Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Road and Trail Hazards: One Down, One Gently Moved on Along

A few weeks ago, my buddy Sam noticed a hazard on County Farm Road between Beck Road and Pinnacle Valley as we rode out of Two Rivers Park.
This "water cable cover" (OK, I don't know what it is, but it was called that in an e-mail by a knowledgeable type) created a hazard for riders and, as it turns out, it had been a nemesis for drivers, too.

The lid has been knocked off and the flange broken, leaving nasty tire-eating jaws

Sam reminded me to take a photo for him this week, which he then forwarded to our friend Martin Maner of Central Arkansas Water, thinking it may have been a CAW fixture. Martin got in touch with Sherman Smith, Pulaski County Director of Public works, resulting in quick action. By the time I got out there Monday evening, the lid had been replaced and asphalt had been put in place to help protect it from further damage and soften the edges.

Thanks to Mr. Smith's department for the quick action. I'm grateful, as will be the neighbors and other drivers using the road.

It gets better.

Ok, Mister, Make My Day...
As I was stopped beside County Farm Road Monday evening to snap the photo above, I was greeted by a gentlemen who was feeding cattle just across the fence. He was glad to see the repair made, saying that they had averaged about one flat car tire per week at the spot. "You hear the 'pop' and then a knock at the door". His home was just across the road, so I had to ask him how he felt about the increase in bike traffic. I must say that after a solid week of mostly negative e-mail from my bike advocacy list, I expected to get a little blast. My new friend allowed that it was beautiful to watch the cyclists glide by as he enjoyed his morning coffee from his front porch. He added that several of his friends who lived out that way had started riding their bikes to work downtown. While he was at it, he mentioned that he had just put his house on the market and he expected the bike trail access to make it easier to find a buyer. I must admit that I had been a little depressed over repeatedly hearing the standard list of complaints about cyclists and here, before my very eyes, was a noncycling person who:
1- appreciated the sheer beauty of cycling and was not PO'd that he had to share the road with many cyclists on a daily basis.
2- noted that a growing number of everyday folks use the trail system ride their bikes for transportation.  Hmmmmm...45 minutes on the bike at dawn along the river or 30 minutes of the Hell that is Hwy 10? You pick. The fitness and fun would just be a bonus in that equation!
3- recognized that the proximity of his property to a bike route would likely enhance its value.
He was somewhat concerned about cyclist riding too far out in the road because some drivers are "old fashioned" or "set in their ways" or something to that effect, but that he had read the law and knew cyclists had a right to the road. That right doesn't mean being rude, of course, so riders, move it over when you hear a car back!
My day was getting better. As I rode back toward town, I ran into Nancy Elliott, who had tirelessly educated dog walkers and petitioned Judge Villines to prevent a ban of dogs on the BDB and Two Rivers Bridge. Nancy had her dog Freddie in a screened stroller, which he seemed to tolerate pretty well. Freddie has had back issues and is on vet's orders to lay off the long walks, but Nancy was enjoying Two Rivers Park. Cyclists passed as we spoke, so I mentioned to Nancy that there was a lot of discussion about trail use and that there were some loud complaints about cyclists. Her response was essentially that the trail is "wonderful" and "people will be people". Wow. More people happily getting along. 

 Moving along...
Actually, I encountered this trail hazard just after looping under Two Rivers Bridge as I entered the park. At the bridge dedication, Buddy Villines  advised the audience not to mess with the wildlife in the park. Advice well taken, Judge!
I came across this large, aggressive cottonmouth on the trail. He assumed the strike position as I rode by, showed no fear, and moved my way when I approached him.

You'll have to excuse the lack of a close-up of this subject, but all i had was the camera on my phone. I'm not particularly bothered by snakes, but cottonmouths have a bad attitude that I tend to respect. A couple walked up and we tossed a couple of pine cones to encourage him along so they could pass. When that didn't move him, the gentleman delicately wrangled him off the trail with a stick. Folks might want to keep an eye on their wandering dogs and roaming kids until first frost. I asked the couple how they were enjoying the trail and that word "wonderful" came up again.
Thanks again to the fine folks at Pulaski County for the road fix....and for the bridges, trails, and parks. And thanks to the happy trail people who brightened up my day.

Be careful out there, folks, there are hazards about and some are easier to spot than others!

Sprint Finish: Competitive Cyclist Heads to the Finish Line In Arkansas

Things will be rolling to a fast finish in Arkansas as Competitive Cyclist prepares for the move to Utah. The most common reaction that I've heard from local cyclists is "sad", and I share the sentiment as we lose a fabulous resource and watch many of our friends prepare to move away or deal with finding a new job.

When CC built this building, I worked with the mechanical engineer and contractor. As the building shaped up, it seemed impossibly huge in comparison to their Cantrell Road location, but they soon ran out of room. If you're in the market for a nice building, fellow rider and commercial realtor John Martin, who providied this flyer, can hook you up!

I'm sure there are many good business reasons to justify Competitive Cyclist's move, one of which is that they already needed about four times the space to support their current business and planned growth with the Merlin line and a long-rumored deal with Canyon bikes. A new facility to support those plans would have required a tremendous amount of capital and, while CC is a successful and growing concern, they are in the bike business, not real estate investment. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Along The Trail

Show The Love
There was a round of e-mails, a meeting and a whole lot of discussion after an article about construction of the west ramp of the BDB on the Arkansas Times blog brought out the usual comments blasting riders. There were actually some very reasonable and balanced comments, especially mine, of course, but there was some of the standard "ban bikes", "rude cyclists", "wasted tax dollar" rhetoric. I'll discuss this more as time goes on, but let me say that the powers-that-be in North Little Rock are hearing the complaints. Crowds haven't been a problem on the NLR trails of late, as hot weather had already left most of our trail miles virtually unused and the opening of Two Rivers Bridge has caused an exodus to the west. I think most of the people who complain about trail traffic head out on those precious beautiful sunny Saturday afternoons, when it's warm, but not too hot, and expect to have things to themselves. Happiness often requires reasonable expectations.

This photo was taken around 5:30 on Tuesday evening, peak ride time. I saw fewer than a dozen people between Burns Park and the BDB. If you want solitude, go out any time it's over about 95 degrees. Even when conditions are primo, you can pretty much have things to yourself on Friday and Sunday evenings.

Some folks will bitch if they have to share any resource with others, but let's make it a point to not give more reasonable people cause to complain. In my mind, that doesn't have to mean that we have to ride the trail at 12 MPH ringing our bells, but we all need to be very aware of how the actions of a few rude riders can shape the opinions of many people. It's funny that I never see letters from riders complaining about the rude 4-wide walkers, long-leash dog owners, and out-of-control children. We're just a tolerant lot, I guess. Be polite and friendly and perhaps some of that tolerance will rub off.  I think the vast majority of trail users are among the "silently satisfied", but nobody can hear us smile, though I do appreciate comments like these:

I've said it here before, and I'll repeat it here -- Burns Park's MTB trails, and the River Trail and its bridges, played a huge role in my family moving here. My tax-paying, public-school attending, local-business-supporting family, that is.
Josh Gordon

I'm an IT professional and moved out here about 2 years back from San Francisco. If it weren't for the Rivertrail and likeminded projects I would have taken my talents elsewhere. I love Arkansas and Arkansans, but if I can't ride my bike and enjoy recreation then I'm not living.

Near sunset, from the Big Dam Bridge. We have a "destination quality" ride right here at home. There is a reason that most River Trail patrons are a satisfied bunch.

Natural Wonders: Two Fawns and One Jackass
Thursday evening, as I rode up the LR side of the Big Dam Bridge, I noticed a few folks looking off the bridge toward the woods. I assumed they were looking at a deer, which are an everyday sight at some points on the trail, but I slowed to take a peek, anyway. I was right about the deer, but these turned out to be a couple of still-dappled fawns, nibbling on a bit of grass for several minutes before settling into the tall grass and becoming near-invisible.

The fawns seemed indifferent to the presence of a small crowd of onlookers. I assumed their mother was nearby, but more wary.
This little guy seemed delighted.
Scenes like this, in the heart of the city, help define our unique trail system.

And, now to the jackass. All of us who regularly ride the Big Dam Bridge have seen some examples of folks who just don't have a clue. They might be walkers, riders or rickshaw drivers, but you know what I'm talking about. Well, Wednesday evening as a buddy and I rode toward home down the NLR side of the bridge, at the spot on the bridge where sight distances are least and the gradient is at its maximum, some damn fool was down in the middle of the lane doing push ups. Head downhill, huffing away in his cutoff fatigues. It's the closest thing to a blind spot on the BDB, and there was some traffic on the bridge.  Bless his soul if he is military and doing PT for deployment somewhere, but I didn't get that impression from his disregard for self-preservation. I can't think of a good reason to do push ups there, but then again, we occasionally hear about folks falling asleep on railroad tracks. One makes about as much sense as the other.

Pinnacle Valley Bike Paths: Premature Celebration

I guess I jumped the gun on celebrating completion of the new bike paths on Pinnacle Valley Road to Maumelle Park. Some areas still suddenly run onto gravel, the path is very narrow and it snakes abruptly around obstacles at a couple of points. The trail is not completed for its full length, so hopefully most of the glitches will be ironed out as the job progresses.
I'm sure this utility cut will be repaired, but for now it's a hazard. This is on the west side of the road.
On the east side of the road, there are several places where the trail came up short at crossings, like this one at Beck Road.

I'm looking forward to seeing how this project will look when it is complete, as it is will greatly enhance safety along this narrow stretch of road, but for now I don't advise riding it. If you choose to use the path on your road bike, take it slow and be prepared to stop and dismount.

It looks like the jungle heat is leaving us for a few days, so get out there and ride!
And smile while you're doing it, please.

Rider Down: Sam Avery, 64

Last Saturday, while participating in the Tour de Valley, Sam Avery was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. The driver was later arrested and charged with felony hit-and-run.
I did not know Sam, but we have apparently shared the road on many organized rides. A memorial ride will be held for him this evening. These details were passed along to me by both Tom Ezell and Jon Aldrich:

Dear Cyclists,

It is with deep sorrow that I inform you one of our very own cyclists, Sam Avery, was killed on Saturday while participating in the River Valley Fest ride benefiting the Boys and Girls Club.

Bryon Moudy (Highlander Cycling) is calling all cyclists to participate in the Sam Avery Memorial Ride that will be held on Thursday, August 25, starting at 6pm at the Old Post Park and end at Cornwell Funeral Home in Dardanelle on 207 Quay Street. Visitation at the funeral home will be on Thursday from 6-8pm.

If you are able to make this ride, please do. If you are from the Russellville area, please pass this along to all cyclists you know who would like to pay tribute to Sam Avery.
Thank you.


Millie Clayton
AR Wine Country Bike Tour
River Valley Circle of Friends Chapter
Arkansas Children's Hospital

It is always a tragedy when we lose a rider from among our ranks, especially when the rider is doing everything right. Most of us feel that organized rides offer a degree of safety due to the number of riders on the road and, hopefully, increased driver awareness as they pass numerous riders, course markers and rest areas along the way.
Let's all be careful out there.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Junior Rider Training: Ernie Goes To Camp

Well, OK, it's not quite camp. While crossing the BDB Thursday evening, I crossed paths with Shelby Burleson, who is the daughter of local triathlete Chrissy Fox and an excellent athlete in her own right. Shelby was on her way to meet Ernie Lechuga and some of her junior cycling peers for a training session on the empty streets of a nearby office park, so I circled by the area a little later to check it out. As I rode off the trail and onto the road, Shelby, Alex Bumpers, Garrett Phelps, and Zach LaVergne, all teens, rode by, being herded along by Ernie with the help of Wes Wolfenbarger. When Ernie isn't giving his time to help shape the fast youth of America, he can be found coaching alongside partner Scotti Welborne under the auspices of Leborne Coaching, or helping folks out with expert advice at Chainwheel.

Ernie having a teaching moment with a couple of the boys.

Wes working with Shelby on contact drills. Ernie was emphasizing the importance of being able to absorb contact.

The goal is for the riders to be comfortable and in control of their bikes no matter the situation.
Shelby is wondering why female athletes are sometimes taken less seriously than their male counterparts. Zack, aka "Fabian", is just wondering.
Ernie has been doing the clinics on Thursday evenings, but I don't know his plans going forward, so if you're interested, you should give him a shout at Chainwheel or Leborne. We have some very talented young riders around town and it's gracious of Ernie to share his experience and expertise to help them grow as cyclists. I've ridden with all of these teens from time-to-time and they're all capable and responsible on the bike. I can't really vouch for them other than that, but perhaps they'll help persuade me that the country isn't going to hell in a handbasket after all.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


I received a text message on Saturday informing me that locally owned Competitive Cyclist, an international powerhouse retailer of high-end bikes and gear, had been sold to backcountry.com. I was shocked and somewhat in disbelief, but I quickly confirmed the information with a couple of sources close to the transaction. Successful start-ups seem to either buy companies to grow or they sell out and cash in on their success. It appeared that Competitive was taking the former route with their recent purchase of Merlin, but sometimes an offer just cannot be refused.

It won't be quite as convenient to run by and pick this stuff up while riding a River Trail loop, but we have a wealth of good local shops to support our needs.

The recent departure of long-time employee and video product review star Andy Clark to Speedgoat Bicycles raised a few eyebrows, but it did seem like an opportunity for the talented and capable Clark. edit:I'm told that Andy's departure was not related to the sale of the business, so I'll simply commend his timing.  My understanding is the some of the crew will make the move to one of  Backcounty's Utah locations and that some management staff will be contracted for a specific time to assist in the transition. The major move is set to take place on October 15.

Competitive Cyclist moved out of their rented strip warehouse space and into this large, modern building just in time for the recession. After a few nervous months, the bike business got traction and CC resumed its aggressive growth. They have long outgrown the building. Empolyee parking fills bike racks indoors and car parking overflows into the street, except on this Sunday when only the cleaning crew was on hand.

Backcountry already had a retail cycling entity in the form of Realcyclist, in addition to its one-item outlets of Chainlove, Bonktown and others, so it is not clear how Competitive Cyclist will be integrated into the organization. It may be bias based on familiarity, but the Competitive Cyclist brand carries a lot of value in the high end of the cycling marketplace than RealCyclist or Backcountry, so I cannot envision the acquisition as a "competitor killer". While some folks will make the move, the loss of a relatively large number of cycling-related jobs will have an effect on many of our friends, and I wish everyone the best.
This is big news and I must  congratulate CC owners Brendan, Craig and Hap on what looks to be the home run sale of a very successful going concern to a Top 100 retailer.
There will be plenty of discussion about this in coming weeks within the bike industry and within our community .

Friday, August 19, 2011

Where's The Outrage?

This is somewhat tongue-in-cheek, as I have a hard time taking seriously the folks who get near apoplectic about expenditures for projects such as the Two Rivers Bridge and the BDB. OK, they don't ride bikes, they don't exercise, they don't use the resource, so I understand that they do not appreciate the quality-of-life perspective and, subsequently, they fail to see the benefit added to areas ranging from real estate values to corporate recruiting. That said, let's take a look at some other transportation projects and their costs. From Thursday's Democrat-Gazette, I see that downtown Blytheville is getting an $18 million dollar railroad overpass. That's just about equal to the cost of the Big Dam Bridge (12.5m) and the Two Rivers Park Bridge (5.3m) combined, and I have yet to hear the squeal of a single Tea Pot. Yeah, yeah, RR overpasses are great and all that, but we get by with grade crossings just fine. I'm not sure how much use the Blytheville overpass will get, but I will venture that it will not get any more use than the BDB and TRB and I can almost guarantee that it will not draw a single visitor to the City of Blytheville, nor will it be an effective recruiting tool for young, active, educated folks who might be looking to relocate. The same article mentioned adding one lane each way from I-430 to just west of U.S. 65 in Conway, a distance of 20 miles, at a cost of $100 million.
As an aside, I recently heard an interesting program on the effect of such projects on traffic. The conclusion of the author was that capacity increases resulting from improvements are soon offset by increased use. In other words, when the drive from Conway gets too painful, folks quit moving there. Build more lanes, more people commute, and in short order we're right back where we started. The result was found to be the same when public transportation was thrown in.
 Anyway, using a cost of $5 million per mile, we got two spectacular, long lived projects for the cost of adding single lanes to less than 4 miles of semi-rural freeway. I did a quick search for life-expectancy of such freeway construction, but found nothing conclusive. If our local experiences with I-30 to Benton an 67-167 to Jacksonville are any indication, I suspect that much of the interstate will see substantial maintenance long before the first pothole appears on one of the bike/pedestrian bridge projects.
I make these points to serve as a reminder that non-motorized transportation expenditures are a tiny fraction of our transportation budget, that many of the projects have indefinite life expectancy and low maintenance requirements, and that they help reduce dependence on foreign oil while providing safe and healthy alternatives to driving.
These are not bad things.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Surprise: Two Rivers Bridge After Dark

I'll have to admit that until recently I had not really considered the thought of lighting on the Two Rivers Bridge. As a result, I was pleasantly surprised when reader Cliff Li sent me a link to some of his photos of the bridge at night. We have another nighttime landmark to complement the BDB.

I normally produce my own material, for better or worse, but Cliff's photos are very good and I appreciate him sharing them with us.

The days are getting noticeably shorter, so we'll be seeing the bridges after dark all too often soon, but this makes me want to get out for a moonlighter.

Thanks to Cliff Li for sharing his photos!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Word: Clinton Park Bridge Dedication: Update

I was told to "reserve the date" of Friday, September 30 for the dedication of the Clinton Park Bridge. I'm not sure if that will be the opening date or just the first date that works for all of the dignitaries. I'm seeking details. Post 'em if you got 'em.

This date looks to be firm, and it will likely be a midday event. If you're determined to be there, plan on a long lunch or take a day off! I'm not sure how access/security wll be handled, but if it is typical for Clinton Library events, there will likely be some restrictions on access.

8/19/2011 edit
Here's a link to the event information.

Thanks to Joe Jacobs for the link

Sellout Crowd: Cervélo’s éRide Demo; Impressions of the Cervélo R3

 The Spokes Cervélo bike demo held Wednesday evening was huge success, as Mat and the Cervelo rep quickly overbooked the event and had to start a stand-by list of riders eager to test a new Cervélo R3. The weather cooperated, as skies cleared and temperatures were mild at 91 compared to last Wednesday's 114, and the Spokes/ Cervelo folks were busy setting up bikes and putting on pedals. Mat hooked me up with an R3 equipped with a Shimano Ultegra drive train and some very sweet Mavic R-Sys wheels, while the road show bikes were equipped with SRAM Red. I ride Shimano so, though I would like to spend some time with the Red group, I was glad to have familiar gear for this short ride.
Steve, Adam and Wade were in the middle of things as riders got their pedals mounted and bikes set up.
At a mere 675g/1.5 lb, Cervélo’s R5ca bike’s frame weighs less than a quart of water.
If you're into bike tech, follow the link to see what goes into this frame. I see that on the Spokes website, the price is listed at $9800.00. If you hurry, you can probably pick up a bargain. Mat is modeling the new Spokes kit, which I think looks great! I'm glad to see they deviated from the trend to black, as it's just too damn hot for Arkansas summers!

Adam keeps the R5ca earthbound.

These guys are all sitting on new Cervelos and they're ready to ride. 26 riders showed up to check out the new bikes.

We rolled out to Two Rivers Park, with a side trip up Fort Roots along the way to see how this fleet climbed. The general consensus was that the bikes excel, though some seemed to be a little underpowered.

The ride route gave us an opportunity to get a pretty good sampling of terrain and road surfaces, including the little climb up Fort Roots and the sometimes bumpy, debris-heavy trails of Two Rivers Park. Whenever we hit open road, somebody would jump from the group, sparking the usual chasers as we checked out the acceleration qualities of the bikes.
This was my ride for the evening, an R3 with Shimano Ultegra and Mavic R-sys wheels.
Oh, yeah, and white bar tape. Very EuroPro.

About the  Cervelo R3...

Earlier in the week, I visited with Scott at Spokes and we decided that I would ride a 54cm frame. We did a quick fit, consisting of adjusting the saddle height. After an hour or so on the bike, I was wishing I had checked the reach more closely, as I think the seat was set back a little more than my usual set-up. This isn't a real technical review, as you can get that anywhere, but I'll tell you what I think about the bike. First, I'll say that my front line road bike is my faithful Litespeed Ghisallo, 880grams of titanium frame with great road feel and a plush ride. It is also pretty flexible laterally, resulting in a little feeling of lag when initiating a sprint, even with my meager wattage.  That is not the case with the R3, as it feels like all of the power that you put to the pedals gets translated into speed.
The R3 frame is super stiff laterally, and yet it still managed to dampen the road buzz and bumps pretty well, resulting in a responsive feel with a surprisingly comfortable ride. Riders were commenting positively on the climbing ability of the bike but, though I had no complaints, our only climb was 10 minutes into the ride and I couldn't really form much of an opinion. I love the descent down Fort Roots, with its variety of broad, sweeping turns and fairly tight switchbacks, and the R3 carved through them all like it was on rails. I felt I was nowhere near pushing the limits of the bike, but it had a sure, solid feel going through the turns at speed. I ride the DuraAce 7800 group and by comparison, the new Ultegra had the same positive shifting and very impressive braking power, though I wasn't really comfortable with the ergonomics. The top of the hoods felt flat and square and my thumbs seemed to rest in the void between the levers and the body of the shifters. I'm sure that I wouldn't notice after a few rides, and it's possible that those impressions might go away with some tweaking of the bar position and fit.  The Mavic R-sys wheels are stiff and really spun up quickly. They got some bad press a couple of years ago when a Velonews staffer experienced a failure during a crit, but, if anything, that got the technology some close scrutiny resulting in a better product. I've had great experience with the Mavic wheels that I've owned in terms of performance and reliability.
When you stomp on the pedals of the R3, it jumps, and one thing that I noticed is that the bike seems to carry speed very well after an acceleration. Once it got going fast, the R3 wanted to keep going fast! It is not a particularly aerodynamic design, so I'll just say that it felt very efficient and leave it at that.
The R3 seems like a capable bike for anything you might want to throw at it. If you want a bike that will be a home on big climbs and crit courses and is still compliant enough for a century ride, consider this machine. There are a lot of fine bikes out there in this class, but I like the style that Cervélo brings to their products.

NOTE: If you missed out on this event, Spokes is bringing the Cervelo demo back on a Saturday in September. The Saturday date will allow more riders to be accomodated. Watch for an announcement on the Spokes site and here.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Pinnacle Valley Bike Paths

By last Saturday, paving appeared to be about 50% complete on the new bike paths along Pinnacle Valley Road from County Farm Road to Maumelle Park. Completion of this project will mean that riders can pedal from downtown Little Rock to Maumelle Park with almost no exposure to motorized traffic. This assumes, of course, that one immediately crosses to North Little Rock in order to avoid the "moronic mile" trail gap in Little Rock.

This will be another sweet addition to the Central Arkansas bike trail system.

The Two Rivers Bridge has opened the gates to bike traffic on the roads out west, there has been some concern over possible conflicts with drivers and with cyclists' safety. Traffic on Hwy 300 can be a problem on weekends, and on weekdays it is heavily used by commuters, many of whom have had to fight their way out Cantrell and Hwy 10. They may not be too patient with a gaggle of cyclists spread out across the road, so give them a break! Let them know that you're aware of them, then do your best to let them safely get by. Smile and wave (with all of your fingers).

Mural Ribbon Cutting

If you happen to be out-and-about at 10:00AM today, there will be a ribbon cutting to dedicate artist V.L.Cox's mural at the Big Rock quarry along the North Little Rock River Trail. Ms. Cox has assured me that there will not be any long-winded speeches.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Breaking News: North Little Rock Set To Acquire RR Right-of-Way

For the last several years, city leaders in North Little Rock have had their eyes on the Camp Robinson rail spur, a now-abandoned rail line that runs a little over 3 miles from Pike Avenue beneath I-40 in Levy to the point where it crosses Remount Road before entering Camp. The notion acquiring the spur was first brought to my attention by Alderman Debi Ross, and its potential as a rail-to-trail project has been frequently discussed by Mayor Hays and the NLR Bike Friendly Committee. Now, it appears that the project will become a reality as the North Little Rock City Council is set to meet in special session Monday night to approve funding. I received this from our alderman, Debi Ross:

The purpose of this e-mail is to advise you that Mayor Hays has called a special meeting of the North Little Rock City Council at 7:05 p.m. on Monday, August 8, 2011, at City Hall, Council Chambers, North Little Rock, Arkansas.  The following will be on the agenda:


Pursuant to Sec. 2-48(2) of the North Little Rock Municipal Code, you are entitled to 72 hours’ electronic notice of this meeting.  Please acknowledge receipt of this e-mail as soon as possible by replying to the same.  A copy of your reply will automatically be sent to City Clerk Diane Whitbey. 

A bike path along the route of the RR spur, roughly following the red line above, has the potential for providing a key north-south link through the city, giving Indian Hills, Sherwood and Amboy residents safe passage through the heart of Levy. Parallel Camp Robinson Road is far from bike friendly!

You can see that the rail line fits plans for bike routes in the city. In this photo, rails are being salvaged beneath the I-40 overpass of Pike Avenue at 33rd Street near a recently constructed section of bike/pedestrian path.

A few blocks to the north, the right-of-way with rails removed looks pavement ready!
Most of the line runs through residential neighborhoods. This section, near Kierre Road, shows what most of the route looked like before the recent rail salvage operation.

As I understand, most of the folks along the right-of-way are supportive of the project, as neglect has resulted in the establishment of homeless camps and some criminal actitivity along the route. The trail, when developed, will be lighted with consideration given to protecting residents from the potential of lights shining in windows.

Thanks to Mayor Patrick H. Hays, Aldermen Debi Ross, Beth White, Charlie Hight and Murry Witcher for sponsoring the resolution to make this happen. While there are loud complaints these days about government spending, this is a unique opportunity to acquire a 3-mile right-of-way through the heart of a city and is money well-spent.

Since we're leaning on the subject of politics and money, I got some satisfaction from a recent DemGaz article concerning the a Forbes ranking of America's Most Livable Cities. In listing amenities that attract talent to the Little Rock area corporations, the bike trail system was the first thing mentioned in the DemGaz article, and it's become common knowledge that easy access to the trail system has enhanced residential and commercial property values along the Arkansas River corridor. In anecdotal evidence, I've heard lately of a Jackson, Mississippi couple who bought a second home in Little Rock so they can spend their weekends cycling, and another couple who retired here from Florida in order to take advantage of the cycling infrastructure. Proven quality-of-life investments make more sense to me than the targetless "economic development" sales tax increase being proposed by the City of Little Rock. While it is clear the Little Rock needs more funding for vital services such as the police department, the desirability of a sales tax to subsidize private business is less clear. Making a city a safe and desirable place to live seems to me to be more likely to improve our economic future than to spend millions in tax dollars to attract a few low payscale production jobs, which has too often been the result of "economic development" spending.

Croation Mayor Deals With Bike Lane Scofflaws

Ok, it is a publicity stunt, but Vilnius, Croatia Mayor Arturas Zuokas sends a clear message to those who would park in the city's bike lanes!

That APC has got to have some rockets on board to deal with moving violations.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Spokes Sponsoring Cervelo Test Ride

Wednesday, August 10th

I'll share this with you, now that I've reserved an R3 for ME!

Here's the low-down:

Cervélo’s éRide Demo Program is Coming!
"The Sub" August 10th at 6PM
éRide, Cervélo’s national test ride program is coming to Little Rock, AR on August 10th
Brought to you by Spokes Little Rock.  The demo will depart from 100 Riverfront Park, North Little Rock, 72114 (Locals know this as "The Sub"). The ride will leave at 6:00 pm, 25 miles, average speed approximately 17 mph.  Pre-Registration is required.

If you’ve dreamed of riding a Cervélo, this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.  éRide allows you to throw a leg over the same racing bikes ridden by the Garmin-Cervélo team and other top athletes.
The demo fleet will consist of 2011 Cervélo R3’s.  The R3 has been the standard for lightweight, stiff, strong and comfortable frames.  Its super-thin seatstays, Squoval tube shapes, and in-house developed layup were a major leap forward in frame design. This season, Cervélo again raised the bar with the introduction of BBright – a new bottom bracket standard that optimizes stiffness and weight of the frame and crankset as a system.
There is no charge to test ride, however you will need to complete a waiver and provide a photo ID and credit card while riding.  Please remember to bring your pedals, shoes and helmet!
For more information go to: http://eride.cervelo.com/en_us/eride/default.aspx
Join us at éRide.  Call the shop to register or e-mail jmeulman@cervelo.com.
1001 Kavanaugh Blvd.
Little Rock, AR 72205
501-664-SPOKE (7765)
Mon-Fri 10am-6pm
Saturday 9am-6pm

Ride Rules

Most of us have participated in races, shop rides, charity rides, group or club rides, and  almost all of these events are held with some strings attached. USAC sanctioned events are governed by an extensive handbook and officials are on hand to be sure that technical requirements, such as junior gearing, are enforced and that other conditions are met in order to assure that competition is fair and is as safe as possible. Most participants readily accept these rules as a condition of the competition. Charity rides always require that riders sign a waiver in which they accept responsibility for themselves and accept that participation has some inherent dangers. Shop, club, and casual group  rides are usually much more casual about waivers and policies, but they all share one common requirement and that is that riders are required to wear helmets.
Helmets required? Who sez?

I've never seen a rider show up for a race or charity ride and try to insist on riding without a helmet. It just isn't done. Unlike races or charity rides, many group rides have no governing entity and may just be known as the "Tuesday 6 O'clock". Folks just show up and you can choose to ride on not depending on the mix of riders. Club and shop rides land somewhere in between in that waivers are seldom required, but all include the caveat that riders wear a helmet. There is some implied liability when any formally recognized entity organizes an event under the auspices of their business or club, so they have the right to set some conditions for participation. Other exclusionary conditions may include the wearing of headphones and the use of aerobars, both of which can compromise safety in a group. While most folks easily agree to any of these conditions, if for no other reason than that they usually ride that way, but what happens when somebody drops in and doesn't follow the rules-of-the-ride? If you're a ride leader, official or self-appointed, usually if you will remind the rider of the rules of the ride, the rider nods and says, "OK", and rides on, often to show up the next week with his helmet. If a rider just rolls out with the pack on his bars or with his earbuds blaring or without a helmet, about all that can be done short of a stick in the spokes is simply to express disapproval and ride on unless their behavior threatens the group. Most folks really don't want to be where they're not welcome and your cycling friends wouldn't put you in the position of having to say something to them.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

OK, enough about the heat, but...

It was an all time record high of 114 in Little Rock today. That is literally "as hot as it gets", at least for now. I wounder if that charming Oklahoma congressman who built the igloo to ridicule the notion of climate change is sleeping in a tent to prove that it's not really hot. It clouded up late this afternoon and cooled to a brisk 106 by the time I got out on the bike.
It is remarkably hot, so I'm remarking.

Temperature=105; Heat Index=118: Nearing Upper Limits

The heat index was 118 as I headed out for my ride Tuesday night, which in scientific terms is "crazy hot". I do pretty well in the heat, but must admit that these conditions are approaching the stay-at-home point for me and exceeding it for most folks. Even the Two Rivers Bridge parking areas were near empty after seeing crowds almost every day since the bridge opening a week and a half ago, though the Tuesday night ACF ride appeared to have good numbers as usual. When it's this hot, it is difficult to cool down once overheated and to recover from hard efforts, so if you do venture out, be aware of your limitations and take it easy. Fall will be here soon enough.

Monday, August 1, 2011

West Ramp Bypass: Whoopie! Hang On Tight!

In a recent post, I mentioned the newly constructed bypass trail that runs from under the Little Rock end of the BDB to Jimerson Creek. The detour was built in preparation for construction of the west ramp of the BDB, and its design has proven to be a popular topic of conversation. I have been assured that the bridge engineers didn't design the detour, which enters and exits the trail steeply and at near 90-degree angles.
The east approach to the detour is not only sharply angled and steep, it's got its own speed bump! I'm curious at to whether that was given some thought or if the guy on the asphalt dump lever just had a sneezing fit.

All that I can say is that this is good advice.
This young lady, who asked not to be named (She actually asked me not to use her picture, but I'm certain that she was only kidding!), hesitated at the top of the ramp and decided to walk down.

This temporary trail is not an engineering marvel, but will suffice, and I do appreciate the fact that it is paved.  I saw quite a few folks approached it with uncertainty, so slow down and look out for those riders who may not be as confidant on the possibly puzzling approach. We'll all get used to it and the west ramp will make the Big Dam Bridge even more impressive.