Thursday, June 30, 2011

Two Rivers Bridge Dedication: July 8 REPRESENT!!!

The flyer below has details of the dedication ceremony for the Two Rivers Bridge. Take that long Friday lunch and plan to attend!! Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be a guest and we need to show him that our community supports alternative transportation. It is unlikely that we will be able to ride the bridge, but I hope to be there with a bike at hand just in case!! The advice below concerning practical footwear is probably good advice if you expect a bridge tour.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bikes of Salida

The town of Salida is our summer vacation home away from home. It's kind of like Mayberry with a cool alternative sports vibe. While Salida is at about 7000' above sea level and stands in the shadows of the 14,000+' Collegiate range, the town is in the Arkansas River Valley and is relatively flat. When you combine a community of fit, outdoor-loving folks, flat terrain, and picture perfect weather for much of the year, the result is a huge community of bike riders. Most of these folks wouldn't necessarily call themselves cyclists, though there are plenty of serious mountain bikers and road cyclists around. Most of the riders you see have just hopped on the bike to go across town, run an errand or grab a beer down by the river, and I'm charmed and sometimes amused by some of the rigs I see.
Most folks are just going about their business.

In addition to Shriners in midget cars and on fez-wearing mules, the FIBArk Parade had plenty of bikes of various types, including this foil festooned wheelie-popping cargo bike guy. I dig the sports coat.

Pony up, there, pardner, and sing me a lively one.

This cowboy has got on his go-to-town duds. "Hello, ladies..."

"Yeah, it looks like I'm going to need to trade the sidecar for that 2-seat trailer...."

These pimped out cargo rigs had more than the average level of bling.

More "show" than "go", but ride-ready.
The rig of this slalom kayak racer gets the "JBar Utility Award" for managing to transport himself, his boat and gear, AND his shuttle driver on the bike.

The vast majority of Salida bikes are simple cruisers and a busy night will see downtown bike racks full and bikes piled against any available wall and sign post. In fact, I feel like a poseur on my road bike and in my kit when among the "real" bike riders in flip-flops and shorts. It's kind of like showing up to a tractor pull in a Miata.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Out On The Road And Along The Trail

Ferndale Road closure

Sam Ledbetter and I embarked on a Log Cabin Ride Saturday morning, a route that takes you over the testy little hill on Ferncrest off of Burlingame Road and on to Ferndale Rod via Col. Glenn. Usually, we take Ferndale to Denny, but the bridge north of Kanis on Ferndale is being replaced and the road is closed. This may have been covered by every mail list in town as it affects several popular routes, but it was news to us!

We believed the signs, but still had to check it out…

Yep, they were serious. The road is closed! Kanis to Denny was an easy alternative route back into town.

On my way home, I passed by the Xterra Tri in full swing, so I pulled in. This team, Elaine and Craig Zediker and Nick Lewis, representing Competitive Cyclist, won the team event and came in first overall, with Elaine doing the swim leg, Craig riding the mtb on his single-speed, and Nick blasting through the run. The cooperative spirit will be severely tested later this summer when Craig and Elaine ride the Leadville 100 on a tandem mountain bike.

There’s more action at Burns Park on Sunday with the Three Legged Dawg mountain bike race.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Please Excuse My Absence....

....but we've been having way too much fun for me to have much writing time!
We made our annual June trip to Colorado and, in spite of the fact that we got to do very little riding, had a very busy and thoroughly entertaining trip. We have made the cool little town of Salida our prime destination for the last several years and we make it a point to schedule our trip to include the FIBArk whitewater festival. FIBArk focuses on whitewater activities along the Arkansas River, which flows through town in the form of a whitewater play park, but also includes several foot races, great music, some serious mountain bike races, good food and beer, in addition to a full slate of kayak freestyle competition, slalom and downriver racing, and the always hilarious Hooligan Race.
Upon arrival we went to find the cool house that we had rented, which had a hot-spring fed tub beside Chalk Creek in the back yard.
The house had a great view of the Chalk Cliffs of Mt. Princeton.

This tub was fed with 120-degree water from a hot spring. A steady flow of hot, clear, untreated water kept the tub fresh and a bypass valve allowed for temperature control. Diane enjoyed going from the hot tub to the snow-melt fed creek, but I got cold just watching that action.

Boating is what pulled me to the Arkansas River Valley many years ago and remains a focus for me. Old Little Rock friends Kent Davidson and Robert Orr now live in Colorado and I was delighted to spend a few days boating with them. You just have to put up with the scenery when you boat the Ark.

Though I spent a lot more time paddling than pedaling on this trip, we did do a little easy mountain biking and a short road ride. The altitude generally ranged from 7000-9000 feet, so it wasn't hard to get the heart rate up.
One of the highlights of FIBArk is the Hooligan Race, an event in which stuff that was never intended to float is fashioned into a raft of some sort and run through two whitewater surfing holes and under /into a bridge below. My urbane nephews from Connecticut, Patrick and Chris, came out to join us and were looking forward to seeing the Hooligan Race. Imagine their delight when we told them that we had volunteered them to the Lower Arkansas River Redneck team, which consists of Michael Fisher. Michael is a young man from Clarksville, Ark, whose parents Laurie and Steve have supported his Hooligan entries over the last couple of years by serving as crew, Steve the first year and Laurie last year. The result of that experience is that neither will ever do it again.

Christopher and Patrick quickly showed signs of their Arkansas ancestry when they joined Michael Fisher as Lower Arkansas Rednecks in the Hooligan Race.

Here is some 2010 Hooligan action.

It was a full week and I'll be posting more, but I've got to get ready to ride!

Floyd's Semi-Clandestine Twitter War on Lance

Outside On Line featured this interesting bit on Floyd's approach to antagonizing Lance Armstrong.

I think these boys need to grow up and, while Lance has some issues to deal with, I think Floyd has slipped off the deep end.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Transportation Secretary LaHood to Appear At Two Rivers Bridge Ribbon-Cutting

The word is that Secretary of Transportation Raymond Lahood, an outspoken supporter of alternative transportation modes such as cycling and walking, will be present for a July 8 ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark completion of the Two-Rivers Bridge. The previously announced "grand opening" will still take place later in the month.

I'll get more details as they become available.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dr. Feelgood Star-Spangled Classic Criterium: 4th of July

Sometime last winter, while cruising the flats of the Grand Prairie with the CARVE Saturday morning ride, Sean Clancy and Sid Degarmo told me of plans to reinvigorate CARVE. As a matter of background, I had had several conversations in previous months with some local riders who had expressed disappointment with the lack of racing opportunities in Central Arkansas in general and the seeming demise of CARVE as a race team and producer of racing talent specifically, so Sean and Sid had my attention. As spring rolled around, it became apparent that the CARVE guys were serious about introducing some new energy to the cycling community. The CARVE kick-off party was a big success and was followed by a string of event announcements for everything from mountain bike races to beginner rides. Add to that the large fields and hot competition of the Burns Park summer criterium series, and you've got some real momentum! To top off the crit season, CARVE is taking it downtown with the Dr Feelgood Star-Spangled Classic Criterium, with proceeds from the event going to benefit CARTI and the Carve Youth Program. CARTI is a great cause and is a natural tie to the growing race scene given the success and popularity of the CARTI  Tour de Rock. I'm also delighted to see the number of young riders hitting the road, and the CARVE Youth Program will help more young riders enter the sport.

In case you have wondered, Dr. Feelgood is Dr. Steve Tilley, a long-time rider and supporter of the local cycling scene. John Kelly, another local racer and the organizer of some big-time races in the past, graces this event flyer.

Thanks to Michael Maddox for providing me with the event information. There will be more details coming soon in the form of a press release.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday Night Crits: Week Two

There was a big crowd at Burns Park for week two of the Wednesday night crit series, both in terms of riders and spectators. In fact, the River Trail seemed pretty empty, in part because the heat kept the casual strollers at home, but also due to the fact that there were probably well over a hundred racers, supporters and hecklers congregated around the crit course. I got there in time to catch some of the "C" race this week, went for a ride and missed all of the "B" race, and got back in time to catch most of yet another hotly contested "A" race.
John Elmore, in an early lap. John E won the "C" race, his first race win at the crits, though he won the series last year with consistently good finishes. John is a tough guy who works his ass off on the bike and is always a good wheel to follow. Congratulations, my friend!

John E won the race, but there are always primes, small prizes awarded for pack sprints. Chris Randle was living the High Life with this spectacular prime provided by Competitive Cyclist. And I thought real cyclists always drank some groovy craft beer or PBR.

I returned from a loop around the River Trail just as the break developed in the "A" race. The race was fast and none of the attempts at bridging out of the pack to this bunch came close. Last week's winner, Kris French, missed the break but he had a teammate up there in the form of veteran Hunter East. Hunter is a near legend, having had a long and successful racing career before laying off competition a few years ago. I'm not sure what has him fired up, perhaps his son Evan's interest in racing, but Hunter has been showing the power and he is among those riders who really understand bike racing strategy.
The break is gone...

Hunter was the only race winner to bring his own podium girls, perhaps a sign of his confidence in his fitness! That's daughter Hannah with the shadow kiss and wife Dustin planting a little lip on the boy.

Drop on by next Wednesday! I've got other plans, so you folks can fill me in on the action! If you go down to watch and don't understand what's going on, just ask somebody, as there are plenty of experts in the crowd. Or, so I've been told by folks in the crowd.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bridges News

Mobley Contractors has been awarded the contract for construction of the west approach to the BDB. This second ramp will tie very nicely to the approach to the Two Rivers Bridge and should help spread the BDB traffic out a bit.

....and speaking of Two Rivers Bridge, things are moving right along on the construction of the south approach. The gravel temporary trail is a bit of a pain in the ass, but it will be worth the small hassle when the Two Rivers Bridge opens around July 22.

I'm wondering if the acronym pattern will continue:
Big Dam Bridge=BDB:        This is a done deal.
Clinton Park Bridge= CPB    Remains to be seen
Two Rivers Bridge = TRB    Not gonna happen

Saturday, June 4, 2011

They buzz among us...

No, I'm not talking about Willie Nelson and his band, though they are lining up at Riverfront Park as I write this. I'm talking about cicadas, as we see the beginnings of the hatch of what should be a massive 13-year brood. I've yet to see them in central Arkansas, but they were emerging in numbers along Richland Creek in Searcy County a couple of weeks ago.
This guy (or gal) had just emerged, leaving an empty shell clinging to the back of the camp chair on which he is perched. According to folks who know such things, we're going to have a noisy summer as millions of these red-eyed critters emerge after spending 13 years underground feeding on roots. Yes, I know it sounds like crazy-talk, but they're bugs, they don't have to have a logical plan, though this appears to be working for them. How many other bugs live 13 or more years?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wednesday Night Crits!

Wednesday marked the start of the  Dr. Feelgood Burns Park Criterium Series. CARVE has helped put this series together this year and the action for the first races was very good. I missed the C group race, but there were over 30 starters. Large fields contested each race, with the "A" group  finale being a real throw down, as the boys from Competitive Cyclist challenged Kris French and his Snapple crew for top honors. Good sportsmanship and smack talk blended nicely as a two-man break of CC's Brendan Quirk and Wade Wolfenbarger was joined by French, Michael Maddox, and CC's Drew Medlock. That put three Competitive Cyclist riders off the front and the pack settled in, covering attempts to bridge but not making a serious effort to catch the break. There had been plenty of smack talk between the CC team and the Snapple bunch and both were represented in the break, so their teammates and pals were mostly content in the main field.
Wade and Brendan make the first break to stick...
Mike Maddox, Drew and Kris French closing the gap.

...and then there were five.

The pack was still in pursuit, but soon settled in as the break was established.
There was little doubt that the eventual winner would come from this five man break.
While there are small cash awards for top finishers in the A and B groups, primes such as this 6-pack offer immediate incentives for intermediate sprints. Patrick Small took the pack sprint and his dad took the Fat Tire.

Kris French took the sprint out of the five man break to win the A Race, but the posturing is already underway for next Wednesday's races.

Crits can be a very entertaining form of road bike racing, as spectators can seen the riders over most of the course, and this year's Burns Park series promises to be the best of recent years. As I understand, there will be a grand finale on the 4th of July to finish the series, and it promises to be a barn burner if week 1 is any indication. Thanks to Competitive Cyclist, CARVE, Dr. Feelgood, and everyone else who made this event happen. Go on down next Wednesday and race or watch. I advise spectators to bring the bug spray!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Two Rivers Bridge News

From Today's THV:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Whether you bike, run or walk, get ready this summer for a major link boosting Arkansas recreation.
Late July is now the target completion date for the Two Rivers Bridge.
We can tell you from talking to cyclists Tuesday that folks are ready for this new bridge to open.
Bad weather back in February and parking lot construction pushed back an earlier opening target around now. But things are well on their way for the gates to go down July 22nd.

Click the THV link above for more text and video.