Wednesday, April 7, 2010

They're Back: Group Rides

A few of the Fast Girls along River Road.

Spring is finally upon us, and none too soon! Though it seems like we had crappy weather pushback for a few weekends, we've had enough warm sunny weather during the week to bring out the local group rides in force. Many serious roadies ride year 'round, but inconsistant weather and early darkness limits the enthusiasm of many riders and makes it difficult to gather a group at set times, but the season is upon us! The dynamics differ from ride to ride, with some being very laid back and conversational, while others hit the road at race pace. The prior variety often has a "no drop" plan to assure that nobody gets left behind, while riders of the latter type of group will, at most,  hope that you know your way home. Some groups have a bit of leadership structure with fixed routes and some simply exist as a known time and place to start. Here are a few of the rides that I'm aware of around town:

Sundays: 1:00 PM ABC Ride from the roundabout on the Little Rock side west of the BDB. Medium fast ride along the NLR Trail
Two Rivers Park: 1:30 PM fast bunch of boys and girls ride out west. Barrett/Garrison or Wye area. I haven't done this ride this year. But know your way home if you can't hang.

Mondays: 5:30 ABC ride from Cook's Landing. Medium fast pace, some stops along the way, sometimes splits up to accommodate the range of ambitions within the group.

Tuesdays: Fast Girls Slow Guys from Cook's landing at 6:00. Tuesday route is usually "over and back", going down the trail and over the Broadway Bridge, then up to the BDB on the Little Rock side and back. About 30 miles, mostly flat, large pack, high speed out on the road stretches, but a couple of regroup points. Group riding skills a must. Gets faster as the season progresses. Nitro riders drop in later in the year.
Tuesday Nitro: 6:00 PM, Burns Park loop. Fast, good race training and you're on the loop, so even if you get your ass handed to you early, you can ride briefly at the front as you get lapped. I think this usually ends for the season with the Summer Crit series.
On these rides and any other for that matter, be honest with yourself about your skills. You may be in the mood for road rash, but your new friends probably aren't, though the faster rides are somewhat self-selecting. By the time you can keep up, you've likely got some pack rides under your belt.
Kenny's Kroger Ride:  Kroger parking lot on Chenal. Leaves at 6:15 sharp for 23 miles.It can get fast at times. There are 3 to 4 places we regroup if you get dropped. Eat afterwards.

Wednesdays: 6:00PM CARP mountain biking at Camp Robinson. I don't know if this is really a "ride" with a set time, but folks show up. CARP card required to enter Camp. See the articles below for upcoming changes.

Thursdays: Fast Girls Slow Guys, see Tuesday, add climbing on Burns Park Loop and Fort Roots, subtract trip across the river. Keeps getting harder. Regroups at a couple of points.

Saturdays: CARVE Take No Prisoners Ride. 50-60 miles. Lake Maumelle Loop from The Chainwheel at 7:00 AM or drop in at Two Rivers at 7:30. Hang on if you can and know your way home if you can't, because you're on your own. I've been dropped on this ride each of the times I've started it and I can testify that it can be a painful 38 miles from Wye Mountain to my house in Dogtown after burning up the legs trying to stick with the group.  I'm sure that kind of stuff builds character, but that wasn't what was on my mind as I struggled up every little bump on Highway 10 with many miles to go. On  one occasion, I swallowed my pride and accepted a ride home from Two Rivers Park with a whimper.That said, this is probably the longest standing group ride in town, having been well-established long before I started riding, and if you can make it in with the front pack, you've likely done some good work. In the winter, CARVE goes to a more mellow "base maintenance" ride out east.

Weekday Lunch Bunch: The core of this group consists of Axciom and Orbea folks and a group can be counted on to leave from the submarine in NLR on any weekday at noon unless the roads are wet. This ride can vary from very mellow to very intense depending on who shows up.

There are always small, more intimate groups popping up and pick-up rides occur most days along the trail as friends run into one another and form small bands. There are also seasonally scheduled training rides for events like CARTI Tour de Rock and the BDB.

Central Arkansas's vibrant riding community continues to grow and with it opportunities to find a group and ride setting that fits your goals and comfort levels. If you don't see something that suits you, call up a few friends, set a time and place to meet and spread the word. Be consistant and you, too, can be a group ride leader.

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