"If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period."
Though winter in central Arkansas means increased opportunities to show your badass side, you don't really have to suffer too badly in order to get your ride on. Our weather is relatively mild in the big scheme of things, so we can ride year 'round by keeping an eye on the weather forecast and with a reasonable collection of gear.
Spontaneity is often the rule for getting in a quick hour on the bike, but there are several regular group rides that continue through the winter. Here are few rides that keep the wheels rolling:
Spokes Shop Saturday Morning Ride
From Spokes' Facebook page.
CARVE Saturday Morning Out East Ride
This long-standing winter standard is a seasonal diversion from CARVE's summertime leg-breaking race pace Lake Loop rides. The ride is on wheels promptly at 7:30 Saturday mornings from the submarine in North Little Rock, and follows a pancake flat 40-mile loop to the Scott area. Even in marginal weather, quite a few folks will show up for this ride.
Incoming CARVE president Scott Penrod making a couple of pre-ride announcements.
The roll out on a recent Saturday morning.
The winter CARVE ride is described as a base building ride and, as such, the pace is steady and controlled, usually clicking along at around 20MPH. The actual speed varies with the road and weather conditions, but the level of effort is pretty consistent. A little tailwind can easily push speeds to the 25 MPH range, but in that case, after the turn-around the headwind returns the average pace to "as advertised." The effort level allows for lively conversation.
This ride is a good place to sharpen your group riding skills. If you are coming out to lay down the law and hammer, try another ride with these guys in the summer. You may also get some unsolicited advice if it is warranted to help keep the group together and safe. Consider this to be a learning experience. You'll find that following protocol keeps this ride fun and relaxing.
Some or all of the group will stop for flats and mechanicals, so you won't be left out on the road. There is also a nature break at the halfway point that allows you time to discharge excess fluids or munch a Clif bar. This is a very supportive group and the pace isn't hard, but if it sounds like a big stretch for you, pick another ride. For knocking out 40 base-building miles along with some good company, this is one of my favorite winter rides.
George Rhode leads a ladies ride starting at 10:00 from the sub. Pretty much the same drill, but designed to help female riders become comfortable with riding in a group.
More CARVE rides.....
Thursday Night Slow Ride (Base Building)
Thursday nights, meet at base of BDB (Little Rock side) at 5:45. NON RACE pace, base building speed ride. Plan for 40ish miles of flats and some climbs. Road bikes (any welcome) and will be sticking to the trail and the adjoining low traffic roads in NLR (Funland, Fort Roots, rollers behind burns, etc.). Bring lights and leave the ego at home. This ride will clear out the trash from the Tuesday Urban Assault and compliment the longer Saturday morning winter rides out east.
This is an open ride. Although it's at night and lights are required. Please contact George Rhode for details.
Urban Assault Mtn. Bike Ride
OK, The Gunslinger out West ride is moving back in town! We meet at the Church on Woodlawn St. (Pulaski Heights United Methodist). Bring your Mtn., cross, or an old road bike and a light. Wheels will be rolling at 6:15 for an intense 27ish mile ride of pure adrenaline! Come on out! We eat afterwards.. Difficulty 4.8 out of 5.0...
I've never done this ride ('cause I'm scared!), but I've encountered them. I think it is wild and woolly, not for the slow or faint of heart. This ride has been taking place for many years in some form or the other.
The rides on the CARVE calendar are open to anyone who shows up, but you are assuming any risk involved. There are no SAG vehicles, sign-up sheets or waivers, and no "no drop" guarantee.
Don't let winter take you completely off the bike. Few of us are able to maintain our preferred mileage, weight, or fitness over the winter, but there are opportunities if you take them.
If you are aware of other open rides, feel free to post in the comments section.
Go ride your bike.
From the BACA Facebook page comments on this post:
Don't forget the ABC riders. We had 14 people out on Tuesday.
John Barton Cpreen, I obviously did forget the ABC rides. now, you're going to make me find and post the information. http://www.arkansasbicycleclub.org/cgi-bin/ride_schedule.cgi. There's a link, and ABC has an active calendar. There are several weekday rides for the retired or those of independent means.