Thursday, April 28, 2011

Trail Conditions: Wow! Detours Ahead.

Most local riders know by now that the Arkansas River is raging from recent heavy rains and that much of the River Trail is impassable or inaccessible. I probed around Burns park on my mountain bike Wednesday night. The "high ground" trails at Burns were in very good shape and the flat stuff is sloppy. I met Mike Collier for a road ride from the sub on Thursday. The river was as high as I had ever seen it on Wednesday, but we found it to be even higher on Thursday. I haven't made it to the BDB, but the word is that the gates are full open. We figured that we could at least ride from the sub to Burns Park without issue, but trouble started early. Here are a few photos from Thursday:

When we got to this stretch near the quarry, Mike plowed on through, so I followed, completely soaking my shoes very early in the ride. These riders, Lisa and Alyssa (or so they told us!), followed shortly. Alyssa had a better plan than I did, as she did a one-legged ratchet pedal stroke to keep her feet out of the water.
We hit dead end after dead end. The soccer fields were almost all submerged, as were the roads and the trail.

Not everybody is upset about flooding in the park. These bow fishermen landed a big carp as we watched. I can only assume that they drove in on the River Trail from Cook's Landing. The Burns Park gates were all locked. 
We finished our tour by riding from Burns Park back to the sub via Levy and Main Street. A little more traffic but a lot less water! We'll be dealing with this for awhile, so stay on top of conditions as you plan your rides.

Shop Profile: Arkansas Cycling and Fitness

We're fortunate enough to have some really great bike shops in the Central Arkansas and this is a continuation of a series of articles featuring some of our local wheel merchants. This time around, I visited the two locations of Arkansas Cycling and Fitness.

As noted in a recent article, the Arkansas Cycling and Fitness jersey and kit are among most frequently seen around Central Arkansas. USA Cycling rules prohibit racing in sleeveless jerseys, but they meet customer demand for hot Arkansas summer rides.

Big Wheels Rollin'
When you see a bunch of 29ers out on the local single-track, the chances are pretty good that most of them came from Arkansas Cycling and Fitness. When I think of 29ers, I think of ACF owner Richard Machycek, who promotes the attributes of 29 inch wheels with almost religious ferver and who backs up their theoretical advantage with championship performances on the mountain bike race circuit.
 Here's how my relationship with 29ers and ACF started:
Diane decided that we needed mountain bikes and, though I was only marginally interested, I agreed and started looking around. I dropped by a bike demo at Burns Park while out on my road bike and took a test ride on the mountain bike that I had selected after much analysis. I was sent up to the Burns Park trails, which were wet and leaf-covered at the time, where I was immediately in over my head as far as my mountain biking ability was concerned. As I was leaving, I happened to run into Richard who offered the sage wisdom, "If you're gonna spend more than a thousand dollars on a mountain bike, you'd be a fool not to buy a 29er". I investigated, got convinced, and was soon writing a check for a Gary Fisher Sugar 292, and I still call it a good decision. It wasn't a total loss for the folks who had held the bike demo, as Diane bought the bike I'd tested.

Richard Machycek threw on an ACF jersey to show off the Team Cup of the Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series, which the ACF team won in 2010. Richard was quick to give credit to Dan Lysk, Sherwood store manager, for getting the team organized for the series. Andy "no relation" Barton is on hand helping a customer.

ACF has two locations, with the large Little Rock store being located at 315 N Bowman Road and the Sherwood store located at 3010 E Kiehl Ave. Being a North Little Rock guy, I'm in the Sherwood store more than the Little Rock store. I guess that is why I'm always impressed with the size of the store and with the huge inventory on Bowman. ACF represents Trek, Trek/Gary Fisher, Giant, Titus and Specialized, so no matter what type, size, shape, and price range bike you are looking for, you are likely to find several that meet your needs from which to choose. They have everything from kids' bikes to the Specialized race machine of Tour winner Alberto Contador or, if you're old school, the Trek Madone of Lance Armstrong fame. And you'll find a similar range of product and price in cruisers, road and mountain bikes.

I would have needed a much wider angle lens to capture all of the bike inventory in ACF, but you get the idea.

Either Richard has tiny little hands or this Giant 29er has a HUGE downtube. And you know what they say about guys with little hands....

In addition to a wide selection of bikes, ACF offers bike fit and prompt full service in both stores. Another thing that has impressed me is the great selection of shoes, gloves and other accessories, especially in the Specialized line. I have hard time getting a good fit with some key items like shoes and gloves and find that Specialized does a very good job of making things that fit a wide variety of people. Their Body Geometry spiel is not just a gimmick!

The Sherwood Store: Small But Feisty

The Kiehl Avenue store doesn't have the scale of the Little Rock store (though it is slated for expansion!), but the selection is remarkably complete and the location is very convenient to customers in the Jacksonville, Cabot and points north, in addition to the Sherwood and NLR crowd. Store manager Dan Lysk is very active in the cycling community, regularly leading Tuesday night group road rides and organizing store sponsored events, along with significant other Addie Teo. Dan's efforts show up in things ranging from the improved website and an ACF iPhone app to the successful run of the mountain bike team in 2010, and a the popular ACF group ride. The Arkansas Cycling and Fitness race teams are well represented at most local events and the kit is frequently on the podium, particularly at mountain bike races. Folks like to see the people they do bike business with out on the bike, so it's good business to be that involved in the cycling community.
Dan Lysk helping a customer select accessories after a bike fit.

Though the Sherwood store is smaller than the Bowman location, there is till a lot of selection.

I've bought a couple of bikes(and a whole lot of other stuff, of course!) from Arkansas Cycling and Fitness and feel like we got very good value and excellent service from folks who appreciated our business. You can't ask for a whole lot more from your local bike shop!

SPECIALIZED DEMO DAY!!!!
Tuesday, May 3rd, at the Burns Park boat ramp. Here's the word!

Mark your calendar, Specialized Demo fleets will be in town next Tuesday (May 3rd) from 3-7pm! We will be parked in the Burns Park boat launch parking lot. Come see us and test ride the bike(s) of your dream! Please bring your helmet, shoes and ID.

Specialized has some sweet rigs! Both road and mountain bikes will be available.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bell and Company: Who Are These Guys?

I'll confess to having had this post on the back burner since mid-winter. Glad to finally hit "publish"!

The Bell and Company name has been popping up with regularity on the Central Arkansas mountain biking scene, both on the Bell and Co. Mountain Bike Team jerseys and in sponsorship as was the case at CARPe Diem.

Clayton Bell handing out the iron to podium finishers at last fall's CARPe Diem

I started asking around and the answers ranged from, "I don't know, but they're cool" to "a firm of Certified Public Accountants". Now, I don't want to spew generalities and I'll confess to having been an accounting major during my short and undistinguished time as a student at the U of A in Fayetteville, but "cool" and "CPA firm" just rarely appear in the same thought bubble. I had to look a little deeper, so I contacted Richard Bell. What I found was a family of interesting and accomplished folks who seem to be enjoying their success and at the same time giving a great deal back to a far-flung community.

Here is how they describe themselves in this statement from Richard Bell's blog for the trucking industry:

Bell and Company


North Little Rock, Arkansas, United States




Bell and Company, PA was founded in 1982 by Richard Bell. We are a full service CPA firm. Our clients know they can count on team Bell & Company to provide them with the most proactive, relevant advice that can increase the gross profit of their companies while helping them manage their tax liabilities.


Well, that sounds appropriately dry, but when you look a little deeper, you see that Richard Bell is a CPA, an attorney, and a mountain biker. His son Clayton is the Bell and Company Mountain Bike Team captain, though when I started this article way too long ago, Clayton was volunteering at the Cloud Forest Medical Clinic in Haiti. Here are a few more of Clayton's credentials from LinkedIn:

•Physician and Clinic Administrator at Humanity First USA

•Founder and President at "Where the Stars Still Shine"

•Founder, Captain and Racer at Bell and Co Mountain Bike Racing



OK, these are pretty accomplished folks and from what I can see it stands to reason that they were selected for a Governor's Award for "Life - Work Balance"

Below is a little e-mail Q&A between Richard Bell and me, in which Richard graciously answered questions poked at him by a blogging stranger:
JB: How did you come to sponsor a mountain bike team?

Bell: Clayton Bell started the bike team while in school at the U of A. The sponsorship grew out of his love and passion for mountain biking.


JB: How did the relationship come about for the CARPe Diem event?

Bell: The Carpe event idea came from Clayton. Clayton wanted to do a special mountain bike event to showcase Camp Robinson and the mountain bike community , and encourage our team members to participate in working the event, as community service. Our firm provides considerable community service work and charitable donations. For instance we were able to provide $2000 checks to the Salvation Army and Where the Stars Still Shine, with proceeds from the Carpe Race last year.

JB:What would you say to other businesses who may be interested in getting involved in cycling?


Bell: Health and physical well being are important in the work place. Bell and Co was selected for The Spotlight award last year at the Governor’s awards for Family Friendly Work Places, for our work in sponsoring staff with bike , helmet, clothes etc. We also pay for our employees to participate in a boot camp work out at the local gym.


Bell and Co promotes healthy life styles and our philosophy is that it allows for better professional services to our clients.

JB: Have any of your clients or potential client mentioned your cycling sponsorships to you? Are any of your clients cyclists?


Bell: When you walk into our upper board room, we have all the Bell and Co Trophies, pictures, Rocks, etc, It is a definite topic of conversation. We also use the mountain biking in our ATA ads as well.


JB: Other than the very positive impact on the community as a whole, do you see your involvement in sponsorship as good for your business?

Bell: Sponsorship of the mountain biking team, and participation in the mountain bike races, speaks to our ability to overcome financial mountains and peaks and valleys for our clients. Mountain biking is a mental measure of who you are, and it spills over to servicing clients as well.

Bisiklet for Haiti

Bisiklet for Haiti is a ride on which  Jeff Crawford, Clayton Bell and Kyle Martin embarked on April 4 to ride from Los Angeles to Charleston, S.C. on a mission to raise $30,000.00 for providing health care in Haiti. Follow the link above for details of the ride and the cause. It is a magnificent effort.
This ride is the impetus for me finally completing this article, as the boys will be passing through their home state this weekend and could use some support! This from Gary Lamb of CARP:
Clayton and his crew will be reaching Arkansas, in the next few days and Richard (Clayton's dad) has contacted me to ask "Would CARP be interested in buddy riding with Clayton across parts of Arkansas, with a stop at UCA on April 29th , and then the Art Gallery showing at Argenta on the 30th , followed by a night ride on the 30th to May 1st to Memphis, to the Redbirds baseball stadium, that Sunday afternoon?" This is a great idea, and it would be a privilege to get to ride with these guys while they pass through.If you are interested in joining any portion, for any length of the journey, let me know.A copy of their itinerary can be found at
www.bisiklethaiti.com/?page_id=124

 We are talking about this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, so let me know ASAP, and I'll get you the necessary information.Let's support these guys as they pass through their home state!
5510038gary@carpclub.com

Gary Lamb


I think Diane might still spank me if I set out on a night road ride before I'm fully recovered from my last adventure, but I may have to show support for this worthy cause with my check book.











Sunday, April 24, 2011

Along The Trail

There  always seems to be a new work-in-progress or two along the trail. I noticed Saturday evening that site work had commenced for the apartment development planned for the area west of the Vestal smokestack along River Road in North Little Rock.
Heavy machinery has been hard at work at this site along River Road. The Pike Ave. traffic circle is intended to help manage the flow of traffic from the apartments planned for the location.

This 3 acres of now city-owned property will be the location of the planned Diamond Bear brewery and restaurant. Argenta continues to attract unique and appropriate developments such as this.

The BDB and the River Trail system create the setting for remarkably diverse experiences, ranging from running to road and mountain biking to fishing to just plain looking at the scenery. That assessment doesn't even touch on the more urbane aspects of the area such as the River Market District, Heifer Project, Argenta and the Clinton Library. With all of these attractions, I'm often surprised to encounter local residents who have never been to the BDB and are totally unaware of Two Rivers Park, the Two Rivers Bridge project, etc., etc. I'm shocked to find that many people are not even aware that NLR has a submarine! Shocked! I contend that if many of these same people travelled to a city like Portland or Boston or anywhere else as tourists, these same attractions would be on their "must see" list. Make it a point to introduce a friend or two to the River Trail!

Few cities can offer views like this for pedestrians.

A ride on the Arkansas Queen gives folks a sedentary way to see the river corridor.


Added bonus!!

While many communities offer Easter egg hunts, the Burns Park mountain bike trails offer the added bonus of unexploded ordnance! Very few urban parks can offer this unique opportunity.


Dog Waste Update

A cleaner bridge!

There has been a noticeable decline in the amount of dog poo left on the BDB. I attribute the decline to publicity of the problem, the placement of convenient bag dispensers on the bridge, and the efforts of Nancy Elliott, whose one-woman campaign to prevent a dog ban has gathered 500 signatures. I think that her presence and her efforts to inform the public of the possible ban have done much to raise awareness. I was glad to see her featured on Today's THV, Ch 11, this morning.





Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Post-ettes

Well, there's been plenty going on, but I just haven't seemed to have the umphhh! to do much writing. The real job has been demanding and sitting back down at the keyboard has had little appeal, but here goes...

Burns Park
Our friend Sean Clancy had a byline on very nice front-of-section article in the Democrat-Gazette this week, featuring the ongoing trail work at Burns Park. He included some interesting historical information about the park and got a very good perspective on the trail system from volunteer and master trail man Bert Turner.

Camp Robinson

I rode a couple of days after the controlled burn at Camp last week. Willie dog went along to run as it was a very cool, windy day for the season. If I'd been aware of the conditions, I likely would have left Willie at home and ridden at Burns Park. All of the area around  Yucca/Bridges, Port-o-potty, etc, were scorched and stinky, with many still-smoldering logs were adding smoke to the already acrid air.
Willie loves to run the trails. The underbrush is cleared but the forest floor is scorched. Willie's feet took a few washings to get them back near white.

Smokey the Bear would not have approved. The area got an inch or two of rain after the fires, but it's still only a little surprising that it was still burning in a few spots.

Things were much more pleasant and green over on Airport Loop. Willie cooled his feet and enjoyed a good drink.

I think I'll wait another week or two before I go back to Camp. Though the trails were in great shape and this week's storms have almost certainly knocked down the smoldering fires and the fire pit aroma. I'm still taking it very easy on the mountain bike, so I didn't ride Buddha, Merlin or any of the other backside trails so I don't know how widespread the burn was. It should green up nicely in a few weeks.

Diamond Bear Coming to Dogtown

Diamond Bear Brewery has outgrown their Little Rock quarters and will be building a brewpub along the North Little Rock River Trail. As I understand, the location will be just south of the Pike Ave. traffic circle on the city land currently used for a weekend flea market. It sounds very cool, with a deck for viewing the river and, by default it would seem, the River Trail.

Shillcut Bayou Bridge
Otherwise known as the (bone shaking, tooth rattling, butt busting) wooden bridge, the narrow bridge near the launching ramp parking lot will be replaced soon. I'm told that construction should begin in June and will not close the trail.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Positively Springtime!! Berry me.

If the glorious weather hasn't been enough of a sign, here is proof positive:

Yes! Local Arkansas strawberries have appeared at the Argenta Market and I can vouch for the fact that they are sugar-sweet and delicious!!

I dropped by for lunch and to get some berries on Tuesday and found things hopping at the Market. Channel 7 had a camera crew filming for an upcoming feature, the Pulaski Tech Culinary Academy was holding a food identification field trip, and the lunch crowd was lined up as usual.
Jody Hardin sharing a bite of something tasty with folks from the Culinary Academy
as the Channel 7 crew films CPA Bruce Engstrom ordering his lunch. Meat Master Cody is behind the counter.

I love the feel of the Argenta Market. They have the best meat I've found in town, the produce is always good, and local products are used to the extent that the season allows. The lunch is tasty, varied, and served up by a congenial crew. Check it out if you have yet to try it!

And then there are the rides.....

The Tuesday night ACF ride was getting ready to roll

The River Trail and BDB were packed with folks on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. On Tuesday, the ACF ride, Fast Girls, and Tuesday Nitro group rides were all out in full force, in addition to the skaters, walkers, and runners. Trail use, and cycling in particular, is growing rapidly, making it all the more important that we all respect each other and share the resource. The Two Rivers Bridge will open many more easily accessible miles of trail, so that should help.

 Cleaning Up The Poo


It appears that dog owners are finally responding to the call to pick up behind their pooches. Thanks to Pulaski County for adding more bag dispensers, signs, and trash bins on top of the bridge and to Nancy Elliott, who has been spending her evenings handing out bags, gathering signatures against a dog ban and, most importantly, nicely informing folks that the privilege of walking dogs on the BDB is threatened. I'm not sure how much difference Nancy's presence made, but it's nice to see somebody take it upon themselves to help solve a community problem in a civil and positive way.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quick Camp Robinson Post: Trails Closed Wed-Thursday April13, 14

I was just notified at 4:00PM that trails are closed today, Wednesday, also

Thanks to Bryan Shipman for sharing this information.

Training Area 2 (TA02) will be closed Thursday April 14, 2011. The trails will reopen on Friday April 15, 2011. The trails will be unavailable due to a prescribed burn.




From the Forester:


"If the weather predictions hold true for tomorrow (Thursday), we will be burning approximately 134 acres in TA-2 in an area that was previously logged last fall. This will be a hazard reduction burn using existing trails as firebreaks.






We will be burning approximately 134 acres located in Part of Section


32 -T3N - R12W, Pulaski County on tomorrow, Thursday, April 14, 2011.


We will get out there about 10:30-11:00 to get started.

CARVE Beginner rides: Wednesday night

 From CARVE on Facebook
  Reminder: " Absolute Beginner" bike ride and Beginner Road and MTB rides tonight. Both rides depart from Crystal Hill Elementary; The AB ride at 5:30 and the Beginner rides at 6:30. Come on out and roll with us!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Weekend Update

CARVE Kit Hit
If the number of new CARVE kits spotted out on the trail over the weekend is any indication, the CARVE Kick Off party was a roaring success! The kit looks good. Another new jersey design that is frequently spotted is that of Spokes, which may soon rival the popularity of the Arkansas Cycling and Fitness kit. Spokes has a sharp, clean logo and they are currently working up a new kit design that should be really nice. The ACF kit is a long-time favorite and it's not unusual for me and several of my riding partners to all show up in ACF style. The fact that it is offered in a sleeveless model makes it a winner for Arkansas summers. I think that folks like the look of a nice store or team jersey, but many of us feel like pretenders suiting up in pro team colors,so it's nice to see more local style options. I go for function, fit and fashion in that order. Of course, I expect all three!

What's a rider to do? River Mountain at Cantrell Road

This new sign advises cyclists crossing Cantrell to Rodney Parham Road from River Mountain to use the crosswalk.

This is the site of the tragic death of cyclist Marilyn Fulper , who was struck by a motorist who ran the red light. This light is notoriously short and I think I'd feel safer crossing the road legally as a vehicle in a recognized traffic lane than crossing 6 lanes in the crosswalk, where one risks getting caught on the median for the many minutes long signal cycle.  I believe that somebody's well-intentioned idea creates more danger than it alleviates by putting cyclists heading south on the wrong side of the road and in an area where motorists would least expect them. I'm not sure if the expectation is that cyclists will walk their bikes or illegally ride in the crosswalk, but I've never seen a pedestrian in this crosswalk and don't expect to see cyclists use it.

Two Rivers Bridge: Temptingly Close! 


The bridge deck looked narrow during early construction, but as it gets closer to completion, it has the familiar look and scale of the BDB.

The Two Rivers Bridge is close enough to completion that I'm itching to ride it! I'll have to put out the word to the powers that be that I'm available for a test ride. It is going to be so nice to be able to easily hop out west!

"I ain't broke, but I been badly bent...."
 sung to an eight bar blues in the key of E

Ok, now I'm stealing lyrics to describe my post-crash condition, but a lot of friends have inquired about my recovery.
 My first  day back on the bike took place appropriately on April 1, four weeks after my injury. Since then, I've been on the bike for 8 of 11 days and feel like I'm getting my mojo back, even if fitness remains elusive. According to my log, I rode 564 miles last March and 20 miles in March 2011, so that's to be expected and things get better every day. The mountain bike is a tough proposition but I'm building mileage on my road bike as I am able, managing a little over a hundred easy miles last week. Nothing hard, but better work than the lounge chair I'd been riding.

Pick It Up!

Dog owners have been warned repeatedly to pick up after their dogs on the BDB. I think that Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines has been reasonable and fair in his attempts to get folks to clean up their act or lose the priviledge of being able to walk dogs on the river bike/pedestrian bridges. While riding today, I came upon dog owner and good citizen Nancy Elliott. Nancy had set up a sign and a small table and was asking for signatures in support of keeping the bridges open to dogs.

Nancy Elliott at her post on Monday, gathering signatures in the hope of convincing county officials not to ban dogs from the BDB.

As a dog lover, I'm sympathetic and always love to see dogs out and about, but as a trail user, I can certainly see plenty of evidence to support a ban. It's unfortunate that, as with irresponsible users of any public assett, the irresponsible pet owners are likely to force otherwise unnecessary rules on to everyone.


And it was windy enough to blow dogs off of leashes....

I'm usually pretty observant of the weather and typically check local wind conditions before heading out on the bike. I avoid Harper's Loop when the wind is whipping across the Grand Prairie, but I was caught out slightly Monday evening when I decided to go down to the trail for a spin and possibly a couple of hills.


The flags were straight out and snapping in a northwest wind of 25 MPH, gusting to 39, on Monday evening. That's about as stiff a blow as we see here outside of thunderstorms.

I immediately abandoned any Fort Roots ambitions when I realized the the ride up to the bridge from the sub was going to be a lot like a 7-mile hill climb, plenty of work for me in my delicate condition. My average speed was improved on the downwind leg!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

CARVE 2011 Kick Off Party

Well, Congratulations to Scott Penrod, Sean Clancy, Sid Degarmo and the rest of the C.A.R.V.E. leadership on a very successful party and membership event. The Burns Park Hospitality House was roaring as local riders enjoyed a few beverages, heard about a whole bevy of group rides, saw the new team kit and enjoyed some drawings and a comical crit that saw Keith Moore dropped by a young rider who seemed very focused on the prize of a $200.00 Chainwheel store credit.
It was a full house at the CARVE kick off party.

The new kit is sharp, but I question the practicality of the current trend that favors black. In what I suppose to be a tip to Arkansas summers,the back of the CARVE jersey is mostly white, so as to be less of a solar heat collector.

For the grand prize of $200.00 store credit, two riders were selected by a drawing. They were then challenged to don CARVE kit and complete two laps around the room on the bikes supplied.



Keith got a bit of interference from the evil Ernie.
The "Ernie problem" was solved as Chris Randle scooped the little fella up and removed him from the scene, leaving Keith to finish getting kitted up.

A ReTul bike fit session may be in order, as Keith still
had a little trouble getting up to speed.

His rival had no such problems as he rolled to an easy win.

Scott Penrod congratulates the winner, who then headed directly to Chainwheel's Pat Barron with the question, "Do you have my money?" Ahh...young people do have a penchant for immediate gratification!

If attendance was any indication, the effort to revive CARVE will be a succesful one. The club has always been closely associated with Chainwheel and Chainwheel remains a key sponsor, but one of the goals of the refreshed organization is to be a more inclusive member of the cycling community. Announced plans include a good many regular rides and special events for cyclists ranging from beginners to the elite racer types. Look for more information at the CARVE site.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Paris-Roubaix: The Hell Of The North

If you find that watching bike races on television to be a sleep inducement and even if you'd rather mow your lawn on a hot July day in Arkansas than watch another sprint stage of the Tour de France (depart, all day break, break caught inside 5K, Cavendish wins sprint; repeat), then I challenge you to set your DVR for Sunday afternoon to catch the Versus broadcast of Paris-Roubaix. It will be a recap, but should be worth your time. Paris-Roubaix is a festival of two-wheeled brutality in which cycles and cyclists are subject to a series of beatings on stretches of cobblestones that in no way resemble my conventional idea of cobblestones. The pave more closely resembles loaf sized boulders poorly laid on narrow lanes.

Photo from Pez Cycling News. Follow the link for a good article and more definitive photos.

 When it's dry, it is dusty, when it rains, well, when it rains, all hell breaks loose. There are two preferred lines, either you ride the crown of the road or you ride in the gutters and you had better be close to the front. Bikes are equipped with fat tires, double-wrapped bars, longer forks and chainstays, aluminum bars and heavy-duty everything. There have been 'cross bikes and suspensions employed to help survive the cobbles but at the end of the day, only the strongest riders who are packing a load of good luck have a chance to carry home the cobblestone that serves as the trophy.

There is a reason that so many bikes, accessories, and components carry the name "Roubaix".

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Back to Camp Robinson

I headed out to Camp last night for the first time in six weeks or so. I'm primarily a cool weather mountain biker, so I missed much of my favorite season to be in the woods; however, I've got a new bike, so I think I'll just have to put up with some bugs and poison ivy this summer!
Things are settling into the "new normal" after the logging that took place over the winter. The usual parking area is once again the primary trailhead and most trails are open for riding. You can find a current trail map and detailed information as provided by Bryan Shipman at the C.A.R.P. Facebook page . With the exception of some of the logged areas, trail conditions are excellent. The logged areas are still pretty raw, but the trail builders have been at work and their efforts show. Most of my favorites like Buddha, Ball of Nails and Merlin are unaffected.

I guess the "red flag" fire warnings aren't in force at Camp! Actually, these piles have likely been smoldering for days and an effort to clean up logging debris continues.

This dead tree was blown down on 10 Bridges and formed a double-wide hop that is beyond my ambitions when I'm at my best. Chainsaw work requested!
The boys have been hard at work restoring trails. Look for some work day announcements from C.A.R.P.
Ok, I had to show off my new bike, a Niner J.E.T. 9. As I escorted an injured rider back to his vehicle, I noticed Mat Seelinger's newly wrapped Spokes-mobile so I took the opportunity to use it as a backdrop. We've bought bikes from just about every shop  in town and now Spokes has been added to the list! More on the bike after I'm fit enough to give it a good workout!

It's a good time to get back out to Camp. I've enjoyed riding at Burns Park over the winter, but Camp Robinson offers more miles and more variety. Judging by the two pages of rider sign-ins last night, I'm not the only one who feels that way. There were 3-4 groups out and about, with Wednesday being the big weekday for the venue. Head out on a Tuesday or Thursday before 6:00PM to get your Sportsman Pass if you have not done so. It's only $10.00, it's quick, it's easy and it's a good excuse to head out for a ride!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Bridges

Two Rivers Bridge/ Clinton Park Bridge

Due to weather, travel, work and injury, I have fallen woefully behind in my efforts to provide information about the major projects underway along the trail. I'll admit to having had to rely on local mass media instead of my preferred jobsite visits and conversations with informed individuals, but I'm still asked about the state of things, so here's an effort at catching up.
The most optimistic date for completion of the Two Rivers Bridge has come and gone, as will soon be the forecast of May1 as made by Judge Buddy Villines at the opening of Spokes back in January. Cold weather halted the pouring of concrete, slowing progress to a crawl. Within the last couple of weeks I've heard an early July estimate and, most recently, mention of an August opening to coincide with the opening of the Clinton Park Bridge. While we're on the topic of the Clinton Park Bridge, I must say that there is very little buzz about it within the riding community in comparison to the interest in the Two Rivers Bridge or the excitement that preceded the opening of the Big Dam Bridge. It will be nice, but does not represent the kind of riding opportunities that will be created by Two Rivers. I wonder, will the Clinton Park Bridge become the CPB? CPB just doesn't roll off the tongue like BDB, so that remains to be seen.

BDB West Approach
A reliable rumor monger tells me that bids for the west approach to the BDB will be let in the next couple of weeks. The result will be more room on the bridge and an easy flow of traffic to and from plaza area at Two Rivers Bridge. Folks, when I recall the plans for Two Rivers Park, I can only say that we will have a spectacular world-class chain of parks, trails and bike/pedestrian infrastructure that will run from the CPB to Pinnacle Mountain State Park.

No Shit. And now we're serious....
Irresponsible dog owners have been advised, encouraged, warned and threatened with a dog ban if they can't learn to pick up after their pooches. Now, Pulaski County is giving them one last chance and taking a direct approach to education. Last Saturday, Officer Dixon of Pulaski County Animal Services was posted at top of the BDB on the Little Rock side, informing and encouraging dog walkers, but prepared to write tickets.

Officer Dixon said that dog owners were taking care of business last Saturday on the BDB.

Judge Villines has let it be known that dogs will be banned from the BDB, Two Rivers and the Clinton Park Bridge if folks don't pick up after their mutts. Along with more visible signage and a lot of publicity, which should be enough to raise the awareness of the most simple among us, a bit of enforcement may be seen as one last warning to the inconsiderate.

Folks, nobody really likes to pick up after their dog, but if you're going to take them to densely populated public areas, you just have to buck up. In our household, we were spoiled by a couple of dogs that were hard-pressed to do their business while on a leash, but Willie dog seems to save up for his walk and prefers the most pristine lawns he runs across, so I've become accustomed to the chore of picking up after him. It's just a matter of respecting your neighbors.

Back on the bike

This time of year, there are dazzling numbers of rides, races, and other event opportunities for riders. Weekday group rides are ramping up, Carti Tour de Rock training rides, CARVE, and other groups are rolling every Saturday, while mountain bike races like the Ouachita Challenge and Syllamo's revenge dot the calendar. In short, you can fill your dance card with events if you want or, if you are the more casual type, simply relish the fact that you can create your own ride event on almost any day.
I got back on the bike last Friday after four solid weeks in which I didn't throw a leg over a saddle, and I must say, it was good. I'll admit to a little anxiety since my most recent ride had ended with a trip to the emergency room, but once one the bike, I felt like I belonged. I had neither the legs nor the inclination to jump into a big group ride, but managed to fill the weekend quite handily. On Friday, I spent an hour on the road bike, then circled back to the truck, changed shoes and took my new mountain bike for a spin. Saturday saw me back on the River Trail with Diane and friend Heller Hodge, along with her pals, Michael and Jerry, with Sam Ledbetter joining us along the way. The pace was leisurely, but two hours on the bike in the beautiful conditions of the day were pure joy. It is a luxury to have so many choices. Sunday was brutally windy, but warm and sunny, making it a perfect day to slip into the woods for some single-track therapy. I'm delighted to be back on the bike with only a few aches and pains, and I am embracing that "good tired" feeling that follows.