Friday, May 30, 2014

French's Friday Lunch Ride

Local cyclist Kris French has been calling up Friday lunch rides for the last several weeks. In most circumstances, I would have said, "Kris has been leading a ride...", but I don't want to encourage regular folks to actually follow Kris.
I needed to pick up my Gran Fondo packet at Orbea, USA, so I decided to hop on my town bike to secure my goods and join the lunch ride. At one point, I thought Lance Armstrong might join us, but I think he got a better offer in the form of a round of golf at Alotian. Lance is in town for the Gran Fondo. He announced his plans yesterday via Twitter "Heading to Arkansas tomorrow for the Little Rock Gran Fondo. Looking forward to it! @lancearmstrong", and, according to Fondo organizers, had simply gone on line, paid his money, and signed up like the rest of us.

We had a pretty big group and the bike selection ranged from Keegen's Euro Orbea BMX rig to Vinny's vintage Schwinn.

Makes you proud to be an Arkansawyer, doesn't it? Photo poached from ace photographer Bob Black-Ocken's Facebook post.

Ride leader Kris French on approach to Vino's. He chose designer jeans over the Superman skinsuit he rocked at the recent downtown crits. There was some discussion of the gender for which said jeans were designed. Results were inconclusive.

I stuck with water for the lunch ride, but the beer drinkers were divided between the Arkansas Outside Amber and the Pinnacle IPA, both fine choices.

I think anyone is welcome to join Kris. The ride departs from Orbea/ Spokes  at 119 Main in downtown Little Rock. Bring lunch money, a mellow attitude, and don't get in a big hurry. Destinations vary.
Enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Trail Closure Ahead and a Soft Landing

Bridge Closure:
The Shillcutt Bayou Bridge, aka" The Wooden Bridge", at Burns Park will be closed this Friday to allow for the installation of the new bridge structure.
There are no convenient detours on this stretch of trail. Through riders will likely need to travel the south side of the river.
Soft Landing
As I headed out west on Memorial Day, I noticed a hot air balloon floating over the Arkansas River in the area of Burns Park. I was a little surprised to find it at eye level as I passed the Burns Park golf course.
The pilot is to be commended for a nifty landing in this small open space. He dropped the balloon at the water's edge and quickly enlisted the help of some folks on the ground.

The impromptu ground crew got a quick lesson in bringing down the envelope. The pilot got on the phone to his chase vehicle and they were soon on their way to retrieve the balloon and its passengers.

The balloon had launched from west Little Rock and made the trip in about an hour and a half. You just never know what you will see along the Arkansas River Trail!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Approach to The Gran Fondo

Correction: I had stated that timing chips would be in use for this event. I just got word from organizers that they had made a decision not to use chips. The goal is for riders to enjoy the experience and chips often create a race mindset. You can still go as fast as you want to, or, as is the case for most of us, as fast as you can.

The first Little Rock Gran Fondo is fast approaching, and I'm told that fewer than 25 slots remain, so it's time to get on board or be left behind! It promises to be a fun event from the champagne toast before the 8:00AM Saturday roll out to the Pop On Main fine dining event.
I dropped by the Spokes Coffee Bar at Orbea,USA, last Friday and had a short visit with Tony Karklins and Jason Warren. They were still working out last-minute arrangements, but it sounds like things have come together nicely.

Jason Warren, of title sponsor Arvest Bank, and Tony Karklins looking over some deluxe RVs that a client is bringing out for the Gran Fondo.
Warren modeling the LRGF jersey in this Facebook selfie. Speculation was running rampant as the whether the photoshopped torso was that of Alberto Contador or Kate Moss.
I'm looking forward to the Gran Fondo, with a plan that emphasizes pleasure over pain and plush over rush. Race your heart out if you so desire. I want to check out the food.
Here's a link to an earlier article with details.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Bike To Work Day Report

Oh, how the weeks do fly by.....
Last Friday was Bike To Work Day, and the local turnout was good in spite of the fact that we had March-like temperatures. Diane led a convoy from Park Hill, along with  former NLR Mayor and congressional candidate Pat Hays, and we were joined by several other area riders.
Pat Hays led the way as we crossed the Main Street viaduct to downtown.
Riders from all over the city gathered at the Old State House.
Pay Hays, Mayor Stodola, and Jim McKenzie
Bike To Work is always a bit festive. Friday was not exception, as cyclists heard a few words from LR Mayor Mark Stodola, Metroplan's Jim McKenzie, and Pat Hays regarding the importance of cycling in our community and the progress that we have made in recent years. As Hays recounted our ride to the event, "we rode down Main Street just like we belonged there...because we do!"
Warning- Political aside:Keep that in mind at election time. Pat  Hays is unlikely to promise bike lanes on every highway, but he is a dedicated cyclist who understands the economic and quality-of-life benefits associated with alternative transportation. I've found him to be a conservative and pragmatic politician in a world over-promising extremists.
As has been the case in recent years, the Capital Hotel welcomed all riders to breakfast. This was not a cold bagel and bad coffee, but a very nice buffet, table service, and very good coffee!
Mmmmm...bacon! Diane and some of the Garver Crew enjoyed an elegant breakfast before heading on to the office.
Capital COO Michael Chaffin said the room had been set for 80 people and it was full to overflowing. Thanks to MC and the Capital for the continued support of cycling in our city!

Chaffin checking in with the diners. No complaints, here, Michael!
Parking downtown is easy when you pick the proper mode of transportation. The Capital regularly offers valet bike parking but added racks out front for this event.
It is very rewarding to see so many civic and business leaders embracing the concept of bikes as transportation, and to recognize that cycling has brought a great deal of positive economic impact to Central Arkansas. We are becoming a place to which educated young people are drawn. For my generation, the location of a job was what most often caused people to relocate. For many people today, careers are almost secondary to lifestyle amenities, and the draw of our area is growing every day.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Riverfest Plan For Cyclists

My Riverfest plan in recent years has been to pack up the pickup and get the hell out of town. I've been drawn by some good bands a few times in the last few years, but the atmosphere is a little too thick with cigarette smoke and large people with bad tattoos to appeal to me, and the music line-up this year is pretty weak.
That said, Riverfest obviously attacts a broad demographic. I mean there a black Harley-Davidson T-shirts, black AC-DC T-shirts, black Skynyrd T-shirts, etc, etc, reflecting a full range of cultures.


Clinton Park Bridge Will Be Open:
Chase Hawkins with the Riverfest Logistics Committee reports that the Clinton Presidential Library Bridge will be OPEN during Riverfest. The festival grounds will be fenced, but riders and pedestrians will be able to access 3rd Avenue from the bridge.

The section of the Arkansas River Trail that is located in Riverfront Park will be closed during the festival and on Memorial Day. Please make plans for alternate routes if using the ART between Friday, May 23 and Monday, May 26th.

Please be aware that there will be very large crowds in the downtown area and traffic volume will be high.

Bike Valet Parking Available: 
Bobby's Bike Hike and BACA are teaming up for a FREE Bike Valet for anyone riding to Riverfest.  The Valet will be directly in front of Bobby's Bike Hike in the Little Rock River Market.  Best parking choice by far, spread the word!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Ride of Silence-6:00 PM Tonight

Wednesday, May 21 6:00PM
Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas (BACA) is sponsoring the annual International Ride of Silence. This is to HONOR and REMEMBER those who have been injured or killed, to RAISE AWARENESS that we are here, and ask to SHARE THE ROAD. We will ride 2 abreast at about 12 mph down the new bike lanes on Main St to downtown.
Ride will leave from the parking lot on South Main Street at 13th Street in Little Rock.  Respectfully poached from Joe Jacobs

Opportunity Knocks: Little Rock Gran Fondo Volunteers

The Little Rock Gran Fondo rolls on May 31 and promises to be a unique experience for riders, with premium swag, plush rest stops, and a finisher's experience that includes Pop on Main. Pop on Main, as you may recall, will feature 5 of Little Rock's best chefs serving up fine dining from individual "pop-up" restaurants on Main Street, accompanied by some choice beverages.
For non-riders or for riders who are not up for the 70+ mile course or for whom the entry fee would not fit a budget crowded with items like shoes for the kids and rent, here is a golden opportunity!
Steve Shepherd, USAC official type guy, needs some help out on the course.  He's calling them volunteers, but there is a certain mercenary aspect to the role, as volunteers will receive a $35.00 ticket to Pop on Main and a very cool Fondo T-shirt!

Here is Steve's call-out:

Below are the positions that I need covered for the LR Gran Fondo.  The riders will leave the 2nd and Main starting area at 8 AM.  The route will run in a counter-clockwise direction through southern Pulaski County and northern Saline County.  Exact start times can be estimated depending on which location someone volunteers for.  But I don't think that anyone will spend more than 2.5 to 3 hours at their post.


I'm also going to get volunteers to put up direction signs at intersections between the start area and their monitored intersection. 

Wrightsville Rest Stop

Park Bikes, Help with food & drinks

Place sign at Hwy 365 & Harper (Right)

Place sign at Benny Barnes Road (north end of Tree Farm run) & Hwy 365 - (Right)

Place Sign across from Rest Stop on Hwy 365 (Left)

Traffic Monitoring at Arch Street & Pratt Road

Place sign at Ironton & Pratt (Right)

Place sign at Pratt & Arch/Hwy 367 (Left)

Traffic Monitoring at E. Sardis & Arch Street/Hwy 367

Place sign at E. Sardis & Arch Street/Hwy 367 (Straight)

Place sign at Hwy 367/Arch & Eastend (Right)

Place sign at Eastend & Springlake (Right)

Place sign at Springlake & Woodson lateral (Left)

Volunteers at Highway 365 & Pratt/145th

Place sign at Woodson lateral & Highway 365 (Left)

Place sign at Hwy 365 & Pratt/145th (Left)

Volunteers at Pratt/145th & Matson Road (entry to Tree Farm)

Place sign at Pratt/145th & Matson Road (Right)

Unlock gates at beginning and end of Matson Tree Farm

Traffic Monitoring at Fourche Pike & Frazier Pike

Place sign at Harper & Frazier Pike (Left)

Place sign at Frazier & Thibault (Right)

Place sign at the 90 degree left on Frazier Pike (Left)

Place sign at Frazier/Sloane & mauney (Right)

Place sign at Mauney & Lindsey (Left)

Traffic Monitoring at Roosevelt & Airport (Temple)

Place sign at Roosevelt & Airport/Temple (Straight)

Place sign at traffic circle on 9th/Temple (Right)

Place sign at Temple & 6h (Right)

I would also like to get 2 motorcycles for general support of the riders.  It may be that one carries a mechanic with spare tubes and a minimum number of tools.  I may also get one to take a photographer to various areas to get action shots. 

All volunteers will get a ticket to the Pop on Main Food Festival ($35 value) and a LR Gran Fondo T-shirt. 

Steve Shepherd
Stephen Shepherd []
Home: 501.225.6077
Cell:  501.258.6077

So, for the small effort of placing a couple of signs and 2 to 3 hours of waving to your friends and loved ones riding by, or riding a moto just like the cool cats of the Tour de France, you will earn not only the T-shirt and some great food and beverages, but the respect and admiration of your peers! This is an amazing opportunity!
Get on board NOW to be a part of the one and only first Little Rock Gran Fondo.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2014 Ronde van Burns-May 20, 27 and June 3,10,17

Criterium racing returns to Burns Park starting with "C" group racing tonight at 5:15. The crits move to Tuesday nights this year and will continue for the next 5 weeks.
Criterium racing is spectator friendly, as most of the course can be seen from the start-finish line.
Judging by the large fields at the Rock City racing downtown crits a couple of weeks ago, I expect big fast packs and some throw-down racing.  Ride on over to the Burns Park soccer complex to see what it's all about or to join in the racing. You'll just need a few bucks for entry and a one day license, a road bike, and the motor, nerve, and bike handling skills to roar full gas through tight turns shoulder-to-shoulder and wheel-to-wheel with a bunch of your peers.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Along the Trail and Around Our Bike Town

Bike related events continue to occur in rapid-fire order around here, making it difficult for me to keep up. After all, I want to participate in or observe everything, my own riding requires that I spend time on the bike, I have a pretty demanding full-time job, writing this blog is rewarding and I take a little pride in the writing and in keeping it interesting, I love spending time with Diane and our little dog pack, we have two homes and a piece of rural property to keep in order, I require sleep, and recent rains meant that a creek was calling me to load a boat and head to the hills.
Let me be clear, there is not a complaint anywhere on that list! Life around here is full of good things and populated with a lot of good people enjoying them! Here are a few reports on recent happenings.

Different Spokes Exhibit- Old State House Museum

Visitors to the Old State House were greeted by this rider, seen demonstrating the mount of the high wheeler.
The penny-farthing in motion looks quite elegant

I hope that you got by over the weekend to see this, as it was well worth a visit. One of the best parts was the video that streamed in the exhibit hall. It featured many familiar figures from our community talking about the evolution and growth of cycling in recent years, and the emotion was palpable. I've been involved in cycling for a short 10 years and the growth and vitality of cycling here has amazed me. I can imagine how gratifying it is for some of the folks who for decades have been advocating, hoping, working, and wishing for the kind of cycling resources and activities that we now enjoy and take for granted.

I would speculate that this bike was neither stiff nor compliant.

The exhibit included everything from a home made wooden bike to the latest carbon BMX machines, most on loan from local collectors and shops.
The reception featured good food and drink, good live music, and interesting company.
I did not take part in the Bike-Walk Summit, but I understand that there was fairly good participation as we take baby steps toward statewide advocacy. I supported the movement by riding my bike.
Our friends Lisa Mullis and Joe Jacobs at Arkansas Outside once again sponsored the local Cyclofemme ride on Sunday, May11. "A women only ride, celebrating the power of the bicycle and inspiring girls to get on a bike and ride. " A women only ride? I'm there!
I met Diane as I rode back into town near the end of my ride and escorted her to Murry Park in order to do some reporting. Cyclofemme did, indeed, demonstrate the strength and influence of the female cyclists of our community.  I recognized a lot of leaders among the women, including long-time advocates Coreen Frasier and Judy Lansky, along with some "emergers" like Stacey Tierny, Victoria Crumpton, and Laura Wooldridge.

Diane showing off her new temp tattoo. Victoria Crumpton (center) and the Heels on Wheels women were out in force.
There was a large, very diverse group of riders.
After some visiting and tattoo application time, Lisa Mullis started things off by thanking everyone and sorting out the ride groups. There was then an interesting procession as clusters of women, including road riders, mountain bikers, and casual riders, rolled out for their respective rides before gathering again for refreshments and camaraderie.

OA thanked some other supporters on Facebook:
"Thank you CARVE, Jim Allen of Wild Birds Unlimited, Heels on Wheels, Geek Eats and The Community Bicyclist Bike Shop for your support...."
Credit where due.

..and elsewhere along the trail

This Go!Running crew was handing out water, sports drinks, and snacks. A wink and a nudge might has gotten one a mimosa or a bloody Mary, but I don't think those were among the "official" offerings.
In addition to a bunch of great local bike shops, we are also served by fine locally owned running stores like Gary Taylor's Go!Running and Bill Torrey's Rock City Running. Go!Running has made a bit of a mark by setting up cold water stations and this "non event" aid station along the Arkansas River Trail. Good fun and well appreciated.

The honeysuckle along the river has perfumed long stretches of the trail with its intoxicating aroma. It makes you just want to close your eyes and drink in the frangrance, but don't do that! You're riding a bike and safety comes first. The mulberries are near ripe and soon the wild plums will be ready to go as well, making for sweet trailside snacks.

Shillcutt Bayou Bridge site
Work is well underway on the new Shillcutt Bayou Bridge at Burns Park. The new bridge is prallel to the bone-shaking wooden bridge. Completion of the new bridge is expected to be complete around the end of July, followed by completion of the approaches near the end of August. The trail will remain open throughout the project and the old bridge will remain in place after completion, as the wooden bridge  is built over a wastewater force main.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Arkansas Bike/Walk Summit- May 9 thru 11

Another "bike-centric" weekend is in store for central Arkansas! In conjunction with the summit,  the Old State House Museum will open the free exhibit "Different Spokes", about bicycling in Arkansas.

Follow the link in the press release below for more information.

I'm going to save myself some typing and copy the press release from Judy Watts at Metroplan:
Arkansas bike/Walk summit announces may 9-10 date
First ever statewide summit to take place at Old State House Museum 
LITTLE ROCK, ARK., May 6, 2014 — Bike/Walk Arkansas is pleased to announce the first ever statewide Bike/Walk Summit scheduled for May 9 – 11th at the Old State House Museum in Little Rock. Cycling and pedestrian issues will be discussed as well as strategies to improve both modes of transportation and recreational activities across the entire state. Keynote speaker Andy Clarke from the League of American Bicyclists will be present to address the attendees on improving the bicycle and pedestrian friendliness of Arkansas.

The summit kicks off Friday night, May 9th with the opening reception of the “Different Spokes” cycling exhibit where attendees need to rsvp for free at  On Saturday, May 10th the summit includes guest speakers, six breakout sessions will be available for participants to choose from. Breakout session topics include:
·       Making Our Communities More Walkable and Livable
·       Trail Funding Sources and Grant Opportunities
·       Bike Education for Youth
·       Trail Building, Maintenance, Advocacy Groups, and Land Managers
·       Creating a Bike Community for Everyone
·       Promoting Trails for Economic Growth and Tourism

Following the breakout sessions and closing presentations, attendees are invited to participate in an organized run, ride, or walk followed by a summit party on the Old State House lawn. The cost to attend the Saturday summit is $25 that includes lunch on Saturday and a one-year membership to Bike/Walk Arkansas.  The summit concludes with a free bike ride on Sunday, May 11th celebrating Mother’s Day and details can be found on the Central Arkansas Cyclofemme Facebook page at
To register and read more about the summit, visit
Bike/Walk Arkansas was founded in 2012 with the goal to lead efforts for passage of the majority of bike and pedestrian legislation around the state. Bike/Walk Arkansas wants to grow use of roads, trails, and sidewalks statewide and to create complete, safe and healthy streets by working for investment in a balanced transportation system, providing education, developing more inclusive communities for cycling and walking, building a coalition of organizations, promoting bike tourism and travel, and seeking to make bicycling accessible to everyone.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Double Down Weekend: Central Arkansas Cycling In All Its Glory

With the Southwest Tandem Rally bringing 100 tandem teams to Little Rock and the Rock City Racing Criterium and 5K going on for two days at downtown locations, I expected a big weekend for cycling in Central Arkansas, and there were no disappointments. That is, other than the fact that I couldn't be everywhere for every
event. I left the house on Saturday around 8:00 and finally rode slowly up the last hill home around 4:30 that afternoon with only about 65 miles on my legs but with a full day of cycling exposure.

Southwest Tandem Rally

Good roads, perfect weather, great event organization, Capital Hotel bike valet,
fine dining, Diamond Bear brewery stop, and a load of Arkansas hospitality. No wonder these riders look so happy!
Seeing this many tandems in one place is not a common sight. Teams prepare to roll out from the Capital Hotel.
Things could not have been better for a weekend on the bike. Even the recent persistent winds laid down for the day on Saturday, and with it the clouds of pollen that we've been experiencing.  I expected the usual praise for the Arkansas River Trail System, but the largely-Texan crowd of tandem riders seemed most impressed with our roads. While Arkansas has its share of chip-and-seal, most of the popular road rides in Central Arkansas cover smooth asphalt.
Tandem teams crossing the Clinton Park Bridge
Tandems stream across the BDB on a perfect spring morning.

While the tandem riders were impressed with our bridges and trails, they seemed most pleased with the quality of our roads.
Many of the bikes were very nice and sported some features that us run-of-the-mill road riders don't often see. Check out the website of SWTR sponsor and participant House of Tandems to see what is possible when you start adding saddles to a bike. There was even a "triplet" tandem (does that make any sense?) at the rally and House of Tandems  has 'em.
This ti frame caught my eye. Note the frame couplers for travel, belt drive, and huge rear brake rotor. I commented on the size of the rotor and the captain said, "Yeah, we were glad to have it descending Mont Ventoux." If you're going to drop the name of a climb to a cyclist, that's a good one.
All together, now, climb!
As I rode from downtown to the Ferndale area with the tandems, I was given an opportunity to view the local scene from the eyes of outsiders, and that view is remarkable. We started in a vibrant urban center, passing the Clinton Library, Heifer Project, and a wetlands park, crossed 3 bike-pedestrian bridges as we made our way along the river through a chain of well maintained and very active parks, passing a skate park, soccer fields, equestrian resources, and community gardens as we headed out to miles of lightly traveled suburban and rural roads. It is easy for us locals to overlook our resources, as we have seen them grow and be connected over time, but to visitors who get to see the current picture all at once, our cycling scene is nothing short of spectacular.
The SWTR riders enjoyed some Arkansas hospitality along the route as this family set up to share refreshments, a view of Pinnacle Mountain, and, perhaps most importantly, a restroom.
I guess that by nature the people who ride tandems are a congenial bunch, because I found everyone that I encountered to be friendly, outgoing, and simply having a whole lot of fun on the bike. Folks, we were glad to have you and you're welcome back any time! Let us know that you're coming and we'll talk to the weather man about providing another perfect weekend.
Our community owes a big "thank-you" to Rod and Teresa Hernandez, their crew, and the local interests like the Capital Hotel, Diamond Bear Brewery, the DoubleTree Hotel, Heifer Project, Orbea, and Spokes. Together, they helped to not only bring this group to our city, but to show off some of the best that we have to offer.
Rock City Racing
The action downtown was fast and furious all day Saturday and Sunday as Rock City Racing brought crits to two locations.
The pack flying toward the start/finish line of Capital Ave.
Saturday's racing was in the bustling 3rd and Rock area downtown. Many people visiting the River Market area found their way over to watch some of the action and venues along the course were full. Local businesses like Dugan's Pub and Zin Wine Bar  generously offered gift certificates to be awarded as race primes on designated laps.

At the South Main finish line.
The SoMa disrtict was a happening place on Sunday.
Criterium Races are fun to watch and there are classes for just about anyone with the nerve and the bike handling skills to operate in a high speed pack on a technical course. Many of the course marshals who controlled traffic on the course were residents of the neighborhood.
Thanks go out to the CARVE and SimplexQ teams for organizing and running the races and to all the volunteers and sponsors who made it possible,
We're a bike town and many local businesses are recognizing the fact that bikes mean business, and they are capitalizing on the fact. Cycling is bringing visitors, driving sales, and entertaining tourists, so let's encourage more events like the Tandem Rally and the Rock City Crits.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Ride and Race Opportunities for The Fat and Skinny Alike

Fat Tire Racing: Syllamo's Revenge

It is a rare thing when Syllamo's Rvenge does not sell out within hours of the opening of registration; howver, the race course was apparently in poor shape last year and that turned some folks off. That could be an opportunity, as over 80 IMBA volunteers spent a day working on the trail and it is said to be in very good shape. This from Steve Parker:

The Syllamo's Revenge is a week from Saturday, on May 17th.  This is a first for the Syllamo's Revenge, which usually sells out on the first day...there are 21 spots left.  The trail system has received some harsh, but deserved, criticism over the past couple years, but if that's the reason you haven't signed up, you're going to miss out.  80+ volunteers were on the trail for an organized work day that included the IMBA Trail Care Crew earlier this year.  They re-routed one section of trail and cleared downed treed and briers from the rest.  Every report I've received from riders say the trail is in much better condition than in recent years, and well on it's way.  This has been accomplished by a commitment from the Forest Service, Friends of the Syllamo Trail, and IMBA, to bring the Syllamo Mountain Bike Trail back to condition that earned it IMBA Epic status. 

The recent wind storms have some trees down on the course, but, barring a last minute storm, they should all be removed by race day   I'll be on the course all next week getting the trail marked and cleared so that each of you have the best riding experience possible.  I will have limited access to email, so all rider transfers and changes must be submitted by Sunday, May 11th.   

II just got confirmation that I can make a supplemental shirt order Friday and still get them in time for the race, so I've reopened registration until midnight Thursday, May 8th.  Take advantage of the rare chance to get in this close to race time.  Signature Syllamo Rocks given to top 5 in each division, increased prize money, a $250 cash bonus to the 10th Anniversary Champion and $100 bonuses for the top 10 finishers are only a few of the reasons not to miss this year's event.   If you want to ride the toughest 50 miles of single track anywhere, here's your chance.    

Be sure to go to the new Syllamo's Revenge website at and sign up for the new newsletter and/or like the Syllamo's Revenge Facebook Page to be kept up to date.  

 The Skinny:

CARTI's Tour de Rock takes place on June 7th. This is a flat century and, for those who are so inclined, is fast!! TdR is a great opportunity for riders to get their "personal best" hundred miler, whether your goal is 6 hours or 4. One of the more popular features of the TdR is the training rides. They are well supported and can be considered "miniTours"!
Training rides actually started last weekend and there are 2 remaining.

Training Rides Sat., May 10th and May 17th!
Are you registered?
Get ready for the ride with the Tour de Rock Training Ride series beginning
Saturday, May 3 through May 17.  Check out this year's schedule below!
*You must be registered for Tour de Rock to participate in the Training Rides.
 Saturday, May 3 (30-40 miles)   Sponsored by:   
Saturday, May 10 (40-50 miles)     Sponsored by:
Saturday, May 17 (50-60 miles)      Sponsored by:    Rev Rock
START TIME is 7:00a.m. at Fikes Bikes in NLR
                             Click Here to register for Tour de Rock
Want to stay updated on training ride schedules and changes? 
Click Here to sign up for our weekly training ride email.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

2014 Southwest Tandem Rally, May 2-4

The Little Rock tandem team of Rob and Teresa Hernandez will be hosting a couple of hundred of their friends as the Southwest Tandem Rally brings 100 teams from 14 states and a team from Ontario, Canada. Those are not official numbers, but my count from a quick scan of the list of riders. Not surprisingly, most of the teams are from Texas. Based on my scant research into the recent history of the SWTR, it has been held at various locations around Texas each year. Most impressive in the roll of teams is that there are only 5 from Arkansas. That means that 95 out-of-state couples and their entourages will be renting hotel rooms, eating, drinking and shopping in Central Arkansas.

Michael Chaffin of the Capital Hotel worked with the Hernandezs to make the Capital Hotel the event headquarters, with overflow heading across the street to the Double Tree. There are very few doubters of the fact that cycling means good business for Arkansas, and this event is a prime example of a very direct contribution to the local economy.

Ya'll Come Back, Now..
What Chaffin knows is that many of these people will return once they sample the facilities, the hospitality, cycling infrastructure, and the fantastic road riding that they will experience in Central Arkansas.

Early arrivals at the Capital Hotel
Photo by ace photog Rob Stephens from his dinner table at Ashley's Thursday.
Did I mention that the hanging baskets at upper left were provided by LR Parks and Recreation? Well, I was supposed to, and they obviously did a fine job. (is that payment enough for the photo, Rob?)
Follow this link to the SWTR website and you will see that Rob, Teresa and their team did a great job in promoting the rally (it sold out almost immediately) and in putting together an exciting slate of activities and resources for participants.
I ran into Tony Karklins, of Orbea USA, and Michael Chaffin on a ride this evening and found that the Capital had gone to some lengths to make the weekend special for cycling guests. The Capital always offers bike valet service, and for the tandems they have built special racks and set aside the ballroom for secure bike storage. The hotel will also provide laundry service for bike kits. Just stuff your stinky kit in the bag provided by the hotel and your clean clothes will be hanging on your bike when you head down for coffee.

Valet parking available! Photo shared by M. Chaffin

The SWTR website not only promotes the rally, but it shows off our city very well. It is easy to forget some of the elements that are making the Little Rock-North Little Rock area into a unique and vibrant urban destination.
I plan to spend some of my weekend ride time on my usual route out west shadowing the tandems' route  to get a few photos. And I'll make it a point to get back downtown in time to watch some of the Rock City Crits, Then, I may have to stop by the bike-friendly Stone's Throw Brewery for a local IPA.
Folks, we're living in a bike town and for this weekend that fact will be very apparent as criterium racers and their fans converge on downtown while 100 tandems stream out of nearby hotels to the start of their choice of 3 road and river trail rides.
Get on your bike be a part of it.