Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Little Rock Tweed Ride: A Charming and Resounding Success

Photo by Ian Caple and gleefully poached without permission from the Official Little Rock Tweed Ride Facebook Gallery somehowassociatedwithJamieFender, etc, etc............ (the photo credit fine print gets too fine from here on out, but whatever is required, you can assume it's there.)

OK, I'm guilty of not having posted something about this ride before now. Sometimes, it's just hard to stay ahead of all the cool stuff going on around Central Arkansas. I'm just a simple working man and it required me to write a bunch of words because I hate to just lift whole cloth from other sites like this from Arkansas Cycling and Fitness:

MASSIVE CORRECTION! This original material was from Joe Jacobs's fine Arkansas Outside.com blog . Sorry, Joe!  Good job, as usual. JB 2/1/12

The word spread quickly, plans for a gathering of bike minded crazies. Dressed in tweed on a winter Sunday, we would meet and ride. Yes, add Little Rock to the list of cities to host a tweed ride. Tweed rides are a growing part of bicycling sub-culture. No spandex, no mud, no heart-rate monitors, no power meters. Our kits (cycling lingo for riding clothes) included wool instead of nylon, old single speed bikes if we could find them, baskets, flowers, a nice hat with pearls, knickers and a bow tie. It was wonderful.

Follow ACF the link above for more.

Congratulations to the organizers, as it sounds like they had a large and diverse crowd of about 70 riders. I think I saw both moustache handlebars and handlebar moustaches in the very good news coverage of the event, along with some nifty knickers and bowler hats. Fun stuff!
I had some intentions of dropping in on the ride, but sunny skies and warm temperatures drew me to the roads west of town.

Facebook Gallery

North Little Rock Mayoral Election: Let's Pay Attention

NLR Mayor Pat Hays recently announced that he would not be seeking re-election this fall. While I have disagreed with Mayor Hays on some issues such as the use of TIF districts and the proposed Bass Pro Shop development, he has demonstrated a long-term vision for the City that is increasingly rare among today's breed of politicians. The result is that North Little Rock has shaken the "dogtown" image, though we now use the term proudly, and we can now boast many quality-of-life amenities that attract businesses and young, educated residents. We have Dickey-Stephens Park, Verizon Arena, the revitalized Argenta district, a world-class trail and parks system, and the shared icons of the Big Dam Bridge and Clinton Park Bridge. Without the steady hands of Hays and Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines, these developments simply would not have happened and the current view of our city would have been very different.
Currently, I am aware of two likely candidates for the office of mayor, city commerce director Joe Smith and State Representitive Tracy Steele. Others will probably enter the race and I have been contacted by at least one potential contender. I have opinions about both Smith and Steele, but will reserve them for now.
 What I am asking is that my North Little Rock readers pay close attention to this race as it unfolds. As is always the case with progressive ideas, there are segments of the population who view our parks and trail systems as a waste, and candidates will likely see some pressure to separate themselves from the status quo. On the other hand, Pat Hays has proven to be a popular leader and has accomplished much for North Little Rock, so it may not be wise to stray far from the trajectory he has set for the city.
In a city of our size, a few hundred cyclists and trail users can easily make a difference on election day, so let's stay informed and stay involved as the field of candidates firms up and they start making promises. North Little Rock's mayor/council form of government is obviously more nimble than that of our brethren across the river and we can help shape our future by electing the right candidate for the job of mayor.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Quick Updates

Diamond Bear Brewerey/Pub
As I wrote my mention yesterday of the proposed Diamond Bear move to NLR, I dropped a note to Russ Melton, president of Diamond Bear. Russ graciously responded with word that the project is moving along and that groundbreaking can be expected fairly soon. I would imagine that setting up the systems for a brewery and restaurant requires more attention to the details than plopping a chain store into a mall spot. Here's to them, and I look forward to my first Presidential IPA at the River Trail location.

AFKALA: Longfellow Arms Name Change

The Apartments Formerly Known As Longfellow Arms will now be called Riverside at Rockwater, according to an article in Sunday's Dem-Gaz.

 It's a welcome change, as I was never sure whether the Longfellow Arms moniker was more reminiscent of "Beverly Hillbillies" or "Sanford and Son". I could have easily imagined Fred telling Lamont , "I've spruced the place up to give it some more class." Lamont,  "Gee, Pops, it looks the same. What did you do?" "I changed the name from Sanford Arms to Longfellow Arms and raised the rent $10.00 a week."
On the other hand, Jethro, attired in a leopard print smoking jacket, could have proudly recounted to Uncle Jed , "Since I got in the movie mogul business, I took me a suite (Pro."sute") at the Longfellow Arms so I'd have me a place for my Hollywood starlet casting couch. A mogul has got to have a casting couch.".
If you are too young to be familiar with "Beverly Hillbillies" or "Sanford and Son", then I'm envious.
More Marina Info
The Rockwater Marina has a total of 136 slips planned and a budget of $3.6million. The $1 million grant and 25 slips referred to earlier is for the portion serving transient recreational vessels, as I understand. I guess the many of the high-rollers from Riverside at Rockwater will need a slip for the cruiser and I'd much rather see this kind of development right in the heart of town than adding urban sprawl along the river somewhere else.

All of this development will require some changes to the traffic patterns in the area. Work is underway to extend 3rd St to serve the Rockwater project and River Road will eventually be closed to motorized traffic. I haven't a clue of the plan for vehicular access to the marina, but I'm sure things will become clear soon enough.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


BDB West Ramp. Most of the steel is now in place.

My posts (and rides) have been limited over the last few weeks, but that doesn't mean that there is not a lot of news affecting the cycling community, much of it involving infrastructure and most of it very positive.

Camp Robinson Rail Spur
This can be described as old news due to the fact that it has been sitting in my "in" box for way too long. From NLR Alderman Debi Ross on 11/21:

"It's official, the papers were signed today between the City of North Little Rock and Union Pacific RR for the purchase of the Levy RR spur. It is now in the hands of the city to begin revitalization in the area!"

I reported on this back on August 7, but until the papers are signed, nothing can be certain when dealing with entities like a railroad and a city government. Follow the link above for details. I'll seek updated information on development plans, but I expect this project to move forward rather quickly due to the fact that the rails and ties have been removed from the rail bed, leaving a graded gravel surface that should lend itself to a relatively easy transition to paved trail. Debi first mentioned the possible acquisition of the RR spur to me a couple of years ago and, along with Mayor Hays and others, she has kept her eye on the ball to bring this important bike and pedestrian route development a giant step closer to becoming a reality.

North Little Rock Marina Project

This item has appeared in local media but it bears repeating here. A federal grant of slightly over $1 million has been announced to support construction of the Rockwater Marina along the NLR riverfront west of the Baring Cross RR bridge and near the Rockwater/Longfellow Arms residential developments. The marina will have 25 slips for use by transient recreational boaters and will be able to accommodate craft up to 70 feet in length. This will mean more construction along River Road, but will ultimately add character to the River Trail.

Diamond Bear?
I've had no recent news on the progress of Diamond Bear Brewery in making their move to the area, and the last word I got was that the initial cost estimate was over budget but still in planning.

Riverfront Road/ Cottondale Road Grade Work
Bids were taken on January 17 for revisions to Riverdale levee street crossings. The work will impact the area around Riverfront and Cottondale Roads in Little Rock.
This plan sheet shows the project area.

I have no post-bid information, but I would expect the work to take place over the summer. The bid documents address maintenance of traffic flow during construction, but don't specifically address use by cyclists. I would expect some disruption, but we should be able to bypass the area.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


It hasn't been much of a winter so far and, while we can expect some cold blasts in February, we've slipped through the heart of the season with a pretty good smattering of really nice ride days.

Seeing these in my neighbor's yard yesterday brightened an otherwise grey day and promise that spring is just around the corner. Time to start tuning up bikes and riders.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Diversions: Ski Trip

I've mentioned before that my mountain biking experience seems to begin anew each fall. It's a little like the movie "Groundhog Day" in that I start over, relearning skills that really should be hard-wired by now but that have faded through a long season on the road. That's not to say that I can't get around on the trail, but I'm way off the back when compared to folks who are rightfully called mountain bikers. Having spent the last couple of days trying to pull out any faint muscle memory from my scant experience on the snow, I can say that I'm probably a better mountain biker than I am skier. By "scant", I mean that I had skied on 4 or 5 occasions over a 12-14 year period of time, with my last trip taking place over 10 years ago. That doesn't translate into any kind of a useful skill set, but at least gave me some confidence that I could get on and off of a lift without humiliating myself and that I was likely to be able to navigate beginner slopes with a few intermediates thrown in.
We travelled with a group from the Little Rock Athletic Club, of which Diane is a member, and we shared digs at Beaver Creek with Richard Machycek and Chrissy Fox along with Casey and Lane Huie. Casey is an old friend of Diane's and his son Lane is a near-local, living in Fort Collins, and everyone but Chrissy and me were on last year's version of the trip, so we settled into the shared space easily.
R-L, Richard, Diane, Chrissy, and me, prepared for a perfect powder day. That's what I was told, anyway!

Chrissy loved the powder and couldn't get enough. Accomplished skiers dream of powder days, but for me it definitely added another facet to the challenge.

Proverbs 16:18 warns that "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."
I got some good advice from the more experienced skiers on the trip and it really helped. I was constantly reminding myself to bend my knees, keep pressure on the tongue of my boots, use the edges, etc., etc., but the little voice in my head also constantly reminded me that I could easily outdistance my abilities.Of course, I had to Google the origin of the more commonly quoted short version, but every time I started feeling a little cocky, I heard the phrase "Pride goeth before a fall". In this case the falls were quite literal and came with fair frequency.

The weather ranged from sunshine to winter storm, but it was all good! This was a blue slope and near the top of my comfort range.
Damn those weekend crowds! Even with fresh powder, the lifts and slopes were uncrowded.

This relates to cycling only in the sense that, like riding and paddling whitewater, skiing is a gravity sport, so there are some similarities in some of the principles; however, in boating, even the inept have a chance of drifting through a rapid unscathed and cyclists can rely on mechanical brakes.  I found that skiing presents some unique challenges that I'd like to explore further, but it's resource intensive to be a skier in Arkansas and I've got a pretty full dance card as is!

Now, I'm looking forward to dry roads and some miles on the bike.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Return From Beaver Creek

Hey, folks, sorry for taking leave from my very important responsibilities here. Well, maybe not really important in the big scheme of things, but I do feel an obligation to maintain some momentum at JBar Cycling; however, other duties called! We just returned from four days of excellent skiing at Beaver Creek near Avon, Colorado, with the Little Rock Athletic Club. I say "excellent skiing" in the context of the great conditions and certainly not in reference to my abilities, as I'm definitely a goob on the snow.

We were a little concerned about snow pack prior to our trip, but a good snow the week before our arrival and a winter storm on Saturday made for fabulous conditions.

I'll post more reflections on this adventure and a return to some cycling news soon, but right now I need a little rest and some time alone with this huge pile of stinky laundry.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bike Adventures Workshop: This Is For Kids!

I have been remiss in not getting this posted earlier.
I'm sure that they could use some more volunteers. Contact Bernadette via the e-mail link or the phone number on the flyer if you have kids who need the instruction or if you are willing to help.
I'm delighted to see this type of program from the City of North Little Rock and BACA. Thanks to everyone involved and I hope they have a great turnout.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fashion Forward: Things We Already Knew

While reading Cycling News  or some other intellectually stimulating on-line publication on a recent evening, I noticed a thumbnail photo of a seemingly very well-built woman in one of those little ads/news items from "Around The Web"at the bottom of the screen, accompanied by the headline, "Objects Are Larger Than They Appear". Since the objects that had grabbed my attention already appeared to be quite large, I decided to follow the link to see just how much bigger said objects could be. The link took me to an article on the Elle.com website concerning the use of color blocking in fashion design as a tool to enhance less-than-perfect figures.

Kate Winslet showing off a dress incorporating slimming black side panels.

Being curious and really lacking in knowledge of current pop culture, I engaged in a little research to see what Kate Winslet looks like without the heavy hip camouflage afforded by the curvaceous silhouette.

Notice the difference in first impressions in the absence of black side panels.

Fashion savvy cyclists have long recognized the effect of color block design and specifically black side panels when it comes to enhancing the impression of fitness. While the simple impression of fitness won't win any races, it's better than nothin'.

This pudgy torso model is wearing a conventional jersey. Not so flattering for the less-than-perfect form.
Now, note the remarkable difference! This jersey incorporates a tapered look and slimming black side panels, resulting in a much more attractive(and less lumpy) profile.

Folks, when it comes to fashion tips, you don't need Elle. You can get everything you need right here. 
Tip of the week: Never wear brown socks on a road bike. And you shouldn't need to ask why.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cyclocross Sunday!! New Year Barrier at Allsopp Park

The season-closing cyclocross races are this Sunday at Allsopp Park at 11:00 AM. Details can be found at the Arkansas Cyclocross site. If you have yet to witness a 'cross race firsthand, ride on down to check it out. It is probably the most fun cycling discipline for spectators. Vino's is on board as a sponsor, so that bodes well for a good time. In fact, I'm so appreciative of their support that I think I'll drop by Vino's this evening for one of their tasty IPAs as a gesture of my gratitude. CARVE is also sponsoring the race, but I'm not aware of any of the CARVE riders making a fine beer, so they'll have to settle for my good will.

Conditions should be perfect for Sunday's races, but I'm sure that could be corrected. Race organizers have been known to find mud where there should be none.

Drop on by!

Big Boy Toys

...and I'm sure that girls can play, too!
One of the things that marks bridge building is that it seems to take a lot of cranes. These guys can be seen lifting pieces of steel, often weighing thousands of pounds, and precisely setting them or placing them into the hands of workers to be guided into place. This takes place high above the ground or the river. With worker safety and a fortune in equipment involved, one might ask how the operators learn their trade and how are they tested. While heading out of town on a Saturday ride a few weeks ago, I came across a clue as I crossed the BDB. In the open lot near the lock beneath the Big Dam Bridge, a towering red crane was in operation. Nearby were a couple of open barrels and an arrangement of posts that looked somewhat like the setup for a canine agility course. As I watched, the crane operator carefully dropped his hook and ball into one of the barrels. I assumed that this was either training, testing or a competition of some sort, perhaps a crane rodeo.
The first test I observed was putting the hook in the barrel.
This adds a degree of difficulty. Put the hook in the barrel and get hooked up to the cables.

Then, move the load through the course without touching the posts. Remember the old game of "Operation"? I don't, but I'm sure some of you old people do. Actually, I just found that it's still in production, so even non-geezers may identify!

Admittedly, this has only the thinnest connection to cycling, but I'm easily amused and fortunately don't have a blog boss. During the construction of the BDB and the Two Rivers Bridge, we've been able to observe some fascinating construction processes, though far and away the big day for me was being able to watch the lift of the center span of the Two Rivers Bridge. It was remarkable to watch a 208,000 pound 210 foot-long piece of steel set precisely in place by cranes which themselves were on barges in the middle of Maumelle Creek. Impressive stuff to a man who had only the most basic of Erector Sets as a kid.

Monday, January 9, 2012

On Pavement

Dillard's Trail Section
Most readers are aware that Little Rock's bid for a federal grant to construct the spectacular River Bluffs trail section along the Arkansas River behind Dillard's corporate headquarters failed. The word is that the City of Little Rock intends to proceed with planning for a less expensive, and possibly more functional for cyclists, alternative. A bridge would be built to cross the Union Pacific tracks west of the Medical Mile downtown trail section and would then be connected to some arrangement of bike lanes along Cantrell Road. I'm certain that there will be some hurdles to this plan, but some money is in place and at least a plan seems to be taking shape. More on this as time goes on, but I'm glad to hear that the project seems to have some impetus.

Big Dam Bridge
Work continues to progress on the west ramp of the Big Dam Bridge, with what I consider to be a milestone coming last week. Some horizontal steel went up as the first beams for the ramp were placed.
It will start looking like a bridge soon.

Having watched the construction of the Big Dam Bridge and the Two Rivers Bridge from start to finish, the raising of the west ramp of the BDB doesn't carry the same level of anticipation, but it's still fascinating to watch the project progress through its various phases.
The guys on the lift were taking the steel cross plates for the ramp from the crane and setting them in place.
These beams will likely have connected the ramp to the BDB by now. They had been placed at the ready Friday afternoon at quitting time.

By next fall, the Bag Dam Bridge west ramp will be complete and the plaza area at the foot of the Two Rivers Bridge should be done as well. They will connect nicely.
When the Two Rivers Bridge was closed last week for repairs to the lighting system, I had a chance to visit with John Burton, Pulaski County Surveyor and the project manager for the Two Rivers Bridge. He was surprised at how many Two Rivers users were not aware that the trail connected it to the Big Dam Bridge and beyond. He suggested it as an alternative to the many people showing up to walk Two Rivers and, as we spoke, an energetic gentleman walked up to thank John for directing him toward the Big Dam Bridge and to ask, "how far could I go" once past the BDB. "As far as you want to go", was the correct answer.  Another walker asked directions for crossing the Two Rivers Bridge and doing a loop to the BDB and back. By then, John had decided that some additional signage might be in order.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Dirt Work

I've been slower than usual about getting my mountain biking season started this year, but I'm gradually getting into a little groove. For the sake of transparency, I must admit that the road bike is my default ride and I don't head to the woods until winter sets in and it becomes more comfortable on the single track than on the open road. The closest mtb venues for me are Burns Park and Camp Robinson, and I've generally had a preference for Camp, but last winter saw trail closures, clear cutting, controlled burns, and the ravages of heavy equipment across large swaths of TA-2, the location of the CARP trails. At the same time, the trails at Burns Park were being rehabilitated or rebuilt, making them flow much better and rendering them more sustainable by eliminating some of the steep trail sections where erosion had been a problem. Ironically, much of the lead on the Boy Scout Trails as they are known, is credited to Bert Turner, of the Central Arkansas Master Naturalists, along with the North Little Rock Parks Dept. and a range of volunteers. It's ironic because Bert was a Boy Scout and helped build the original trails back in the 60's. "We didn't know much about building trails, then." Bert related in an exchange a while back. They know quite a lot now, and the trails are the better for it.
Currently, the Burns Park trails on higher ground are in really good shape and are a lot of fun to ride. The red trail from the trail head parking lot (near the freeway over pass up the hill from the covered bridge) has become my favorite for the moment. The low ground, as in the yellow trail behind the covered bridge and the green trail behind the BMX track, are often muddy for long stretches of time. Therein lies a shortcoming of Burns Park; it really doesn't have a lot of reliable trail miles. That said, it's easy to expand your range of options by riding up to the nearby Pfeiffer Loop for a couple of laps or by heading down to Emerald Park for some climbing. I enjoy those alternatives, along with the fact that I usually run into friends scattered along the River Trail or in the woods, and I especially enjoy seeing folks this time of year when afternoon rides are short and darkness limits sociability among passing riders.
Camp Robinson: Trail Fairies At Work

There have been a few more riders using the Camp Robinson trails of late, with multiple vehicles in the parking lot each time I've ridden there. There has also been a lot of work going on out there by the elusive trail fairies; reclaiming, rerouting, and rehabilitating trails damaged or obscured by last year's timber harvest and controlled burns. When you ride your favorite trail, wherever it is, enjoying the clean, packed surface and rolling along with no low limbs or encroaching briers grabbing at you, whisper a little thanks to the trail fairies.

Basil Hicks and Bryan Shipman have been at the heart of the trail building and restoration at Camp Robinson.
Basil Hicks III, shown here trying to conceal his identity, but sniffed out by the pack o' dogs. Adam Taylor was also whacking brush somewhere back in there.

A big thanks goes out the these guys, along with Bryan's lovely and charming wife, Melissa, who has packed a leaf blower across a few miles of trail, and Lane Septon. They all regularly put in time working at Camp. Bryan has ambitions to blaze a loop consisting of perhaps Yucca, the new Turn, Turn, Turn, Airport and 10 Bridges. It would overlay the existing trail system and make it very simple for riders new to Camp Robinson to embark on a 4-5 mile loop of beginner level trails without a map and without the risk of getting lost.
I may need to promote Bryan from trail fairy to Constructobot. He found these bridges in the clear cut and dragged them to where they were needed on 10 Bridges Trail. Very manly.
Many of the trails at Camp Robinson have been cleared of leaves and are in really good shape.

Bryan and Melissa have succeeded in reconnecting the remnants of 10 Bridges Trail across the clear cut area after having previously helped in the rerouting of Yucca around a large stretch of wet ground. 10 Bridges is one of my favorites due to the way it flows and I'm glad to have it back. I've ridden at Camp several times over the last few weeks, riding Airport, 10 Bridges, Turn, Turn, Turn, Outer Loop, Port-o-Potty, Yucca, and Buddha, most of those them more than once. I haven't gotten around to other favorites like Ball-O-Nails, Can of Corn, and Merlin, nor have I bitten off Advanced Trig or suffered up Elevator yet this season. And there's the beauty of Camp Robinson. There are more miles of trail than a mortal can ride in a day and the range of difficulty covers everything from beginner to "too damn hard for me"(but I'm working on 'em) stretches.
The most frequently uttered statement from people who haven't visited Camp in a while is, "I forgot how good it is." , but for many folks, our wealth of other convenient trail resources on both sides of the river make Camp Robinson not worth the hassle. It is an underused resource and is being kept viable by a few folks. It remains to be seen if it is sustainable.
You can keep up with Camp Robinson developments on CARP's Facebook page.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Not Quite A Garmin...

..but it also costs not quite $5.00.
I will admit to having had a little Garmin envy at times. I seldom need a map to find my way and sure don't need the distraction while out on the road, but sometimes one of my Garmin-equipped buddies will send me the output information from a ride, complete with maps in a variety of formats, elevation profile, total ascent and descent information, along with the more pedestrian data on distance, speed, cadence, and time information. The easily shared map and the elevation information were the features that I most wanted that I didn't have with my trusty Cateye Double Wireless. For long rides, I also sometimes enjoy being able to see speed along specific sections of the route. That said, I'm more of a numbers geek than a gadget geek and I couldn't justify dropping a few hundred bucks for something that simply quantifies what I already know. Sure, it's cool to be able to say you climbed 4827 feet on your epic ride, but "really hard" would communicate all the information you really need, or so I kept telling myself while dealing with moments of desire.
Then, while trying to decide which '70s vintage Leon Russell album I was going to buy with the $20.00 sitting idly in my iTunes account, it dawned on me that I could get an iPhone app that would likely meet my needs. OK, not only am I a cheapskate, I'm sometimes a slow learner. I've seen the ad for bar-mounted cases for iPhones in use as bike computers, but was never ready to put my phone out there in harm's way and, besides, I didn't really identify with the guys in those commercials. They looked like real nerds, and not in the positive Bike Nerd sense. It had never occurred to me until now to get an app and simply stick the phone in my pocket. Now that I was empowered with the smug confidence of having figured something out that perhaps some small percentage of my friends and readers had not, I decided to go big! No free apps or $2.99 package would do once I started incrementing up! I threw down $4.99 of hard-earned gift card credit and went for the top-of-the-price-range Cyclemeter, surely the DuraAce of its class. I fired up the app and liked the look of the display, though I always find it a little disconcerting when I enable a GPS device and suddenly see a Google Earth photo of my house with a little stickpin representing me, futilely hiding in the basement from the prying eyes of the satellites, still clutching my iPhone, of course.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the data from this ride was saved as a .png file in the photo roll on my phone. Now, I need to determine how I did that!

After my first ride with the Cyclemeter app, I compared the information with that of my Cateye and found them to be very close, which is a good thing for us numbers folks. Old Chinese proverb: "A man with one clock always knows what time it is; a man with two is never sure."

It can also send you e-mail updates of your ride data, along with links to your route maps. Here's an example:
From: "Cyclemeter" <no-reply@abvio.com>
Date: December 31, 2011 8:00:48 PM CST
To: jbarcycling@comcast.net
Subject: Cyclemeter Cycle (Road) Dec 31, 2011 10:30:13 AM
Finished Cycle: Dec 31, 2011 8:00:46 PM
Route: Sat Dev 31
Google Maps URL: http://maps.google.com/?q=http://share.abvio.com/50c9/4b15/4ed8/4177/Cyclemeter-Cycle-20111231-1030.kml
Import URL: http://share.abvio.com/50c9/4b15/4ed8/4177/Cyclemeter-Cycle-20111231-1030.kml
Ride Time: 3:26:53
Stopped Time: 28:38
Distance: 53.52 miles
Average: 15.52 mph
Fastest Speed: 45.51 mph
Ascent: 1407 feet
Descent: 1330 feet
Calories: 2389


And the map:

The route can be seen in the Google Maps or Google Earth formats.

This thing can do much more than I can cover here; in fact, I'm sure I'll never use most of the functions, but here are a few features from the developer's website:

Top Reasons to Choose Cyclemeter

  • Automatic stop detection removes stopped time from your statistics.
  • Remote control using your earphone remote keeps you from fumbling with your iPhone at the start and finish.
  • All of your workouts may be viewed by route or on a calendar, and summarized by day, week, month, year, and overall.
  • Import allows you to preload routes, or import other people's workouts to compete against.
  • Export allows you to save detail and summary information in CSV, GPX, and KML formats.
  • Ghost racing lets you compete against your best, median, and worst workouts, or against imported competitors.
  • Twitter, Facebook, dailymile, and email updates enable your friends to view your progress.
  • Google Maps are updated every few minutes to keep your friends and family informed of your location.
  • Spoken comments from your friends on Twitter, Facebook, and dailymile encourage you during workouts. (Requires In App Purchase.)
  • With 5 major updates in the past year, we're working continuously to improve the application.

The ability to race against your own previous times or the performance of friends would make this a great tool. For example, some of my riding buddies have a little informal time trial going on over a specific course, each trying to beat the best posted time. This would allow vocal updates of how a cyclist is doing against his previous rides or those of his competitors. I'm anti-ear bud for the most part, but that kind of input could be motivational; kind of like Johan Bruyneel barking into Lance Armstrong's earpiece on the  team radio. You may even be able to buy Johan's voice for your prompts. Maybe not, but with another app, you can even let your friends badger you with spoken comments of encouragement or derision.
There are modes for cycling, cross country skiing, running, walking, motorcycle, and more, even including swimming. I'd need a better case for that particular mode.

I'm not promoting this app over any other, and it IS the most expensive one I could find, so you thriftier folks can try one of the free apps that offers at least the same basic functions. I'm amazed at the capabilities of the iPhone paired with $5.00 worth of software. OK, I'm bragging. It was only $4.99.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Two Rivers Bridge Closed for Lighting Repairs

The Two Rivers Bridge will be closed for the next few days so that repairs can be made to the LED lighting system. It will re-open by 6PM Friday, but may be open as early as Thursday. The lighting contractor will be working with the vendor of the system to correct programming problems.

Thanks and welcome!

Thanks go out to the folks at the Democrat-Gazette for the nice article on Monday and I'd like to welcome any new readers!
JBar Cycling readership has grown over the last couple of years to the point where it almost feels like a part-time job; without pay, insurance, or a retirement plan, unfortunately, but it is not without its benefits. I've made a lot of friends, have an excuse to satisfy my curiosity about events and developments affecting the cycling community, and I have an outlet for writing, all of which have given me enjoyment. In return, I try to provide relevant, accurate information, along with a bit of entertainment and humor.Look for a new post at least a couple of times per week, though at times the stream gets a little thin and, at others, it virtually gushes as I try to keep up with ideas and events.
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Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011: Finishing Strong

Well, happy New Year!  As is the way of the world, 2011 has had its ups and downs, but I’ll just call it good as the result of a strong finish in the form of a spectacular New Year’s Eve. It wasn’t about fireworks or drunken debauchery; though we did manage to stay up late enough to celebrate with the Times Square crowd before drifting off to bed. For me, the celebration was all about taking advantage of the mild October-like weather that enabled us Arkansas riders to close out the year in style with some quality miles on the road or trail. Saturday broke cool and clear, with a forecast high in the upper 60’s, making it a perfect morning to read the paper over coffee and have a first breakfast while waiting for the day to warm.
Days like this bring people out to the BDB and Two Rivers Bridge.

 I got on the road bike a little after 10:00 and headed to the River Trail by way of Main Street, Argenta, then cruised west up the river and across the Big Dam Bridge on my way west to do a Barrett-Garrison Loop*. Arm warmers, knee warmers and a light base were all the cool weather gear that conditions called for, though I saw other riders attired in kit ranging from shorts and t-shirts to tights and full-on winter jackets. I make it a point to dress for the temperature and resist the influence of the calendar or sunny skies when making clothing choices. Riding out through Two Rivers Park was particularly pleasant, as the meandering mass of walkers that had been pervasive in the evenings of the previous holiday week had yet to crowd the bridge and trail. I cleared the park and rolled out County Farm and Pinnacle Valley Roads, passing by Pinnacle State Park before hitting Barrett and Garrison Roads. The scenery and varied terrain make this a fine ride by any standard, as the course takes a cyclist through multiple parks and includes miles of paved trail before transitioning to rural roads through the river valley and adjacent rolling hills. The route turns suburban and holds several good little climbs along the way back into town through the Chenal and Pleasant Valley neighborhoods before rejoining the River Trail at the foot of River Mountain Road. It was the kind of day that just reminded me of why we love to ride bicycles. There were even a few fleeting moments when I felt extraordinarily fit for the season, easily turning over a big gear and rolling powerfully along the smooth asphalt at impressive speed. That elation lasted until I made a turn and realized that the wind that had been behind me had picked up, and soon I was head down and laboring. That effort was a small price. The temperature was perfect, the sky was clear and the sun warm, traffic was light and polite, and my legs felt pretty good for the end of December.
Thanks for the warm kiss good-bye, 2011. Happy New Year, indeed.

*Barrett-Garrison Loop: The Route
The Barrett-Garrison Loop is one of my favorite road rides. From the JBar Bunker in North Little Rock, it’s about 56 miles, and it is about 38 miles for riders starting from the Big Dam Bridge. The route map below actually starts at River Trail Station on the River Trail in North Little Rock due to the fact that that is the point at which I remembered to turn on my ride computer. Here's a link to the Google Earth map.

I was surprised at how few riders were out on the roads west of town, as Two Rivers Bridge has served to make the already popular area much more easily accessible for riders.

Before the opening of the Two Rivers Bridge, the route required a stiff climb up River Mountain Road followed by either a mad dash out Cantrell Road or more climbing through the Pleasant Forest neighborhood in order to reach Pinnacle Valley Road. As a result, my habit is to come back into town by way of Denny Road and Pleasant Valley. Many riders now prefer to simply follow Ferndale Cutoff back to Highway 10, where they can rejoin Barrett Road and return the way they came. The distance is about the same, but the “lollipop” route avoids the sharp little climbs that define the ride back in through Pleasant Valley.