Thursday, September 20, 2018

Throwback Thursday- Two Rivers Bridge Center Span Assembly and Lift from October 2010

Two, Two, Two Posts in One!!
I decided not to string you along for another week on the erection of the center span on the Two Rivers Park Bridge so I've included two posts from the time. I followed this project closely and on several levels. I had regular contact with the Pulaski County construction supervisor, a representative of the steel supplier, and the project engineer among others. One thing I was NOT going to miss was the lift of the massive center span assembly. It did not disappoint. It was an awesome morning for any boy who likes big toys.

I post to a number of groups and you can be sure of notices by following the JBarCycling FB page.
Thanks, JBar

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two Rivers Bridge News!

Work continues at a brisk pace on the Two Rivers Bridge, with the final piers being poured and the steel truss sections arriving over the last couple of days.

The truss sections were shipped in on trucks, assembled on barges and moved out into the river.

The entire span will be assembled and then lifted in one piece.

These trailers carrying the two halves of the next section arrived on Wednesday. The last two trailers were on the road and expected to arrive Wednesday night.

There is no set schedule for the lift, but I hope that I get some notice so that I can be there! Everything will be done and ready before the lift starts, because once it is in the air, they don't want to put it back down anywhere but in its place on the piers. The rest of the horizontal structure is also moving right along. I was told that within the next couple of weeks, "people looking at it from I-430 will see a bridge".

Monday, September 17, 2018

Big Plans For Big Rock Regional Bike Park

Okay, I'll confess to adding the term "Regional" in the title of this article because that is the kind of vision I was hearing about at a meeting I attended last week at the North Little Rock Community Center.

 A Visionary Plan 
For several months now, North Little Rock Parks officials, along with local bike advocates from Central Arkansas Trail Alliance (CATA), and others, have been working on a far-reaching plan for a mountain  bike trails and skills complex on the north side of the river. At the heart of this broad plan is the development of a bike park at the Big Rock Quarry. The working name for the project is Big Rock Bike Park.

Some Recent History
Big Rock Quarry has seen a couple of other development plans rise and fade in the last few years. The first, and most ill-conceived, plan was the sale of the quarry for a real estate project consisting of a couple of apartment towers and a couple of hundred town homes. When this plan was exposed, initially here at JBarCycling, the public was outraged and  rapidly responded. That project was quashed by to waves of protest and bad publicity that followed. The property was eventually integrated into the parks system.

The Future
Initially, the existing mountain bike trails at Burns Park and the adjoining Emerald Park would be improved and extended. The work will make the riding experience on the existing trails better and will enhance the connections to Big Rock.

 The yellow lines represent existing trails. The proposed Bike Park drawing is overlaid in the center. The switchbacks near the left side are on the old road bed that climbs to Emerald Park from the River Trail. Current talk is that it will be rebuilt to facilitate climbing to the top of the bluffs. Multiple downhill routes are planned to rejoin the trail near Paul Duke Drive. 

Setting The Stage
The other older Burns Park "Boy Scout" trails (Red, Yellow, etc) will be improved or rebuilt as needed, and a large parcel of previously unused park land off of Overlook Dr. will see new trails and the restoration of the existing pavilions.
Lookout Dr. near the I-40 entrance to Burns Park has long  been gated due to "inappropriate activity" at the isolated pavilions at the top of the hill.
Overlook Drive- There is plenty of elevation on this large island of park land.

 The roof is in disrepair but the rock, steel, and concrete bones of the Overlook Pavilion are stout.

 Secondary, smaller pavilion nearby.

The Overlook was a favorite spot in Burns Park for many folks, but, over the years, vandalism and misbehavior led it to be closed. Trees will need to be cut to restore the vista, and there is plenty of other work to be done, but this will be a valuable "re-addition" to the park.

Center Stage

At the heart of  all of this will be the Big Rock Bike Park. I was blown away by the scope of this plan. Though the designer with whom I spoke at Progressive Trail Design described this as a very preliminary "cartoon drawing", you can get an idea of the direction of this development. 

                                 Get ready for some mountain bike action!

This Is For Real
Obviously, an endeavor of this scope will take time and money, but what I saw at the recent meeting told me that this is not a pipe dream. I have questioned the commitment of the current NLR city government to cycling infrastructure, as neither Mayor Joe Smith nor Parks Director Terry Hartwick have many ties to cycling. The mayor was NLR's director of development and Terry comes from the Chamber of Commerce. Ultimately, those leaders understand that the strength of this project will be its contribution, not only to quality of life for us locals, but to the economic growth that will follow. Visits to Northwest Arkansas provided a close look at the kind of dollars that follow the introduction of first-rate outdoor lifestyle amenities.
The Railyard at Rogers serves as a bit of a model, but the quarry offers several times the area of that park.

The Mayor is all in, saying, "We don't want to do this on the cheap. We want a Taj Mahal." That's the right way to do it, Mayor.

The vision is long range, and will require several phases and budget cycles. With eyes wide open, the group is already discussing financial and operational plans for maintenance and sustainability of the trails system and supporting facilities. The Parks Department included money in this year's budget for preliminary engineering, and I was very impressed at how far along the project concept has come.
North Little Rock's commitment, along with CATA, of land and labor to the overall plan represents substantial local investment as the City seeks grants from entities such as the Walton Family Foundation and the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) recreation trails program (RTP). 

It looks like I've resurrected JBarCycling just in time to follow the next very big step in making Central Arkansas a major cycling destination. Watch your mail box for notices of programs at CATA meetings and elsewhere.

It's hard to even define the scope of all of this in one article, so I think I'll be writing about Rig Rock for several years to come. I'm excited.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Throwback Thursday:Willie's Pedigree October 7, 2010

 This is a tale of Willie dating back to 2010.  My dogs, Willie and Ivy, frequently show up in my social media posts. The simple reason for that is that they go with me damn near everywhere I go and they are always ready for action, whether it be running as I mountain bike at Camp Robinson, fishing on the Little Red, canoeing the Buffalo, paddle boarding on the river or the lake, or just wandering the woods. 

Willie is one handsome dude and he takes naturally to modeling.

He is a competitive trout fisherman but struggles to tie his own flies. He chases MY fish without shame. That's right, Willie, mine!
Flatboat Willie. He's better at wade/swim fishing but is always up for any kind of boat ride. 

At the time of this post, Willie had been in the family for almost a year, and the best guess is that he was about three years old.  He is now over eleven years old and not slowing down. I think he's actually doing this senior athlete thing better than I am, as he is still good for running 10-12 miles of trail out at Camp, while my road mileage has dropped significantly over the last few years.  I had Willie's DNA tested for breed and, as you can read, he's a fine blend. 


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another Dog Tale (No Biting!)

Pop Quiz: What do these dog breeds have in common?
Golden Retriever






Have you given up, yet? Think about's coming to you....

The correct answer is: Willie

My man, Willie, shown here cooling off in a creek at Camp Robinson during a mountain bike escort run. He loves to run the trails, but at home, he's a Mama's boy.

Last Thanksgiving, we adopted Willie, a rescue dog that was purported to be Border Collie and who was still recovering from a badly shattered leg that he had suffered six months prior. We'd lost Diane's beloved Josie a few months earlier and we decided it was time for another dog. Our little Aussie mix Zuli also needed a pal, so Willie came into our lives. We speculated at length on his ancestry and my opinion was that he was most likely a cattle dog/terrier blend. We continued to speculate until one day Diane read an article about DNA testing to determine the genetic make-up of mutts. The subject came up a few more times, so I dropped by the  CARE  office one day and picked up the testing kit.  We swabbed Willie and sent his sample off to the lab. Two weeks later, we got Willie's report. While chatting with the volunteer at C.A.R.E. as I  purchased the kit, she had mentioned that one dog tested had been the product of seven different breeds. Willie came up one short of the local record with six. Yes, we are the proud owners of a purebred Golden Retriever-Beagle-Chihuahua-Dachshund-Maltese-Poodle, and we have the papers to prove it.

Willie is the product of several generations of artfully indiscriminate breeding and we couldn't be prouder! He is one very fine dog.


Jo said...
There has GOT to be some border collie in that dog- I think your sample got switched!!
JBar said...
If I was willing to throw another 60.00 at it, I'd send in another sample. It's been fun, though, and I've been calling Willie "Poodle" just to piss him off. He does have giant chihuahua ears!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Pedestal Rocks 40 and Lick Fork Gravel Grind- Choose Your Weapon October 20, 2018

A few years back, I noticed a table among the vendors at the BDB100 Expo. The gentleman manning the table turned out to be Dirk Merle, and he was promoting a ride called the Pedestal Rocks 40 at Witts Springs. Few folks were familiar with the tiny burg of Witts Springs, but it is on the highland near Richland Creek, a whitewater gem in the heart of the Ozarks, and for many years a destination for me and other serious paddlers who watch the river gauges like investors watch the market.

What Dirk and the community had planned was a forty mile road ride along Highway 16 from Witts Springs to Pedestal Rocks, twenty miles to the west, and back. For those unfamiliar with the area, there are few, if any, flat stretches. The ride was being held in conjunction with a community fundraiser and potluck. I posted about it at the time but did not ride.
The start of last year's road ride. The scenery is spectacular when the fog clears. 

That first year, 35 riders showed up, and the ride was declared a success. Word spread that the ride was excellent and that the hospitality was unbeatable. For year 2, the Lick Fork gravel ride was added and 65 riders participated.
Gravel rides are of 15, 30, 45, and 62 miles. There are hills!

By year 3, word was getting out and there were 135 riders, though the weather was cool, drizzly and foggy. 

This is year 4 and there is already a big buzz as riders share their experiences and recruit their friends to join them for this unique ride. Lodging is available in the area, though it is scattered. Camping is available at the Witts Springs Community Center, with access to bathrooms and hot showers. There is also primitive camping a few miles away at Richland Creek.
I know that a group has rented a large nearby lodge and there may still be an opportunity to get in on that. PM me if interested and I'll  put you in touch with the queen of that operation. 

While the road ride is hilly, don't let that intimidate you. Most of the ramps are of moderate grade as Highway 16 follows a ridge line and few riders seem interested in  a "race pace" experience. 
There are road rides of 10, 20, 40, 50, and 62-miles, so everybody can play!

The gravel riders reported a slightly different experience. The 62-mile route goes down to Richland Creek and includes some 7000 feet of climbing. Most riders chose the 30-mile course last year and I would guess that most rode mountain bikes, so don't let lack of a gravel-specific bike be an impediment. 

The folks of Witts Springs host a community potluck Saturday evening and it is amazing!! I think most people were really surprised and the warmth and the extent of the hospitality. The locals are genuinely glad to have us visit and it shows. 

Unlike last year, this fall is promising to be a colorful one, and there is no better way to see it than from your bike on the Ozark Plateau. I just hope we have clear weather so that we can truly enjoy the rare scenery.
In addition to the ride, you are in the heart of Buffalo River Country, so there are opportunities to hike, float, or paddle whitewater. Richland Creek requires advanced boating skills, but hiking along Richland and Falling Water Creeks is outstanding.

Check out the website link for more details.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Throwback Thursday: September 20, 2012 BDB Ride Prep

I saw an inquiry on the Mello Velo page yesterday asking for information on preparing for the MS150 this weekend. While this weekend may require rain gear and possibly a flotation device, the following post from 2012 may be helpful to some folks. It also contains a little insight into the earliest BDB100 rides.
It also reflects my tedious attention to detail at the time. You can always just hop on your bike and ride, and likely be fine, but I was always more comfortable knowing that I was self-sufficient for nutrition and minor mechanicals.

Big Dam Bridge 100: Ready To Ride? September 20, 2012

The BDB100 is expected to grow to over 2500 riders in 2012, its seventh year. The inaugural ride on October 1, 2006, hosted ~1200 against a declared limit of 1000, as I recall, after all of the entries were tallied. The roll-out for that ride began near the Burns Park soccer fields and made an immediate hard right turn onto the River Trail as riders streamed excitedly toward the newly opened Big Dam Bridge for a loop around the city. After heading back downtown and crossing the river again, we headed west up the River Trail toward Maumelle and the open road. Riders showed remarkable composure in those early giddy miles of the ride, as we were all aware of the dangers of over 1000 cyclists crossing the narrow wooden bridge in Burns Parks and the other sharp curves of the trail virtually en masse. I know that I breathed a sigh of relief when we all got safely past that bridge!

 Fall of 2006 was an exciting time for cyclists in Central Arkansas.

Since that time, the popularity of cycling has grown in Central Arkansas along with the ride. The route of the BDB100 has evolved with the opening of Two Rivers Bridge, making it practical to send riders over the Arkansas River at Toadsuck near Conway and to add the pain of a climb up Wye Mountain at about the 60 mile mark. All of that makes for a challenging ride, though as I was told early in my still-short riding career, any time that you ride 100 miles on a bicycle, you've done something pretty hard.

So, how do you approach a 100 mile ride?
 Most of my readers have done at least as many centuries as I have, so I'm not breaking any news to most of you. In my first few years of riding, long rides were the norm, either on some event ride or just heading out on the road with my neighbor Darwin who just had a penchant for riding long.  Event rides are different than just heading out with your buddies, and some have more of a race feel than others. For many riders in the BDB, specific time goals have been set and plans are being made, and even the most casual rider will be looking for the clock as they approach the finish line on NLR's Main Street.
Here are a few simple things that might help you cut a few minutes off of your time:

 - Before the ride- clean and lube your bike. Check that all bolts are tight. Look your tires over carefully and replace any that look questionable. Check the contents of your flat bag. I know I'm not the first rider to stop to fix a flat, only to remember that I had used a CO2 to help somebody out months earlier. My little bag will contain two tubes, powdered in talc for ease of mounting and wrapped in plastic wrap, three CO2 cartridges, inflator, tire levers, 4,5,and 6 mm hex wrenches, and the universal fixit, money.

The contents of your seat bag should be carefully selected and thoughtfully packed.

- If you're riding with a club or a group of friends, know the capabilities of the group and be realistic.  If you're a 6 hour century rider, don't expect your faster buddies to hang around. If you expect to ride a 5-hour pace, don't promise your slower friends that "we'll stick together". It just won't happen. A canny rider trying to make good time shouldn't be expected to drop off of a fast pack to hang with somebody who is flagging 20 miles into the ride unless a blood oath has been sworn. The same often goes for early flats or mechanicals. If it's you that breaks down, just fix your stuff and adopt another pack.

-Get out of town! The power of a large peloton is amazing. Take advantage of the big early packs to make miles early in the ride by going out as fast as you can without compromising the rest of your ride. It doesn't do much good to rock through the first 20 miles only to blow up at mile 40.

-Skip the early rest stops. This ties into the "Get Out of Town" advice above in that you want as many riders as possible/practical behind you. By getting out ahead of a large number of riders, you increase your chances of catching an optimum group coming by as you make stops or fade later in the ride.
You should have started the ride well-fueled and hydrated, so there's usually no reason to even consider a stop before 30 miles. Exceptions to this rule can include, "I've absolutely got to pee" and "I know this stop has really good cookies", but make all stops short. Fill bottles, grab some easily digestible solid food, and get moving. You don't really get any rest at these stops, you just get stiff legs to suffer through when you get back on the road. I seem to have fallen into a bit of a pattern of making two stops, the first at around mile 50 and another at mile 80. A good stop is less than 5 minutes if you're serious about making time.

 A big event is not the time to experiment with food. Stick with what is proven to work for you.
-Carry most of the nutrition that you expect to need. This usually includes includes drink mix for me. I carry at least one single-serving Gatorade packet with me if I'm unsure what's going to be available on the route. You can pack your own in a snack-size Ziploc.  Most of the stops at the recent Ride MS event were stocked with blue Powerade, which rates just this side of warm piss in my book. The BDB stops are usually well-stocked, but it pays to be prepared to take care of yourself.  I also carry a couple of bars and a handful of gel packs or a flask. A gel flask makes it much easier to get some food down in a pace line. This strategy allows you to choose your stops based on the wishes of your group. It sucks to be rolling along in just the right bunch, only to have to make a forced stop for food. If you're serious about making time, a third water bottle in a jersey pocket can extend your early ride range. I sometimes take a bottle that is about to go to the recycle bin, anyway, and toss it at that 50-mile stop.

The fast riders that really race the course and chase a 4-hour time won't stop at all, usually arranging some kind of support to at least hand up water bottles. A few guys do it on what they can carry, but most folks will need more hydration than can be carried.

Whether you're trying to make your first sub 5-hour century or just want to take a few minute off of last year's time, a little strategy can help you avoid some common time killers for any pace. It's frustrating to come in at 5:10 while thinking back on that 15 minutes that you spent milling around at mile 30. Some folks enjoy a casual ride and a pause at every aid station, but I'd rather get it done, get out of my sweaty bibs, and then enjoy a cold IPA on Main Street as later riders stream in.

Get ready and then enjoy the ride. I'll see you out on the road.