Monday, July 30, 2012

The Ongoing Chase of "Stuff That Works"

One of my semi-regular features here is "Stuff That Works". In the articles posted under that heading, I review or simply brag on some piece of gear the serves me particularly well. I've written on topics ranging from electrical tape (to close vent holes on the soles of road shoes for winter riding) to bib shorts, winter gloves, and my favored Specialized shoes. Bike gear is expensive, so I like to share when I come upon something that offers real value.

Beyond function and style, it often becomes a matter of suitable fit for me. I envy the rider who can jump on virtually any bike in their size and ride in relative comfort. The same feeling goes for the folks who can pick up a pair of medium bibs, size 43 shoes, and large gloves, put them on and they seem to fit and suit them just fine.  I, on the other hand, have a hell of a time finding suitable fits on all of the above, excluding the electrical tape. My sit-bones are a little wide for many popular bib makes, my hands are wide and thick, and I have a high instep that makes any shoe built on a European-style last (read: most cycling shoes)impossible to close if I can get my feet into them at all. When I find gear that fits, I tend to stick with it. That's why I own half-a-dozen pair of Giordana bibs, four pair of Specialized gloves, Specialized road and mountain shoes, and every available color of DeFeets Blaze winter socks. I'm what those companies might call a loyal customer. The kind of customer that they seek out through advertising and constant schmoozing of  tech writers at VeloNews and Bicycling. The kind of customer they value. The kind of customers that are worth the dollars that they cost to attract because  customers like me don't mind supporting high margins in order to get the stuff that works. So, why the hell do these same companies keep changing stuff?  When I bought my first modern road bike, I picked up a pair of size large Assos gloves. No big deal until I needed to replace them and could not get my hands into the current XXL Assos gloves. After buying several other brands, I found some Specialized gloves that, well, fit like a glove, so I bought two pair.  One pair was destroyed by some unfortunate harsh contact with asphalt, so I bought a couple of more pair. They had changed the cut and made the body longer, putting the edge of the palm pad exactly where my hands usually rest on the hoods. They're OK, but I always reach for the old pair when riding long. The same goes for Giordana bibs. The fit within the brand changes from year-to-year even within the same model, so I was sent shopping again. I know this is not unique to cycling. Ask any runner and they'll tell you that if you like a pair of shoes, you'd better buy a few pair because the same model will be different next year. 

My current dilemma...
I love my 5-year-old S-Works road shoes, but I must admit to lust for these new Specialized 74's.

I don't often suffer from bike lust, being very satisfied with my DuraAce equipped Litespeed Ghisallo, but recently  I spotted Specialized's new top-end road shoe, the 74. They were beautiful in a classic understated style and, of course, expensive, so I started rationalizing that I would pick up a pair sometime in the future as my old shoes wore out. Imagine my alarm when I read this:

Specialized revamp S-Works road shoes
".....Up front the toe-box has been reduced in volume for a closer fit."

Specialized has advertised for years that more Pro riders wear their shoes than any other brand, so why the hell would they change the fit? I can understand changes in materials, color, closures, etc., but the very reason that their shoes work for me in the roomy toe-box. For me, it provides room for my high instep; something that is unmatched by Sidi, Mavic, Shimano or any of the many other brands I've tried.For riders with different needs, Specialized  offers dealers a fit kit, wide and narrow sizes, and a range of insoles for a near custom fit. They've had a good thing going as far as I am concerned, so I hope they don't ruin it for me. On the other hand, I may need to get ahead of the 2013 model year and throw down the $$$$ for a pair of those sweet 74's; that is, if they fit.

Friday, July 27, 2012

From the Tour to the Olympics In One Short Week

Bore de France? Not Quite, but.....

The Tour de France played out pretty much as predicted. The time trial heavy course supposedly favored both Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evens. It worked out for Wiggins and for his second-place teammate Chris Froome; for Evans, not so much. There were some fairly dramatic successful breakaways, but they were mini-dramas due to the fact that they had little or no affect on the GC race. Andre Greipel took more sprints than would have been likely if Cavendish had not spent several long days hauling water and riding at the front for Wiggins's Team Sky and Peter Sagan was a terror out of small groups or on slightly uphill finishes. Frank Schleck was out of contention but seemed to be riding himself into form....right before that pesky positive test.  American Tejay Van Garderen rode a very impressive Tour on his way to the white jersey of the best young rider and a strong fifth place in the GC, especially considering that he was hindered on several stages as he rode in support of a faltering Evans. None of the other contenders could ride away from Team Sky and once the yellow jersey was on Wiggins, it was never under pressure.
Good stuff,but very little excitement.

JbarCycling Velogames Fantasy Results

I was late to sign up and invite players for this, but there were 7 teams in the JBarCycling MiniLeague. After a strong start, I sat in second place for much of the Tour, lurking like a sprinter on the wheels of the second strongest rider, then BOOM! My man Mark Cavendish blows them away in the last two stages, capping Sky's Tour with an authoritative fourth consecutive win on the Champs-Élysées and putting my fantasy team ahead in my league by a mere 10 points!

I got a late start on the Tour, but hope to have a bigger Mini-league (like jumbo shrimp) for the Vuelta. Watch for the team rosters as they are released for the Spanish tour and pick your own super team!

The Olympics

Tyler Farrar, Taylor Phinney, Timmy Duggan, Tejay van Garderen, and Chris Horner will represent the US in the Olympic road race Saturday. Tejay and Horner are both coming off of strong performances in the Tour de France, Farrar could contend if he makes it to the finish in a pack, and Duggan and Phinney add good power. Team Great Britain will be a force leading Mark Cavendish, who had fewer days under pressure to sprint at the Tour and has worked on his climbing form for the hilly circuits of the London course.  I'll be rooting for Team USA, but I'm a big fan of Cavendish, so a win for Cav in the world champion's rainbow stripes and on home ground would not terribly disappoint me.

Big Dam Bridge Southwest Approach Opening August 1

Make it if you can!


To attend the opening of the Big Dam Bridge Southwest Approach

Date:     August 1, 2012

Time:    9:00 A.M.

Place:    Foot of new Southwest Approach
              (on the South side of the River)

Comments by:

Buddy Villines, Pulaski County Judge
Colonel Glen A. Masset, Corp of Engineers
Susan Cooper, Big Dam Bridge Foundation

Directional signs will be posted

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wampoo Roadeo: Marilyn Fulper Memorial

The Wampoo Roadeo metric century, in honor of Marilyn Fulper and sponsored by the Mellow Velo ride club, took place Saturday on the flat roads near Scott, Arkansas. I went down to support my wife and the many friends who were riding, take a few photos and provide some informal SAG.

 122 Riders participated in the ride in remembrance of Marilyn Fulper, a local rider who was struck and killed by an inattentive driver running a red light on Cantrell Road.

This stretch of road through a canopy of large old pecan trees is a favorite of many riders.

The weather cooperated with blue skies and comfortable temperatures, though few folks in this part of the country would have complained about a little rain.

The ride was a pretty relaxed affair, with two rest stops positioned along the 63 mile course and cold watermelon served at the finish by the fine folks of the nearby Hardin Farms market. I only heard of a single 2-bike crash and didn't encounter anyone along the road flatted or in distress, which made for easy SAG duty, though I did get a call to pick up one friend near the finish who was suffering from cramps.
I always find it a little disturbing when event riders act as if they are on closed roads, and there was a bit of that behavior here as usual. In one large pack, riders were taking the full width of the road even as I approached from behind them and lightly tapped my horn to be sure that they were aware of a car back. It may have been obvious that I was there on their behalf, but riders should always give drivers as much room as possible, and at the very least stick within their own lane. 
A large reminder that the ride was taking place on open roads.
For the most part, the route was lightly traveled and the roads were good as the tour rolled through pecan groves and row-crop fields. Blondes may have more fun, but my redhead friend Robin has a pretty good smile going here!

And Diane, aka: Mrs. JBar, can give anyone a run for the money in the smile-on-the-bike category.

 The first rest stop was a busy place! The ride got high marks from participants.
 After several years at Chainwheel, Sarah Miller (r) has gone to work with Diane at Garver, LLC.
Garver has a great employee fitness philosophy and serves as a sponsor for many local cycling events, so it's a great fit for Sarah and team Garver!

 Tish Fallis was on hand doing the event photographry. Her photos can be found here. Tish does some great work. Keep her in mind if you need a photographer!

Hardin Farms provided cold watermelon and refreshments for riders at the finish.

I usually see little along the way when I take part in event rides. Though I often pledge to do otherwise, my usual mode is to stick with the fastest group I can hang with, minimize stops and finish in the best time that I can manage. Driving SAG gave me a chance to see another side of the ride. Though I usually end up with congenial folks, the conversation is seldom as relaxed as what I heard from the groups that were perfectly happy with a 4 1/2  hour metric. There's a lot to be said  just enjoying the ride. 

Along the Trail: Open and Closed Case

River Trail West of BDB Open

I'm a few days behind in posting this news, but I am currently dependent on a crack team of JBarCycling field agents to keep me informed of events on the ground. Sam Ledbetter advised late last week that the bypass necessitated by the construction of the BDB west ramp had been closed and that the rebuilt trail section had been opened.

 The bypass, now closed,  provided some entertainment in its early weeks as befuddle riders often stalled and dismounted or faced the sharp-turning descent with wide-eyed fear.

When the new ramp opens on August1, it will merge with the westbound trail here near the Jimerson Creek Bridge

  Beware of Misleading Signs!

Don't believe everything you read (unless you read it here!).

 Sam noticed these signs posted near the BDB advising riders that the trail was closed near the Episcopal Collegiate School. At a recent meeting of the LR Bike Friendly Community Committee, a request for the signs was made to the  City of LR so that riders would have notice of the closure before heading downtown. Fortunately, by the time the signs went up, BACA had engaged the AHTD and the trail was re-opened to cyclists. This is a simple case of folks stumbling all over themselves in an effort to do the right thing, so don't read this as a complaint.

Thanks to Sam Ledbetter for the photos and the report.

Get Up! Get Back Down Again.

I was very excited last Thursday morning in anticipation of  a visit to the hand surgeon and the removal of the splint and bandages that I had been sporting for 2 1/2 weeks. I wasn't certain of an immediate return to the bike, but this was to be a big step. The nurse cut everything off and started talking to me about my physical therapy schedule; a topic that had never come up when I had asked about my recovery time, but that made sense as I found I had very limited range-of-motion in my repaired right thumb. At about that time, the surgeon popped in and said, "Don't move that thumb!" as he instructed an assistant to put me in a cast. He said that he was doing it "to protect you from yourself" as he suspected that I might attempt to resume normal activities. Probably a good call, but.....when I had asked about my post-op condition, all that was mentioned was "bandaged for 2 1/2 weeks". I may have been naive about the complexity of my situation, but I think that 2 additional weeks in a hard cast and weeks of physical therapy should have been worthy of mention. I'm confident that my  doctor, a noted hand specialist, knows what he's doing, but I would have appreciated his sharing the plan. After a few moments of anger, disappointment and frustration, I resigned myself to the process, only to find that the new cast was painfully uncomfortable. A few hours later, I was back with the technician getting it sawed off and replaced by a better fitted one. Though it looks orange in the photo, it is actually red, so it at least allows me to accessorize in a favored color.

It has come down to this! My fine elegant Litespeed relegated to the trainer.It is a sad sight to behold, but the dust on the bar tape and the cobwebs apparent in my first pedal strokes told the tale of necessity. 

My optimism for a speedy return to the bike has been somewhat dampened, but I hope to be on the bike for 3-4 weeks prior to the MS150 on September 8 (More on that  later, but it looks to be e very cool ride!). From there, I hope to gather enough fitness to hang with my buds on the BDB100. If that plan doesn't work out, I'll keep coming up with another one until I'm back on the bike and up to cruising speed.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Bruise Brothers: Falling Down

Mat Seelinger and I compare our fashion accessories at Spokes recently.

Though Mat and I carry off the splint-and-ace-bandage look pretty well, we're both ready to go back to spandex and dri-fit. Hopefully, I'm free from my bondage, uh, bandage, on Thursday and can start thinking about getting back on the bike. At the very least, I'm going to get out in the heat and produce some sweat. I've been pretty much stuck indoors for the last couple of weeks, so I'm ready to get back out into Arkansas summer! Mat is facing longer break than I did, but a little multiple fracture didn't get him down. 
My bike guru told me early on that there were two kinds of riders, "those that have crashed and those that are going to crash". My recent healing was the result of a fall while skiing, though I've had my share of bike crashes and Mat's was the result of what should have been, by his account, a fairly routine fall off of the mountain bike. Most bike crashes don't happen when you're out there at the edge of your ability. At those times, you're consciously managing your risk and operating with a keen awareness. We're all going to fall off of our bikes from time to time, usually without much consequence, though I seem to have scars on all of my corners; elbows, knees, shoulders, and hips. Oh, yeah, and hands and face.... Sorry, I'm transgressing, but my point is that sometimes we get hurt. Ask any bike shop guy and they'll tell you that most equipment failures and bike breaking crashes occur while JRA. Just riding along. That's just real life. It's no reason not to ride a bike, but it might be a good reason to wear a helmet. 
Be alert. Be safe. I'll see you out there!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Update- Cantrell Road River Trail

Following a request from BACA, the AHTD arranged for a temporary passage for cyclists in the area of construction near the Episcopal Cathedral School.
The sidewalk over the Union Pacific viaduct is always far from ideal, but it beats the alternative of riding Cantrell Road.

It may not look like a bike route, but.....
This arrangement resembles a cattle chute, but will get you to North Street and beyond.

Get On Board
This story is part of the larger tale of the ongoing problems associated with getting a legitimate bike-pedestrian route past this stretch of Cantrell Road, but the point I'm trying to make has more to do with a small success in bike advocacy. Tim McKuen and BACA engaged the AHTD and made a well-reasoned request for a compromise. I believe that the positive result was a product of an aggressive but thoughtful approach by BACA and changes in leadership and attitude at the highway department. I hear from quite a few folks expressing their ideas, opinions, and complaints about the state of cycling advocacy in Arkansas, Little Rock, specifically. Some think that BACA, the City of Little Rock, and the state should be moving much more quickly than they are, a position with which I cannot disagree, but, folks, have patience. There seems to have been a momentum shift in recent months and it favors us. You can help keep the ball rolling, especially in Little Rock, by joining BACA, contacting your city director, and by attending upcoming ward meetings in Little Rock. Aly Signorelli has gathered information on those meetings. I will find it, or perhaps she will post that information in the comments associated with this post.

Back when I was much younger and a little more full of myself (yes, that's possible), our warehouse manager failed to get some product shipped after I had promised the customer that it would go out. When the customer called the next day and I discovered what had happened, I told my customer that I would go chew the warehouseman out and fix things. My customer, Conward Allen of Harrison, said, "John, don't you think it would work better if you just asked him real nice?" I was every bit of 22 years old, but that lesson stuck. I've found that my best approach in dealing with almost everyone is to start with something like, "I've got a problem and I'm hoping that you can help." The most common response by far is, "What can I do for you?"

I relate this little story because this approach also applies to government administrators and politicians. If you contact your city manager or others, I suggest that you start out by asking for their help going rather than belaboring past problems. Most people by nature don't want to hear complaints but they find it to be empowering and gratifying when they help someone. Unlike more divisive or partisan issues, there are very few people who are "against" cycling, so most leaders are at least willing to listen to ideas on the topic with an open mind.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Politics of Pedaling

Since I have been off the bike and out of circulation for the last couple of weeks and working long hours, the past Wednesday marked an opportunity for me to get some current exposure to a couple of facets of our cycling community. At lunch, I attended the monthly meeting of the Little Rock Bike Friendly Community Committee at the River Market, then on Wednesday evening, Diane and I set out for the BACA meeting at the Capital Hotel. Many of the same topics were addressed in slightly different contexts at both events, so I'll do a bit of a "meeting merge" here.

The River Trail link closure near Collegiate School was a fairly hot topic at the LRBFCC meeting. Obviously, neither the contractor nor the  AHTD  felt it necessary to notify trail users of the impending closure. It demonstrates clearly that the AHTD has no notion that cyclists and pedestrians are actually engaged in transportation. This stretch of trail is a bit of a sphincter with no easy way around; otherwise, we would not be involved in the protracted debate over "closing the loop". The city was going to try to get some signs up so that commuters and other riders would at least have some warning that they were headed to a dead end. Committee chair Ed Levy, a commuter, was a victim of the trap as he made his way to work, but was able to cross the construction zone. BACA drafted a resolution asking that one of the three open traffic lanes be made into a temporary bike lane. This was deemed impractical by the traffic folks due to the fact that lane closures will occur at night and will be shifting during the course of the project. I did not come away with a timeline on the trail reopening, but my impression was that it should be ~ 10 days. There is plenty wrong with this situation. There was ample time to make provisions to at least notify the public or, at best, make some provision to accommodate trail users. I covered it here back in April and the project was discussed with city officials at the LRBFCC meeting and the then AHTD bike-ped coordinator at that time, though I've come to find out the the AHTD doesn't give transportation alternatives much consideration. Hopefully, that situation will begin to change.

"There has been some communication between Scott Bennett and Tim McKuin, who is the president of the Bicycle Advocacy Group of Central Arkansas (BACA). BACA’s board asked if the Department could use the southernmost travel lane of Cantrell as a temporary route for the River Trail in the construction area.

Scott replied that the closure of the trail was delayed until after the July 4th holiday due to the expected number of riders on the holiday. Also, closure of the trail would be closer to a week rather than a month as was planned.

Our Assistant Chief Engineer for Operations Emanuel Banks and our District Six Engineer Mark Headley went to the job site yesterday morning to meet with the contractor to discuss what could be done to accommodate bike traffic. As a result of the BACA group’s request, the Department has decided to allow the contractor to make some sidewalk repairs and temporary asphalt connections to allow bike traffic to continue to use the trail during the project. Also, some fencing will be put up to separate the bikers from the work area. Work should be done within a week on the asphalt and fencing so that bikers can return to the trail."

Folks, we definitely have a new BACA working for us! Go to the site and join. The new leadership is taking action and needs your support!!

New BACA president Tim McKuen delivered a full agenda, a big crowd, and a fresh venue at the bike-friendly Capital Hotel.

 Mayor Mark Stodola was the featured speaker, Judge Buddy Villines spoke informally, and District 38 State Representative John Edwards attended and visited with many members. Joe Jacobs of showed off the new BACA website at . Joe does a great job with his site and has vastly improved the presence and functionality of the BACA site, even snagging the bikeadvocacy url, wich was remarkably available.

KARK and KATV both had camera crews to cover the event.

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola largely told us what we wanted to hear, and I am somewhat enthusiastic. Only "somewhat" because many of the promises have been made before.

Decorating the tree
A close friend with considerable political experience would have described Mayor Stodola's lobbying as "decorating the tree"; the practice of politicians offering up something shiny to constituents or lawmakers in an effort to gain their support of a broader package. Mayor Stodola offered up the possibility of financing for the River Bluffs trail segment behind Dillard's HQ, and mentioned plans for "road diets" which would reduce portions of So Main and 12th Street to three lanes to create space for bike lanes, and reminded us of the already-promised repaving of Rebseman Park Road. The repaving project is to come from the recently approved sales tax increase, while the Dillard's project would require a new source of financing due to failures in attempts to get federal transportation grants. Stodola is offeringthis up as he is asking our support for the continuation of a property tax millage that is set to expire soon. An upcoming vote would reduce the rate of the tax from 3.3 to 3 mills and generate $104m for street (to include trails) and drainage projects. I'm not a Little Rock resident, but I would be supportive of the act. Little Rock can be a better city but it takes money. I would also suggest that supporters of alternative transportation get out to upcoming ward meeting and get in touch their director. These folks respond to voters!

News from the Judge
Buddy Villines announced that a ribbon cutting for the new SW ramp of the BDB will take place at 9AM on August 1. He also mentioned that towers similar to those that grace the BDB (where the flags are) will be added to each of the ramps. Each ranmp will be closed for some period of time including the north ramp. I have asked for some clarification on whether this will mean round-the-clock closure, as the north ramp closure would prevent crossing the bridge. I'll update this if and when I get clarification from the county.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

River Trail Survery reminder!!!

If you have not completed the Arkansas River Trail Task Force trail user's survey, please do so and let your voice be heard!
 Over 400 riders have participated. The survey link will be open until July 31.

The Arkansas River Trail Task Force has enlisted UALR to conduct a user survey for the Arkansas River Trail. The survey takes about 10 minutes and has various questions regarding trail users’ opinions and concerns for the Arkansas River Trail. This survey’s data will be used to help our task force address users’ concerns and formulate a strategy to improve the trail. We are especially interested in cycling clubs and out of town visitors. All data collected is confidential and NO emails will be kept on file. UALR will tabulate the results in house.

You may have received an invitation to participate from other sources, so please complete just one survey.
Click here to participate. The user pass code for the  JBarCycling group is 1200

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trail Closure (Kind of..); New AHTD Bike-Pedestrian Coordinator

AHTD construction project closes River Trail link

I hate when I'm beat to the punch by the mainstream press, but the AHTD project reported here in earlier posts is underway, resulting in the closure of the sidewalk trail link over the UP tracks east of Episcopal Collegiate School. It has been reported in the Dem-Gaz and discussed on the BACA Facebook page.
Reader Richard Bassett shared this:
River Trail Construction. The piece of the River Trail from Cross Street back across the railroad overpass to the part that drops down to the Episcopal School is closed. There was a bulldozer tearing out the sidewalk and part of the hill on the South side of Cantrell right before the overpass. They have a barricade across the ramp leading from Cross Street up to Cantrell.

It is unfortunate that nobody saw fit to announce the closure of the sketchy but important trail link prior to the commencement of construction, as it was far from being an unplanned emergency as caused by a landslide, meteor strike, or other unforeseen calamity. I'm not aware of a viable alternate route, leaving  riders with the prospect of crossing Cantrell  and/or either riding the traffic lanes or taking the sidewalk on the north side of the road. At most times of day during the week, the options are not good ones. This is the manifestation of poor communications between governmental entities and a disregard for cycling as transportation. I would expect it to be a topic of conversation at Wednesday evening's BACA meeting as well as at the Wednesday meeting of the  Little Rock Bike Friendly Community Committee.

New Bicycle-Pedestrian Coordinator at AHTD

From Bud Laumer, who is exiting the post:

Ms. Kim Sanders is your new Statewide Bicycle-Pedestrian Coordinator here at AHTD. 
I know that you will give her the same sort of support and encouragement that you gave me during my four years here in that role. 
Please replace my contact information with Kim’s. 
Kim is now your contact regarding issues related to cycling and walking in Arkansas.  
Thanks and take care,
Bud Laumer, AICP, LCI

After dropping Kim a note of introduction and explaining who I was and the purpose of my blog, while asking for some of her time to get introduced,she dropped me back a note saying,   "Sure, next time I see you on the trail, we'll talk."
 It then dawned on me that Kim is one of my long-time trail friends, though I've never known her last name. I'm sure she has told me, but sometimes, I'm just a slow learner, and , "Hey, Kim" always sufficed. Kim is an avid rider and a regular on the River Trail, usually in her trademark red kit. If you ride the trail frequently, upon meeting her, you'll say, "yeah, I see you all the time."  I see Kim as being "one of us" and I believe that she will be able to identify with those of us who rider for recreation, fitness, or transportation. I want to thank Bud for his efforts and welcome Kim aboard. With Governor Beebe apparently embracing bike friendliness on the state level, I hope to see more positive action from the AHTD.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Longing For The Trail

This a deviation of my "Along The Trail" features. Much of my subject matter is inspired either by things that I observe or experience out on the bike. It also often comes from information that I obtain by attending the meetings of  various advocacy groups or from conversations with folks who are "in the know" be virtue of whatever their position may be. This time of year, committee meetings have conflicted with vacations or holidays and my long evening sweating out the miles on my bike have been replaced by a lot of reading and fidgeting as I wait out my 17 days in a cast. I fear that my fitness is fading faster than my tan lines and I am very anxious to be back on the bike a back in circulation!
 In the meantime, here are a few odds and ends:

BACA Meeting Wednesday, July 11
The bike will have to wait, but there is a BACA meeting Wednesday night at the Capital Hotel. The Capital has free valet parking and there will be a group of cyclists leaving the Clinton Library parking lot at 6:30 to ride to the meeting. Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola will be speaking. He will be addressing bike infrastructure plans for the city and I expect him to call for support for an upcoming vote to extend a property tax millage. This could serve as a vehicle to help finance the proposed River Bluff trail section behind Dillard's.

Real Estate Opportunity

If you have ambitions along the lines of real estate development and would prefer a location that is convenient to your favorite ride, this could be the deal for you!

The entire area was originally slated to be a planned community with a mix of multifamily and single family homes, but the grand plan has sputtered along with the real estate market and the economy as a whole. That said, the marina seems to be on "go" and the apartments are leasing, so I do expect this very desirable location to be put to use.
 If one of you guys buys this, I expect parking consideration and I expect JMar to buy me a beer. And, no, I will not post general listings for all of my other realtor friends.

Still no recent word on the Diamond Bear Brew Pub planned for the nearby city-owned lots.

Tale of the Rabid Raccoon and Packin' Mommas

Several weeks ago while riding in through Two Rivers Park, our small group encountered a man wielding a large stick as he, along with his wife and dog, skirted on the opposite side of the trail from a very out-of-sorts raccoon. It was broad daylight and the raccoon was dragging its hindquarters and rubbing his head on the ground as he eyed the steady stream of passers by. Our immediate conclusion was that the 'coon was rabid and, though it was seemingly too ill to make any vicious attacks, we took the precaution of warning approaching walkers of his presence. One pair of young ladies, walking rosy-cheeked girls in a twin stroller, calmly responded to our advisory by saying, "We're OK. We're packin'". She reached into her diaper bag, pulled out her dainty little handgun case and slipped it under her arm, smiled and said, "Not looking for trouble, but, you know..."
On one hand, I was comforted that these girls could take care of themselves, on the other hand, it's a little disturbing.....
Don't get me wrong, I come from a long line of gun enthusiasts, though I do not compelled to carry heat.

I was later told by the Game and Fish biologist I eventually made contact with that the raccoon likely suffered from distemper.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Le Tour

warning: stage 6 spoiler below

I'm sidelined with my right hand encased in a club-like brace/bandage arrangement. I'm pretty well stuck inside due to the fact that I can't get this thing wet and it is currently 104f outside, making immediate perspiration likely. I'm off the pain meds and back to work, but that just seems to make me miss my outdoor recreation hours as compared to the sleepy fog of my first couple of days post-surgery. The one redeeming thing about my situation is that I can while away a few hours watching the Tour de France. On one hand, this Tour promised some wide open competition, with Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans as the not-so-overwhelming favorites, with folks like Giro winner Ryder Hesjedal, Levi Leipheimer, Tommy Danielson, Frank Schleck and a handful of others being mentioned as "possibles".  Somewhat like last year, the opening week has been full of carnage. Friday's stage was expected to be an inconsequential lead-up to the first day in the mountains on Saturday. Instead, a massive pile-up took Hesjedal, Danielson and Schleck out of contention, with Danielson and several others out of the race with injuries.   My  man Mark Cavendish got an early stage win, only to suffer from crashes and lack of a lead-out train as his rival Andre Greipel took stages 4 and 5. Cav was out of the sprint today, but young phenom Peter Sagan took advantage of Greipel's lead out to beat him at the line. Exciting stuff.

I can't type worth a damn right now, so I'll invite your Tour comments.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Well, not so independent for me. I'm plenty happy but I find myself to be quite dependent following surgery on Monday to repair a detached ligament on my right thumb. The injury is rightfully called "skier's thumb", as it occurred as I did a face plant in the snow with outstretched hands, my ski pole adding leverage to extend my thumb beyond its natural range of motion. As with most injuries that don't show any visible signs of trauma, I kept thinking that it would heal itself, but reality set in and it was off to see the hand specialist. The MRI told the tale and surgery was scheduled. Given the possibility of pins and grafted tendons, I was glad to be told that the surgeon was able to reattach the ligament without having to go to the junkyard for spare parts.
I'm not sure what I thought when Dr. Moore told me my hand would be bandaged for 2 1/2 weeks, but this cast-like arrangement met or exceeded my expectations!  

Last year's crash excepted, I've considered myself to have been pretty fortunate in avoiding injuries over the years, so I can't whine too much about this, though it makes typing excruciatingly slow (note to self: don't use big words like excruciatingly ) and will keep me off of the bike for a few weeks. Since I can only hold one utensil at a time, and cannot do complicated tasks like operate a pepper mill, I am pretty dependent on Diane for care and feeding. I made sure that I was all caught up on my chores before surgery, so I'm not much of a burden, yet, though I'm sure I'll be a pain in the ass from time to time. I can't get my bandages wet, so any perspiration inducing activities are out. I don't deal well with inactivity, but I'm sure that within a few short weeks, I'll be trying to work my way back from a plump and pasty state.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Another Star-Spangled Success: State Criterium Championships

Sunday was the date of the CARVE-sponsored Dr. Feelgood Star-Spangled Classic/ State Criterium Championships and, like last year the day was forecast to be a scorcher. Knowing that shade is at a premium, I headed to downtown North Little Rock at about 6:30 AM with my Wal-Mart pop-up shade shelter, a couple of lawn chairs, and a cooler loaded with a case of bottled water and a few choice Colorado IPAs. I set up along Riverfront Drive, not far from the finish line and strategically close to the PCI-sponsored super grill, manned by Andy Hight, the solar power station and the industrial fan to which it supplied juice, and to the kiddie pools. I took advantage of all of the amenities except for the pools which, though freshly filled with a fire hose from a nearby hydrant, looked pretty funky.
After setting up, I joined a small group for a ride out to Pinnacle State Park Visitor's. We got back as a small field of junior men was finishing up.

The organizers and sponsors did a great job and it looked like a big bike race. In addition to the team and store tents, Subaru had cars on display, podium girls and swag. Folks from the MS150 were set up recruiting riders for their event, the officials were well-equipped, the PA was good, there was plenty of food and beverage on hand, and the racing was fast!!

The junior men's 15-18 field was not too deep, but these guys fought it out to the end.

Ah, yes, a young man's fancy turns to bike racing....
The young guys were a motivated bunch and the Subaru podium girls helped put a smile on the winner's face. Oh, yeah, and he got a medal!

The races started at 8:00 AM with the younger Jr. Men and Jr. Women, followed by a full slate of men's and women's classifications, with the Cat IV men scheduled to go off at 4:30PM. The simple fact that there were racers to fill the many categories was a tribute to the success of the summer criterium series that culminated in this event. There was a good, enthusiastic crowd on hand, though I will admit to be among those who faded mid-afternoon and retreated to the AC. The racers held up remarkably well, most having been racing all summer, though the heat seemed to be taking its toll on the legs as the day wore on.

 Master 30-45. As expected, CARVE was well-represented, along with BMC, Snapple, and local shop teams from Arkansas Cycling and Fitness and Spokes.

Eventual winner Bob Fegtly led out this prime sprint in the Cat V men's group. 
 The Cat V podium.
 Though they could have used some more riders to share to work, there are some really strong cyclists among the women.
Though the water was a little discolored, the kiddie pools did not go unused.
The officials sorted out some close finishes as MC Scott Penrod kept the action moving along.

 The folks at CARVE have been doing a fantastic job of bringing racing to Central Arkansas, including the Crosswinds Classic road race and the recent State Championship Time Trials, attracting teams and riders from throughout the region. Along the way, these events are raising money for causes like CARTI and Teen Challenge. It says a lot about our cycling scene when  the community pulls together to support events like this one, and it put cycling in a very favorable light as we work to gain acceptance with the public at large.  

 I'll try get a link posted to the results when I can, and my friend Joe Jacobs is sure to have a more detailed report and a few thousand photos posted over at Arkansas Outside.