Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What's Happening With Road Bike Racing In Central Arkansas?

The answer to that question is, "not much". There will be no Arkansas State Road Race this year, and no criterium championship. This situation has upset quite a few folks, but such events require the commitment of sponsors and promoters in the form of time and money, and both of those commodities seem to be in short supply. When I started riding bikes six years ago, like most folks, I developed a curiosity about racing. I've never participated in any sport more competitive than beer-powered vollyball or hackysack, but I was interested. I only had a vague notion of the structure of the local cycling scene, being aware of the Arkansas Bicycling Club and CARVE and just assuming that there was some kind of organized racing scene. I was somewhat surprised when I started doing searches on the Internet to find that there was very little going on even then. Events were few and far between and even finding information about those events and the race results proved to be harder than I thought. I've been a kayaker for most of my adult life and many boaters were also long-time cyclists, so I had vague memories of hearing my friends talk about big races and various teams that they'd raced on. Recently, I started wondering whether those impressions of a golden, more active era in cycling were just the product of memories enhanced by time or if, indeed, the wheels had come off of road bike racing in Central Arkansas. Since I am still a neophyte, I started asking around among some of the veterans of Little Rock's bike scene and came up with mixed responses, but I heard enough to drive me to research the subject. My intent is to produce a series of articles recalling some of the important races of the past, some of the teams and their sponsors, along with some views of the current race scene and the opportunities for aspiring racers. Unlike much of my writing, this will actually demand factual information, for which I will have to depend on others. I've already spent quite a bit of time gathering information and I've got a few willing contributors, so I hope to get started soon. My sources will include long-time racers and a few promoters, along with team organizers and anybody else who I can find willing to spin a few yarns. My search for information has already led me down some unforeseen paths, so there is no telling where we'll end up with this project, but it's bound to be fun and, hopefully, entertaining for you!

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