Friday, July 29, 2011

Preventive care: Look It Over

Look over your bike, that is. This time of year, it's easy to rack up a lot of miles without really paying a lot of attention to the condition of your rig. This topic came to mind after I gave my tires a cursory glance a couple of weeks ago, only to discover 3 damaged areas on the sidewall of my rear tire, each of which was thin enough to make a visible bump where the tube within was seeking freedom. I blame the damage on the gravel bypass trail at Two Rivers, but I'm thankful that I saw the damage before I had a blowout.
A broken spoke on most wheels means that you're waiting for a ride. Heather, Mike, and Sam taking a little break at the industrial park.

Tires are the easiest and most critical things to check, but I've learned to be alert to phantom shifts, as that may mean you've got a cable breaking, one strand at a time. Mine have always failed at the shifter. You can shift to your biggest cog,  then without turning the crank click down to what would be the smallest cog. That puts enough slack in the cable to allow you to pull back the housing at the shifter so that you can inspect the cable where it leaves the shifter. If you see any broken strands, replace the cables. If a rear derailleur cable fails on the road, you can pull the cable to a cog you can live with, then tie the cable off to the housing boss. A front der' cable breaking just means that you ride home in the small ring. New cables and housings can give your shifting that nice, crisp feel, so it's good policy to replace them at least every couple of seasons, depending on you level of use.
There seems to have been a small outbreak of broken spokes in my ride circle. I don't know how you can anticipate a broken spoke, but if my recent experience is broadly true, most low spoke-count wheels are unridable upon the failure of one spoke. I think it's due to a combination of fairly extreme wheel warp and the closely spaced chain stays of modern bikes. I always thought I'd be able to open the brake and ride home in the event of a broken spoke. I reconsidered that idea a few weeks ago as I trudged barefoot up JFK with my shoes in one hand and my bike slung over my shoulder with the other. My thanks to the passing rider who picked me up, BTW.
Be safe.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Along The Trail: Construction Bypass and Thoughts on Two Rivers Park

In spite of continuing heat that has cut down on trail use  of late, Two Rivers Bridge and the park are seeing a lot of activity.

You may have noticed the construction of a new section of trail running parallel to the current trail from the Little Rock end of the BDB to Jimerson Creek. This detour was built in preparation for construction of the west ramp off of the BDB and is now open. I'll get a construction schedule as soon as my crack team of researchers comes up with the information.
The beginnings of the trail bypass can be seen at the upper right in this photo. It is now complete,and was open and in use as of lunch time Thursday, according to roving reporter, Diane.

Two Rivers Park: More trail miles,but very different feel 
Trail users have been flocking to and through Two Rivers Park in the week since the TRB opening. My group passed through on our way to Wye mountain Saturday and I've ridden it a few times since, either solo or in a small group, and I've come to a couple of conclusions/opinions:
While there has been some debate over large, fast groups riding the River Trail, they have a good safety record and, for the most part, try to avoid crowded areas while keeping the speed reeled in except for some stretches of road. The nature and size of the trails at Two Rivers make them inappropriate for any kind of high speed riding. The trails seem a little narrow, sight distances are often limited and the trail surface includes many bumps and dips. Much of the trail distance is also divided by a line that indicates that pedestrians should use one side and cyclists should use the other. I find this to be damn confusing (Ok, so I'm supposed ride on the left going out, but on the right coming back??), but that it is simply the way things are and we need to respect it. If you're riding to hammer, cruise on through the park and hit the road!
There has been a steady stream of trail users crossing the Two Rivers Bridge since its opening last Saturday, and I have never seen so many folks in the park, itself. I think that many people were just not aware that the resource existed.
The shady trails of Two Rivers Park invite a relaxed pace and the tooth rattling bumps and wrinkles in the pavement demand it! Slow down and enjoy.

Back on the home front...
If you haven't ridden up Fort Roots lately, you may not have seen this new stop sign at Short 17th Street. Beware that you no longer have the right-of-way here, though most riders never counted on it, anyway.
The goose population is out of control. Do you think we could train them to carry little bags and pick up their poop? It seems to be too much to ask of some dog walkers, so I'm not betting on the geese embracing the idea. Perhaps we need to import some coyotes from Hillcrest.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hit or Miss

Call me easily entertained. Here a few little quick shots of things that made me smile or raise an eyebrow.
Target Marketing.
There was some concern from riders that duffers at the Northshore Golf Range would be a danger to trail users. When I saw this sign along the River Trail, the phrase "target marketing" immediately came to mind. We rode over just to check out their offerings but we were on road bikes and the gravel driveway turned us off, though on some days, a cold drink would have been worth it. OK, it really doesn't take much to amuse me.

Not what I wanted to hear...
As a former board sailor, I have had good experience with Neil Pryde sails and when I read awhile back that they were getting into the bike business, I thought it was a good fit. They have extensive composites experience, they know gravity/human powered sports and the value of eeking out maximum watts per gram, and they know more than a little bit about aerodynamics. When I saw their recent print ads, I was glad to see their presence, but the message just doesn't tell me what I want to hear about a performance road bike.

Neil Pryde seems to be marketing to a shredhead, downhill, big surf, X Games market, but I think they missed the mark. Even the most daring and aggressive road riders don't really want to describe the ride quality of their bike as "hairy". "Stable", "responsive", "quick" or "rock solid" maybe, but "hairy" makes me think "unpredictable and unstable".
And I sure don't want "a ride so scary, maybe you die a little." ...not even a little, thank-you!

Just because it's advertised in a bike magazine...

Bose makes some fabulous, high end products, and Bicycling Magazine probably hits their target market of folks with disposable income who appreciate the cost of quality. However, just because it's advertised in Bicycling doesn't mean that a product is a bicycle accessory. I've passed a couple of folks on the trail wearing these full coverage, noise cancelling headphones, which are designed to allow you to enjoy your music during the takeoff run of a jumbo jet, while riding. They may not be any worse than an iPod, but at least with earbuds you have a chance of hearing a shouted warning or the sound of a steam locomotive run amuck on the River Trail.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Two Rivers Bridge: Open For Business!

As the sultry dawn broke over the river Saturday morning, riders, walkers, and runners from all over Central Arkansas were rallying in small groups and converging on the Two Rivers Bridge. As I rode up the River Trail and across the BDB, the bike traffic picked up as groups came together, friends greeted one another and we all rolled out to the new gateway to Two Rivers Park and many miles of primo road rides west of the city! Judge Buddy Villines was present and accounted for as the gates opened at 7:00, not presiding over a ceremony, but passing out free water and encouraging support for Two Rivers Park.

Riders were ready to roll when the gates to Two Rivers Bridge were opened Saturday morning.

Our friend Chrissy Fox was heading out for some crazy 100 mile Iron Man training ride. She's still the smartest rider in this photo, as she is wearing a helmet and not talking on the phone while riding through a gaggle of riders and oblivious pedestrians.

Two Rivers Bridge offers yet another point of perspective for the spectacular views along the river.

It appeared that many of the riders crossing the bridge were simply out for a morning of exploring Two Rivers Park, but many others were eager to head out to Wye Mountain, Pinnacle, the Barrett-Garrison loop and roads beyond. I think it will take awhile for us to fully appreciate the benefits brought by this new trail link. When you consider that we have a system of trails and road routes that extend from Harper's Loop to the east all the way to Pinnacle State Park to the west, all of the possibilities will take some time to explore. TRB is not just a bonus for road riders, either, as a gaggle of my bike-nerd mountain bike friends were heading over the bridge to ride the single-track of the Jack's Fork Trail near the Pinnacle visitor's center.
Two Rivers Park offers miles of shady trails, a welcome relief from the hot asphalt of the open road.

OK, much of the open road was shady, too, for awhile! There was little traffic on Highway 300 this morning, but that is not always the case.

Our little group rode out Hwy 300 past Roland and took Ross Hollow Road up the back side of Wye Mountain. Ross Hollow get very little traffic and is quite scenic. Of course, you still have to climb to get to the top of Wye Mountain, and Ross Hollow teases with a climb, followed by a long descent in which you give back most of your climbing gain, only to resume the climb to the intersection with 300. None of the climbing is too bad and the flying descent down Wye on 300 makes the climb worthwhile.

As we returned to town, Judge Villines was still there as folks signed up for the mail list of  Friends of Two Rivers Park, and looking quite pleased at the number of citizens who were out enjoying the new bridge.

The new bridge is a hit! Tell your friends.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spokes: New Sunday Morning Ride

The fine folks at Spokes have announced a new Sunday morning group ride. Here are the details as provided by Regina Seelinger:

The Sunday morning ride leaves the sub at 6:00 am, we go about 25 miles, 15-17 average speed, no drop. We leave the sub and go to the LR side, go past the shop, stop at Starbucks on Kavanaugh for coffee and donuts, go down Overlook, cross the BDB, then back to the sub. It's a fun ride. After the new bridge opens our route may change.

This looks like a nice early morning ride and they specifically mention donuts. That should pull 'em in! The Spokes folks are a friendly group and you can be sure that you'll be made to feel welcome.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Along The Trail: Two Rivers, Mural Project

It appears that the Saturday opening of the Two Rivers Bridge will happen. To my knowledge, there is nothing ceremonial planned and the gates will simply be opened. I'm still trying to nail down the time at which the gates will open, but my latest "informed but not official" information said they will open at 7:00AM. My previous "ibno" information said 10:00AM, but the 7:00AM information fits my plans better, so I'm going with it! I think everybody in town is leaning their Saturday ride toward the western expanses linked to Two Rivers Park and I'm no different.
The parking lot is paved and striped. Open the gate and let us through! The folks who have enjoyed the solitude of Two Rivers Park will be having some visitors. Many riders will be just passing through to some currently popular routes like the Lake Loop or Barrett-Garrison.

New Art Along The Trail

Artist V.L. Cox and North Little Rock Alderman Debi Ross.

As I headed up the trail from the sub on Tuesday night, I noticed cars parked along the trail and a young couple painting a figure on the old wall in the quarry area west of the F.O.P. building. After I determined they were not taggers, I rolled up to ask them what they were up to and I was directed to a pair of women who were standing near the cars. One of them I recognized as my NLR alderman, Debi Ross, and the other I was soon introduced to as Lynette Cox. She explained a little about her project, but I asked her for more information and I got it! Here is the story on the art that is appearing along our trail:

I have been a professional artist for many years now. My background is in advertising and marketing with a BFA degree in computer graphics. I was working at CJRW, when my paintings started selling in 1997, and I was able to quit my job and have been painting full time ever since. It's been an incredible adventure and wake up every day loving what I do. 
It was great meeting you yesterday! After spending time on the bike trail off and on these past few years, I have always noticed what a presence that old loading dock wall had. I had just completed Phase I and Phase II of a big mural project out at the AJATC (Alexander Juvenile Assessment Treatment Center) sponsored by DYS (Dept. of Youth Services), where I painted murals with troubled teenagers.  What we soon realized was that the kids that were physically fighting the day before, stopped fighting when they started painting together as a mural team. It was incredible. Different gang members, different races, different sexes, started handing each other paint brushes and working together as a team. They not only took pride in their work but also became friends. What have I learned out of this? To never, ever, underestimate the power of the arts.

I then decided it was time to line up more public art mural projects out in the community and that wall was just perfect for one. I took my design to Mayor Hays at City Hall and he loved it. This is the first outdoor project, and I wanted to get my feet wet before including other youth. I pulled a few close family friends kids in on this one to see how it went, and they loved it! We also wanted to convey the spirit of the trail. People walking, all different ages of people on bikes, people walking their dogs, runners, etc. I wanted happy, but powerful images, hence the black silhouettes with splashes of color.

Since I now have all the equipment needed, and a little experience under my belt, my goal now is to line up more of these projects and start a program similar to the Philadelphia Mural Project. Their mural program started as an anti-graffiti movement in the 1980's, and exploded into a huge multi-million dollar corporate funded project. Kids stopped tagging things, crime went down, and communities started becoming involved in these murals, which told their history and their story. The people in the community took pride in them and protected them from vandalism. Kids leaned how to work together as a team and also developed their artistic skills in a productive way instead of a destructive way.  Philadelphia now has more murals than any other city in the nation. Their tourism is also off the scale with mural tours.

I am excited about the future, and am glad the bike trail wall was the location of the first mural project. I have met so many people these past few days, and hope to meet more as we work another week on it. We will be projecting the images at night starting this evening around 8:30, and then will be painting six more characters to complete the wall late in the afternoons so as to beat the heat. Everyone is invited to watch, and if you feel so inclined, I will also hand you a paint brush! It's all good!
A variety of activities will be represented. I was impressed that the mountain biker image appeared to have mtb gear and the road cyclist was similarly accurately equipped. The tricycle had a seat by the time I finished my ride.

I found that Lynette is aka V.L. Cox, artist, and I suggest that you click on her name to follow the link to see some of her incredible work. If you should see Lynette and her crew at work, stop in and say hello and thank them for the art. And she might put a brush in your hand.

Gratuitous Photo Of Cute Girls

These young ladies are an under-represented set of trail users, barefoot tandem riders, so I decided to represent them here. They happily agreed to have their photo taken, so I decided to forego the sermonette on the protection that might be provided by helmets and shoes. At least the stoker on this rig had some footwear in the form of stylish rhinestone flip-flops.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Trash talking

Don't Be Trashin' The Trail
All in all, the River Trail stays pretty clean of litter. Bank fishermen everywhere seem to be plagued with an inability to carry out the crap they haul in, and their behavior along the trail is no different. Most of them leave their debris along the water, a quick peek at the riverbank near any well-used access point telling the tale. Though it's unacceptable, it's almost to be expected from these folks. Many of them are poor and literally putting food on the table. Culture is slow to change. What is not expected and shouldn't be tolerated is the same kind of act from folks using the trail for fitness and recreation. I'm not trying to create class warfare here, but, on the whole, recreational trail users are fairly well educated and affluent. They know better. This was brought to mind last week as I stopped to visit an old friend as we crossed paths while on our bikes. He was fuming about a rider casually tossing a gel package on the trail. As we spoke, the guilty party rode by, and he turned out to be a local racer that I know. Disappointing behavior, to say the least. It is almost understandable, though no more acceptable, to toss that Gu package while in the heat of a race or a fast training ride, when the pack is tight and there is a near-desperate need to slam some nutrition as efficiently as possible, but even the Tour de France has become sensitive to the image of riders tossing litter on the roadside and has taken steps to stop it. For this racer-dude, on a solo training ride less than 2 miles from his place of employment, there is no excuse. I stopped last week near the S-turn bridge to pick up a broken styrofoam ice chest full of beer bottles and Rock Star energy drink cans and balanced the mess on my bars for the half-mile ride to a trash can. I had passed the pile a few times and decided to clean it up rather than continue bitching about it. Surely, 'dude' can fold up the gel pack and stick it in his pocket. It is a simple matter of respect for the River Trail and for the rest of us.

Two Rivers Bridge: On Private Land?

Unlikely, but this article in the Arkansas Times is causing a bit of buzz:

The rumor mill is buzzing that the new Two Rivers Bridge for pedestrians and bikers might land on property the county and city don't own.
The city and county say that's not so. But local businessmen, John Ryles and Stephen Whitwell, claim otherwise. Public officials say one has even been heard suggesting he might have the right to charge a toll for use of his property. I've reached Ryles. He'll only say, "It's premature to comment." Naturally, if he has a claim, he undoubtedly has a price he'd accept to clear matters up short of building a toll plaza.
A corporate entity in which the men have an interest (they're partners in Whitwell and Ryles Real Estate Investments), has been paying property taxes on the land. According to the assessor, they own dozens of parcels in Pulaski County, some purchased at state delinquent tax sales. The parcel in question is said to be a small portion of the roughly 488 acres on what used to be known as Sullivan Island. The city of Little Rock acquired the land through condemnation in the 1970s and won a Supreme Court case on it in 1976.
The county, which built the $5.3 million bridge, said it had to certify the bridge was on public land to qualify for federal assistance. Sherman Smith, the public works director, said the city of Little Rock said, "Yes, we own the land clear and free." The bridge spans the Little Maumelle River to link a riverside trail with Two Rivers Park. The eastern half, where the bridge lands, is on city park property and the western half on county land.

This is not going to go anywhere, but makes for interesting reading in the  week before the bridge is to open to the public. The snarky comments make following the link to the article worthwhile.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Lost Tourists and The Trail Gap, Etc.

This rainbow was the closest we came to rain on Thursday, but high temperatures were only in the low 90's, a relative cool snap.
Well, for a couple of days last week, the high intensity heat wave momentarily met its match as we got a few sprinkles and temperatures returned to a normal sultry range. The result on Thursday evening was that more riders were out and about. It may have been a coincidence, but as I got on my bike at the sub, I struck up a conversation with the rider parked next to me, who turned out to be a bike and cycling equipment rep from Dallas.  He asked about how to ride the River Trail and was slightly perplexed. I offered to give him the River Trail tour, he accepted, and while I waited on him, another rider rolled up and asked how to follow trail back across the river to downtown Little Rock and up to the BDB. He had a map, but had run out of sensible landmarks at the sub parking lot. I went through the route description and by the riding "on the sidewalk on the wrong side of the road on LaHarpe.."part, he had decided to go back the way he had come. After finishing up my ride with new friend Greg and old friend Mike Collier, yet another new rider approached and asked us if we'd ever ridden the River Trail. He had a map and it looked to him as if he should be able to easily follow the trail and cross to Little Rock for a trip back to the BDB and home in Maumelle. He was a little more determined than the first rider, so I escorted him to the foot of the Broadway Bridge and hoped for the best.
Though it's unusual to come across three lost souls in the same ride, I have run into numerous cyclists in the submarine/Junction Bridge parking lot, maps in hand, totally perplexed.
 First, I suggest to our tourism folks that they print a map with clear, realistic directions for negotiating the downtown Little Rock portion of the bike route, such as it is. The Clinton Park Bridge will get folks across the river, but then they have to navigate the River Market/Medical Mile puzzle before they find their way to the patchwork that is the Markham/ Cross/ LaHarpe sidewalk/North St. / sidewalk/ Cantrell underpass to Junior Deputy bike route.
Second, the City of Little Rock needs to get it together and complete the loop with a viable trail through this area. My understanding is that a few hundred thousand dollars has been committed to MetroPlan to conjure up a route behind Dillard's HQ, without even tacit agreement from Dillard's that they'll put aside past resistance to the project. I hope that the project goes forward, but it seems that Dillard's and the Stephens clan (as represented by Cathedral Collegiate School) would both prefer the current homeless camps that occupy land along the river on one side of Cantrell and adjacent to the UP tracks at North St. on the other to the smiling faces of runners and riders passing by. Between Dillard's and Cathedral School, the completion of the route has been effectively stymied for years.
Based on Little Rock's performance to date, all I can say is, good luck with that new plan.

Shillcutt Bayou Bridge: Final design is underway on a replacement for the "wooden bridge" as the structure over Shillcutt Bayou near the Burns park launch ramp is popularly known.

Two Rivers Bridge is scheduled to open this Saturday. Much paving work remains,  but I expect them to get it done! The result will be a steady flow of riders rolling across to check out the newly accessible  west.

Green Building:

This guy was easing across the River Trail, so I gave him a lift. He was much more benign than the snapper I engaged a couple of weeks ago, and I admired garden on the top of his mobile home. Very environmentally progressive.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fallen From Among Us: Lindsey East

New information from Hunter: Lindsey apparently suffered a heart attack while piloting his ultralight and did not die as a result of the crash. The family takes some comfort in knowing that his death was not an accident and that he died of natural causes doing something that he loved on a beautiful day. Hunter wanted his friends to know.

Last week, I saw a report of the death of Lindsey East. He died in the crash of an ultralight aircraft that he was piloting. I soon realized that he was Hunter East's younger brother. I guess we share some Facebook friends, because he had many folks posting their remembrances of a good and respected friend. I didn't know him, but I was reminded that I had ridden bikes with him several times. To me, he was "that guy in a T-shirt" who came out for several Fast Girl rides last year. I take note of such riders and tend to keep an eye on them. What I noticed about this guy was that, though he struggled to hang on for the first couple of weeks, he was soon  staying with the front as I struggled to hang on. I assumed that he was a slightly out-of-shape racer, but, no, it was Lindsey, who was not a rider, out checking out the ride with his brother, and within a few weeks he was hammering away. Those East boys were blessed with good genes and a little competitive drive, I'd say!
Since I didn't know him, I can't say much more about Lindsey, so I'll share Hunter's eulogy of his brother, as it says what only a brother can say and it touched me when I read it: 


Who was Lindsey Robison East? I think everyone in this room would agree, he was the best brother, son, Uncle, cousin, significant other, friend… anyone could ever hope for. And while there are hundreds of stories that have been running through my mind that would help provide insight into his character, I will try to capture his essence with the following.

As I am about three and half years older than Lindsey, I remember teaching him things when we were kids. How to throw and catch a ball, how to jump his bike over a ditch, how to make the proper noise with your mouth to shoot your imaginary machine gun while playing Army. How to catch a craw-dad with a piece of bacon on a string down at the creek, how to swing on a fresh cut vine all the way across that same creek. I showed him the best hiding places in hide and seek, how to long jump across all four couch cushions in the living room, how to do a front flip from one bed over to the other in our shared bedroom. I taught him these, and many other valuable skills that were necessary when we were kids. It wasn’t until years later that I began to learn things from Lindsey that are much more valuable.

You see, after graduating from college, I thought I had it all figured out. I just could not understand why Lindsey was not fitting into the mold I had so enthusiastically embraced. You are supposed to get a job, take out as large a mortgage as possible, buy as nice a car as you can afford, search for the right women, get married, and have a bunch of kids! Well, Lindsey did not exactly subscribe to that theory! For years I thought he had lost his way during his years in California, and his various travels around the world. I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG! For he was always on the exact path upon which he was meant to be. Only in the last several years have I come to realize that the path he chose, while different than mainstream, had incredible value and significant meaning, especially to those he met along the way.  Lindsey was a “people person“. He cared nothing for material things, only his fellow man. He lived his life in a manner that did not always benefit him, but virtually always provided benefit to others. There are so many examples of Lindsey reaching out to those in need whether it be a friend or the homeless. He loved to connect with people on a very personal level and always took a genuine and sincere interest in their personal stories. He always remembered the little things when he met up with them again. Lindsey just did not judge people. His friends ranged from rich to poor, dirty to clean, black to white, and everything in between. Lindsey had a heart as big as this church, because he always had all of us in his heart. 

All of this brings me to the most important thing Lindsey’s life can teach us; it is his legacy. He did not wait until his early forties as most of us do to start thinking about his legacy. He lived it every day for as long as I can remember. And while there are no roads, no buildings, no structures that I am aware of that bear his name… Lindsey Robison East left his indelible mark on all of us. Let us all honor his legacy by trying be more like him every day of our lives. Through all of us, he will still be making the world a better place everyday, just as he has always done.

 A friend has lost a brother, so it's a sad day, but the eulogy above says something good about both of the brothers.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hot? Yep. Too Hot To Ride? Nope.

Look familiar?

We have settled into a hot stretch that doesn't look to end any time soon. For many riders, just the forecast of triple-digit temperatures is enough to melt down a ride routine, but it doesn't have to. With caution and a little planning, you can still enjoy your evening ride and perhaps I'll have some company out on the trail!

OK, it won't get too much warmer.

If you've ever complained about crowds on the BDB, come on out on a 100 degree afternoon and you'll have plenty of elbow room.

I'm not suggesting that previously sedentary folks jump up off the couch and roar off into the sauna, but most folks who read this are likely fairly fit and well acclimated to some heat. Extreme heat requires a little more preparation and caution in order to enjoy your ride and stay safe. On top of my list is having a supply of cold liquid. Ice cold, for as long as possible. I mix sports drink in an insulated bottle with half the required amount of water. Freeze that overnight and top it off with water and maybe some ice cubes as you leave for your ride. I do the same thing with water, but only freeze about 1/4 of the bottle and top it off with cubes and water. You can play with the mixture, as it can start off a little weak. I usually don't get into my sports drink much in the first hour of the ride, but may have already topped off my water. Slushy, ice cold Gatorade
two hours into a hot ride is a treat and helps you feel cooler, plus it's easier to absorb on a scorching day than 100 degree citrus soup. Replenish ice at any opportunity!
Prehydrate. Drink a bottle before you get on the bike. If you get behind in hydration on a really hot day, it's hard to drink and absorb enough to catch up. Then, just take it easy and work on your tan lines. Come on out for a ride. It's been lonely.

The skate park is almost always hoppin', but the heat even shuts down the black T-shirt boys. I'm not sure where they're hiding during the heat of the day, but as soon as the shade hits the bowl, it's game on again. 

Speaking of tan lines...
Arkansas Cycling and Fitness has got a Tan Line Contest going on! Sure, it's been done before, but if your tan is razor sharp, you might pick up a $150.00 gift certificate! Here's the deal from AC&F:

Show us your cycling tan and WIN! We will be giving away a $150 AC&F gift card for the best cyclist tan line, a $100 Gift Card for 2nd place and a $50 gift card for 3rd place.
Send your tan line photos to Deadline to submit photos is July 16th.
AC&F will choose finalists and you'll be able to vote for your favorite on on our website. Deadline to vote for the best photo is July 21st and winners will be announced on July 24th at 7:00 pm.

Unless I start driving my tractor in my bibs, I don't stand much of a chance, as my tan line is kind of an indistinct fade from knee to pale, but if you're the kind of rider who only leaves the AC to ride, then you may be a winner.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Two Rivers Bridge: A Beautiful Day For Central Arkansas

Though we are still a couple of weeks away from the "real" opening of the Two Rivers Bridge, the ceremonial ribbon-cutting was held today and riders, walkers, runners and even a couple of in-line skaters got a chance to explore Central Arkansas's newest masterpiece. As announced, Judge Buddy Villines and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made short speeches as a very large crowd of cheerful citizens watched on. I want to thank everyone who turned out, as area cyclists were there in force, especially considering the heat and the fact that it took place at midday on Friday. Judge Villines was very appreciative of us coming out to demonstrate to Sec. LaHood the degree of support in our community for projects such as this. The press was well-represented and I feel that everyone left with a very positive impression.

Groups of cyclists gathered at points along the River Trail to ride to the ribbon-cutting. These smiling faces of ABC riders pretty well indicated the mood-of-the-day!
I got a moment to visit and express my gratitude to Judge Buddy Villines  before the formalities began. Thanks to James Gaston for snapping this photo for me.
Judge Villines thanked former parks director Julius Breckling, Sec. LaHood, former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater and others, but we would not have been there without Buddy's vision and ongoing drive to make our cycling and pedestrian infrastructure world class.
Ray LaHood, Rodney Slater, LR Mayor Mark Stodola and NLR Mayor Pat Hays got front row seats.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood is a cyclist and a strong advocate of funding for alternative transportation projects.
And the ribbon is cut! It was appropriately made of bicycle tubes wrapped in red ribbon.
I think this rider said his name was Jordan. He was at the front of the crowd and one of the officials told him he could be the first across after the VIP golf cart, so he immediately became the center of attention of the press. He asked me, "Which camera do I look at?"  Take your pick!
Over we go! I'm a poor estimator of crowds, but I suspect that 100-200 cyclists showed up to demonstrate their support and to get a chance to ride the new bridge, which is a beauty!
Craig and Elaine Zediker (r) towed their girls across the TRB on the tandem. They'll be representing Competitive Cyclist as they tackle the Leadville 100 mountain bike race on the tandem. We call tandem canoes on the Buffalo "divorce boats", but if anybody can pull this off, it will be the Z's!
Once you cross the bridge, it's like entering another world! Two Rivers Park is quiet, shady and full of wildlife, a perfect complement to the more urban scene of the River Trail.

Folks, once again, I am very proud of our cycling community and our local governments (OK, Little Rock still has a lot of catching up to do!). I can also tell you that there is more to come. The west approach to the BDB has been funded and there are more ambitious plans for Two Rivers Park. We hear a lot about limiting government spending and there are many vocal critics of this type of project, but I can't think of a better role for government. Alternative transportation resources reduce oil consumption, increase adjacent property values, and enhance the health and fitness of our citizenry. At a time when we're fighting intractable wars that are ultimately over oil, when our air and water resources are threatened, when 3 of 10 Arkansans are obese and 1 in 10 has diabetes, it is time for us to get vocal about supporting changes for the better! One of those changes was dedicated today.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Two Rivers Bridge Dedication: Friday 11:30 AM

Two Rivers Bridge, Little Rock approach, as of June 22, 2011. I'm sure that it will be slightly more festive on Friday.

The dedication of the Two Rivers Bridge is tomorrow at 11:30, and is open to the public. While the information is less than totally clear, it appears that folks will be able to walk onto the bridge, but no mention of bikes. That said, parking is limited and bikes are the most practical mode of transportation to get there. Bring a lock and some flip-flops if you've a mind to, in the event bikes are not allowed and you want to take a look. There are a few groups forming up around town to ride to the event. Diane and the Garver gang will ride from their building in the NorthShore Business Park at 10:45, and will stop by Cook's Landing shortly thereafter to gather any riders who may wish to join them.
This was posted on a mail list recently by Joe Jacobs and passed along by Sean Clancy:
Next Friday, July 8th, is the dedication of the Two Rivers Park Bridge.
>>> The dedication happens at 11:30 and will be attended by United State
>>> Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. It is uncertain that we will be able
>>> to ride across the bridge, they are recommending "Casual/Comfortable flat
>>> shoes." BACA is recommending that people carpool because parking would be at
>>> a premium.
>>> So here's my idea:
>>> Meet at the parking lot at Cajun's at 10:30 am for a group ride to the
>>> bridge to show our support to the city, local media and the Secretary of
>>> Transportation for bike friendly routes and the use of Federal
>>> Transportation dollars to construct them.
>>> The ride would be very casual (hence the hour long time frame) all bike
>>> styles (road bikes, mountain bikes, cruisers, etc.) would be welcome. I only
>>> ask that to ride with the group you wear a helmet. It would also be cool if
>>> someone wanted to form a similar group to come from the North Little Rock
>>> side or maybe even a group coming from West Little Rock down River Mountain
>>> Road to all converge at the base of the bridge at the same time. I figure
>>> everyone makes their own way back.
>>> Although the flyer below has an RSVP number, I just talked with Judge
>>> Villines office and was told that would be unnecessary.

It's a work day for most of us, but I think that it is very important that we show  Judge Villines and Sec. LaHood the appreciation of the community, so lunch can go a little long. The sentiment for funding such projects is low among some vocal segments of the population, so we need to support the folks who have the foresight to invest in alternative transportation, fitness and better health for our citizenry.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Star Spangled Success! Dr. Feelgood Criterium a Winner!

Congratulations to Scott, Sid, Sean and all the other CARVE guys who worked to put together the July 4 Star Spangled Classic crit races.
The action started with the Cat 5 men's race, won in glorious fashion by Charlie Alton Roberts.
The illustrious Charlie Alton Roberts crosses the finish line well-ahead of the pack.
Charlie Roberts receives his award from Michael Maddox.
Michael showing Charlie where he should be after receiving his award.....
..and, finally, Charlie Alton Roberts is escorted from the winner's circle by the alert security personnel.

Charlie Alton Roberts has noted a lack of coverage in this space of his recent dominance of the "C" group crits. I can only hope that this enhanced reporting has made things right between Charlie and me. Insert smiley-winky face here.
I've got to give my friend Charlie credit to go along with this ration-of-shit (literary term). He is a focused, goal-oriented guy and he took on the crits like a job, working his way toward success and always enjoying the task.

P.S. Charlie, now it's time to cat up and start over!

The wide, open streets made for a good race course, allowing spectators to keep the riders in sight over much of the course.
There were battles being fought up and down the finishing order as riders sought not only the win, but a higher finish than the guy next to them. This sprint out of the pack is still too close to call as riders approach the finish line.
The new Star-Spangled CARVE kit was rolled out for this event and was seen in numbers.
I believe that this is the start of the Cat 4 race.

The kids' race was a hit. Here, Ernie Lechuga gives some start-line advice.

The Valentine boys of Team Hot Wheels cleaned up in the kids race. Kris French, at right, was disqualified for possessing a drivers license and a big boy bike.

It was hot by the time the Cat 1-2-3's started. It was a race marked by early attacks and, finally, a move that stuck.

Hunter East (r) and Ernie Lechuga finally got away and were soon joined by 4-5 other riders. The move of the day may have been Kris French's late, very long, jump from the pack to join the lead group, which shrank to 4 riders.
In the end, Hunter East sprinted away from his breakaway partners and took the win in the Cat 1-2-3 event.

I have not seen any official results, and would be delighted if someone could post a link in the comments. As an event, the Dr. Feelgood crits were a huge success. There was a pretty big crowd of folks tucked away in every available shade, all of the race categories had respectable fields, the organization and venue were very good, and the racing was aggressive and fun to watch. Besides that, I got to pick on my friend Charlie. That's about all we can ask for!