Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Scatter-Shot At What's Going On

Here are a few of the events cycling events taking place over the next few weeks. Feel free to post things that I've missed in the comments section below. I apologize for not getting Sunday's Seersucker Ride posted, but I got diverted by a crisis threat at the quarry!

Speaking of stylish riding, the Julie Blog has moved to Little Rock!
I've mentioned Julie here a few times, and have linked to some of her posts. Well, the girl who entertained us with her Times Square commute video has returned to Arkansas along with her husband and pup. I look forward to reading Julie's perspective on Central Arkansas cycling.






Bike MS: Rock'n Hot Ride | September 8-9 | Little Rock - Hot Springs - Little Rock


The MS150 was one of our favorite rides through the years that it was held at  Petit Jean Mountain State Park and the surrounding roads. The MS Society is a great organization and the rides always have a more casual feel than rides like CARTI Tour de Rock or the BDB100, though 2 consecutive 78-mile days in the saddle serve as a good tune up for the BDB. Last year, the MS150 was held in Little Rock with a couple of out-and-back rides that, frankly, just weren't too interesting. While avoiding yet another ride out east on the flats, the routes out around Wye Mountain and Lake Maumelle can be done by Little Rock area riders on any weekend without fundraising and entry fees. This year, the MS Society has regained our attention with an overnighter to Hot Springs. Sure, you'll spend a few bucks, but it will break the routine and I've always wanted to ride to Hot Springs. 

So, I'm in for this ride. Send Money!   $$$$$

While I would love to see you sign up and participate, I realize that not everyone will be able to make the trip. In order to allow you to feel better about yourself as a human being, I'll offer you the unique opportunity to support my fund-raising efforts. That's right, I'll do the hard work while you sit around and make a simple on-line financial transaction. It's easy, it's fun, and the link is below!

Do you feel guilty? Send your conscience dollars here:


JBarCycling MS Society Feel-Good-About-Yourself donation opportunity here!

If each regular reader of of JBarCycling gave a paltry $5.00, well, we might be able to make change for a twenty. If you are also in my Outlook directory, you may get asked again but please don't think I'm being pushy! I'll only ask once.



BIKE & HIKE For ALS- Saturday, September 15th
On Saturday, September 15, a new event will take place in Central Arkansas, Bike & Hike for ALS. Local rider Tim Vahsholtz, whose father was recently diagnosed with ALS, is promoting the event. It's a good cause and sounds like a nice  casual day on the bike with a pretty good hike thrown in. It will require a shoe change for most cyclists and, if the way I crawl around up the east side of Pinnacle is an indication, a pair of canvas shorts might be in order. Contact information is in the flyer below.





Big Dam Bridge 100





OK, I don't know if this is still Arkansas' Largest Cycling Tour, but it's dam(n) big and certainly regarded as our premier cycling event. Of course, the BDB is NOT a race so it is entertaining to watch the guys who are shooting for a sub 4-hour time as they collapse at the finish form their non-racing efforts on the road. I usually show up about an hour later, "not racing" as fast as I can. The BDB is a good party and is a visible sign of the popularity of cycling in our town.




Keep North Little Rock Beautiful: Work Day October 6

You can help keep things tidy along the River Trail!

The Keep North Little Rock Beautiful Board and we are holding a Cleanup event on the banks of the Arkansas River on Saturday, October 6 from 8 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. and wondered if we could get the support of the NLR Bicycle groups.  I realize this is the following Saturday after the BDB100, but we thought that might be a great time to remove any trash from the event.  Check in will be at 8 a.m. at the pavilion at the RV park and we will be picking up trash all along the river banks from 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.  How far we go depends on the number of volunteers we get.  This event will be done in conjunction with the International Coastal  Cleanup and be used to compile statistical data presented by the Ocean Conservancy.   We are also getting support from the KLRB and the K Sherwood B affiliates.  The LR side will clean up their side of the river while we are cleaning up the NLR side.

Summer Toyne
Marketing & Development Coordinator
North Little Rock Visitors Bureau
(501)758-1424

Friday, August 24, 2012

Rider Down: Brock Johnson

The Central Arkansas cycling community lost a good friend  with the passing of Brock Johnson. Brock was the President and CEO of Garver, LLC, where my wife Diane is a long-time associate,  and was an avid cyclist who led Garver in supporting many local cycling events such as the Tour de Rock. When Garver made the move to NLR's NorthShore Business Park, the building design included fitness facilities, bike storage and a bike shop for the use of the employees, many of whom enjoy rides on the nearby River Trail. I can't do Brock justice here, but I will say that he was a visionary, a leader, a friend, and he always made me feel like I was a full-fledged member of Team Garver.


From Garver:
Brock Johnson in the Garver bike workshop and storage facility.

William Brock Johnson, Garver chief executive officer, passed away today after battling cancer for the past several years.

"Our company has lost a talented and visionary leader who served as an inspiration to everyone around him, and we are deeply saddened by his death," said Garver President Dan Williams. "Brock was a respected leader who helped guide Garver through a period of historic growth. Brock also was a great friend and mentor to many, and we miss him dearly. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time."

Johnson served as president and CEO from 2003 to 2012. Earlier this month, Johnson presented a resolution to Garver’s board of directors appointing Dan Williams as president, chief operating officer, and chairman of the board.

"Our company has lost a man who led Garver through transformational growth during one of the most difficult economic times in our industry," said Chad Clinehens, Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer. “Brock outlined an ambitious growth plan to double the size of our company over the past five years. Despite the challenging economic conditions, Brock succeeded with flying colors. Brock was loved and respected by his employees, and he will be greatly missed.”

Johnson spent 40 years with Garver. During his leadership, he helped define and expand Garver’s brand and service into new markets, taking the company from six offices in four states to 12 offices in seven states. His direction led to Garver becoming the first engineering company in Arkansas to build a LEED-certified corporate headquarters – Garver’s offices in North Little Rock.

As an avid pilot, Johnson was instrumental in developing the company’s aviation business line, growing it into one of the largest business units in the company and providing services from Oklahoma to Tennessee; his engineering achievements began with much of the infrastructure at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock.

Johnson was a cycling advocate, and he used his passion to transform Garver’s business culture into one that actively supports healthy living. In addition to helping Garver become the first and highest ranking Arkansas engineering firm to earn bicycle-friendly business recognition, his leadership structure contributed to saving Garver millions of dollars in health care costs.

Johnson is survived by his wife Paula; and his three children, Katie, Taylor and Sloan.

In lieu of flowers, the Johnson family asks that memorials be made to Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas: www.bicycleadvocacy.com.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quarry Sale Proposal Withdrawn-Resolution Pulled

I got a call early this evening informing me that Mayor Hays had pulled the resolution to allow him to sell Big Rock Quarry. Fox 16 News reported later that the developer had withdrawn their proposal. Channel 4 also reported than Mayor Hays was an investor in a company controlled by the developer, though Hays denied that the business relationship had anything to do with the terms of the Quarry project. I truly hope that is the case. North Little Rock is a small town and it is not surprising that two prominent people share some investments, but the timing of the news put Mayor Hays in a bad light in the context of the land sale proposal.

Also, the Pulaski County Assessor's office valued the land at $5,400,000.00 according to KARK-TV; far above the sketchy  appraisal of $1,750,000. that was used when the City offered the property for $1,200,000. I realize that the previous statement didn't make a damn bit of sense, but nothing about this deal made sense for the people of North Little Rock.

This would likely have been a done deal if it had come up for a vote in the last council session. The initial publicity mobilized a group of young North Little Rock gentlemen, notably Andy Hight, Kevin Newsom, and John Crow, who created a Facebook group that went from 0 to over a 1000 members in a day and which brought about 45 concerned folks to a quickly-called meeting at The Joint yesterday afternoon. Members of the city council and the mayor were afforded the opportunity to hear from many voters; the vast majority of whom were against the project and angry that the deal was so far along before the public was made aware of it. We should not have to be wary and suspicious of the workings of our city government, but this case proves that vigilence is required. This was also a great example of democracy at work. The key to a successful democracy is an informed population and, once informed of the bargain-basement sale of this valued piece of public property, the people made their collective voice heard.  When I first got wind of this resolution, I will admit that I had little hope of that it could be stopped.Thank you, folks. Now, let's get to work and make the Big Rock Quarry into a park.

Ain't America great?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Quarry Land Sale/Development Proposal



photo by Arkansas Parks and Tourism

Sarah Miller and Lisa Mullis enjoy a ride by the Big Rock Quarry. Now, imagine two 8-story condo towers and a few hundred apartments in this scene. Nope, not quite the same for me, either.

I've been quiet about this project since last week when I jumped on the  proposal to sell what now appears to be 45 acres of land currently owned by the City of North Little Rock along the River Trail, but I have given it a great deal of thought and have made an effort to be objective. I went to the City Council meeting and listened to the presentation and to the response of the the council members. Mayoral candidate and director of Commerce and City Affairs Joe Smith represented the city in the presentation of the plan to the council, though it was obvious that all concerned already knew many of the details of the project. Mr. Smith stated that he had been working on the proposal for over a year. It was also obvious that most of the council was ready to go. Alderman Maurice Taylor spoke of the apartment complex  as something future generation would look upon with pride. With the exception of Alderman Charlie Hight and Mayor Pat Hays, I would speculate that the council members have never been on the River Trail other than perhaps a drive by for some event and there was no mention of the potential value of the property as park land. In fact, the appraisal that values the property at $1,750,000.00 states,

"The subject property has no significant natural, cultural, recreational, or scientific value."



The fact that the subject property includes 1/2 mile of the River Trail  and is wrapped by Emerald Park makes that statement false on its very surface. The site currently has natural, cultural and recreational value and is used on a daily basis. It has cultural and historical value in that it is the Big Rock  (follow link to Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture for source information) that gave name to its counterpart, the "Little Rock" landing downstream, it was in operation as a quarry by 1849 and the French explorer LaHarpe recognized the feature in his journal in 1722.

And how much land are we really proposing to sell?

Another vague point is the acreage itself. The appraisal refers to ~40. acres. The resolution before the council talks of 42 acres and the development plan says 45 acres. I feel strongly that the property should be retained as park land, but if the City is to sell it, shouldn't we at least know what it is that we're selling?

 A question I would ask the mayor and council members is this:

If we had the opportunity to buy 45 acres of riverfront property already encircled by a park and containing the 1/2 mile of the River trail, would we buy it?

Hell, yeah!  I think the answer is that the city, particularly under the leadership of Mayor Pat Hays, would jump on that opportunity.  

Well, we own that property now. At the same time NLR is considering selling this property, we are seeking to buy land that adjoins Burns Park in order to use Burns Park acreage to build a hotel. 

There are a great many factors that point to this being a bad deal for North Little Rock and a bad development for the future of the Arkansas River Trail System. Traffic management through the project is addressed with a couple of underpasses for the trail, but it was obvious during the presentation that just enough consideration had been given to the trail to get the plan past a  cursory nod. A quick survey of the stretch of River Road between the Rockwater development and the quarry would tell an objective observer that it will not safely carry traffic for a 300-400 home development safely alongside the trail traffic, not to mention very limited access to the area in the event on an emergency. Alderman Debi Ross, who is down as supporting the project, brought up the need for a fire boat, and law enforcement officials have expressed concern for the safety of trail users in the area of proposed underpasses.

It is important to remember that the River Trail is the biggest draw for this project.

And, Yes, It's About The Money!

I'm a lifelong resident of North Little Rock, as were my parents before me. I'm a Dogtown Boy through and through, so I feel like I've got a stake in this. Even if you put aside the value of a viable River Trail, the natural beauty of the locale, and discount the once-ever opportunity to retain a spectacular piece of urban park land, let's look at the money. Forty acres appraised at $1,750,000.00. The deal calls for selling 42-45 acres for $1,200.000.00. How can our representatives on the council give away $550,000.00 in value?  I've got no malice against the developers. They know a good deal when they see one. I'm a little chapped that the city council and the mayor seem eager to rush into a bad deal. The appraisal itself reflects a fraction of the property value in comparison to the asking price of other properties for sale along River Road and the fact that it is being offering in an exclusive manner, far below the city's own appraisal, is just bad business. 



A group of concerned citizens has formed the "Save Emerald Park and Big Rock Quarry" Facebook group. These folks have been hard at work and will gather Tuesday night at 5:30 at The Joint in downtown Argenta. I am told that several council members are having second thoughts about the wisdom of rushing this proposal through. Once the property is sold, there is no guarantee of what may be built. Many of us remember the promise of "luxury condominiums and a lifestyle community" at what became the Rockwater Apartments. There was no mention of "Longfellow Arms" in that proposal, either.
The opportunity to sell this land is not a "once-in-a-lifetime" deal, but the opportunity to save it is exactly that.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Invitation From Mayor Hays: Rockwater Blvd. Opening


North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays has invited the cycling community to join in the opening of RockWater Drive:






Grand Opening of Rockwater Blvd.

North Little Rock, AR- You are invited to join North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, August 17 for the Grand Opening of Rockwater Blvd., a new one-half(1/2 ) mile stretch of road which connects the roundabout intersection on Pike Avenue to River Road.

The news conference will be held in front of the Riverside at Rockwater Apartments at the west end of Rockwater Blvd. 

The new road will allow closure of a portion of River Road to motorists, and allow exclusive access for pedestrians and bikers.

 While I am not in agreement with the current proposal to sell the city owned Quarry tract surrounded by Emerald Park, I do support infill development such as Rockwater and certainly appreciate another car-free stretch along the Arkansas River. Mayor Hays has done good work for the cycling community and I'm concerned that with any new administration  we will lose that strong voice of advocacy. We owe Pat Hays a large measure of gratitude.

I'll have more to say on the subject of the land sale proposal, but, for now, I'll just remind you that a public hearing and possible is set for the August 27 NLR City Council meeting. I would be surprised if any minds are changed as a result of the hearings, but a strong turn-out, particularly of NLR residents, might help shape the conversation.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Vuelta a España Fantasy League

Ok, players,
I'm giving a little more notice than I did for the Tour de France Fantasy League on Velogames.com. We just had seven teams in the JBar Cycling Tour Minileague, but the results were as they should have been; I WON. Much like Mark Cavendish on a sprint stage, I sat steadily on the wheels of the leaders for most of the race, then jumped to a narrow lead in the end for the win. My picks of Wiggins, Sagan and Cavendish pulled in the big points, with Tejay van Garderen and others adding to the mix.


The Tour de France finishing leader board.

I'm just getting started picking my team for the Vuelta, and it will be hard deciding on a GC contender; Froome is fresh off of a bronze medal in Olympic individual time trial and second overall in the Tour behind his teammate, Wiggins. Alberto Contador has had some racing days on his legs since his recent return from a doping suspension and is sure to be riding with a huge chip on his shoulder in front of a very partisan Spanish audience. I actually think this will be a harder team for me to pick than my tour team.

Here's the JBarCycling Minileague information:


League Name: JBar Cycling League
League Code: 15022529

Sign up here , read the simple rules and pick your team. Use your budget wisely!






Friday, August 10, 2012

Land Sale: Arkansas Times Has More Information, Vote Delayed

Well, I've got some folks mad at me, notably Mayor Hays, with whom I've enjoyed a good relationship over recent years. I've regularly praised the mayor for his efforts in building the trail and promoting quality-of-life issues and consider him a friend, but this struck a nerve. Sorry about that, Pat, but I was a little upset, myself.

There will not be a vote at NLR City Council on the land sale proposal on Monday night and information is flowing. 

While I went forth with limited information, I was also told directly that there was to have been vote on Monday and the item is on the agenda. A good rabble rousing can sometimes slow the wheels of progress and it now appears there will be a bit of discussion.
Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times spoke directly to Mayor Hays and has a very good follow-up below. I had e-mailed the mayor last night, along with some members of the council, but did not get an immediate response other than that the measure was to be voted upon.

The PowerPoint presentation in the link below makes the project look quit attractive, but the discussion remains as to whether it is appropriate land use and a good deal for the community.


Link to Ark Times post:

 http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2012/08/10/bicyclist-raises-questions-about-nlr-land-sale

From Max Brantley at the Arkansas Times:

UPDATE: I talked with Mayor Pat Hays and got a history lesson in the city's acquisition of the land years ago and a period when there was talking of building a performance space for music and other purposes. The limited access made its use for a mass attendance facility a non-starter he said.
Now, he said, he has a proposal to build 200 to 300 condos or apartments on the roughly 20 to 30 buildable acres there, with some light commercial uses and perhaps a marina on the river. North Little rock Realtor Byron McKimmey is leading the group, Hays said.
Hays said he was inclined to support the plan, but he noted the City Council was divided about developing the property at one time. He said there won't be a vote Monday and likely not at the next Council meeting either. "I want to run it up the flagpole," he said.
Hays emphasized that the river bike/hike trail was "sacrosanct." He said he wouldn't vote for any plant that put a vehicle or other crossing in the way of trail traffic. As a consequence, he said the investment group had drawn a plan to take the existing trail up several feet on existing topography and then use a bridge or other means to pass over a path between the development and the river. He said he'd told developers the trail not only couldn't be adversely affected, "it had to be improved." I'm trying to get a copy of the site plan.
River Road now deadends at the property. But work is underway now to close a portion of River Road and use a newly built extension of Third Street to reach that property.
City Commerce Director Joe Smith provided me with a presentation on the proposed Bluffs development, including the schematic drawings below of overpassing the bike trail.
underpass.JPG

Do You Have An Interest In The River Trail? UPDATE!

UPDATE Friday evening: I have heard from Mayor Hays and have been assured that this resolution will not be voted upon on Monday. There should be some interesting discussions going forward but at least now we may have the opportunity to see details of the proposed development.

Come on down to the NLR City Hall Monday night! You might see part of it approved for sale. Or perhaps you can let the city council know that you don't approve of quietly selling off the Big Rock Quarry for an apartment development.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The City Council meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m.



This deal was creeping quietly by the public, but it is not a done deal until the council gives the mayor the authority to sell. If you live in North Little Rock, contact your councilman NOW!

Mayor:

Patrick Henry Hays
City Hall - 300 Main Street
P.O. Box 5757
North Little Rock, AR 72119-5757
Phone: 501-340-5301
Fax: 501-340-5333
E-mail: mayor@northlittlerock.ar.gov

Ward 1
Debi Ross
3521 Lakeshore Dr
North Little Rock, AR 72116
Phone: 501-753-0733
E-mail: DRoss@northlittlerock.ar.gov
Beth White
4021 Glenmere
North Little Rock, AR 72116
Phone: 501-758-2738
E-mail: BWhite@northlittlerock.ar.gov
Ward 2
Linda Robinson
5206 South Woodland
North Little Rock, AR 72114
Phone: 501-945-8820
E-mail: LRobinson@northlittlerock.ar.gov
Maurice Taylor
4101 Rogers St
North Little Rock, AR 72117
Phone: 501-690-6444
E-mail: MTaylor@northlittlerock.ar.gov
Ward 3
Steve Baxter
5510 Green Valley Ave
North Little Rock, AR 72118
Phone: 501-804-0928
E-mail: SBaxter@northlittlerock.ar.gov
Bruce Foutch
10 Scenic Drive
North Little Rock, AR 72118
Phone: 501-791-0814
E-mail: BFoutch@northlittlerock.ar.gov
Ward 4
Murry Witcher
47 Coronado Circle
North Little Rock, AR 72116
Phone: 501-835-0009
E-mail: MWitcher@northlittlerock.ar.gov
Charlie Hight
1808 Mill Creek Cir.
North Little Rock, AR 72116
Phone: 501-758-8396
E-mail: CHight@northlittlerock.ar.gov


Thursday, August 9, 2012

North Little Rock Selling Quarry Land For Development

Folks, I was caught off guard by this, but the NLR City Council is set to vote on the sale of city owned land at the quarry along the River Trail for a multiuse development. I have little in the way of details, but I have serious questions about vehicular access in light of the promised closing of River Road to vehicular traffic. While I'm not against center-city development, certainly preferring it to urban sprawl, I think most of us perceived this as valuable park space and once it is gone, it is gone forever. Take a look at the impasse at Dillard's on the other side of the river and we can see how giving up this narrow strip between the Big Rock and the river may have serious implications. I am not placated by a statement that says  "well, the trail stays". Damn right. The River Trail is the very reason that this property has become valuable and I do not want to see it compromised. At first glance, the deal smells sneaky and I feel more than a little betrayed.
 It appears that I'm waving a warning flag on something that is a done deal, but the lack of public discussion on this leads to suspicion. I fear that the view from Emerald Park will become a view of rooftops and parking lots and that would be a sad legacy to the last days of Pat Hays's tenure.

 Friday morning update:I'm hearing the plans call for tunnels to separate the trail from vehicular traffic. This project has obviously been in the works for some time out of the public eye. This is public property and the citizens of North Little rock some have an opportunity to see and approve of this proposed project, whatever it may be, before the mayor and city council vote to sell off an irreplaceable piece of property at what appears to be a fraction of its value. If my quick math is correct, the price is about 1/10 of the per acre asking price of the property for sale down the road at Rockwater.It sounds like a swet deal for somebody, but certainly not for the people of North Little Rock.

Edit 2: The buying entity is listed as  "Commercial Real Estate 1, Inc" , not listed as "not current" with the Secretary of State. I'm sure that's simply a matter of  paying fees to date and I don't claim any extertise in such legal matters.
Link below:

http://www.sos.arkansas.gov/corps/search_corps.php?DETAIL=151617&corp_type_id=&corp_name=mme&agent_search=&agent_city=&agent_state=&filing_number=&cmd=

This may be a good deal for all concerned but it needs to be seen in the light of day.



Here's a link to the City Council agenda:

http://northlittlerock.ar.gov/government/council%20agenda/Agenda/Council%20Agenda%208-13-12.pdf


Accidental Talent

My Arkansas Cycling and Fitness jersey got me thrown into the talent pool at a recent Parks and Tourism photo and video shoot on Two Rivers Bridge. photo by Addie

As I dragged my somewhat shattered ego back from a shelling on the Tuesday night Major Taylor  ride,
I came across Addie Teo and a crew from ACF on Two Rivers Bridge taking part in a shoot for Arkansas Parks and Tourism. Diane and I took part in a similar production a few years ago and found our pictures appearing in Bicycle Magazine, on-line ads, and in various tourism guides. Ad....drum roll....we got a talent fee! I was not invited to take part in this event and Addie and her crew certainly had all of the talent they needed so I was just hanging out. As I lurked to the side taking photos of the action from astride mt bike, the woman directing the show, mistaking me for part of the team, grabbed my arm and gave me a shove while yelling "go! go!go!" so, I went! When she realized what had happened, she apologized and told me get back out there. Not being publicity shy, I accepted and spent the next 45 minutes rolling back and forth across the bridge as the cameras rolled and shutters snapped.
 It is obvious that the jersey is the only thing that might have associated me with this attractive bunch.
This was my position before I was flung into the scene, narrowly avoiding a collision with one of the starlets above.
Brian and Adam made up the rest of the official cycling models. Thanks, guys, for letting me share the frame!
The Arkansas Boathouse Club had their crews out in force, with the sunset view of Pinnacle Mountain making for a spectacular background.


My experience just goes to show that you just never know what you might find down along the river! I sometimes wonder how I'm going to keep coming up with topics for posts, but just as frequently I find that I don't have the time to share the many interesting things that I encounter. This was fun and I appreciate that I was invited to participate rather than being run off as in interloping scoundrel!

Back Along The River Trail and the MS Rock'n Hot Ride

During my month-long "time out" from the bike, I really missed seeing my many trail friends and keeping up with the developments and changes along the trail itself. It is kind of like when you run into a seldom-seen acquaintance and think, "man, he's put on a few pounds and showing his age", only to realize that you haven't seen him 10 years and therefore your mental image hasn't been updated in a while. The changes along the trail are not quite so radical, but over the course of my first week bike on the bike I did get to be present for the opening of the west ramp of the BDB, which is the biggest change.

I also noticed that the geese are returning to the NLR trail in numbers. I know that ranger Kate Finefield and some volunteers have tried to keep them moving and worked addling eggs, but I counted around 45 on the soccer fields Saturday morning and a few spots of concentrated poop are again appearing along the trail.  Things are much better than pre-goose-dog days of a year ago, but without aggressive deterrents, we'll almost certainly be right back where we started within a year or two.
A smaller change is the placement of mile markers as park of the 88 mile Arkansas River Trail System. Uniform signage is a small part of that initiative.

 Dumas Garrett at Mile 17 of the Arkansas River Trail System. Dumas and friend Tom Jones showed up to escort me on my Saturday ride on an old mountain bike and a hybrid, respectively. Tom claimed his road bike was still boxed from a late flight back from Colorado but I accused them of adding insult to my injury as they humored me on my return to the bike.

 Many of the hot afternoons have seen the the trail system virtually abandoned of late, though in the last week the promise of highs in the 90's seem to have drawn folks back out. I'm delighted to see folks out and about and on Tuesday I decided to fall in with the Major Taylor group on their regular group ride. It was a bit of a tactical error of optimism on my part. Though I managed to ride 150 miles in my first week back on the bike, the mileage was not a substitute for fitness and I was dropped gasping on the first hill we encountered on Pinnacle Valley Road.

Rock'n Hot Ride 



The big fall rides will soon be upon us and it's time to start making plans. The first ride on my list is this year's MS150 Rock'n Hot Ride , which will be an overnighter to Hot Springs. It requires some fund-raising or check writing, but the MS150 rides at Petit Jean were among my favorites and this new route intrigues me. On Saturday, we'll ride to Hot Springs, grab our overnight bags from the provided transport and check into a hotel, have a soak and some dinner, then dump our stuff for transportation and ride back on Sunday. It's a great cause and the MS rides always have less of a "race" feel than the BDB100 and Tour de Rock. It's a great chance to just enjoy the ride while building toward a fast Big Dam Bridge 100.






Friday, August 3, 2012

Ramping Up! BDB Southwest Approach Open for Business!

The dignitaries were lined up on August 1 to cut the ribbon to the new west ramp on the Big Dam Bridge.

 Wednesday, August 1, marked the completion of yet another major project along the Arkansas river Trail as the southwest approach was officially opened to traffic.Considering that the event was held at 9:00AM on a hot, drizzly and sultry Wednesday morning, there was a good turnout and the cycling community was front-and-center.

 Bert Parker of Garver, LLC, the engineering firm for the project, is all smiles, along with Judge Villines and Susan Cooper of the Big Dam Bridge Foundation

The Judge knows how to get things done and that includes speeches.  Buddy keeps it short, makes his point, and gets down to business. He noted the importance of the BDB and trail system, remarked on the designation of the BDB as a "Top 10 Must See Bridge" by the Society of American Travel Writers, and allowed his counterpart from the Corps of Engineers a few words before wielding the scissors and stepping out of the way!


Folks were ready to try out the new ramp and Judge Villines didn't waste much time in letting us get to it!
The community was well-represented by cyclists from Team Garver, ABC, BACA, Mellow Velos, AHTD, NLR Parks Department, and many riders just coming out to show their support and be among the first up the ramp.
The traffic was not limited to bicycles.


   We will all nee to learn some new traffic patterns.

 While the new ramp will help divert some traffic away from the frequently congested area at the base of the east ramp, we all need to be alert to the new traffic patterns. As I rode home Wednesday, a runner coming up the old ramp cut the corner as he made a left turn to go down the new ramp. He was head-down and huffing as he stepped directly into my path. I was watching him and nearly stopped, but he was startled as my front wheel came into his field of vision. 

Pinnacle Valley Bridge Work

Many of you may be aware that the Pinnacle Valley Road bridge over Little Maumelle Creek is currently closed for maintenance. The signs indicate the the bridge will be closed until the end of August, but county officials say the contractors should be finished by next week. 



Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Free at last, free at last.......

Well, at least I'm back on the bike with only minor limitations! My not-so-stylish cast was removed yesterday and I stepped down/up to a hard molded brace so, while I'm still not supposed to move my thumb, it fits a couple of positions on my road bars well enough. I rejoice that I never went Campy so that all of my shifting is done with the fingers!
 
 Come on out, folks, there's plenty for everybody!

Since, I'm back on River Trail patrol, it is safe for the rest of you to come back out. Really. I got out Tuesday night a little before 6:00 only to find that almost nobody was there, so I naturally assumed that for many people it is simply not worth riding the River Trail if I'm not there. OK, perhaps it's NOT all about me. A few folks could have been put off by the persistent heat, but Tuesday is a prime ride night and it was a fairly pleasant 102 degrees with clouds cover.