendly staff, good service, big screen TVs for sports, and just a good vibe.

If you're a hop-head, try the Willie's IPA.
It would be a travesty for me to say that beer and bikes don't mix, so I'll say impairment and bikes don't mix. I don't want to encourage irresponsible behavior.
Of course, there are many other places to choose from, such as the Capital Hotel, which offers the only bike valet service that I know of, Muggs and Cregeen's on Main in NLR,  Boulevard Bread in the River Market and on South Main just to name a few I've tried.

A small cafe lock easily fits into a jersey or vest pocket and offers sufficient security for low-risk parking spots. It won't stop a determined thief, but will prevent your bike from becoming a target of opportunity.
Cold, grey days and rain have been discouraging many of us from racking up the year-end miles, but on the cold days, the hardest part is just making yourself get out the door.

If you enjoy open spaces and uncrowded conditions, pick a cloudy day in the 30's.

The Mello Velos were out in force. I suggest that friends don't let friends ride in shorts when it is 34 degrees.
On days like last Sunday, I recognize almost every rider I see out on the River Trail. Most of us are just out there alone knocking out some miles, and you will see a few twos and threes sharing tales of lost fitness and over eating. I was only a little surprised to see the Mello Velos gathering at the submarine as I neared the end of my ride.
The MVs have a good thing going on in terms of supporting riders of all levels, being involved in local events, and having fun off the bike with some nice social activities. The group is a little different from many in that they have a fairly formal structure and the rides are 'members only' for purposes of insurance. They allow for a 'test ride' and then request that you pay dues and join if you want stay Mello.
Retro: It's OK, you can call me a Girl.
Back in the days of the legendary Fast Girls/Slow Guys rides, there was a conscious decision made that there would be no members, no charter, no rules, and no officers. It was "Fast, Fun and Friendly" and, damn, did we have some fun! The group was originally a few friends who started riding every spring in preparation for the Hotter'n'Hell 100. When I ran across them, there were usually 10-12 cyclists on a ride, but things soon blew up. The BDB was under construction and a lot of folks were discovering riding on the River Trail.
In 2006, the Fast Girls were a force.
 We weren't about racing, though many of the group went on to compete. We were mostly hard riding intermediates who simply loved riding our bikes together. Nobody wanted to be a Slow Guy, so we were all Fast Girls.
The Tuesday and Thursday night rides grew to 50 or more riders and it was a hard bunch to control, but I don't think I ever saw a serious crash in or caused by the group. We respected one another and other trail users, though some folks chose to flee in fear of the sheer weight of numbers. Trail use has grown and evolved since those days, but much of what we learned became protocol for later group rides on the trail.
Mixed Message: Loose Gravel- Haul Ass

The sign says you need to go faster.
There was some much needed resurfacing of parts of the Two Rivers Park trails recently, but I couldn't help but be amused by these signs.
Folks, the days are getting longer, and if the sun ever comes out again, you will be able to tell. I'll be seeing you along the trail.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Out On The Road- Situational Awareness

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Situation awareness is the perception of environmental elements with respect to time and/or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event. It is also a field of study concerned with perception of the environment critical to decision-makers in complex, dynamic areas from aviation, air traffic control, ship navigation, power plant operations, military command and control, and emergency services such as fire fighting and policing; to more ordinary but nevertheless complex tasks such as driving an automobile or riding a bicycle.

OK, the definition above is accurate, though it took a while. Here's a shorter version:
"knowing what is going on so you can figure out what to do" (Adam, 1983)

or, even shorter:
"paying attention" (JBar 2014)

Situational awareness is vital when riding a bike, especially on the road. A rider needs to be aware of the position of other riders, automobile traffic, intersections of side roads, dogs coming off a porch, pot holes, the condition of his bike, and often even wind strength and direction or the position of the sun, among many other things.

Of course, I'm leading up to something; in this event, a moment of danger and fear brought on by an aggressive driver and a lack of situational awareness by another rider.
I was riding west on Pinnacle Valley Road on a slight uphill stretch before the hill near the Pinnacle Visitor Center. Up ahead, I noticed a couple of riders, one 50 yards or so in front of the other, descending the hill as an SUV decided to pass them. The lead rider was in the center of the lane, sitting up, coasting and drifting a bit, seemingly oblivious to the passing car, a Toyota FJ Cruiser. As a result the driver kept moving further in to my lane until he blew by me a what I'd guess to be 60-65 MPH and about 3 feet away. I was at the white line, ready to rake to the ditch. At that moment, I suspended the JBar E.R.P. (Expletive Reduction Program). 3-feet may be legally considered safe passing distance, but stand on the edge of the freeway and see how safe you feel as cars pass at highway speed. Ok, don't do that. It's very dangerous.

There is obviously not enough room for cars to pass among cyclists traveling in both directions on this road, but it happens every day on Pinnacle Valley Road. We can't make them drive better, but riders can help out by paying attention.

To the driver:
Was it really worth it to put us all at risk to pass those two riders in the face of oncoming traffic (that would be me!) in order to save a very few seconds? The speed limit is 35-MPH and the rider was likely going 25. And, in spite of the fact that you likely consider yourself to be a highly skilled driver of a finely tuned road machine, I consider you to be a dumbass in a truck. Please give me a little more room. I don't trust you.

To the cyclist:
You apparently don't ride on the road much. Especially this road, which is often crowded with bikes and cranky local drivers who don't like or respect cyclists. When some a-hole roars up behind you on a narrow road with no shoulder, it is considered expedient to move as far to the right as is practicable. It is also expedient to have looked far enough ahead to realize that an oncoming cyclist is approaching as the dumbass in the truck is passing you, and that you should do us all a favor by not taking the whole freakin' lane and holding your line.

Failing to exercise situational awareness on the bike can result in consequences ranging from an ill-advised pace line snot rocket to a catastrophic head-on with a speeding truck, none of which are good. Either of the above examples are likely to see you left out of the next group ride.

Exercise some situational awareness. Please.