Sunday, January 30, 2011

January Wonder: Sunny Skies and Seventy-Seven

The weather this past Saturday turned out to be even more spectacular than had been forecast. Friday night when I wrote my article predicting a festive day on the River Trail, the high temperature was predicted at 68 degrees. Likely before the post had even been viewed, I had to edit the post to reflect the new forecast of 71 degrees. Saturday's eventual high was an April-like 77 degrees and the River trail and BDB were, indeed, crowded with the smiling faces of riders of every bend, dog walkers, standers and talkers, skaters, runners, strollers and some folks simply sitting in the sun under cloudless skies.

With the temperature hitting 77 degrees Saturday, the BDB was a busy place!

I think that many serious road riders chose to avoid the crowds and take advantage of the weather by heading out beyond the city limits, but I still saw a lot of folks that I know and there were a great many casual riders enjoying the day.

I met this pack-o-girls when one of them suffered a blow-out on the BDB. I heroically assisted their escort, John, in repairing the flat and received the kind offer of an end-of-ride margarita for my hard work. I had to pass on the cocktail, but they were having a fine time and I saw them several times during the course of the afternoon.

I wasn't equipped for dirt, but Lance Garrett shared this photo of his son, Levi, on the Pfeifer Loop. Burns Park and Camp Robinson also saw a lot of mountain bikers.

I think Saturday brought out a lot of what I'll call "seasonal riders". They're serious enough and may be dropping me come June, but they simply don't care to ride much in the cold and dark that goes along with typical winter riding. The ride opportunity of Saturday's weather could not be resisted, and the result of long layoffs could be seen in pained facial expressions as pale, hairy legs tried to recall their purpose and protested their awakening from hibernation. It also appeared that the winter months had somehow managed to shrink the kit of many riders.

Sunday was also a short-pants day, but things are heading back in the direction of rain, sleet and cold temps. I'm thankful for the blessing of a couple of warm days.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Forecast: Festive Saturday On The River Trail. Be There.

With tomorrow's Little Rock weather calling for sunny and a January balmy 71 degrees, I expect a huge crowd of enthusiasts of all varieties to hit the River Trail and I plan to be among them. After considering a range of road rides, I decided to sleep as late as I want, let things warm a bit, then ride on down to the trail. I'm recovering from a bout with some small, evil bug so I went out to Camp for an easy hour this afternoon with dog Willie, but I hear that the trail was hopping with riders in the warm sunshine. With Saturday's near-tropical forecast being followed Sunday by a return to drizzly cold, Saturday will be a fine day for a ride and a grand social event. One of the great things about our riding situation is that we can ride to the trail from most parts of town and from there do virtually any kind of ride that we want to do. Along the way, you will almost always cross paths with other riders that you know. During the course of a couple of hours, I might fall into a group ride, pair up with a buddy for a while, ride solo some, do some hills, do some flats, ride fast and ride slow, head out on the road or just stick to the trail, and that's just on the road bike. If you rolled on fat tires, there are plenty of additional options for dirt. After feeling like a cave-dweller for a couple of weeks, I'm looking forward to a rejuvenating day of sunshine, socializing and casual riding. And we just happen to live in one of the better communities around to do just that.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lunchtime Quickie

Somebody always has to trump me when I get whiny. Complain about winter weather and I get this from my sister in Connecticut:

Thank goodness for roving opportunists with snow shovels looking to make a little cash.

Superior Marketing: Box Of Crap
This came compliments of my NYC brother-in-law Mark, also a snowbound victim.

Do you miss that feeling of opening gift boxes during your childhood? Always excited about what it could possibly be. Now you can relive those feelings with the ICYCLES Box Of Crap! Inside each box is at least $50 worth of merchandise. And, best of all, it's only 5 BUCKS! (While we try to keep each Box of Crap original, if you order more than one, there may be a duplication.) Please Note: Limit one Box Of Crap per order.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bike Shop Profiles: Chainwheel

It is pretty well known in the cycling community that Central Arkansas has a motherlode of great local bike shops, along with a couple of industry big boys in the form of Orbea USA and Competitive Cyclist. It is also pretty well known that almost everybody that's anybody in the bike business in town has done some time at Chainwheel. In business since 1971, Chainwheel could be called the mothership from which many other entities have been spawned. That topic has been covered in an article of its own in the local daily, so I'll be more concerned with what's happening at Chainwheel today.

You can always count on the usual offering of good service and a broad range of bikes and accessories. Speaking of service, sometimes customers are put off by having to schedule a service appointment a few days out at local shops during peak riding season. Having been in the HVAC business for many years, I know that they can't staff up for those half-a-dozen spring weekends when everybody wants to get the old bike out and take a spin on the BDB. That said, last spring, I noticed that Chainwheel was offering curbside service on peak days for minor repairs. Pull in, get a quick derailleur adjustment, top off the tires or throw on a new chain and the casual rider is off and pedaling. I thought that was a great idea to help move a good number of easy jobs through the shop and I'm sure that it was worth a few smiles from customers as they headed out to ride.

Yes, the shop is staffed by a crack team of professionals. Really. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Chainwheel offers a broad range of rider services, including bike fit using the ReTul fit system, winter spin classes, yoga for cyclists, and group rides. Staff folks are also often out among us. Chainwheel is a long-time sponsor of the CARVE club/team and supports many local events. Ernie Lechuga is the usual speed monitor on the winter CARVE rides (I've been dropped enough times that I skip the summer lake loops) when he's not on the sales floor, working as a trainer or training for his own triathlon events.
When I dropped by Chainwheel recently, Ernie Lechuga was helping customer Inez Reeder select cycling shoes and accessories. Inez has been burning calories in spin class and is getting ready to burn up the miles out on the road.

 Sarah Miller was seen throwing out the first Huffy at the recent CARPe Diem Mountain Bike Race and always seems to have something lively happening on the Chainwheel Facebook Page . In addition to being active on the riding scene, Sarah gives back in other ways, like adopting a mile of the Vista Trail. Service manager Bill got high marks on last Fall's MS150 ride by getting my buddy Sam, among others,  back on the road after a component failure. OK, I'm about to get to the tipping point where I have to say something nice about each and every one of them, so I'll suffice to say that they're a bunch of nice folks and, at some point in time, I've been pulled, helped, repaired, advised and/or entertained by just about the whole crew.
So much for the folks, how about the stuff? Chainwheel offers Cannondale, Trek, Guru, Pivot along with Grail custom bikes.
Do you have a hard-to-fit bod or just the desire to have a bike built to your own specs? Chainwheel offers Grail custom titanium bikes and Pat Barron can help you be sure of the right fit. They're built right here in the good ol' US of A and nothing rides better than ti.

You see a lot of Chainwheel kit around town, and they also handle a broad range of gear from Louis Garneau, Pearl Izumi and other top brands.

After reporting recently on the opening of Spokes, I felt that the other great shops that serve us so well deserved notice. Our household spreads the business around and we seem to have bikes from just about every shop in town. Diane's Cannondale mountain bike came from Chainwheel and, after an unfortunate wrenching incident last summer (OK, I screwed up her bike), I was delighted with the prompt service that I received. I was even more delighted that I suffered only mild ridicule for my faux pas.

Here's a kicker and a good reason to drop by Chainwheel after your Saturday morning ride:
Pick up a copy of the Arkansas Times, get a little enlightened reading, AND get an extra 10% off when you bring in the ad. It was funny enough watching Bruce flinch every time Sarah said "50% off". Whip out the 10% coupon and you may have him rolling on the floor in anguish. Who says shopping isn't fun? You can support your local independent press and save some money supporting you local bike shop as they practically give away winter gear.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Insightful Article Regarding Lance Armstrong's Situation

"Questions remain for Lance Armstrong as cycling comeback winds down"
ESPN Sports

I don't usually just drop a link and call it a post, but I found this article to be a pretty concise evaluation of the Lance Armstrong affair. As I've stated previously, I think it's a waste of resources and find it somewhat unfair to judge the actions of a decade past by today's standards, but the lawyers and members of the press have to make a living, too, and this could be a feeding frenzy due to Armstrong's stature.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Yet Another Positive Camp Robinson Update; Snowy Ride; C.A.R.P.

After having spent the week sequestered in Dallas hotels and meeting rooms, I was anxious to get outside and on the bike Saturday. The ride choices were many, but I elected to join my Bike Nerd friends for a ride at Camp Robinson and it turned out to be a good decision. I met some folks face-to-face for the first time and we had a fine ride on trails that were framed in snow, yet were in remarkably good shape.

Jarod Yarbrough, followed by his dad, David, enjoying great conditions on Airport Loop. There was no snow at my house about 3 miles away, but the woods at Camp were beautifully dusted with the white stuff.

I had expected it to be really cold on Saturday morning and was therefore appropriately overdressed for the sunny 45 degree weather. I was also surprised to find the woods decorated with a nice bit of snow, though the sun had cleared the darker trail surfaces making for near perfect riding. There has been a lot of recent activity at Camp Robinson as riders have come to realize that the trails are  open and in great  shape as the result of fairly dry weather and the hard work of a few C.A.R.P. trail builders.  I keep getting corrected when I call them "Trail Fairies", but I mean that in the most positive sense. Riders seldom see the work being done, but it's as if the fairies come in the night and magically make things all better, so you fairies shouldn't be so sensitive. Next thing you know, these guys will take offense at the light-hearted individuals among them being referred to as "gay".
Since the timber harvest was completed, there has already been a lot of progress made toward the re-establishment of trail access. Of note is the fact that Dogwood Trail is now open from the main parking area, thanks to the efforts of the National Guard forester in clearing a path through the debris from the harvest and the work of the Basil Hicks crew in raking and cleaning up. Some other important links have been made to tie the uneffected portions of Ten Bridges and Yucca Trails into a single loop, accessed from the Center Road by way of either the old Yucca or Ten Bridges trailheads. A new patch of trail has been established near the old Christmas Tree that gets riders to the Yucca trailhead and beyond to Christmas Tree. Much of Christmas Tree is trashed,  but it remains a link to Dogwood, Merlin's, Can O Corn and the rest of the lower trails. Riders are realizing that they have been overlooking this valuable jewel of a trail system and trail usage has really been on the upswing. In fact, by Saturday afternoon, 25 riders had checked in to ride at Camp, a far cry from just a few weeks ago when 2-3 sign-ins had become the norm.
This jolly band of riders enjoyed the Ten Bridges/ Yucca loop, with the scenery enhanced by a little snow cover.

In addition to the leaf clearing efforts that has resulting in miles of clean trail, there has also been some more heavy labor going on. As I cleared leaves on Ball of Nails a while back, Bryan Shipman followed behind moving a bunch or rock from sections of that trail. He later went on a personal mission to improve Elevator. Elevator is a well-placed link in the system, but it has really been nobody's favorite trail. Climbing it's rock strewn off-camber surface could be an exercise in frustration while climbing with pedal strikes on boulders often causing moments involuntary unclipped flailing, stalling and falling. Descents were slow and totally lacking and flow. Unlike a rather infamous declaration of "Mission Accomplished", Bryan's offensive proved to have lasting results. We rode down and then back up and the consensus was that Elevator is a changed trail.
Stephen Durham proves that Elevator is, if not "single-speed friendly", at least single-speed do-able!
Chris Randle and Bryan Shipman taking the Elevator up. The change at Elevator is a good example of what we can do if we take the personal responsibility to make improvements to things that we usually just complain about. Bryan invested a day of work to implement change that will be appreciated by many people for years to come.
It was all smiles at the end of Saturday's ride. We had covered some good miles and enjoyed the beautiful day among friends.

What's Next For the C.A.R.P. Trails at Camp Robinson?
As noted above, there has been a lot of work done to make the best of current conditions at Camp. The many miles of open trail are in great shape, mostly hard packed and cleared of leaves and debris with only a few muddy spots, probably the best that I've seen them for this time of year. C.A.R.P. is working with the folks at Camp to continue the rehab of trails taken out by the timber cutting and, at the same time, make some improvements to the system. A new network of signs is in the works which will clearly mark trailheads, junctions and emergency pick-up points. The emergency markers will be means for a distressed rider to get help by providing an emergency response phone number and a location designation to allow responders a means to rapidly deploy help to a specific point. These markers will generally be near a road access. My understanding is that the signs are being funded by the purchase of the Sportsman Passes by riders, so our money is going for more than just access. I was also able to sit down with C.A.R.P. president Gary Lamb, Basil Hicks and Bryan Shipman to discuss C.A.R.P.'s status and plans to the trail system. Despite rumors to the contrary, C.A.R.P. is alive and well and moving forward. The consensus was to allow the foresters to complete whatever work they are going to do to help re-establish the trails in the clear cut areas before calling for some work days to complete the task. In the meantime, new routes are being scouted and some minor links are being cleared to maximize the access to the still-open trails.
Even though a C.A.R.P. card is no longer required for access to the Camp Robinson trail system, the club remains as a communications link to Camp and allows us to speak in a unified voice. There have been some complaints about the lack of information regarding the logging activities, but that was not due to a lack of interest or effort from C.A.R.P., and there seems to be a renewed initiative by the folks at Camp to keep us informed, as it is in everyone's best interest. C.A.R.P. also remains as the primary force behind the trail building and maintenance efforts. The National Guard forester is helping do some basic restoration of trails wiped out by the timber harvest, but C.A.R.P. troops continue to provide the vital energy that keeps the system alive, as they have from the humble beginnings of making natural game trails ridable many years ago. 

You can view more photos from the Saturday ride on Facebook here:!/album.php?aid=37629&id=152255761464527

When Fuzzy Slippers Aren't An Option.....

...and the situation demands bike shoes, keeping your feet warm can be challenging. While shoe covers and some good wool socks will suffice on most Arkansas winter days, there are times when extreme measures should be called into play. I try to preempt frigid feet by first adding a layer. This is really highly technical, so pay attention....

Cut off the forefoot section of an old fleece or wool sock.....
Stretch the sock over the toe of the shoe and cut out around your cleats. Then pull on your shoe covers. There are days when even this isn't enough and I resort to chemical weapons....

These little warmers can make your feet a heat source for a couple of hours when placed inside the shoe cover on top of the shoe.
I didn't want to take the heat pack out of its package for this demo, but you get the picture on placement. I don't have room in my shoes for anything but socks, so I use hand-size warmers in this position. They make smaller warmers to go inside the shoe, but that won't work for me.
Scoff at this measure if you will, but on a sub-30 degree day,  warm feet can make you feel pretty damned spunky.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Road Rides, Trail Rides and Likely Lull

The last week has been a trying one for us compulsive riders. I managed to grab an hour on the road bike Thursday evening. It was OK, and though it was 28 degrees, almost all of the snow and ice had melted off of the trail.

By Thursday evening, only a couple of spots of the frozen stuff remained on the River Trail.

Saturday was much nicer, as when I woke up at 6, it was already almost 40, plenty warm enough to get me out the door to join the CARVE ride out east. If you have never made this ride, do not confuse it with the summertime pain fests. The pace is a social 18-20 MPH (mostly!) and the mood is congenial. It's a great ride to get a little winter mileage without suffering too much due to your winter conditioning.

This brown trout, caught a couple of weeks ago in our Heber Springs back yard, has absolutely nothing to do with this article. The only connection is that I left my pocket camera in my waist pack after fishing Saturday afternoon so I have no photos from the Saturday ride.

Back to Camp Robinson on Sunday

It was a nasty looking day, but with four days of business meetings coming up, I needed to get outside. It turned out to be a very nice ride. There were quite a few folks out enjoying the great trail conditions and there has been some progress made on reclaiming some favorite trails. The trail fairies have been at work connecting remaining portions of Ten Bridges and Yucca, so that if you head out Ten Bridges from the end of Airport, you can make a loop that brings you back to the Christmas Tree site via Yucca. If you look for the yellow ribbons, you can pick your way from there over to Christmas Tree and make your way to Dogwood, Merlins, etc., etc.  I really expected sloppy conditions, especially on Can O Corn and Dead Elvis, but the trail conditions are really good right now.

The above-mentioned meetings will leave me off the bike and probably media-deprived for a few days. I've got a lot of post material backed up, but, unfortunately. JBar Cycling doesn't contribute anything to the household accounts, so the day job still gets priority!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Accomplishments and Plans For The Future: Judge Buddy Villines

Two Rivers Bridge

I was pleased to have the opportunity to hear Judge Buddy Villines speak last weekend on the occasion of the Spokes bike shop opening. I've come to have a great deal of respect for the Judge and he didn't say anything to lessen that perception as he discussed both immediate and long term plans for bike routes in Pulaski County and beyond. Judge Villines recognizes the value of projects like the BDB and Two Rivers Bridge as investments by our generation in improved quality-of-life for generations to come. That vision, along with successful election campaigns, has given him the patience and time to see these projects through.  He also recognizes that bikes can be both practical transportation and recreational vehicles and that both uses contribute to healthier lifestyles. That's all well and good, but he is also pragmatic and has had projects at-the-ready as funding for specific types of transportation dollars have come available, giving us local taxpayers a pretty good return on our investment.
OK, enough praise of Buddy, what has he done for us lately? A lot, as it turns out.

Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines

It looks like the Two Rivers Bridge will be opening in late April or early May, still ahead of the initial June schedule, but a little behind the optimistic March date that I've heard for the last few months. There is still much concrete to be poured and the cold weather has become a factor. Villines assured the crowd that the bridge would open as soon as it is complete, though the parking, plaza and pavilion at the foot of the bridge would likely still under construction. He was very excited about the prospects for Two Rivers Park as he described descending the bridge into a canopy of overhanging trees, some natural areas allowed to "go native", tree gardens, a bike/pedestrian plaza and much more than I can recall. I can say that, when complete and mature, I think it will be a park like no other that I've ever seen. I'll try to obtain some detail for a future post. As for additional bike routes, he discussed the bike trails along Pinnacle Valley from County Farm Rd to Maumelle Park, a "spoke" system of routes to all corners of the county, possible cooperation with Faulkner County to tie the River Trail system to Conway with a bridge across Palarm Creek. Villines works closely with mayors Pat Hays and Mark Stodola and, though Little Rock always seems the weak sister of the trio, the cooperation between the three governments has yielded great results for our community. We already have a spectacular bike infrastructure that links dozens of parks, businesses, natural features and other attractions and things just keep getting better.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Syllamo's Revenge Sells Out in 7 Hours

Registration for Syllamo's Revenge mountain bike race opened at 12:01AM this morning and by 7:30AM, the field of 300 was full and registration was closed for the 50 mile race and 7 slots remained of 100 for the new 125k. It's all full now,  folks, so it's safe to moan about missing your big chance to kick some fat-tire tail, all the while, breathing a sigh of relief.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Camp Robinson News

Snow has shut down cycling in Central Arkansas for all but the hardiest few. I consider myself to be quite hardy when it comes to riding in the cold and have done some mountain biking in snow with mixed results, but I'm just going to whine this particular weather event out. Before I resigned myself to puppies and long walks at sunset, which is a romanticized paraphrasing of "walking the dogs at dark", I headed out to Camp Robinson Sunday afternoon to get a prestorm ride in and to assess the trails. I rode out Airport Loop and over to the "site formerly known as the Christmas Tree" and did a little hike-a-bike across the clearing to hit the Christmas Tree Loop. I probed Xmas Extended and soon ran into clear cut, so I turned back and rode over to Dogwood and rode it back toward the old parking lot until I hit the harvest area. Here is some good news from C.A.R.P.'s Gary Lamb on trail restoration. Dogwood is supposed to be the first trail to be restored and it should be pretty easily done with some heavy equipment or a day's work for a small crew of manly men with a chain saw and rakes.

Most of the trails still live.

This is the big cut that slashed through much of the upper trail system. It covers some ground,  but most of the trail mileage remains intact and will be reconnected to the trail head with time.

Dogwood Trail

 About 100 yards of debris is all that has to be cleaned up to reopen Dogwood Trail, marked with the yellow tape. My understanding is that the Guard forestry folks are going to clear this stretch first to open access from the regular parking lot. Once that is done and Christmas Tree is reconnected to the Center Road, things will flow much better. As for trail conditions, they were excellent on Sunday. The few muddy patches were frozen nicely and it was cold enough that my water was freezing up in the tube from my CamelBak if I didn't drink regularly, but most of what I rode had been cleared and the surface was perfect. All bets are off, now. It's likely to be sloppy for awhile if not frozen, but the upper trails should ride well. North slopes like the entry to Outer Loop and Ball o Nails may still have significant snow for a few days.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Upcoming Races: Cyclocross and the Madness of Syllamo's Revenge

 One for Fun, One For the Hard Men and Women Of The Dirt....

Ok, they're both too hard for me, but that is beside the point. From my quasijounalistic catbird seat, I can call 'em as I see 'em!

From the fine folks at Arkansas Cycling and Fitness:


When - Sunday, January 16, 2011

Where – Boyle Park; Little Rock, AR
Time – C Race 9:30 am, 30 Minutes; B Race & Women’s Race 10:00 am, 40 Minutes; A Race 11:00am, 50 Minutes; Kid’s Race 12:00pm

Course – Pavement start, finish and hill climb; lots of grass, with a grassy run-up; and wooden barrier dismounts.

Registration – $12.00; From 7:00am – 11:45am

Clinic – Beginning at 8:30am

What to Bring – Cyclocross Bike or Mountain Bike; Helmet, Shoes and Warm Clothes; The Whole Family; Cowbells/Noise Makers for the Kids!!!

Questions – Contact Trevor Edwards at 501-837-8485 or

With all of that running and barrier jumping, if I were to participate, I would prefer that the clinic be held after the event and that it be staffed my medical professionals and a massage therapist. That goes double for this:

Syllamo's Revenge Registration Opens on 1/12 @ 12:01am CST

from Steve Parker:
Registration for the 2011 Syllamo's Revenge opens on 1/12/2011 @ 12:01am CST via Last years event sold out in less than 18 hours, so don't miss out on your chance to take on one of the toughest 50 mile courses anywhere, or to be a part of the first Syllamo's Revenge 125K. The registration links can be found on the Registration tab @, There is a link to both the Syllamo's Revenge 50 Mile and the new Syllamo's Revenge 125K., so be sure to register for the right event.

The Syllamo's Revenge 50 will be pretty much as it's been the last 6 years. We'll start 30 minutes earlier so that more participants will have a chance to finish, and have awards for the winner of the Men's 60+ division and Women's Single Speed.

This year will be the first year of the Syllamo's Revenge 125K, which will be a series race in the National NUE Race Series. For more info on the series, check out the website at The race will be limited to the first 100 registrants this year, with plans to move the event to the fall in 2012, and expand the field to 350. The 125 will have rules and divisions that adhere to the rules and divisions of the series. The start time for the 125K will be 7am. The course for the 125K will be the same as the Syllamo's Revenge for the first 50 miles, but riders will repeat the Yellow and Red Loops before the ride down Blanchard Road to the finish. The route total will be approximately 75 miles, with more than 72 of that being single track.
I'm working on the getting the website updated with all the 125K info, and be sure to check out the Syllamo's Revenge Facebook page at

Take Care!


If the stock 50-mile  version of Syllamo's Revenge just feels like a warm-up, then some additional pain will be available for you this year. This event will fill up fast, so be ready at 12:01AM with your finger upon the "send" button.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Spokes Bike Shop Opens With A Bang!

The bike on the roof of Spokes says this isn't a paint store anymore, in spite of the historic sign!

Little Rock's newest bike shop held its Grand Opening on Saturday and I must say that is was quite the party for local cyclists. The weather was as good as one could hope for in January, with sunshine and highs in the 40's, which helped bring out about 20 mountain bikers to join USXC National Champion Georgia Gould for a morning romp through Allsopp Park. I don't think the local boys were able to show her anything new but everyone was pumped after the ride and she has a cadre of new fans.

Parking spaces for both cars and bikes were at a premium for the Grand Opening of Spokes.

Local Bike Nerds ( I can assure you that I am not insulting these riders!) pose with the charming Georgia Gould shortly after their educational experience of riding the Allsopp Park trails with a US Cross Country and USGP Cyclocross National Champion.

I would like to think that it was my stellar sense of humor that tickled Gould, but that big smile seemed to come easily and naturally to her.

I decided to get my ride in early on Saturday so that I wouldn't be hanging around in my sweaty bibs, so I made the 7:30 CARVE ride, then headed to Stifft Station in time to enjoy some good BBQ, Doma coffee, a bunch of nice swag (or schwag, depending on your position in that spelling discussion), and good company.

Though this was a new store opening, the event had the comfortable feel of a community event, with many local riders, curious neighborhood residents, friends and casual shoppers dropping in.
Store owners Mat and Regina Seelinger (with bike) pose with Gould, Suzanne and Tony Karklins of Orbea USA, along with family members and Spokes staff.

I'm not sure if Mat is laughing with Steve Bentley or at him, but the mood was light at the Spokes opening.

The highlight of the day for me was an appearance by Pulaski County Judge Bubby Villines. After being introduced by Orbea USA's Tony Karklins, Judge Villines spoke about the years of effort to bring us to where we are today with bike infrastructure and the plans for the future, which are ambitious and expansive. That is material for another post or two or six, but I'll just leave it at this: Central Arkansas has bike and pedestrian resources that are unmatched anywhere in many ways and will only get better.

Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines.  

Judge Villines wowed us with a citation of what has been accomplished and what is yet to come for cycling in Central Arkansas. He also reminded us that the biggest benefactors will be future generations, using a photo of his granddaughter as an illustration. He noted that Iroquois Indians had a philosophy of basing decisions on how they affect the next seven generations. That  kind of vision is rare in today's world in which politicians are concerned only with the next election cycle and corporations rarely look beyond the next quarterly report.

The Spokes Grand Opening was a very nice event in every respect and I wish Mat and Regina well with their new store. If the opening was any indication, they will do very well, indeed.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Amen, Brother Gene

In Wednesday morning's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, right there beside a letter from a gentleman who was very upset that he was missing his daily dose of misinformation due to a radio station conspiracy, was a very good letter from Gene Pfeifer.

Gene Pfeifer, in case you're unaware, has donated land (think Pfiefer Loop) to help NLR to reach the BDB with the River Trail and to add park lands. He is a long-time cycling advocate who puts his money and his drive into the things that he cares about, and, as he pointed out at a NLR City Council meeting awhile back, it's good business for him. The value of his NorthShore Business Park has definitely been enhanced by the BDB. In a years-long story, Gene has kept pressure on Little Rock to meet a commitment to complete the River Trail system, and in his letter he continues to do so in a positive manner. The Clinton Park Bridge project is finally moving and Gene's letter serves as a reminder of how far we've come and how frustratingly little remains to close the loop on the River Trail. Keep singing, Gene, and those of us in the choir need to join in.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Continuing (good) Story of Camp Robinson

As reported, the Camp Robinson trails are getting good use and are in great shape. I got the following in a note from a reliable unofficial source:

Parking: The regular CARP parking lot for TA02 is open for parking. Winter

Parking area remains open until further notice.

Closed Trails/Restricted Area: 5 mile, Dogwood (South of Merlin), Freeway,
Yucca, Christmas Tree, Christmas Tree Extension, and Ten Bridges remain

closed until further notice. Currently when parking in the regular parking

lot, riders will need to utilize Pipeline, Zig Zag, or Double Dip to access

Shipwreck and the rest of the open trails.

SAFETY: Riders should avoid leaning trees, lodged limbs in treetops, and

other debris. Riders need to remain out of the logging areas until the

affected trails are reopened.

Coming Soon: Dogwood has been marked and will be cleared and reopened

in the next few weeks.

 The other open trails offer plenty of action and the re-opening of Dogwood will do a lot to restore normal access. For now, I would still suggest using the winter parking area unless you want to ride Pipeline-Shipwreck-Merlin or Zig-Zag. The riders who have rediscovered Camp are excited about the trail conditions and there are actually positive comments about the Sportsmans Pass system and the less complicated sign-in procedure. Of course, that feedback comes from the "haves". If you're a mountain biker and you're still a "have not", head out to Camp on a Tuesday or Thursday between 10:00 and 6:00 to get your pass.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Grand Opening For Spokes: Saturday, January 8 *UPDATED*

Spokes, Little Rock's newest bike shop, opened for business on Monday, January 3, for a "soft" opening as Mat and Regina Seelinger prepare for their Grand Opening this Saturday. Since a new retailer wants to be sure that things like the cash registers work so that they can actually sell something and take money, soft openings are a good idea. The store looked much different than it did when I checked in a couple of weeks ago, with plenty of two-wheeled eye candy, shelves stocked, the coffee brewing, and the shop well-equipped, though Mat was still fretting over yet-to-be-delivered inventory.

The coffee bar off of the showroom sports a row of stools and some more relaxed seating. I made a quick stop at lunch and friends and customers were already drifting into the just-opened shop.
 Barista Regina was ready to rock. She endeared herself to me by offering me a Krispy Kreme doughnut, which, through some otherworldly temporary power, I was able to resist. The service area is behind the bar so that the coffee sipping counter birds can see how it's done.

Soft goods enjoy their own space and the store kit looks good.

Saturday Plan: Bike rides, Barbecue, and Buddy

Mat said that they have a couple of rides planned for departure from the store Saturday morning at 9:30 and returning by lunchtime, followed by free BBQ prepared by the Spokes folks, Mat and Regina come from the restaurant business, so the BBQ should be a good bet. They will be juicing the crowd with free Doma coffee to keep everybody alert, and at 2:00PM Judge Buddy Villines will speak about the Two Rivers Bridge, the development of Two Rivers Park, and connectivity to the River Trail. I don't have any details on the rides, but the phone number for the shop is (501) 664-7765.
That all sounds like a good start both in terms of good business and community involvement. Drop by and visit our new neighbors at Stifft Station.
Here are details of event from e-mailed invitation received after my original post:

Please join us for our Spokes Grand Opening celebration!
Saturday, January 8, 2011

1001 Kavanaugh Blvd

Schedule of Events:

9:30 - 11:30 Group MTB Ride led by 2010 National Cross Country Champion, 2010 USGP Cyclocross Series Champion and 2008 Olympian, Georgia Gould. The ride will be co-hosted by Matt Seelinger (owner of Spokes), Suzanne Karklins and Lonnie Kinkade (Orbea USA).

11:30 - 12:30 BBQ lunch, autograph signing and Q & A with Georgia Gould

2:00 - 3:00 "Past, present and future of the Central Arkansas bicycle path network" presented by Judge Buddy Villines. This is a must see presentation for all cyclists! Judge Buddy will tell us about:

• How the Big Dam Bridge came to be

• The status of the new Two Rivers Bridge (currently under construction)

• The planned improvements to Two Rivers Park

• The future expansion of the bicycle path network in Central Arkansas

3:15 - 4:45 Group road ride led by Gary Lamb (CARP), and Liz Cazer.

....both mountain and road rides will start at Spokes. There are only 27 parking spaces in the lot on the west side of the store so you may need to park on the surrounding neighborhood streets.
I just found out that KATV is doing a Day-Break interview with Georgia Gould at 8:45 AM prior to the ride. Spokes would love to have a crowd of cyclists in the background during the interview. If you come to be in the “crowd” scene, Spokes will have free coffee and breakfast goodies.

We're fortunate to have a number of outstanding bike shops in town and it looks like Spokes is set to join them, with its own slightly different approach. I plan to do some posts profiling some of the other local shops soon, as each of them has earned their position in the market by serving us well. It's a great time to be a cyclist in Central Arkansas.

Monday, January 3, 2011

C.A.R.P. Call-Out Brings Crew to Camp Robinson

The condition of the trails at Camp, C.A.R.P., and current access policy have been hot topics here and in discussions on a couple of boards. Last week, a major effort was made by a few hard-working volunteers to clear leaves from many of the trails and a call went out for rides both Saturday and Sunday. Though I felt compelled to indulge in my roadie ways over the weekend, I was gratified to hear that Camp was rockin', with riders showing up in numbers for both Saturday and Sunday.

This photo from Bryan Shipman shows the winter parking lot to be pretty well packed. Some riders also parked at the regular lot.

The feedback from Facebook posts and mail lists that I'm on was that the trails are in great shape. I also got the impression that many riders who had been skipping the trip to Camp remembered why they love to ride there. There are many great trails in good condition, plenty of choices in terms of difficulty (yes, even in the aftermath of logging), and you can ride about as many quality miles as your legs can stand without repeating a loop. My "favorite trail" seems to change from month to month and it's very nice to have more options than most folks can possibly ride in a day. There is still much work to be done on recovering trails in the harvested areas, but there are many miles of great riding still open and ready to go.
Thanks to Bryan Shipman for rallying the troops! I'll be more alert in the future and get the rides posted here, but you don't need a call-out to have a great day on the bike at Camp Robinson. This is a good time to run out to Camp at lunch or after work on a Tuesday or Thursday to obtain your Sportsman's Pass. When the days are longer, you'll just want to ride, so get the paperwork done now! It costs 10 bucks and just takes a few minutes. The pass is good for a year.

NOTE: Per fgadfly's comment below, please use the winter parking area, which gives access to the open trails via Airport Loop.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


1-1-11 Happy New Year!
OK, I'm a day late with an article, but Saturday was busy, starting with a reasonably early road ride on a day that never came close to the forecast sunny 50 degrees.

Steve Shepherd and Doug Pope called this New Year's Day ride out west for an 8:30 AM start. 

As I considered my options for the first ride of the new year, I developed a check-off list of possibilities, ranging from the 7:30 CARVE ride to the 11:11AM CARP mountain bike cruise to Chris Irons's 1:00PM start. The 8:30 start worked well for my wake-up time, so I headed to the Coffee Beanery on the damp, gray, cold morning, with the full expectation of sunshine and warmer temps. The ride was just about right, 35 miles of moderate hills and civilized pace with a congenial crew, but the weather was a picture of consistency, maintaining a steady 37 degrees and no hint of the promised sun. Other than the weather, the other small disappointment was the post-ride coffee at the Coffee Beanery. I'm not any kind of a foofoo coffee guy, but my expectation of a robust, strong cup of full-flavored coffee was met by a cup of what could as easily have been the Folgers at a Motel 6 breakfast buffet. The coffee did not detract from the ride experience, however, which I would describe as "just right".

Backing up a few hours to New Year's Eve......
Chris Shaw made a good pitch for SPAM, though there were still no takers.

We joined a small group of friends to celebrate the coming of 2011 at the home of Chris and Rebecca Irons. This bunch was heavy on the triathlete crowd, so I guess there was a little relief in getting off of the training diet.

My favorite was Cheetos with Easy Cheese, though I do prefer "quick-fried to a crackly crunch" over the baked version.

In a toast to the voice of reason, we celebrated the new year with the folks at Times Square, allowing our charming hostess to tip her champagne glass at a more comfortable hour for this crew of eary risers.