Wednesday, March 30, 2011

About me.....

I ran into a friend while on a job site visit to Competitive Cyclist last week (yes, I really was on the job!) and he made some very kind comments about this blog. I made the statement that I try to keep it interesting and "not about me".
Well, this post is about me! I just want to let folks know that though I haven't been back on the bike since my crash, I am doing well, working hard, and easing back to full activity levels. I've had more than one person say, "I'm surprised that you're up and walking around." After four weeks, thank goodness that I am, or Diane would likely be seeking a more functional replacement. This was the worst accident that I've ever had and I hope that it remains at the top of that list.
Thanks for the great support that I've received from all of my friends and I plan to be back on the bike sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Trail Update: Burns Park

From Bert Turner, of the Central Arkansas Master Naturalists, comes this update and an opportunity to help with a little trail work in Burns Park. The emails below were sent to me and to Ryan Johnson at Comptetitive Cyclist. Ryan has worked with Bert on the trails:

If you have been out to Burns Park you will see we are making good progress again. One section of the new trails is still closed pending inspection by the Army Corps of Engineers. We are moving along with everything else. If any of your guys are looking for something to do, they can go behind the machines and dress up the tread, clear out drainages for 20-50 yards below the trail, remove debris 30’ below the trail and 10’ above it, or do anything else that strikes their fancy.
The technical things we are looking for on these multiuse trails is a tread of ~24”, corridor 6’ wide by 10’ high, outslope of 4-6% (about 1.5” from high side of tread to low side), good flow to make the trails fun but to slow down speedsters, long open sight lines to be able to see other users, and generally a very sustainable trail.

We are working on a blazing scheme now and we will be switching to painted blazes. Exact color mixtures are being finalized by parks and they will purchase the paint.
If you have any questions, please ask me or John Crow.
Good luck and good riding!


....and this:

The area above the Scout camp is the part that is still closed off—even though the machines have been through there. Remember, we’re dealing with government. I want to finish that area as soon as possible to eliminate waterbar hill, but we are going to have to wait until the Corps does its thing.

Ryan, how about working on the new reroutes across Arlene Laman from the Scout trailhead. Once finished and marked that will get rid of the straight up the fall-line section and the swampy section at the bottom. After that we can move to the upper loop. The machines are going around that area now, so that is where we need to groom the tread and pack it down.
I’ll keep you informed of what we are doing. We are trying to get some state prisoners to work on some of the labor intensive stuff like moving downed trees away from the trail.

Thanks again for the help. See you out there!


I'm looking forward to riding the new trails, but won't be ready to do much rock clearing, yet. Thanks to Bert and the folks at NLR Parks for improving the trails, and I guess we need to thank the Corps of Engineers and the military for clearing the munitions.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Though the weather didn't cooperate, the South Central Bike Polo Champoinships rolled on at Little Rock's MacArthur Park over the past weekend. Thirty-six teams from all over North America competed in cold and often wet conditions. I was impressed with the level of play of the teams and by the organization of the tournament. Though LRBP's Nathan Vandiver fretted about the affect that the small crowd was having on the food vendors, even as he kept score and timed a game, all of the comments that I heard from participants were very complimentary of the job done by the local club. The games started on time and the brackets were being kept on a laptop and displayed on a large monitor at the registration table.

Saturday was wet and unseasonably cold, but the competition was fierce. Things dried out as the day progressed, but remained cold.

Under the Community Bicyclist shelter, riders could find mechanical support along with tires, tubes and replacement parts.

The ball is placed in the middle of the court, the starter counts down from three, then shouts, "polo!", and it is "game on" as the riders charge forward for control of the ball.

A good eye and equally good bike handling skills are required.

On Sunday, a Minneapolis club was taking on the Lawrence, KS, team Scary Larry in a late round game. Things don't always go as planned.

Things can get a little cozy in bike polo.

The noise-making was reminiscent of cyclocross, as was the beverage of choice. 

It's too bad that the weather was total crap, as the bike polo crowd is very cordial and the atmosphere is competitive in a laid back, fun kind of way. Players warmed up in the parking lot swatting an empty beer can around while the food vendors, a barbecue truck and a hot dog stand, mostly just stood by. There was a pretty good crowd of supporters, but if the weather had been warm, it would have been a party! LRBP did a good job of promoting the event, getting coverage in the Dem-Gaz and on Fox16 that I saw and, of course, they were shamelessly pimped here.

Good to see that yet another facet of cycling is prospering here. We can be a bike town!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Big Time Bike Polo Comes to Little Rock!!

Many aspects of bicycle competition render it less than spectator friendly. In spite of the huge popularity with fans of the big road races, let's face it, you stand around all day and then get only a fleeting glimpse of the actual race. At least on the European scene, there are big screen TV's in town squares on the route and every bar has the race on TV, so fans can hang out, get hammered, then rush out as the peloton flies past their location. Crits and cyclocross are better, but if you want to see all of the action up close, you need to head over to MacArthur Park this weekend for some serious bike polo. I reported on Little Rock Bike Polo some time back and it looks like the Little Rock Club has grown up nicely. LRBP will field five teams among the thirty-six competitors at the South Central Bike Polo Championship. Nathan Vandiver passed the attached news release to me. You can find all of the details here:
Cruise on by to check out the action as you make your weekend ride or take few cold beverages and go over to stay awhile. Not sure about LR Parks policy, but there may have been a discreet PBR there on one of my earlier visits. You'll find the crowd to be very friendly and more than willing to talk about bike polo when they're not mounted up with mallet in hand. Friday night will see pick-up games. Each time I've dropped by, I was offered a shot at playing and the use of a bike during pick up games. Crashes usually cause more laughter than damage, but I think I'll have to pass until my ribs mend!
Polo is just another facet of the large and growing Central Arkansas bike scene. Exciting stuff!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


This just in from the folks at CARVE! I keep referring to them as "they", but, for the most part, "they" is "us"!


Friday, April 08, 2011

CARVE is proud to announce its tenth anniversary celebration and 2011-2012 membership drive. Please join us, Friday, April 8th from 7-10 P.M. at The Burns Park Hospitality House where we will be hosting a party to celebrate 10 years as an organized cycling club. 2011 brings a host of changes to CARVE that you won’t want to miss. No matter if you are a current, former, or future member, this event is going to be a blast. If you‘ve never been a part of CARVE or any Cycling club, this will be a great opportunity to learn about the benefits of CARVE membership. We will be serving snacks, soft drinks and adult beverages. Attendees who choose to join will be given the opportunity to purchase CARVE uniforms and gear at a discounted price. Feel free to fill out a membership application and bring it with you or you can fill one out on-site. Please contact one of the Board Members listed below to let us know that you are planning to attend. Let’s Roll!

Click CARVE to go the the Team CARVE website

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Well, It Wasn't My Usual Spring Saturday....

...because I wasn't on the bike, but it wasn't too bad! I'm not yet able to ride, so I'm trying to stay in the loop and not get whiny.

Competitive Cyclist/ Rapha Japan Fundraiser Ride

Though fairly short notice, this ride was a big success! I don't know how much money was raised, but 50-60 riders showed up at a minimum of $10.00 per head, so it was at least triple that with the CC and Rapha match. The donations were to be pooled with that from other Rapha rides around the country and given to the Japanese Red Cross.
Rick Valentine of Competitive Cyclist. To answer your question, yes, Rick, I'm going to blog you!

John Kelly, Andy Clark and Scott Warren appearing conspiratorial. I'm sure that they were discussing something of grave importance like, "I'm hungry", "Yeah, me too.", "What time does the food truck get here?"

Brendan Quirk readies the bunch for the rollout and explains the routing of the donations. As a matter of pride and prosperity, the Japanese are unaccustomed to accepting outside help. 

Something I've wondered about...

Competitive offers a 60-day "No Questions Asked" warranty, so what do they do with the returned goods? Well, here it is, and there were some bargains to be had if you happened to actually need something that was in the mix, which ranged from bibs to books. Brendan said there is not really a good way to offer it on the website, so he invited riders to take advantage. I'll invite the CC guys to comment with information on how they handle this on a day to day basis.

This CC ride was a big hit and I heard that the CARTI training ride also had a crowd of about 70 riders. Steve Shepherd was along on that ride and reported that it made for quite a meeting when the two groups crossed paths out on the road east of town.

On the home front:

I was once described by a close friend as having a "spring on my butt". I don't sit still very well and just about the time I hit the chair, I'm up again and off on some other mission. Well, I don't have much patience, but I'm having to wait out my injuries, resting just as fast as I can.

Since I am still unable to perform much physical labor, Diane decided to mow the backyard, an idea that I fully endorsed. Here she is striking a lawn princess pose with her Toro mower.


I felt like Thirsty Thurston as I lounged on the front porch with a magazine and some music.

I was actually fairly productive, spending some time getting my bike back into riding shape. I want it to be sure that it is ready to ride when I am!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

TRIPLE YOUR MONEY!!!! And do your heart some good, too! Great Saturday Ride Plan!

Edit note: I was overpromising for Rapha and Competitive Cyclist, but damn, it was fun spending their money! They will each match the first $10.00 of any donation. Still, very generous and all the more reason to get you whole posse out for the ride!!

Competitive Cyclist is teaming up with Rapha to raise money for the victims of the tsunami disaster in Japan. Make a donation of $10.00 or more and both Rapha and Competitive Cyclist will match your donation to make your $10.00 into $30.00. See? You're churning money faster than a Wall Street hedge fund! The ride will start at 9:00 AM this Saturday at Competitve and will roll out to the Marlsgate area. Expect a flat, social 50 miles of good will.
Tohoku is the northeast region of Japan. A disaster of this magnitude reminds us that we are all citizens of a small planet. The weather will be perfect, so make this your Saturday morning ride plan! I'm still on injured reserve so I can't join the ride, but I plan to show up with my check book.

Breaking News: Competitive Cyclist Buys Merlin

From Bicycling Retailer:

CHATTANOOGA, TN (BRAIN)—American Bicycle Group has sold its Merlin Metalworks brand to Arkansas-based online retailer Competitive Cyclist.

A pioneer in the production of hand-crafted titanium frames starting in 1986, Merlin will reach a wider audience at Competitive Cyclist, according to a press release. As part of the sale, ABG will retain the rights to manufacture and sell Merlin products to buyers in the Asian markets through 2012.

Brendan Quirk of Competitive Cyclist welcomed the addition of Merlin. "Like many, I fell in love with Merlin in the mid-90s," he said. "In my case, I was beating my head against the wall trying to become a real bike racer back then. My racing career stalled out, but I never lost my feelings for the simple elegance and precision of Merlin frames. We look forward to the endeavor of re-creating that magic."

Peter Hurley, CEO of ABG, added: "While Merlin has been a great brand for us, this is a strategic decision to consolidate and apply our focus and capital to two brands, Quintana Roo and Litespeed, that have shown incredible sales momentum in the past year.

"Competitive Cyclist will make a fantastic new home for Merlin by providing greater audience exposure and, at the same time, I'm certain the arrangement will allow us to better serve our QR and Litespeed customers," Hurley added.

Thanks to Steve Shepherd for tipping me to the article. This is a strong move by locally-owned powerhouse Competitice Cyclist. Merlin is a premier titanium bike brand that has languished somewhat in the carbon fiber frenzy, but the fact remains that ti is a near-ideal frame material with its light weight, remarkable strength and resistance to corrosion and metal fatigue. I am certain that CC will grow the brand. This looks like a win for all  involved, especially riders who will discover the sweetness of ride afforded by a ti frame.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Old Munitions Found In Burns Park Trails Area

I don't have details on any trail closures, but signs have been posted at trailheads.

From Fox16:

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, AR – While building trails in Burn Park, North Little Rock Parks and Recreation staff found three old artillery rounds, one mortar, and one fuse in the park.

Among other emergency crews, the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team from the Little Rock Air Force Base responded. They determined that the munitions were stable and took them to the Air Force Base.

According to NLR Parks and Recreation, this is not the first time that old munitions have been found in Burns Park, but it is the largest discovery of them. Burns Park includes 1,526 acres of land that used to belong to Camp Robinson/Camp Pike and Ft. Roots.

The area was searched by Parks and Recreation staff and they did not find any other munitions. The recommend calling the North Little Rock Police if you are in the park and find dangerous items within it.

Burns Park Trail Development

Here's who we can thank......

I reported a while back on the recent trail building activities at Burns Park. With a little help from Ryan Johnson at Competitive Cyclist , friend Tom Burks, and the CARVE boys, I was able to make contact with Bert Turner of Central Arkansas Master Naturalists , who is working with the NLR Parks Department on the trail building and rehab project. Bert and his crew are getting things done!

 Burns Park Trail Improvements

I was not even aware that CAMN existed, but I'm already very impressed after a quick look at their website. The naturalists are part of that largely invisible community of folks who go about the business of making things just a little bit better for the rest of us. To me, "making things better" can mean building a trail, picking up a single piece of litter, or performing a small act of kindness. These actions usually go unnoticed but should not be unappreciated. I'll let Bert tell you what's going on with the mountain bike trails at Burns Park with this from a recent e-mail:

It is Central Arkansas Master Naturalists and NLR Parks who are building about 6.2 miles of new multiuse trail in Burns Park. The new trail was laid out about 2 years ago by the IMBA trail design team. It has taken some time, but we are finally committed to finishing it. Much of it will replace existing trail that was designed and built wrong (down the fall line or on ridge crests) which has led to severe erosion and tough travel in many places. We will now have a stacked loop system built on the slopes of the ridges that will take advantage of the contour lines. There will also be a 0.3 mile gravel trail near the Scout trail head that will serve as the launch/finish point for trail events as well as provide ADA-access near the trail head.

We are working almost daily on the project although we have had several setbacks. Our hope is to finish up the new trail by May 7 which is Arkansas Trails Day. Arkansas Trails Day is a celebration of the vast trail systems we have in Arkansas and will be celebrated across the state. In central Arkansas the primary events will be in Burns Park culminating with a “Convergence” of all trail users (hikers, bikers, paddlers, riders, all in a variety of skill levels) at 4:00 pm at Victory Lake. We will have luminaries (Richard Davies, Dan Flowers, Rep Robert Moore, Buddy Villines, Patrick Hays, etc) speaking about trails and trail priorities in central Arkansas. If anyone considers themselves users or advocates for trails, they should certainly participate in Arkansas Trails Day and show their flag in front of the trail-funders at 4:00pm.

Yes, we can use help constructing the new trails. We are lopping the corridors (6’ wide by 10’ high), preparing the tread (24” wide, ~6% outslope), and generally sprucing up the new routes. Parks maintenance crews are using machines (same as those used by LoViT and other USFS trails) to help us speed up the work. We will still go behind the machines and groom the tread by hand. Anyone who is willing to help is welcome to come out, generally between 8 and 3 Mon-Fri, but if they know what they are doing they are welcome to help out on the weekends as well.

We have a long way to go, but we are making good progress. I think the mountain bike community, as well as hikers and equestrians, are really going to like the new trails. Much of the trail in Burns Park was put in back in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s when we didn’t know much about trail building. With the new knowledge and techniques we have, and with IMBA helping so much in the layout, I think we are going to have a spectacular multiuse trail system in Burns Park that will be readily available to the metro area. We are already seeing a lot of hikers, bikers, and equestrians coming in from long distances to use our trails—the word is spreading!

Once we have the trails in and blazed appropriately, we are going to permanently close some of the old trails. We simply can’t maintain those old sections and we don’t want anyone trying to reopen them. This effort is all part of a big plan in the park to make the trails safer and more user friendly. I’m sure you have noted that over the past two years we have eliminated 4 of the 8 road crossings (very dangerous crossings in at least two cases), eliminated sections of the trail that required travelling along the paved roadways, changed the slopes in some areas, and done many little reroutes. There is still more to come.
I would enjoy hiking around the trails with you to give you a better feel for all the things we are doing. (You can ride while I walk!)

Hope this helps and I look forward to seeing you out on the trails!


Good work, for sure!! The Arkansas Trails Day event could use our support and I plan to ride on down on May 7. Check out the good work and maybe lend a hand or write a letter to your congressman supporting trail funding. I plan to get out and meet Bert on the trail as soon as I am able, and I'll post a progress report.

Lake Sylvia Slobberknocker MTB Challenge

The newly rejeuvenated Central Arkansas Velo, aka: CARVE, is out of the gates with a new event, the Lake Sylvia Slobberknocker MTB Challenge, scheduled for April 30, 2011 at Camp Ouachita. The 66 mile race is part of the Arkansas Mountain Bike Marathon Series and there are payouts for the top 6 men finishers, top 3 women, and top 3 single speed. The 33 mile "Short Course" event pays out in awards for the top 3 finishers and in braggin' rights.
Registration is at  and you can check out training rides and BS at the CARVE site.

Here's the lowdown!! If you don't want strain your eyes on the scan, follow this CARVE link.

The Team CARVE folks are determined to help make good things happen for the Central Arkansas cycling community and they deserve your support.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just Hanging Out: At the bike shop and the Big Dam Bridge

As forecast, Saturday was a spectacular day in Arkansas! Diane and I headed over to Spokes bike shop to get hooked up with a new helmet and I was glad of the opportunity to get out a see a few friendly humans. I'm sure that Diane is exhausted from caring for me and from hearing me tell the same tale over and over, so she was probably also glad for me to have somebody else to talk to.

While I was in Spokes, the lovely and charming Eboné Monét from KTHV was in the store getting footage for a news segment on what I gathered to be the topic of the growth of cycling in these times of high gas prices, bike commuting and the practical utility of cycling. She interviewed owner Mat Seelinger and ace wrench Kevin Baltz and then, having run out of relevant characters, she turned her attention to the idler sitting at the coffee bar, me. Since I'm still sporting a black eye, some bruising and plenty of road rash, the camera was positioned carefully lest my appearance cause the news segment on cycling to be mistaken for a piece on domestic violence. I'm sure that Mat and Kevin will shine and there is a slight possibility that with artful editing it might be made to appear that I said something sensible. The feature will appear on the 10:00 PM news program on Sunday night. Tune in.

BDB Pedestrian View

By the time I got down to the BDB on Saturday afternoon, most of the serious riders and runners had completed their morning sessions, but the bridge was crowded with the usual casual walkers and riders, skate boarders and family strollers. There was also a pedal-powered ice cream cart manned by a couple of good ol' boys and doing a brisk business.

Everybody loves ice cream! These enterprising fellows had parked at River Mountain Road and pedaled to the BDB. They determined that they would park closer to the action next time! Matt Curry (R) of AKC Party Rentals and Catering was the ramrod of this operation and was actively promoting his business. He specializes in kids' parties with jump houses, a water slide, etc. If you want to "Party Like Big Dawgs for Less", give him a shout. And, no, I didn't even get free ice cream for this pitch!

OK, Matt didn't really let me drive or handle sales, but I did take the opportunity to saddle up.

The ice cream cycle was pretty cool! And "Made In The USA".

Many Central Arkansas riders were racing at various venues or had already finished their rides in the morning hours, but there was still plenty of bike traffic.

This tandem team was operating smoothly. Diane has made it clear that she has no interest in ever being a stoker for a tandem team that includes me as the pilot.

This young dude caught my eye as he flew down the crowded bridge ramp like he was running a slalom course on his BMC road bike. I got some mild satisfaction as he was rewarded by taking his U-turn a little wide at the foot of the bridge, dropping off the edge of the pavement and being dumped unceremoniously into the ditch. He was unscathed except for perhaps a slight ego bruise. I stepped over to have a word with and had to tap him on the shoulder to get his attention so he could pull out an ear bud to hear my unsolicited advice.

There was all sorts of two-wheeling going on. This little guy's hair even looked fast!

I'm eager to get back on the bike, but it is always enlightening to see my usual venue from a different perspective. I think that use of the trail system is going to explode this spring, so lets all keep in mind that we have to share the resource and that there is strength in numbers as more improvements to the system are considered. We are more effective as a large group of trail users than we are as members of squabbling factions of cyclists, walkers and runners.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ready Or Not: Spring Is Upon Us

I must admit that I've had my moments over the last several days, but things look much better than they did a week ago and I'm already looking forward to that next perfect spring day out on the bike. Too bad it's not going to be tomorrow for me! I have been eagerly awaiting the change to Daylight Savings Time and the beginning of longer evening rides along the River Trail. In the winter, as much as anything else, I miss the sense of community that comes with riding along the trail. My injuries are going to keep my off of the bike a while longer,but not necessarily off of the trail, so beware that you may be called out by a shuffling pedestrian if you misbehave or look like you're having too much fun. Perhaps I'll stand on the BDB and remind everyone of the 5 MPH speed limit, then come home and write an article concerning reports of another nutjob reminding riders of the 5 MPH speed limit on the BDB. If I can't ride, I've got to get my material wherever I can find it.
This should be a great weekend, so I hope that all of you can get out and ride to your heart's content. I will be slightly envious, but my legs are good and I can do some lunges while watching pro bike racing so that when I do come back I won't embarrass myself by having to walk my bike up the BDB. Besides, I'm well marked with purplish/ yellow bruises and scabbed over road rash,so I may want to wait until I'm a little prettier before making my spring debut.
Have fun folks and I'll look forward to hearing all the excellent ride reports that I can stand.

A special thanks Diane for her patience and to Robin for having my back at the hospital. Same goes to those of you who dropped by the hospital or have carted me around this week. I had just as much company as I could comfortably bear and I appreciate every call and note. I have some very special people in my life. You can call me Mr. Lucky

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Time to Get Serious: Spring Bike Racing

Paris-Nice is in full swing, with Radio Shack's Andres Kloden taking a very exciting stage and the race lead, today. It's being televised on Versus at 4:00 PM, so set your DVR and check it out.

Tyler Farrar, Garmi-Cervelo, decisively took the stage and also the race lead in a bunch sprint at Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy.  You can find video of  Tirreno-Adriatico on Universal Sports .

It's very cool that both of these stage races are being led by American teams and a really good showing for Farrar. In Paris-Nice, Tejay Van Garderen, HTC-Columbia, also lit it up. In spite of all the doping issues in the professional ranks, American cycling surging as young talent rises to elite levels of competition.

Preparing for the Tour: Some of the best racing is along the way
Most of my readers are cycling fans and read Velonews, CyclingNews, etc., so you don't need to be reminded of this, but some of the very best bike racing takes place at the one day classics like Milan-SanRemo and Paris-Roubaix. The man who crosses the finish line first is the winner. No time trials, no time bonuses, no points jerseys. The toughest, strongest, luckiest rider on the day wins and he is a champion for the rest of his career. For those among you who get started watching bike racing when the Tour starts, take time to tune into some of the early season racing. It makes the grand tours more fun to watch when you're in tune with the season-long drama and you'll see the best bike racing in the world.

Sorry I'm not real lively at the keyboard, but it was almost easier to write while on the pain meds. I probably need to go back and see what the hell I said!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Put A Lid On It

I measured the thickness of the wall of my helmet at what appeared to be the point of primary impact, on the right in this photo. It was about 8mm compared to 15mm at the same spot on the other side of the helmet.

The area of crushed foam covers a pretty large area, so it absorbed a huge amount of energy. Certainly more than my head could have! My Bell Sweep did its job. The bracelets are just souvenirs from my ride.
I'll try to get back to more general topics, but I've been admittedly self-absorbed over the last few days.