Monday, February 28, 2011

Give a Bike Visit to Central Arkansas

I just got word of this from Dan Lysk at Arkansas Cycling and Fitness. Folks from the Give A Bike Tour will be on hand at the ACF Little Rock location at 315 N Bowman at 7:00PM tonight, Monday, February 28. Drop on by and check it out!

The Give A Bike Tour route map.
  Give A Bike is a fund raiser....well, I'm pressed for time, so I'll let them tell you:

Christy and Adam Coppola will be biking through all 50 states in the year 2011 to raise funds to give bikes to those in need.

Help to spread health and Happiness through the gift of a Bike!

Give a Bike (Christy and Adam Coppola) is raising funds and awareness to support the mission of World Bicycle Relief as well as Achilles International.

The money raised from this event will help distribute tens of thousands of bicycles around the world bringing independence and livelihood to those who need it most.

A portion (30%) of these funds will also help to give hand-cycles to support the rehabilitation of recovering amputee US veterans through the Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans at Achilles International.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

CARVE Rises!

Last spring, I engaged in a conversation with a long-time top tier racer regarding the evolution of competitive cycling in Central Arkansas. I had just heard thet there was to be no Arkansas road race state championship and it seemed like there was little to offer the competitive cyclist in Central Arkansas. Before I stated riding, I had been aware of CARVE as a racing entity, and even when I hit the road a few years ago, CARVE had both an "elite" squad of racers and a large contingent of club riders. The was some disappointment expressed that the club seemed to have lost its way and, though there were still a few club events and Saturday rides, there was really nothing in the way of a team and it seemed that CARVE's identity was fading. Fast forward to now. I recent months, CARVE has been reconstructed and is ready to re-enter cycling society. Here is the release that I received concerning the revamped CARVE and some pretty ambitious plans for races and other events:

CARVE is back.

It’s odd to say something like that about a cycling club that’s been around for, like, 10 years. But after a couple of years of little activity, Central Arkansas Velo is back on two wheels and ready to roll.

If you ride bikes (and really, you probably wouldn’t be looking at this blog if you weren’t a rider, right?) then CARVE likely has something to offer you. From organized group rides and skill-building clinics, to racing opportunities, the revamped club is hoping to appeal to riders of all levels. From the beginner to the fastest of sprinters, CARVE has you covered.

The club’s officers and core members have been busy this winter setting new goals for the group and planning some very special events for the spring and summer.

First up is the Lake Sylvia Slobberknocker Mountain Bike Challenge on April 30. The Slobberknocker is a 66-mile gruntfest that is part of the Arkansas Mountain Bike Marathon Series and will be held in the gorgeous Ouachita Mountains west of Little Rock near Lake Sylvia. For those with a little more common sense, a 33-mile Short Course race will also be offered. CARVE members have been working hard on organizing this first-year event and it has the potential to become an annual mountain biking spectacle of pain and good times. The course consists of 95 percent fire-road and will appeal to veteran mountain bikers as well as cyclists who spend most of their time on the road.

For the roadies, CARVE is sponsoring the Ronde van Burns, the weekly Wednesday night crit series at Burns Park. Each Wednesday evening in June, racers line up for the highly competitive series. And this year, to cap off five weeks of elbow-banging, lung-searing, quad-busting throw downs, there will be a morning of criterium races on a section of Riverfront Drive in downtown North Little Rock on July 4. God bless America and bikes.

Don’t feel like racing? Just wanna ride? Cool.

CARVE has scheduled group rides on almost every day of the week. Whether hitting the trails or the tarmac, going long or just getting in a leisurely hour on the River Trail, the club has plans for rides for beginners to veteran cyclists and everyone in between.

Interested? Well, coming in late March or early April will be a membership party at the Hospitality House in Burns Park. That’s the place to meet with current members and hear about what the club has to offer. Our web site,, should be up and live just after March 1 and will have lots of information about the scheduled rides, races, and events we’ll be supporting. CARVE is also on Facebook. Search for Central Arkansas Velo, or CARVE, and hit the “like” button.

For those looking to get a jump start on joining, membership forms can be found at Chainwheel in Little Rock. Membership is $100 for two years and includes the new CARVE jersey.

Members get access to club-only clinics, group rides and discounts at Chainwheel. Members who race may also qualify for reimbursement of entry fees.

Of course, none of this is possible without great support, and CARVE is happy to have the backing of our awesome sponsors: Dr. Feelgood, Caldwell Toyota, Neurosurgery Arkansas, Donnie's Foreign Car Service, Metropolitan Realty Development, IFRAH Financial Services, Wild Birds Unlimited, Aristotle, Chainwheel, Cannondale and Trek.

It looks like 2011 is gonna be a fun-filled year for cyclists in Arkansas. It’s definitely gonna be fun for CARVE. Come ride with us.

...and that's the official word!
I know that all of you fashion-forward types are already asking the very important question of:
"So, how cool is the kit?"  Here's the preview of your 2011 summer fashion statement:

Good stuff. One very important thing that came up repeatedly in the conversations I've had about CARVE is that while Chainwheel is a key sponsor, you don't have to be a Chainwheel guy or gal to get involved. Most riders have some sense of loyalty to their favorite local bike shop and that is natural, but don't feel like you've forsaken your boys if you decide to join CARVE. Of course, if you CARVE kit up and race against your crew, that's a different matter. A better idea would be to organize your bunch and bring your team to the CARVE events and see who is still talking smack at the end of the game. I'm not a racer, but we need more opportunities for competition here and it looks like CARVE is going to help fill the void. I'd love to see CARVE, an ACF team, the guys from the Ride, and maybe even some Fast Girls or bike nerds field teams. Some team racing would add a whole new dimension to the summer crit series, state championship events, mountain bike events and any other races that come along. It's all a part of the continuing evolution of our cycling community. Check back here or at the CARVE site for the date of the upcoming membership party.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Alexi Grewal's Little Rock Connection

This article in VeloNews caught my eye:

 Alexi Grewal’s big comeback gets underway
By John Wilcockson
Published Feb 23rd 2011 7:34 PM EST — Updated Feb 24th 2011 12:02 PM EST
Grewal has kept in shape pulling his tools to jobs around Loveland, Colorado. Photo: Craig Stoner

In the five months since 1984 Olympic road champion Alexi Grewal announced he was making a comeback to racing at age 50, he has been hard at work. “There’s all the things you’ve got to do if you’re a privateer bike rider,” Grewal told VeloNews ahead of his comeback race this week. “I’ve been busy. Good busy."

Back in September, I posted an article about the 1991 Natural States Stage Race in which many of the top riders of the day made an appearance in Little Rock for a shot at some prize money. From that article, "Some of the notable names included Lance Armstrong, still an up-and -comer, Davis Phinney, Scott Moninger, Bob Mionske (the attorney and  "Road Rights" columnist of today), Bobby Julich, and Olympic gold medalist Alexi Grewal. "
If you've kept up with cycling news in recent years, you're familiar with all of these names with the possible exception of Grewal, who was a 1984 Olympic gold medalist, but who has been away from racing and living in relative obscurity for many years. Well, he's also the only one with a current racing schedule, as the Colorado wood worker is making a come back! He raced for the powerful Coors Light team when he raced in Little Rock. Now, he's racing as an independent, training by hauling around his timber framing tools behind an old Trek. Grewal has acquired a new bike, new kit, and some new teeth. At age 50, he seems pretty confident, but he's apparently had a reputation for that style. It will be interesting to see how he does when he hits the road. He's already been accepted by some big domestic races, so we'll see! He could be an inspiration for geezer cyclists everywhere.

Camp Robinson Update

Camp Robinson is open some of the key trails, including most of 5 Mile, have been cleared, according to Bryan Shipman, man in the know. From the map below, it appears that you can now use Yucca, Dogwood, and 5 Mile. The trail system  is going to be very different in some places, but most trail miles are intact and the "new normal" will set in before we know it!!

‎"5Mile is now open however, parts of the trail may not be as clear as they once were. The section from ZigZag/Shipwreck to Dogwood should be in pretty good shape. Yucca too has been cleared however, from Dogwood to where it connects with 10 Bridges is a little rough. Expect to have to ride slow and exercise caution should you chose to ride the sections that are coded orange on the map."

The information above is from the C.A.R.P. Facebook page

Things may be a bit muddy in places, but I plan to get out to Camp Robinson on Sunday to check out the progress on trail clearing and get in a few miles.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Cyclists Welcome

JBar Cycling got a little shout out from the Argenta Market last week, and it was appreciated here! The Argenta Market is one of our favorite places to shop and we especially appreciate the fact that they offer a wide range of high quality local food. In a world where the ground beef package at Kroger will likely carry a label saying "Contents may originate from one or more of the following countries: USA, Canada, Mexico". I'd rather dine on a burger made from a Lonoke County cow, thank you.
The food is good, the folks are friendly and cyclists are welcome. Pop off the River Trail on your next ride and check out the Market.

Lunch is served at the Argenta Market. Saturday breakfast is a favorite time to drop in.

Monday, February 21, 2011

More Springlike Weather, More Miles, More Trails Coming!!

The past weekend was picture-perfect for area riders, with cool mornings leading into some sunshine and temperatures in the 70's. After struggling somewhat embarrassingly on recent rides, I've been feeling the need to increase my mileage, hill work, and ride intensity, so I set out on Saturday to address two out of three, anyway. I headed out mid-morning Saturday with Diane as she rode down to Argenta for a yoga class and then met my pal Heather for an LSD ride out west of town. That's Long, Slow, Distance for you fellow refugees of the 1970's, and it's a great term for making it sound like your training plan requires a slow pace when, in fact, your fitness just sucks. It's February. It's OK to suck. Other, more elaborate, excuses come later in the spring. Anyway, we stashed our armwarmers at the top of River Mountain Road, which is usually where I decide whether I'm overdressed and whether I've got legs for the rest of the ride, and then we headed out via the Pleasant Forest designated bike route. Pleasant Forest adds another climb, but we were not early enough to beat the traffic and make the mad dash out Highway 10, and a near-miss by an early morning drunk on our last ride a few months ago made us wary.

Work is underway on new bike paths on Pinnacle Valley Road.

As mentioned here previously, Pulaski County is building bike trails along Pinnacle Valley Road between the Pinnacle Valley/County Farm intersection and Maumelle Park. This stretch of road is very narrow and gets quite a bit of traffic, so this is a welcome developement. The paths will be off of the road  and will link to the new bike lanes along County Farm Road from Two Rivers Park and along Pinnacle Valley Road most of the way to Highway 10.

When these trails are finished, they will become part of a network that will
allow cyclists to ride from anywhere on the River Trail to Pinnacle Mountain
 State Park in relative safety via the Two Rivers Bridge.

The trail system will make it much easier and more safe to get to the primo road rides west of town, but many riders may simply choose not to mix it up with cars at all. There will be plenty of options for road miles within the park and trail system, not to mention easy access for mountain bikers to Camp Robinson, Burns Park, Emerald Park, Allsopp Park, and the growing trail system at Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

The primary parking lots at Pinnacle Mountain State Park were full and the overflow area was seeing a steady stream of arrivals. This is a good water stop and it also has a Coke and snack machine in the event that you're short on calories. There aren't any handy store stops on the Barrett-Garrison Rd. loop.

There was still a thin layer of ice in many of the backwater areas of the river last weekend. It was a turtle beach party on these logs before they became alert to us and slipped into the water one by one.

Our 58 hilly miles were probably just what I needed, and Diane was slightly entertained Saturday evening when she had to put my socks on for me after leg cramps resulted in a couple of failed attempts on my part.

Wait, wait! There's more! That was just Saturday. Single-track ahead!
Sunday was also forecast to be a nice, warm day, albeit with winds of 20 to 30MPH, so I made the decision to head to the woods around midday. I'm admittedly averse to riding my mountain bike on the road, so I drove down and started near the BDB, taking a couple of passes on the Pfeifer Loop before riding up to Burns Park in search of newly built trail as reported by Clint in commenting on a recent Camp Robinson post. I cut through the quarry near the pump track and entered the single-track on the Green Trail (click for map). From there, I rode over around the hill and crossed over to the short track course near the BMX track (does it seem like we have a lot of bike stuff?). After following the red-green trail blazes from the back of the short track, came across a new trail junction, which headed off to the right. There was a fork or two, but I stayed left, or uphill, eventually popping out at the Scout Trail parking area near the freeway.
This stretch looks machine-built. I'm not sure who is doing the work, but have a lead or two. Post to comments if you have any information. We'd like to know who to thank!

I ran across this geocache stash and had to check it out before returning it to its place.

Most of the new trail was still pretty rough, but had seen some traffic to ride it in a little. I was glad to be rolling on the big wheels for this particularly raw stretch.

This was more typical. It was even windy in the woods, as is made apparent by the horizontal ribbons in the trees.

We don't have to look far to find great riding in Central Arkansas and the opportunities are growing by the mile. The new mileage in Burns Park was a surprise to me, and there are current efforts to add to the trails at Pinnacle Park, the CARP guys are ready to get back to work at Camp, and the new paved trails out west will be especially enjoyed by road riders using the Two Rivers Bridge. As I visit with folks at the local bike shops, it seems that they are feeling the growing enthusiasm as new riders join the community and buy bikes. This kind of growth feeds on itself, with great infrastructure drawing more and more riders and more users able to demand a bigger share of funding for new projects.

Let's go ride!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bonus Day

Well, I moseyed on down to the Big Dam Bridge on Sunday for a little solitude and reflection. It was a remarkably warm, sunny, weekend day after a few days of snow and cold, so I reasonably expected to have the place to myself. I was shocked and dismayed to see hundreds, if not thousands, of strollers, runners, dog walkers and....believe it or not, cyclists! I thought that that little problem had been addressed by Mr. Carlyle's relocation plan, but here they were, complete with their "ridiculous uniforms". My "uniform", of course, had been selected with impeccable taste, fit perfectly, and what Carlye referred to as "body armor", must have been my rock hard abs, so I know I was lookin' good. The rest of those people looked absolutely silly in their get-ups, living out their foolish Tour de France-style fantasies of fitness and health.

"In the name of humanity, find these clowns another site..." Carlyle
Yep, there must be better places to ride bikes than on a bike path.
Everyone seemed to be getting along quite well under the watchful eye of cyclist bad boy Jonny Meyer. He seemed a little "pro bike path", which means that he is likely a supporter of socialism,  the UN, and the New World Order. I don't know these things to be true and he's probably just a guy who likes to ride his bike, but if we repeat it enough.....

Cyclists and walkers weren't the only folks enjoying the remarkably nice day.

I haven't see so many horses since Bonanza went off the air.

OK, I'll quit being snarky. There were a lot of smiling faces out soaking up the welcome warm sunshine and, in spite of the fact that we all hear complaints about various trail users, we all get along remarkably well.

Camp Trail Closure: February 18-20 & 25 plus....burning underway

Be aware that the C.A.R.P. trails in TA2 at Camp Robinson will be closed to riders on the above dates.
I'll post as more extensive update as time allows, but currently trails are in very good shape. Access from the main parking lot requires riding either Pipeline/Shipwreck/ Merlin or Dogwood Trail.

More info...this is immediate.
The forester guys are taking advantage of the conditions to burn off the tree tops in the training area.

This should not affect the trails very much.
I am not sure if they are technically closing the TA, but they are definitely asking our cooperation and just staying out of the training area to avoid any safety or health issues.
I am sure riders will be turned away at the gate, but it is probably best that the club puts out something letting riders know that there is cleanup work going on today and that we should stay out of their way.
What this really means is, don't plan on riding camp until the 21st.



Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Trail Killers

While we rejoice in the impending opening of the Two Rivers Bridge, our brethren in NW Ark appear to be getting the shaft from their newly elected congressional delegation. I'll let Max Brantly of the Arkansaas Times take it from here:
Republicans want to kill NWA trail

Posted by Max Brantley on Tue, Feb 15, 2011 at 4:50 PM

A trail advocate in Northwest Arkansas told us earlier today that House Republican spending cuts include a $15 million grant for a 40-mile bike trail to run from Fayetteville to Lake Bella Vista. This is a trail for which the Walton family has committed a signficant matching sum. We haven't run down all the angles just yet, but I see the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith is quoting new Republican Rep. Steve Womack, former Rogers mayor, as saying he supports the bike trail but won't do anything to try to save the federal money for it. He said he's sure that if the trail is really needed, some other way will be found to pay for it.

Kiss that trail goodbye, in other words. Washington and Benton county voters aren't likely to be approving any taxes for one of those communistic bike trails any time soon. You might recall that Rep. Donna Hutchinson wrote a factually flawed diatribe against this trail back in December. Trails are just a fad, she said. Transportation money should be spent on roads for cars, she said. Trail advocate Terry Eastin responded at the time, in part:

Between 1992 and 2007 the federal Recreational Trails Program spent $800 million dollars funding 10,000 projects. Sounds like a lot? By comparison, $25 trillion was spent on federal highway construction. The money built 8,178,000 lane miles of new highway. The Recreational Trails Program investment was .00032 percent of the Federal Highway Administration’s road investment.

Gerard Matthews' cover story this week happens to mention the ascendancy of fringe political types who see a U.N. conspiracy in bike trails and other "smart growth."

This fact stands out to me. 3.2 ten-thousandths of a percent of the road investment. Yep, that's taking a big chunk out of that deficit, boys. What else ya' got?
" The Recreational Trails Program investment was .00032 percent of the Federal Highway Administration’s road investment."

Unfortunately, this kind of thinking will likely hinder future projects in support of bike infrastructure. It's short-sighted, as unlike expensive highways, a little pork can build a lot of trail miles

Si, Si, Alberto: Contador Is Free To Race. Should He Be?

By now, most of you know that the doping charges against Alberto Contator were dismissed today by the Spanish Cycling Federation, clearing him to race, well, tomorrow, in the Volta ao Argarve. Despite the rumblings in the cycling media, this is a startling turn-around by the same agency that "suggested" a one-year ban for Contador's clenbuteral positive. I guess that Alberto didn't like the suggestion and just declined.
I have mixed emotions about the whole affair. I'll outline my conflicts and I'm interested in where others fall on this.
Antidoping enforcement in cycling has a long-established precedent of punishing athletes found to have banned substances in their bodies, no matter the level, the benefit, or the rider's intent. Athletes have received reduced penalties when they proved that the doping positive was due to food or supplement contamination, but ignorance/innocence was irrelevant to the case of their ultimate responsibility of the presence of the banned substance.
Then comes Alberto Contador, three time Tour champion, etc., etc., not the warmest character in the pack, but widely seen as a clean rider representing a new generation of champions. That reputation was pretty much intact in spite of his presence on the tainted Liberty Seguras team, his long association with Manilo Saiz, then the Astana-Wurth team that withdrew from the Tour because most of their riders were implicated in the Puerto doping scandal. Contador was cleared, but he has been in a culture of doping for most of his career and has become the top rider in the world, yet most cycling fans were shocked when he tested positive. Then we were confused. We were confused by the tiny amount of a drug that none of us had heard of, but that has real performance-enhancing capability. The fact that the positive test was preceded by negative tests seem to prove that at no time in the recent past did Contador take a beneficial level of the drug, so the only rational explanations that I've heard are:

1- Food contamination: highly unlikely, but possible. And how bad would it suck to be absolutely clean and be stripped of a Tour de France win, banned from the sport of which you are the current and reigning king? It would be a huge injustice, just as it has been for others who have endured bans for unknowingly ingesting a banned substance.
2- Rest day blood transfusion: In light of the state of the sport, much more likely than the lightening strike odds of the steak comtaminaton, but not provable. In spite of the talk of evidence of plasticizers as used in blood bags, there is no definitive means of tying all of that into any kind of a charge on its own. Though it would be interesting to see his pre- and post-rest day blood values evaluated, I'm sure that with the biological passport business, all of his numbers were in line or we would have heard about it.

So, in a culture where virtually every rider at the top of the sport has either been busted or implicated in doping, and I think that includes every Tour podium finisher except Andy Schleck back as far as Induran, do you punish Contador because he had an amount of clenbuterol so small that it was a tiny fraction of what labs must be able to detect and too small an amount to have been administered? Do you punish him because we suspect he might have transfused blood with the residue of previous  use of the drug?
Do we buy the steak story? Even after many of us tried to believe Floyd Landis?
Do we just have to shrug and admit that a cheater may be getting off, but, in fairness, we can't punish him based on what is just the most likely of possibilities?

The UCI and WADA will likely appeal and Contador may serve a ban, yet. The Spanish federation did not want to touch this case to begin with, and this may simply be the means of getting it out of their court, as Contador is very much a hero in Spain. There will be much more to come.

What do you think would have been the right thing to do? I honestly don't have an answer.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Out Of The Cave: Sunshine, Blue Skies, Argenta Market and the River Trail

After an Arctic cold wave and a huge snow dump brought must of Arkansas to a sliding halt, Saturday broke clear and warm. No matter how much fun was had in the snow, the change in the weather was greeted in a celebratory manner by those of us who take our recreation in the outdoors. The set-up was perfect for sleeping in and enjoying a little breakfast while watching the mercury rise in preparation for a ride.
Even as temperatures rose past 50, the BDB still had enough snow and ice cover to require this road bike rider to dismount and walk when I passed over around 11:00AM.
The Little Rock ramp stays in shadow most of the day and the snow was still plenty deep.

Diane and I rode from the house together with her heading to an Argenta area yoga session while I headed out to scout conditions on the trail. It was mostly dry, but anywhere that stayed in shadow most of the day still had ice and snow cover, though the rising temperatures and bright sun were soon having their way with even the most stubborn ice holes. After a loop through downtown, I headed to the Argenta Market for a snack and to meet up with Diane for a bride ride*.

Jody Hardin of Argenta Market handed out a few samples of  these chocolate covered strawberries.

Mmmmmmm... Just the thing to chase my store-made pig-in-a-blanket and doughnut from Community Bakery.

The Argenta Market always has a good vibe, especially on Saturday when folks have time relax. There is always plenty of easy conversation among diners, shoppers, and store staff.

Diane in full urban errand configuration.

What a difference a couple of hours of sunshine can make!

If you're a birder, you can likely add Trumpeter Swans to your list. These guys were spotted along River Front Park in downtown NLR. The swan population at Magness Lake near Heber Springs gets a lot of publicity, but they're not the only show around.

If you're reading this on Sunday morning, it is time to back away from the computer, air up your tires and hit the road! Head out to the River Trail or your local road or single-track. You need the vitamin D.

*Bride ride: a ride with one's spouse on which leisurely speeds are anticipated and not whined about.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Letter Writers

Last week, our friend Dan Lysk at Arkansas Cycling and Fitness posted a letter on Facebook that had been sent to both the Arkansas Times and the Dem-Gaz by Mr. William Carlyle. Mr. Carlyle came across as an all-too-typical selfish crank as he complained about cyclists riding on the BDB disrupting his "quiet, meditative walk across and around the Big Dam Bridge" and, by the way, looking silly in spandex while racing about at the breakneck speed of 15MPH.

Mr. Carlyle's selfish, mean-spirited little poke.

 Of course, most of us think we look pretty good in our kit, in addition to the fact that, like most specialized sportswear, it is the most practical attire for the endeavour. I had seen Mr. Carlyle's letter and resisted the impulse to fire off a smart-alecky letter of my own, assuming that it would bring out any number of nutjobs who can't comprehend that riding a bicycle, especially on a bike/pedestrian trail, is a legal and reasonable thing to do. I would have had to point out to Carlyle that NLR has many miles of perfectly serviceable sidewalks on which bike riding is forbidden and that heading to the BDB, arguably the most densely populated spot in the state for walkers and riders, for solitude was a bit of folly in and of itself. I rank him right up there with the letter writers who have been complaining about the diminished signal strength of KARN with their allusions to and illusions of vast left-wing conspiracies depriving listeners of the wisdom of Rush and Glenn. Heaven forbid that they have to deal with some facts uncolored by Rush's drug-addled rants or Beck's self-professed mission-from-God white board lectures, but, wait a minute, I'm ranting off-topic now. Back to the subject.
I was delighted to see Leslie Singer's letter in the Dem-Gaz last week.

From the "Voices In My Head" page.

It was appropriate that this letter appeared above a letter in which a writer blamed high gas prices on the fact that we haven't drilled for oil ANWR or all the coastal areas of the US. Not a word about trying to conserve what we've got, but there I go again.
In a conciliatory gesture to those possibly offended by my views, it was my intent to provide instructions for the construction of tin foil helmets to the tortured souls who, as I had, had long been convinced of the efficacy of foil hats in blocking the dreaded "voices". My plan was foiled by the scientific finding that such head gear may actually intensify certain frequencies.

This tin foil fez may be stylish, but it fails the radiation deflection test.

Like riders and walkers on the BDB, the vast majority of us get along just fine, and there will always be a few who just can't seem to grasp the concepts of sharing and consideration for others. Some are simply mean-spirited, but many hold views that are ridiculous to the point of being entertaining. And that's why I read the Voices (In My Head) page.

Addendum: Sunday, 7:10AM
Here is a link to a very thoughtful and much less snarky comment on Mr. Carlye's letter:

My thanks to Lynn Warren for posting this link to my Facebook page. The Arkansas Outside blog is worth checking out. It often includes some very good mountain biking information and articles.

Friday, February 11, 2011

BDB Thursday Afternoon

I threw my mountain bike in the truck Thursday afternoon and headed to the Big Dam Bridge. I hadn't been out on the road after the big snow and was getting a little stir crazy. On arrival, I decided to leave the bike in the truck because I didn't have a lot of time and I could see right away that I was going to get soaked where the snow was melting and probably bust my ass where it wasn't. I opted to take a little walk and get a few photos.

This is the north ramp. The four-wheelers obviously couldn't resist the temptation.

There were a few walkers out and about and I saw a couple of the bike nerd crew on mtbs as I arrived. Good sense is not a requisite to be a BN boy. 

The gulls have been busy below the dam with large numbers observed in flight and rafted up on the river. I've speculated that a shad kill has been underway, providing the birds with the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat fish buffet.

The shadows and the cage over the navigation gates and lock makes for some interesting geometry.

Sunny skies had melted a lot of the snow off of dark surfaces in spite of the cold temperatures but the snow cover still marked the landscape. This view is beautiful no matter the conditions.

Not a whole lot of story here, but I hope you enjoyed the photos.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Just In Time For Valentine's Day

If your house is anything like ours, there is fairly regular bike traffic in and out of the house. The JBar Bunker serves not only as my office and command center but is also Service Central for our fleet of bikes. Road bikes and Diane's commuter are stationed in the dining room, a couple wall-hanger back-ups are in the bunker, and the mountain bikes are usually relegated to the garage, but they all roll through the living room and kitchen from time to time. This can be a source of friction when the bikes are dirty, but a solution is close at hand:  The little heart tread tire!

How can your significant other be mad at you when your muddy tracks shout out, "I love you!"?

The relationship potential for this tire is limited only by your imagination and the patience and gullibility of your mate. I can envision scenes like this:

 "Don't forget that we're supposed to eat Sunday lunch at my mother's with my stepbrother's ex-wife and her kids. They're only out of juvenile hall for the weekend and Momma wants to see her grandkids before they're old enough to do hard time."

"Oh, heck! Was that today? I made a promise to myself that I was going to go out into the wilderness and proclaim my love to you over mile after mile of pristine single-track. Honey, I just can't let you down. Tell the kids that I said hello."

The tires may not get much more traction than that line of bullshit, but it's better than some excuses I've heard/used and it's worth a shot.

Love, JBar

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Competitive Cyclist News: Litespeed Is Back

Today, I got the official announcement that Competitive Cyclist is once again a dealer for Litespeed. I have a bit of an attachment to Competitive Cyclist and to the Litespeed brand, so I was glad to see the reunion. Though, as noted here on several occasions, we of the JBar household spread our bike business around, it was at Bikeseller/ Competitive Cyclist that Diane and I bought our first serious road bikes. Craig and Elaine Zediker were longtime friends, so it was natural that we go there when it came time to buy bikes. The fact that we had been invited to several store Christmas parties where we were plied with food and drink didn't hurt their chances, either. We counted on Craig and the guys not only to sell us bikes, but for service and advice when we were feeling our way into the cycling community. When, after a year on my very capable Cannondale, I decided to step up to a better (read: "more expensive") bike, I was attracted to Litespeed due to their reputation of impeccable ride quality and for the many attributes of titanium as a frame material. Ti is light, it's remarkably strong, it does not corrode like steel, it's not subject to notch failure like carbon or metal fatigue like aluminum. And I found that Litespeed riders are kind of like Subaru owners. They love what they're driving and tend to hang on to them, though unlike the titanium Litespeed, even a Subaru eventually wears out. I got out the checkbook, let Craig have his way with me, and loaded up my spec with a full DuraAce gruppo, some nice Mavic wheels and a solid bunch of bits and pieces. I couldn't believe that I was spending that kind of money on a bike, but I've never regretted a penny of what I spent. I've replaced worn parts, but there's really not much room to upgrade when you buy the good stuff.
My Litespeed Ghisallo is still just as fresh for me as it was some 35,000 miles ago.
A quick wipe with a little WD-40 on a rag and it looks like new.

That was history.....
Things changed as Competitve Cyclist outgrew the Bikeseller moniker along with the local bike shop business model, the front doors were closed and CC enjoyed rapid growth as an international purveyor of high end bikes and gear. I still considered Competitive Cyclist to be my LBS, but their business model didn't work for some of their bike lines. They eventually gave up Litespeed, along Cannondale and Trek, in order to pursue their now-proven business model. All of that is to say, I'm glad to see Litespeed back at Competitive Cyclist. Like CC, Litespeed has adapted to the times. Though the company was sold a few years ago, they still hand make titanium bikes in Tennessee, but consumers want the carbon, so Litespeed is delivering.

It apears that Litespeed does carbon with swoopy elegant lines
 and big aero tubes as well as anybody.

I haven't seen the carbon lineup "in person", but they appear to have a good range of premium bikes. Whatever philosophical hurdles they had to get over to reestablish their Competitive cyclist connection, I'm glad things have circled back around. Perhaps it's just sentimental, but I'm glad to see them back and I'm looking forward to seeing some new Litespeeds around town.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Get Me Out Of This House!

After a full week off of the bike, it was just about imperative that I get in a ride Saturday. As I planned my ride, it made sense to head out to Camp on the mountain bike rather than risk an icy encounter with the tiny contact patch of a road tire.The riding at Camp Robinson in the snow can take on any of several personalities, ranging from just plain fun all the way to what-the-hell-was-I-thinking!? The conditions Saturday started out as just plain fun and deteriorated to perhaps a "what the heck" level.

I got to the winter parking area shortly after noon and rolled out Airport Loop to Yucca/Bridges. Trail conditions were good, with the trail mostly clear where the sun had warmed the hardpack and the snow in good shape in the shade.
Up on the flats, even the fresh trails were very ridable.

I should have known that trouble was bound to start when I followed E and Kashari down to Ball of Nails.

I knew that there were a few riders around, but I had been riding for awhile before I caught up with Eric Grimmet and Kashari. I had ridden Airport and the Yucca/Bridges loop and we hooked up on Outer Loop, then made the decision to head downhill to Ball of Nails and over to Love Trail. And I struggled. Between my rear tire spinning out at every uphill and slushy ice caking to my cleats with every step, the ride back up to Buddha was frustrating for me; however, it probably did take my mind off of the fact that I was mud caked and soaked.
It was bad enough that I kept having to put a foot down, but when I did put a foot down, it came up like this, making clipping in difficult. It was less of a problem earlier in the day when it was colder.
My rig and kit got a little muddy. I had to shed my outer layer before I got in the truck. When I got home, I hosed the whole mess down in the driveway and carried the slimy clothes to the washer in a bucket.

In spite of the wet conditions, the trail surface was in good shape with only a few soft spots. That said, the continuing rain, snow and freeze-thaw cycles will make for sloppy riding in the weeks to come and I'm considering a knobbier rear tire! The winter parking area is still a good option. If you park at the old lot, you have to ride Pipeline/Shipwreck or Dogwood to reach the other open trails.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Be Alert To Cars Crossing Trail

Multiuse Trail

Slow Times

"Higher temperatures cause more activity and mobility of molecules. Lower temperatures cause molecular activity to slow down. It appears that all activity stops at absolute zero except for uncontrollable energies."

Well, that explains it!!

Last Saturday's 77 degree high certainly stimulated molecular activity among area riders, but it was immediately followed by plunging temperatures and frozen precipitation. Our local cycling community has not reached absolute zero, but we appear to be damn close. There is very little cycling going on and much of the activity on local boards, Facebook, and mail lists seems to concern the degree to which trainers suck (high), the current temperature (low), and the possibilities of a ride (moderately to very low). The other thing that has slowed way down is my writing motivation, a condition for which I can only apologize. While I know that having a bunch of readers desperate for entertainment represents an opportunity, inertia has taken its toll. My writing has come to rest and it seems to want to maintain that state, though I have been attempting to nudge it back into motion. I have several projects on the back burner, but each requires research and factual writing; this at a time when my real job is also demanding extraordinary attention. The lack of riding time should theoretically allow more time for projects; however, the reality is that work has left me worn out and the lack of physical activity has left me in a sedentary state. Bummer, but I'll get over it.

Dog-gone tired of this crap...

There have been several items of interest in the local news, one of which is the proclamation by Judge Buddy Villines that dogs will be banned from all local bike and pedestrian bridges, including the BDB, Junction Bridge, and Two Rivers Bridge if dog owners don't start picking up after their pets. This has been reported in local media ranging from Fox 16 news to Otis the Head Cat, so most of you have already heard the word. Being a dog guy, I regret that responsible pet owners will be inconvenienced due to the actions of miscreants, but that's the way things work. I suggest that offenders be called out if spotted walking away from a fresh deposit, though I recommend only a gentle advisory chiding. Some rude folks can also be defensive and confrontational, though most are just embarrassed by getting caught in the act.

Speaking of embarrassed...

How about the NLR police officer whose cruiser was stolen by a suspect Friday night? It is reported here on Forbidden Hillcrest , and the recording of the radio traffic is worth a listen. Favorite moments include the suspect asking pursuing officers over the police radio "are ya'll real cops ..." , and, when the officer whose car was stolen asks his supervisor if he should take pictures at the original crime scene, the supervisor responds, "I think you may want to come get your car....".
Thanks to the link from the Arkansas Times blog, I thought that I'd gained an insight into all of Hillcrest's dirty little secrets, but the tantalizingly named blog seems to have shut down a few weeks ago; that is, until the stolen cop car story brought it to life. Leave it to NLR to liven up things for the swells residing in  Hillcrest.

Totally unrelated item of interest....

Welcome to Portland*! This Hopworks custom mobile pub has all sorts of possibilities to enhance the local scene. Combine this unit with Bill's Coneys and we may never need to leave the confines of the River Trail. Regulatory issues aside, I think a unit like this would be a fine addition to traffic along the trail.

Hang in there folks! Though there is no light at the end of this 7-Day Forecast, we all know that spring will be upon us in a few weeks. In the meantime, ride the trainer if you must, but please don't brag about your 2-hour sessions. It makes me anxious about my own fitness and gives me cause for concern about your mental well-being.

*I initially gave credit for this touch of genious to Seattle. The sun should have been a give away.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Chinese New Year: Who'd Have Thunk It?

Diane came in this evening and announced that she was going to vacuum the house. This after she came home last night and cleaned the kitchen. Neither of us are really good housekeepers, but these frenzies occur every now and then. They usually spin up like a dust devil the day before the semi-weekly housekeeper comes or when the drifts of dog hair become visible, but I found out that this was a special occasion. We're preparing for Chinese New Year. Diane read that prior to Chinese New Year one should sweep out the old and tidy up the entire house in order to prepare for a clean and healthy new year. Then on the first day of the new year, relax and don't do any housework at all to avoid sweeping out your good luck. I think I'll let her finish up and then volunteer to take care of the first day business.