Thursday, April 29, 2010

Trek has the Lance Publicity Machine, But Specialized Is Ruling The Road.

From Velo News.

When Lance Armstrong came out of retirement, the folks at Trek had to be dancing with glee at the prospect of the world's most marketable rider once again throwing his leg across a Trek Madone. Posters bearing Lance's likeness immediately went up in retail stores across the globe and dealers vied for the line that would be the bike of choice for so many casual riders, Lance wannabe's and serious cyclists who see Lance's association with Trek as a stamp of approval. Great stuff for the Trek brand, but how is it paying off so far?
Well, I don't pretend have any industry numbers, but based on the European pro race results, I'd say that Specialized has a big lead in the marketing game at this point. Trek has broad appeal in the mass market and will certainly get some bang for their buck, especially as we roll toward the frenzy that shall be this year's Tour de France, but banner-carrier Team RadioShack has been woefully short of results to date. Folks who buy high end road bikes DO pay attention to such things and the clear winner so far this season has been Specialized. By sponsoring both Astana and SaxoBank, Specialized has put their bikes under Alberto Contador, a seemingly rehabilitated but unrepentant Alexander Vinokourav, Frank and Andy Schleck, and the spectacular Fabian Cancellara. Between them, they have won most of this spring's European stage races and one-day classics, including the Tour of Flanders, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, and most importantly, Paris-Roubaix, where Cancellara's long solo finish gave the broadcast teams plenty of time to talk about the winner's Specialized machine with its vibration-dampening zerts and other features. Paris-Roubaix is THE testing ground for subjecting bikes and components to the brutality of the cobbles in the environment of a one day race, where an ill-timed mechanical is likely to come at the price of career-making finish, and cycling publications devote article after technical article to the stuff that works. The sponsorship of pro bike racing has got to pay off and Specialized is capitalizing on the positive buzz. I hope they are very successful.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood: Getting It Right

Many of you have probably read or heard of Ray LaHood's commitment to walking and cycling as transportation as part of our national infrastructure planning. Not surprisingly, the trucking industry and a gaggle of Mr. LaHood's former Republican colleagues in Congress, one of whom speculated that LaHood was "on drugs", are dead set against anything beyond the automobile-driven status quo, but the Secretary makes good sense. Much like our national energy and financial systems quagmires, those who profit immensely from the current systems will come out with guns ablazin' (actually, they come out with "lobbyists aspendin' ", but you get the picture.) to protect their turf. The fact that LaHood is a former Republican Congressman appointed by a liberal Democrat makes his position seem all the more enlightened. Here are some of the key points of his stated aims:

Treat walking and bicycling as equals with other transportation modes.

Ensure convenient access for people of all ages and abilities.

Go beyond minimum design standards.

Collect data on walking and biking trips.

Set a mode share target for walking and bicycling.

Protect sidewalks and shared-use paths the same way roadways are protected (for example, snow removal)

Improve nonmotorized facilities during maintenance projects.*

That doesn't sound like somebody "on drugs" or in any way outrageous to me. Bike infrastructure is relatively inexpensive, requires little maintenance once constructed and is much longer lasting than motor highways, so what's the beef? Granted, few people currenly use bikes for transportation,  but lack of infrastructure and rider safety are huge limiters of opportunities for riders. In our age of childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, a military that turns away droves of recruits simply because they are too damn fat, and energy dependence on people who use our dollars to wage war on us, our society obviously needs to embrace some cultural changes if we are to survive and prosper. In the big picture, this is a small step, but it is a step in the right direction.

Listen to a discussion at this link on NPR:

..and the a news article as it appeared here:


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Snakes Alive!

While crossing paths with Bryan Shipman and Josh Joyce at Camp on Sunday, Josh stopped his bike suddenly as something near the base of a dead tree caught his attention. "There's a snake in there. Two snakes and they're hooked up." My first response as I saw the flash on movement was "speckled king snake", but I was proven wrong as Josh pointed out the two still-connected black snakes climbing the tree.

Click on the photo and look near near center at the bottom for the tangle of snakes. Josh had caught a glimpse of the snakes as they left the trail and headed to this tree.

The black snakes made their way up the tree while still engaged.

Though I thought I'd failed snake I.D., I was soon redeemed. After circling the tree for a couple of minutes trying to get some good shots in what technically amounted to snake voyeurism, I happened to glance down. I had been carefully watching my step and was only a little surprised to see a large speckled king snake at my feet.

This guy seemed pretty much indifferent to my presence.

The king snake may have been what spooked the black snakes to begin with. Other snakes, including venomous ones, serve as prey to the handsome king snake. They also eat rodents and so are good to have around the yard.

There are snakes to be found all over Arkansas, most of which are harmless. Of the venomous snakes, the copperhead is the probably the most likely to be encountered  at Camp Robinson, but they are generally shy and impeccably camouflaged, so will likely go unseen. There are also timber rattlesnakes statewide and the terrain is perfect for them, but I have only seen a rattler a few times in my life, compared with many, many encounters with copperheads and cottonmouths. We spend a lot of times around hill-country rivers and creeks where snakes are just part of the landscape.

Here's a link a Game and Fish site that gives some good, concise information about all of the snakes found in our state.

Don't get too worried about snakes at Camp. I've seen many, many more just riding the River Trail on my road bike. The more immediate threat at Camp Robinson remains poison ivy, ticks, ill-timed flat tires and the usual over-the-bars adventures.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

River2River Memorial Ride in Support of DAV

Local riders Jon and Jeff Aldrich have organized a five day ride across the State of Arkansas to coincide with Memorial Day, starting on Saturday May 29, in Fort Smith. Their goal is to honor veterans and raise funds in support of the Disabled American Veterans. It's a great cause and, unfortunately, we are seeing a new generation of young Americans in need of the services and support of the DAV.
Here's a link to their website:

Thanks to the vets and thanks to the Aldrich boys for their efforts in putting the ride together.

Trail Blazers

New trail at Camp: I'll describe it as raw, but with a promise of being really fun.

Last Wednesday evening, I took Bryan Shipman up on his invitation to join the CARP guys on their weekly ride and to help them break in a new trail. I didn't count riders, but there were 10-12 of us, I'd guess, and I had never really been on a mountain bike ride with a group that large, but these guys knew each other and the line of order sorted out easily. Out on the road, the pack can easily adjust to the abilities and ambitions of the riders, as individuals can easily move around, take a pull or drift to the back, or attack. On tight single track, you're pretty much stuck in your place unless you're willing to take some risks and likely piss off your buddies if you're just on a casual ride. I rolled out near the back so as not to be a stopper on the trail as we headed out to check out the new trail. We left the parking area on 5-Mile, then caught Zig-Zag before bailing off on the new trail, which serpentines down the hill before terminating near the west end of Merlin. It was very tight in places, like many trails at Camp, and in this direction was mostly downhill, holding some really steep switchbacks and a lot of off camber trail littered with loose, midsized rocks. On more than one occasion, I drifted off of my line, but that seemed to be a common occurrence on the narrow track.
There was some discussion on a name for the new trail. Bryan put forth "Escalator" because now "you can take the elevator or the escalator" to go up or down the hill. I suggested "Shipwreck" to recognize Bryan Shipman's efforts and because I felt like I could go crashing onto the rocks at any moment.  I'm a newbie at this trail thing and have no standing among the trail builders, but in whitewater, tough rapids are often named for the first pioneer to clean a line or for some poor SOB who had a memorable ass whipping in failing to clean the line. Bryan cleaned this line, so he can call the new trail whatever he wants! I'm just looking forward to trying it again.

Here's an image of the new track and its approach:
Here's a link to the image above and others, including elevation, on the CARP Facebook page:

And here's a link to a very cool interactive map on the CARP site:

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Argenta Market: It's A Big Hit!

As is Diane's routine, she headed out on this Saturday morning on her pannier-equipped commuter bike to do her shopping. Regular stops include the Argenta Farmer’s Market and Boulevard Bread in the River Market, with an occasional ride-through at Firewater Liquor, but today were special as it was the first Saturday since the April 15th opening of the long-awaited Argenta Market. She was pleased with the offerings at the market, and her stop there allowed her to pick up a few items such as bananas, which are among our staples but normally require a trip to Kroger.
The market expands Argenta shopping opportunities, and Diane rode home with pepper plants in her back pack and her panniers bulging
 with eggs and produce.
Willie seems to be expressing a little disappointment that Diane skipped the meat counter.

I moved a little slow this last Saturday morning and had limited road ride ambitions for the day, so I saddled up and cruised on down to see what the market was all about. All I can say is, the joint was hopping! As I rolled my bike in, one of my neighbors came up to hold the door for me, and I noticed Mayor Pat Hays enjoying breakfast at the first table. The dining area in the front of the store was buzzing with conversation and shoppers were busy in the aisles.

The produce and dairy areas seemed to have just about everything you might need, and I was told by the friendly store folks that we could expect fresh, local produce in season. "Anything they have at the farmer's market across the street on weekends, we'll have here.."

I was pleased to see a well-stocked meat counter featuring a nice selection of fresh meats, store-made sausage, and Petit Jean bacon along with deli meats, cheeses and more.

The store is not super-center sized, but how many kinds of Kraft BBQ sauce do you really need? Especially when Spicy Stubb's is right there on the shelf!

North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays shows off the breakfast menu. The eggs Benedict came highly recommended.

Argenta is an anchor of the River Trail and for an area to truly become a neighborhood, it needs a grocery store. The Argenta Market looks like it has the potential to serve that need, as well as providing a community meeting place to enjoy a cup of coffee or a meal with friends. We live in the Park Hill area and we will be frequenting the market and know that several of our neighbors will, as well. Our closest options are to go to Indian Hills or Lakewood for groceries and I think we'd rather just head down the hill to the Argenta Market for many items. A bike rack was placed on the sidewalk by Sunday morning, promising a convenient and bike-friendly stop near the trail.The market has been a long time coming, but appears to have been worth the wait. Let's hope that the community supports it and that more local merchants will find their way back downtown.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Camp Robinson Mountain Biking Odds and Ends

Sportsman Pass Update: New Hours

Diane went to Camp today and obtained her Sportsman Pass. She reports that starting Monday, April 19, the hours for obtaining the pass will be Tuesdays and Thursdays only, for 10:00AM until 6:00PM. I heard that the passes were available last Saturday, but that must have been a one-shot deal. The hours seem to have become a moving target. I'll post information as I get it and ask you to let me know if you hear anything contradictory. As far as I know, the passes will be required beginning May 1.
If this information is available other than by word-of-mouth, I am unaware of it.

Rock Epic Cancellation

No real news here. The word I got from a couple of sources is that Guard drill was moved from Easter to the weekend of the event, creating a conflict for traffic management on the post. If that is the case, the organizer,  DLT, could have just said that rather than alluding to a policy change and leaving everyone wondering about the future of all events at Camp Robinson. Again, I have no hard sources for this information, so stand to be corrected.

C.A.R.P On Facebook

Bryan Shipman has created a C.A.R.P. page on Facebook. Be a fan!

Trail Work

I reported a couple of weeks ago about the trail building and maintenance efforts of Lane Septon and Bryan Shipman. Here are some examples of their work:
Bryan and his crew hauled all of the materials for these new bridges into Outer Loop. They rerouted the trail around what was probably the sloppiest water crossing at Camp and provided this structure to protect the creek bed from becoming another wallow.

Lane hauled in loads of rock and gravel to harden several notoriously muddy spots on the popular 10 Bridges Trail.

There also looks to be a new trail unveiled soon. Watch for Bryan's posts to the C.A.R.P. Facebook page

Critters and Greenery

I noticed this little guy rambling down Buddha this week. He headed up back side of the tree and stopped several times to peek around to see if I was still there before settling in the fork to wait me out. 

If you don't recognize this stuff, you're likely to either:
A) Not be allergic to poison ivy or ....
B) Itch a lot if you spend much of your summer in the Arkansas woods.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Gratuitous Sunset Photo

We've really got it pretty good along the River Trail.

Changed My Mind

I've had a change of heart since I wrote my little blurb about Lance Armstrong shilling for Michelob Ultra.

I've since grown fond of the Michelob Ultra brand. And I really enjoy seeing Lance sitting around in all of those commercials and not quite taking a drink of Ultra. The owners of the brand are to be appreciated for pouring a  large pile of advertising dollars into cycling media, sponsoring The Epic Cycle on Versus and running ads in several bike magazines and on line. I have to be grateful for any sponsors of cycling and cycling media because they make the professional scene possible and that is something that I really enjoy. I would speculate that the choice of Lance Armstrong and cycling to carry the Ultra message resulted, at least in part, from the influence of Inbev, the Belgian firm that owns Anheuser-Busch. The Belgians are bike-mad, of course. I will readily admit that I do respond positively to well-placed advertising. For example, I've selected Hampton Inns as a direct result of my gratitude for their advertising on the Tour de France telecasts. So, in the same spirit, I'm going to follow Lance Armstrong's example and not quite drink Michelob Ultra. Thank you, InBev.

Something like this may have a few more calories than the aforementioned beverage, but that's one of the reasons they call it "beer".

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Off Topic: On The Creek

These days, Diane and I tend to spend most of our weekend time either on the bike or doing things that must be done to maintain the homesteads, but in my previous life, I was driven by the prospect of running rivers. I hoarded vacation days and drove many thousands of miles in chase of rainfall, dam releases and snow melt. It started innocently enough, canoeing the Buffalo, but running rivers soon ballooned into a lifestyle. Newton County became North Carolina, then Colorado, California, West Virginia, Chile, Argentina, Georgia, Maryland, Costa Rica, Arizona, Tennessee...... You get it. Diane and I got together boating and our mutual love of rivers is a bond. But, I've become loathe to get in the truck and drive the necessary hours to go boating for a day when I can top off my tires and roll off down the street. Instant gratification on two wheels.
So, while I'm less likely to call in a last-minute day of vacation and head to the hills chasing thunderstorms, we still hear the call, as we did weekend before last when the weather was forecast at a perfect 72 and Richland Creek in Newton County was predictably runnable from rain on Thursday and Friday. There was a big crowd for the remote run and it was quite a social occasion. Most of the serious boaters know one another so shuttles are arranged quickly and paddling groups form almost wordlessly.

Richland Creek was the place to be for sunshine, high water, stunning scenery and warm temps.

Diane after running Richland Falls

Here's a little boof at Upper Screw Up

At the bottom of Lower Screw Up, I'm waiting on our buddy, Bob.
This doesn't have a thing to do with cycling, but it doesn't have to. If you don't love rivers, then I think that you probably just haven't had the opportunity to spend enough time on them.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Bike Infrastructure Progress: Both Ends and Around the Edges

Progress continues on our growing system of bike infrastructure in Central Arkansas.
It appears that the long-awaited Rock Island Bridge project will be getting underway as money is rolling in in the form of a couple of million federal dollars that will help cover the Clinton Foundation's cost estimate shortfall. In addition, the City of North Little Rock plans to ante up another $750,000.00 to be used toward construction and the acquisition of two parcels of land near the foot of the north landing. The land acquisition will allow enhancement of the visual and practical approach to the bridge and allow the city a greater measure of control of development in the area.

On the other end of town, construction continues as footings are being dug and concrete piers poured for the Two Rivers Bridge.

Steve Shepherd taking a look at progress on the Two Rivers Bridge.

So near, yet, for the time being, still a long ride to Two Rivers Park.

Another important development that appears to be nearing fruition is North Little Rock's effort to acquire an unused railroad right-of-way that runs from the Levy area to the east side of Camp Robinson. This stretch of track was maintained for many years to serve the Camp Robinson depot, but a few years back the military department decided that they had no future use for the spur. The City has been working to make a deal for the property for conversion into a multiuse trail, which creates the possibility of a new northern corridor for bike commuters and recreationalists. In what will eventually be part of that route, work is underway on a bit of trail and some sidewalks at the intersection of Pike Ave. and 33rd Street, already making that stretch of Pike much safer for cyclists. The RR tracks cross Pike at an angle and there is no shoulder at all, making for a sketchy approach to the tracks if you are boxed in by traffic.

The new path already allows you to skip the tracks if you don't mind crossing a few feet of gravel, and I'm sure things will be finished up in this area soon. Many of us who live in Park Hill use this route to and from the River Trail via Fort Roots.

Our bike community just keeps getting better, but nothing happens without public support and the buy-in of civic leaders. Encourage your non-cycling friends (if you have any!) to get out and enjoy the trails and the BDB and express your support for cycling and pedestrian projects at every opportunity. This is the election season, so when those pesky folks interrupt your dinner or corner you at an event, ask them about their candidate's position on alternative transportation and energy policy. Issues like this only become important to politicians when they know it is important to voters. Tell them what's important to you.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

River City Rumble: Bike Polo Comes to Town

A few months ago, I ran across a website for Little Rock Bike Polo. I was intrigued and dropped a note to the contact to ask if they were still playing. There wasn't much on the site at the time, but both the website and the game seem to be doing pretty well based on what I've seen today. I never got a response to that e-mail and pretty well forgot about it until I heard a piece on public radio about a bike polo tournament taking place this weekend at MacArthur Park. By the time I came in from my road ride, Diane had already ridden over to check out the games and reported a good crowd, friendly folks and a lot of bike polo going on. I showered, ate a little and headed out to drive over with our dog pack, Willie and Zuli, in tow. The games are played by teams of three on the old tennis courts at MacArthur, with games lasting ten minutes, as I understand. You can follow the link below to learn more about the game. The closest thing to a standard bike set-up was a fixed-gear or single-speed, flat bars, platform pedals and home-made cardboard or corrugated plastic disc wheel covers, some of which were pretty artisitic. The discs would serve to protect the spokes and can be used to block the ball. Most of the players wore helmets.

Many of the discs were quite creative. Some were not appropriate for Disney, but artistic, nonetheless.

There were some good bike handling skills among the riders, and a lot of ink. The competition was spirited and good natured.

There were teams from all over the region, including Lawrence, Kansas and Tulsa, along with several other cities that I don't recall. Everybody was ready to play, so when the scheduled games took time out for lunch, pick-up games started immediately.
Things didn't always go as planned, but there were fewer crashes than I expected. The size of the court kept speeds pretty low and the riders, for the most part, were pretty good.

That wheel is done! There was a little beating on and cussin' at uncooperative components, but most of the bikes were just right for the job at hand.

It was a cordial crowd and I soon was holding a cold PBR and learning a few of the finer points of the game, compliments of new friend, Julie, who seemed to be being helpful to everyone, soon departing to take a few of the players to get lunch. Thanks for the hospitality and the information!
I like just about everything to do with bikes and bike polo is a great way to get some folks interested who otherwise might not ride, not to mention being a hell of a lot of fun for the many skilled players who were on the court today. It was fun to watch the games and hang out so I can see the sport growing, though I must admit that my age group was not fairly represented. I love seeing the bike options in Central Arkansas growing and you can add bike polo to the list.

The tournament continues on Sunday, so drop by and check it out. Bring a couple of friends and a bike, and you now have a team.

Here's a video from the LRBP site explaining how the spoke guards are made, if you're interested:

The tournament link:

And here's the Little Rock Bike Polo link:

It's Paris-Roubaix, Baby!!

From PezCycling. Link to related article at bottom of this post.

Have you ever wondered why so many bikes, bike clothes, fabrics and the like include "Roubaix" in their names. Well, it's like "Baja" to off-road racing, "Daytona" to NASCAR, and "Kona" to Iron Man competitors. With all due respect to the Tour de France and the other grand tours, Paris-Roubaix is THE bike race to test the toughness, luck and will of every rider who rolls out from the start line, along with every frame, beefed-up box profile wheelset, every fork, seat post and bolt, and every double or triple-wrapped handle bar on every bike on the road.
Last week's Tour of Flanders was damn near as good as a one-day classic can get, with an amazing performance by Fabian Cancellara, who pulled away from three time winner and Belgian national champion, Tom Boonen, on the final 22% cobbled climb. After dropping Boonen, "Spartacus", as Cancellara is known due to his combative toughness, showed why he is the Swiss national champion and three-time world time trial champion by motoring solo 10 miles to the finish at about 35 MPH. Boonen had lost a minute to Cancellara's attack and never made up a second of it, while the chase group, which included a motivated and strong Lance Armstrong could only lose more time. To quote Boonen, "He just rode away and I couldn't follow him.".  Very few folks ride away from Boonen on on any road, much less on the cobbles of Flanders. To us sons of the South, it is akin to beating Br'er Rabbit though the briar patch.

Read about that race here:

If you have never taken the time to watch one of these races, start now. It will be shown Sunday on Versus at 5:00PM. Set your DVR now! News

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Little Rock Recognized By Bicycling Magazine

Yep, Little Rock was named 49th among the 50 "America's Top Bike-Friendly Cities" in the whole U.S. of A. and its best attribute........
North Little Rock, of course!

"The city center needs work, but neighboring North Little Rock boasts the longest bicycle-pedestrian bridge in the world. "

North Little Rock, an officially Bike Friendly City, as recognized by the League of American Bicyclists, is arguably more deserving of the listing, but at least the magazine awarded us full credit for the county's BDB. We also understand that "Little Rock" may just be easier to explain to geographically impaired folks who aren't from around here.

Rare Days...

I'm talking about those days when the sky is blue, the sun is shining, the flowers are bursting into bloom almost as you watch and temperatures are pleasantly warm. Winter is behind us, the mosquitoes have yet to come to full swarm and you can work up a sweat that will actually dry. These days are precious and few, so enjoy every hour. The Arkansas summer will be upon us soon enough.

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.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Camp Robinson Sportsman Pass Detail

I went out to Camp and got my sportsman's pass today. It is a painless process that is administered by a very cordial young lady at the Visitor's Center at the main gate (where you sign in).

-The desk is manned from 9:00AM until 2:00 PM Monday through Friday

-Passes are currently good through next June (June to June). Or from whenever you buy it until the next June 30.

-Passes must be purchased in person and your driver's license presented. They run your license to determine if it is valid and that you are legally be clear to possess a firearm, as the pass allows you to hunt on the facility.

-Cash is accepted; in the future, they MAY require a money order or cashier's check.

-You will be issued a wallet card and a card for your windshield.

- When you check in under the new procedure, you'll be issued a date-stamped post-it to place on your windshield card.

I'm sure that there are an official document somewhere spelling all of this out, but here it is in a nutshell:

If you want to ride at Camp Robinson after May1, you'll need to drop by the Visitor's Center between 9:00AM and 2:00 PM, Monday through Friday, sometime between now and then. Walk in with $10.00 and your driver's license in hand and buy a pass. It takes less than 10 minutes. While you're there, you might as well go ride. I couldn't, but it's a fine idea.

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Drill For Entry To Camp Robinson

In an effort to find out about rumored access changes at Camp, I called the Camp Robinson Public Affairs line today and reached nobody, but ultimately spoke to the Camp Robinson Police and the security guys at the visitor's center at the main gate. There will be a new requirement for entering camp to enjoy the mountain bike trails, but it is not a big deal and is consistent with the process used by hunters and fishermen. In a policy change dated April 1, beginning on May 1, riders will be required to have both a CARP card and a Camp Robinson Sportsman's Pass. The security guys that I spoke with felt the new procedure would streamline access for us and reduce their paperwork in that they will no longer hand write the blue day pass that we're accustomed to, but will instead CARP stamp a post-it note to display on your windshield. Riders will still need to sign in at the visitor's center. The Sportsman's Pass is $10.00 annually, which is not a big deal. One small problem is that the passes may only be purchased at the visitor's center between the hours of 9:00AM and 2:00PM, Monday through Friday. I'll try to get by there at lunch soon and see if you must appear in person or if it will be possible to buy a pass for someone else. I suspect that ID will be required.

I don't know how this caused the cancellation of the Rock Epic since the new policy doesn't go into effect until after the race date.The security folks were not aware of any problem and it could well have been something totally unrelated to this procedural change.They just implement policy as handed down from above. We're very fortunate to have the resource and if we have to jump through some minor hoops, so be it.

If anybody has any more information, feel free to share it in the comments section.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Rock Epic: Cancelled

The April 18 Rock Epic event at Camp Robinson has been cancelled due to policy changes at the facility. The specific issues are unknown to me at this time, but I understand that there are also to be some procedural changes at Camp, possibly including a requirement for mountain bikers to purchase a "sportsman's pass" . More on that as I gather the details.

I am disappointed in this cancellation. I had no intention of racing, but would have enjoyed the scene and I believe that this kind of community event is good for cycling. While I understand that Camp Robinson is an active military facility and that its mission is the priority of the administration, I would hope that future events can be accommodated. The mountain bike area is pretty well isolated from active areas of Camp, so I would think such activities would have very little operational impact. The trails are a great asset to the area so I hope that access doesn't once again become in issue. I've just really started to appreciate the place!

From the DLT Sports website:

"The Rock Epic

Must Read!

It greatly saddens me to write this note. We here at DLT Event Management and CARP (Central Arkansas Recreational Peddlers) have placed a significant amount of effort and time to prep the trails and into pulling together the details to offer The Rock Epic Mt Bike Race.

March 31, 2010 it came as a complete surprise to us that significant policy changes were issued from Camp Robinson (an active military base, and where the MTB trails are located for The Rock ). These changes are putting us into a no win situation and thus a cancellation of The Rock Epic which was scheduled for April 18, 2010.

For those that have preregistered, we will send you a check refunding your entry fee, you should receive this within 2 weeks.

For those that have volunteered their time and effort in prepping the trails, thank you very much.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this cancellation may cause you. "

from dlt sports

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wanna bet?

With all of the early hype regarding this year's Tour de France, I decided to do a little research and see how the British odds makers viewed things.

Here's how the bookies currently see Lance Armstrong's chances:

Odds to make the podium:  11/8
Odds to win a stage: 15/8
Odds to finish ahead of Contador: 7/2

Bradley Wiggins odds for podium finish: 11/4
Wiggins to win 2010 Tour: 20/1

Mark Cavendish to win 6 stages: 7/4
Cavendish to win 5 stages: 1/1

Odds on Contador to have 7 career Tour wins: 7/2

It's early, folks, so there are limited betting lines and there is no guarantee that any of these riders will even make it to the start line, given the dangerous nature of bike racing.  I'm not a gambler, but I'd still be willing to bet that it's going to be an exciting Tour, one way or the other!