Thursday, May 31, 2012

Signing Ceremony for Arkansas River Trail System Agreement

I posted an article a while back about the Arkansas River Trail System. The trail system concept is coming a step closer to reality with the signing on Friday, June 1, at 10:00AM, of a Memorandum of Understanding between the various stakeholders in the endeavor. Details are below. Show up and demonstrate your support if you can. It should be a very nice day to head to the BDB, preferably by bike!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dr. Feelgood Ronde van Burns Criterium Series

The CARVE-sponsored Dr. Feelgood Burns Park crit series got off to a huge start last Wednesday and continues   Wednesday evenings on May 30, June 13, and June 20th.

 USAC officials Steve Shepherd and Ian Hope lay down the finish line for the Burns Park criterium races.

 The field for the Cat 5 race was huge! Last year's first race featured a dozen or fewer riders, growing each week. Last Wednesday, 36 riders were at the line for the first race, and it was FAST, averaging over 25MPH. 
This ain't no stinkin' boys club, either. Jo Spencer and Chrissie Fox were among the female racers.

Races start at 5:15 and consist of  Cat5, Cat 4-5, and Cat 1-3 classes. Come to race or just cruise by on your evening ride to check out the action.

The series culminates in the Star Spangled Criterium on Sunday, July 1, on Riverfront Drive in downtown North Little Rock. While the Wednesday series is mostly for fun and primes, the July 1 event will be for a state championship, prizes and $$$$! From the CARVE calendar:

Come show Central Arkansas your stuff at the Dr. Feelgood Star-Spangled Classic Criterium on Sunday, July 1st.  Following on the heels of the Dr. Feelgood Burns Park Criterium Series, the Classic will be held on Riverfront Drive in North Little Rock. 

This year the Classic is also the Arkansas State Criterium Championship.  Come out and compete for a Championship jersey or medal, and over $4000 in cash and merchandise.  Or just come out and have a great time watching and cheering on the competitors.

 The event includes criterium races for all ages and categories, starting at 8:00 a.m.  For more information see the flyer.    Final Results will be posted following the event.

Last year's event drew big crowds and featured some great racing. July 4 falls on Wednesday this year, so with no long out-of-town holiday weekend, there should be another good turnout.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New BACA Leadership On A Roll!

The recently elected leadership team of BACA is on a roll. Last Wednesdays Ride of Silence drew 60 solemn cyclists who rode two abreast from the Clinton Library to the steps of the state capitol. Whereas in past years the rides have drawn good participation from the cycling community, there was little or no publicity and passers-by just looked and wondered. The team of BACA president Tim McKuen managed to get an article in the previous Monday's statewide paper and TV news coverage of the event as riders carried the names of fallen cyclists. The Ride of Silence is a national event and serves as a memorial to those killed while riding on public roads.

Friday was National Bike to Work Day and BACA board member Judy Lansky ramrodded this show. Judy wanted folks to truly ride to work, so caravans were arranged from and to various points in the city. Diane and I joined NLR Mayor Pat Hays at the Park Hill collection point, then went on to meet riders coming in from Lakewood and beyond at a location on North Hills Blvd.

We had a pretty good pack by the time we reach North Hills Blvd. in North Little Rock, including Mayor Pat Hays, Parks Director Bob Rhoads, and Alderman Charlie Hight. Groups like this formed all over the city.

Since I usually work from home my ride to work was a bit of a loop. I was there primarily to report and to support the cause! This group rode to River Trail Station for coffee, juice and bagels. While there, we got a report that the Capital Hotel, one of several merchants offering amenities to riders, had a great pastry bar set up. We had to check that out!
 This is not the usual scene at the Capital Hotel banquet room.
The spread at the Capital Hotel was impressive! Silverware and linen napkins complemented the fresh pastries nicely! Your Bike to Work button will also get you a free appetizer through May 24. Many local bike shops offered discounts to button holders and companies like Garver provided refreshment stops.

I love to see the bike community pull together for events like these. Both the Ride of Silence and Bike To Work Day were well organized. well publicized and very positive in nature. Thanks to BACA and to all of the merchants and businesses that offered time and resources to help make the happen.

Pro Racing: What a Weekend for Heros!!

I love to watch professional bike racing when the action is good and the race is on the line. For folks like me, the past weekend has been nothing short of spectacular! The Tour of California on Saturday featured a long break by popular American Chris Horner which, as is almost always the case, ended in failure as the power of the peloton comes to bear on the solo hero. Sunday's Giro d'Italia, the first of the three week European Grand Tours, had a very different outcome. Unknown Italian Matteo Rabottini was in a two man break 150k from the finish. At 75k he dropped his companion and soldiered on through rain and fog over 4 categorized climbs, only to be caught inside the final kilometer by Joaquim Rodriguez. Usually when riders are caught after an exhausting break, they hang their head and accept their fate, but Rabottini fought off the attacking Rodriguez, exchanging passes with him, finally taking the lead in the final 20 meters. Rodriguez took the overall race lead, but Rabottini took the stage in one of the most dramatic finishes I've seen. Great stuff. While many of you have been able to follow the Tour of California on NBC Sports via cable, in order to watch the Giro, fans had to have satellite, fish around for live English language coverage ( or try to follow the Flemish or Italian commentary) on sites like, or shell out a few bucks to  get all of the action on Universal Sports on line. I chose to do the latter and the first two weeks of racing have already been worth the $19.95, with the final week in the mountains yet to come. With Universal, I plug the TV into my notebook via an HDMI cable and kick back with wireless mouse in hand. It is not the production quality that we are accustomed to on Versus/NBC, as there are stretches when the only sound is that of helicopter rotors or the engines of the motos as they follow the riders on the road, but the commentating is good and certainly enough to keep you in the race. Since I can barely look up from my desk during the day, I appreciate the fact that I can watch on my own schedule and move quickly through the long droning stretches that dominate flat stages. Typical stage coverage is around four hours. The sprint stages for the most part have been dominated by either my man Mark Cavendish or by crashes taking out Mark Cavendish. Cav, along with other dominant sprinters of their time like Robbie McEwen, are perceived by many fans to be total a-holes. I prefer to think of them as tough little banty rooster types who are willing to bump handle bars and shoulders to battle their way through the pack at speeds close to 50MPH as they approach the line. Cavendish is widely accepted as the fastest man in the world on two wheels, at least for a couple of hundred meters, and few folks have been able to prove otherwise. Roberto Ferrari managed to stop Cav on stage 3 by veering wildly into his wheel as they approached the line. Check it out below:

The most impressive moment in the video is the rider bunny hopping Cavendish as Cav rolled down the pavement. Yes, sprinters are a crazily skilled bunch!

There is still a lot of racing between now and the June 30 start of the Tour de France, with the June 3
Critérium du Dauphiné seen as a pretty good preview of the Tour. The Dauphiné this year features the same teams and much of the same terrain as the Tour de France. With Alberto Contador sidelined by a doping suspension the racing has been wide open. Cadel Evans has shown good form, but his style often leads him to lose big chunks of time and the Schlecks seem too busy squabbling with their management to focus on racing. With no dominant riders at the top of the sport, it is going to be a fun summer to watch some bike races.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sunday, May 20: Rocktown Trackdown

As the Central Arkansas cycling community grows, so too does the variety of entertaining riding events. This Sunday at 9:30 AM,  Rocktown Trackdown  participants will gather on the north lawn of MacArthur Park in Little Rock in preparation for a downtown scavenger hunt. In addition to riders, walkers, runners, strollers and I guess just about any self-powered human form can join the fun. I understand that even Bike Nerds will be allowed.
The goal: armed with a map marked with 30 downtown locations, participants gather points by making as many of the spots as possible in a 2 hour period, then answer questions to prove you were really there.
Aly and Bryan Signorelli have put this thing together, though I'm sure I'll be reminded of other organizers as well, so feel free to jump into the  comments section and take or give additional credit. Over the last few years, we've seen other scavenger hunt type events, the wildly successful Tweed Ride, and an active bike polo community pop up, so you don't have to be a skinny obsessive roadie or a mad dog mountain biker to have a hell of a lot of fun on the bike. Follow the link above for detail. Follow the instructions and don't give the organizers grief about the helmet mandate. They're concerned about your li'l punkin' head so if you want to play, put a lid on it.
The event is free, but if you are of sterling character, as most JBar Cycling reader are, you'll make the $5.00 donation to help offset costs.

Monday, May 14, 2012

How High Is Your Ceiling?

While riding with a friend the other evening, who, remarkably, started riding at even a later age than I did, he posed the question of whether we were limited in our potential. I started riding at age 50, having never participated in any type of endurance or team sports, rode 6000 miles in my first year of riding and ran the first mile I'd ever run in my life at age 53. My friend started riding at age 58 and has had a remarkable trip on the bike, losing 100 pounds and gaining fitness that he had assumed was years behind him. The answer to his question, as we both knew, is that of course we are limited by age. Otherwise, we'd see 50 year old Tour de France winners leveraging their many years of training and the wiliness that comes with advancing years into dominance in the peloton. The sage old champions would know how to eek the maximum potential out of every watt of energy expended and would know every trick in the book. The reality is that endurance athletes seem to reach their maximum potential in their late 20's to early 30's. We're all fighting physiology, biology and accumulated wear from there. Probably a more relevant question is whether we have reached our current maximum potential. The answer to that question for most of us is "no". I know very few riders of any age, regardless of talent and genetics, who put forth the effort required to reach their full potential. I regularly ride with folks ranging in age from their teens to their 60's and only a handful are fully committed to doing their absolute best on the bike. For some, it's a matter of time and resources, but for most it's a matter of will and desire. I know that I could be a much better rider if I worked harder, developed a structured training plan,  skipped the ice cream, and engaged a coach, but my very limited exposure to racing taught me that although I love to lay down the law with my buddies, I'm not willing to sacrifice the pleasure of recreational riding in order to finish in the pack. For the vast majority of us, geezers or not, we're not limited by the height of the ceiling  but by our willingness to jump. .
Though the ceiling does indeed get lower with age, most of us still have plenty of headroom. Enjoy your ride.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Arkansas River Trail System

Note the word system. Several weeks ago, I noticed a reference to the Arkansas River Trail Task Force, chaired be a gentleman named Rob Stephens. I was unaware of the task force or its purpose so I set about making contact with Rob, introduced myself and asked for a bit of his time. He kindly agreed and we met for a cup of coffee.

Rob Stephens heads up the Arkansas River Trail Task Force

As it turned out, Rob is a long-time volunteer and has been very involved with the Boy Scouts and, in addition to the River Trail Task force, he wanted to talk about Leave No Trace. I had always associated Leave No Trace with outdoor ethics as applied to the camping, hiking and boating in forests and wilderness areas, but had never really associated  the movement with an urban system. That's where their Front Country program comes in.  The front country guidelines as I understand are primarily concerned with day-use areas like parks and trails, though the principles apply anywhere. Here are some guidelines taught by LNT:
Plan Ahead
  • Know the local rules and regulations.
  • Remember to bring food, water, and appropriate clothing.
  • Bring a map so you don’t get lost.
  • Bring a bag to pack out your trash.
  • Don’t forget a leash for your pet.
  • Take the time to learn about the area.
Stick to Trails
  • Stay on the trails as they are marked if you can.
  • Try not to disturb wildflowers and other plants. That way everyone can enjoy them!
  • Don’t trespass on private property.
Manage Your Pet
  • Keep your pet on a leash at all times.
  • Use a plastic bag to pack out your pet’s waste.
  • Do not let your pet chase wildlife.
Leave What You Find
  • Don’t pick wildflowers.
  • Leave rocks and other objects where they are so others can see them also.
  • Do not mark or carve into living plants.
Respect Other Visitors
  • Be courteous to others on trails when biking or running.
  • Make room for others on trails and be cautious when passing.
  • Don’t disturb others by making lots of noise or playing loud music.
  • Respect “No Trespassing” and “Do Not Enter” signs.

Trash Your Trash
  • Remove any trash you bring with you. Make sure it is put in a receptical or take it with you.
  • Even natural materials, like bits of fruit, should not be thrown on the ground. They attract pests and detract from the natural beauty of an area.
Rob is passionate about applying these principles to our trail systems. I'm not doing his efforts justice here, but the links will provide you better information.

So, what has the task force done? A lot, as I found out at a recent meeting to which I was invited. They have, working with Metroplan, hammered out an agreement to create the Arkansas River Trail System that covers several counties and municipalities to expand the current system to include 88 miles of connected roads and trails. The goal is to have uniform recognizable signage and, to the extent possible, uniform policies of use.

While at the meeting, I sat with Marsha Guffey of Metroplan, whom I had met at the LR Bike Friendly Committee. Marsha offered to share  information regarding the plan and the upcoming signing of a Memorandum of Agreement to make the system a reality. Here is the information provided by Metroplan:
Arkansas River Trail System
As an outgrowth of the Arkansas River Trail Task Force headed by Rob Stephens, local officials associated with the Arkansas River Trail have been meeting for several months to develop a Memorandum of Understanding regarding what they have dubbed the Arkansas River Trail System.  The Arkansas River Trail System will go beyond the original Arkansas River Trail to Perry County, on roughly the course of the Big Dam Bridge 100.  The current trail system is approximately 88.5 miles. 

On June 1, the local officials will meet to sign the Memorandum of Understanding.  Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar has been invited to attend and the public is most cordially asked to attend. (Note: Location of the signing is yet to be confirmed. Originally slated for the BDB, it was decided that the crowd would likely be better accommodated elsewhere, possibly at the Clinton Library.)

Signatories to the MOU include:

·         Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines
·         Faulkner County Judge Preston Scroggin
·         Perry County Judge Baylor House
·         Mayor Mark Stodola, Little Rock
·         Mayor Pat Hays, North Little Rock
·         Mayor Mike Watson, Maumelle
·         Mayor Tab Townsell, Conway
·         Mayor Randy Holland, Mayflower
·         Mayor Bradley Akridge, Bigelow
·         Scott Bennett, Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department
·         Richard Davies, Arkansas Parks and Tourism
·         U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The MOU will be supplemented by additional agreements, still being drafted, to cover law enforcement/safety, minimum trail standards, maintenance standards, signage and wayfinding, and trail etiquette. A logo has been adopted by the group (to be copyrighted), and consultants will be hired to develop a new website and mobile website  at

Folks, that's some exciting stuff and shows what can happen when communities have broad support from the public and pull together toward a common goal. I've been slow to get this article out and there will likely be some updated information to follow soon.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Bridges: What a waste of money!

We've all heard it from the cranks in regard to the Big Dam Bridge and Two Rivers Bridge, though I haven't heard a whimper about that $135 Million to widen I-40 to Conway. I'm sure that developers in Conway are looking forward to another wave of flight from Little Rock and the trucking industry will enjoy the subsidy.
Apparently, though, there are more than a few folks who appreciate the value of fitness, outdoor recreation, and quality-of-life.
This from Max Brantley's Arkansas Times blog:

* BRIDGES TO SOMEWHERE: The Pulaski County Road and Bridge Department says electronic counters show 57,371 people used the new Two Rivers Park pedestrian bridge April 10-May 7. In 2011, 100,000 people used the nearby Big Dam Bridge, based on security camera monitors. That means the Two Rivers bridge could exceed Big Dam Bridge traffic. Building the bridges to encourage people to get outside apparently "is working," the county says.

Yep, I'd say it is working just fine, and based on the streams of riders, walkers, runners and skaters crowding the bridges earlier this evening, I'd say those numbers will just grow as more and more Central Arkansas residents discover the recreational gold in our backyard.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Word: Two Rivers Park Update From The Judge

In response to a recent e-mail, Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines has provided some clarification on what prompted nighttime closure at Two Rivers Park. I had erroneously speculated that it was out of concern that n'er-do-wells would be hanging out and misbehaving in the park at night, but the real reason is actually sadly comical. It seems that folks were heading out on the River Trail through the park at dusk only to find that after dusk, it gets dark!! I guess that I was probably a couple of years old before I grasped that concept, but there are some slower learners among us.
After darkness set in, the strollers would then either declare themselves lost or simply afraid of critters and ghosts and call 911 for rescue. Sheriff's deputies would then be dispatched to go get the clueless souls. My friend Joe Jacobs of  Arkansas Outside imagined that the call would go something like this:

911:  How can we help you?
Lost soul: I'm lost in Two Rivers Park.
911: Where in Two Rivers Park
LS: on the River Trail
911: You know you're on the River Trail and in Two Rivers Park and you're lost?
LS: It's dark and I'm scared.
911: How old are you?
LS: 35
911: You're 35 years old and you're scared of the dark so you called 911? Is this a joke?

OK, not only did I steal Joe's material, but I paraphrased it because I deleted the e-mail.

What you see at Two Rivers Park on a moonless night (insert glowing eyes and the sound of rustling leaves.)

What you don't see. There are things to fear, as these bad boys are mostly nocturnal.

I've actually wondered about the wisdom of folks that I've seen out on the trail late in the evening, but I just assumed that they had a plan. Apparently, I give people way too much credit. I think there are many city dwellers who are so far removed from the environment that they cannot imagine a place with no illumination.

The current situation is that the Judge has asked me to pass the word that he is trying to come up with a workable policy to keep the clueless from wasting the resources of the sheriff's department while allowing responsible cyclists with lights access to the park at all hours. And if you run across some impatient deputies, just be nice. It's probably not you that they're looking for.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Julie Blog

OK, there's this chick in NYC named Julie who writes a very entertaining blog. Here's a little of what she has to say for herself:

I'm an Urban Girl Scout in New York City. I live on the Upper East Side and I always carry a camera - whether it's just my cell phone, a disposable, a toy camera or my DSLR, I'm always prepared to document the events of the day. (But mostly I use a rough & tough Pentax Optio H90)

April '10, I started almost-daily bicycle commuting. I try to ride in the clothes I plan to wear to work or whatever event I'm going to, and I take a lot of Bicycle Outfit photos and discuss that here, but I also talk about random stuff, adventures, stuff I bought, etc.


Julie is not only fun, funny and fashionable, she's also an Arkansas girl and you'll occasionally see her comments posted on JBar Cycling. She was a Brownie with Chelsea Clinton and has been around the kitchen with Martha Stewart. At times, I feel like I'm reading the adventures of a cute, urbane, female Forrest Gump. She recently shared this video of her commute, and after watching her passage through Times Square, I plan to stop complaining about having to ride on the sidewalk along Cantrell Road. Check out her video below (She advises turning down the sound as the video has been sped up and the audio is a mess) and take a look at her blog. Tell her JBar sent you!

Just A Little Catch Up

 I always have a full schedule, but the last couple of weeks have seen me working some long hours and, oh, yeah, I've been knocking down some pretty good miles on the bike. As a result, I've been short on time and even shorter on desire to sit back down to the keyboard, but I'll try to do my duty and play a little catch up!

Trail Progress

I've spent a couple of lunch hours attending meetings of the Little Rock Bike Friendly Community Committee and the Arkansas River Trails Task Force.
The hot topic for the LRBFCC continues to be the problematic stretch of Cantrell Road. The City had announced plans to bridge the RR tracks east of Dillard's and cross the 7 driveways on that stretch of road. Politics are very much in play as Stephens/ Collegiate School interests seem dead set against the more reasonable route on the south side of the road adjacent to the school property, while the plan for passing in front of Dillard's HQ is a Band-Aid at best and has no support from the cycling community. The latest concept calls for simply widening the sidewalk in front of the school and improving visibility at their driveway. This is also kind of a half-ass plan, but it may be the best we can hope for at the moment. Everyone involved is frustrated and the Collegiate School interests remain the cork in the bottle. There are plenty of other obstacles, such as the AHTD,  but eliminating the south side of Cantrell from consideration limits the realm of possibilities. Grant money has been acquired for repair of the washout on the Medical Mile, but it remains a road to nowhere without a viable route to the west. A proposal to connect it to Victory Street was also discussed, which would allow access to the Capitol area. I see that as having very low value relative to cost; however,  I will qualify that statement because the project could become a valuable spur if and when the Cantrell Road problem is resolved.

While Cantrell Road remains problematic, several other improvements are underway or near completion.
Work has begun on facility dubbed Two Rivers Plaza adjacent to Little Maumelle Creek in Two Rivers Park, some repaving has been done to the trail along Rebsamen Park Road, and the plaza at River Mountain Park is almost complete.

This drawing is among the permit information for the plaza being built along Maumelle Creek, giving riders and walkers a place to sit a spell along the otherwise brushy riverbank.

The bike path adjacent to the Rebsamen Golf Course got some new asphalt today. Photo compliments of John Martin. Repaving the road is a much more important (and expensive) project, but we'll take progress where we find it. Speculation is that there was some asphalt left over from the extension of the bike lanes near nearby traffic circle and it was put to good use.

The plaza and boardwalk in River Mountain Park at the foot of the Two Rivers Bridge appears to be complete and no work has taken place for some time. I contacted Sherman Smith, Public Works Director for the county, to ask for an update. I thought perhaps they were awaiting some preset date for a ribbon cutting, but Sherman advised me that the contractor was still awaiting delivery of some benches and other items to complete the project.
Judge Villines's plan for a grand opening of the very attractive River Mountain Plaza is to simply remove the orange barrels and cut away the plastic fencing. As you can see from this April 12 photo, people are already enjoying the new park feature.

Two Rivers Park Hours
 In a recent article I wrote about an encounter involving Pulaski County deputies and riders in Two Rivers Park and of the ambiguous signage defining the park's hours. Reaction was almost immediate with a sign going up at Two Rivers Bridge saying the park is open from 6AM-8PM.

 I'm told that this sign will soon be amended to allow through traffic at any hour.

 In the summer months, that's more restrictive than the contradictory "Park Closes At Sunset" sign at the County Farm Road entrance. Everyone is scrambling to do the right thing and my understanding is that Judge Villines is refining the policy to close the park at 8PM , with the likely exception of riders with headlights. (ed. 5/7/12). I don't expect stringent enforcement of whatever policy comes about, but I appreciate the need for law enforcement to have a tool to control nighttime activity in isolated areas of the park.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

On Pit Vipers and The Peacock

Ophidiophobes Beware! 

Ophidiophobia is the fear of snakes. While I'm not crazy about them, I did grow up with an older neighbor who loved to catch snakes so my Grandaddy Barton made me a small wood and screen box in which to house my ever changing collections of worm snakes, ringnecks, mud snakes and the occasional hognose snake or speckled king snake. Hognose snakes and king snakes were generally too big for the box, so they were brought home to show off and soon released.  One of my first discipline issues at Park Hill Elementary occurred when I was busted for dealing pet snakes to my classmates. I had made about $3.00, a princely sum for a poor kid in the early 60's, before the man came down on me and made me refund my bounty. I'm still somewhat fascinated by the legless critters, but have been known to dispatch a fat cottonmouth found poaching in my pond.

The Beauty and The Beast 
The terrain along the River Trail is ideal habitat for several species of venomous snakes, and I can't resist stopping to photograph outstanding specimens. I usually nudge them off the pavement, but sometimes the cottonmouths are resistant to this kind of prodding and I don't push the matter. Here are a couple of recently spotted trail bosses.

This copperhead was on the trail near the entry to the Emerald Park switchbacks. He was a good 4 feet long and about as big a copperhead as you'll see. Though far from cuddly, most passers by were struck by his beauty.
With their superb camouflage, most encounters with the shy copperhead occur when they are stepped on by unsuspecting walkers.Once spotted, he is intimidating enough even without the raised and flattened head. This guy kept easing back to the warmth of the asphalt after being encouraged to the woods.

The beast. There is nothing attractive about this cottonmouth, though his marking are more distinct than many you will see. These guys can be aggressive and territorial.

The Softer Side: Big Bird
A couple of weeks ago, shortly after we had arrived at our cabin on the Little Red River, Diane claimed to have seen what she identified as a pair of peacocks, peafowl to be more accurate. She had even snapped a photo with he iPhone to make her case. Well, the photo showed two blurry images that could have been large birds or, just as easily, medium azaleas. The photo quality was reminiscent of a Bigfoot special and I was incredulous. Turkeys perhaps, but peacocks? Unlikely. We did prowl around the neighboring houses to no avail. Well, Diane got her reprieve when I got an e-mail from a neighbor last Saturday saying, "Diane is not crazy. There are two peacocks on our deck." Mike the neighbor even got a blurry photo of the peahen bolting after being startled by their dog, Danial the spaniel. Later in the morning, Diane spotted the cock perched in a tree directly behind out house.
This is not an every day sight in Cleburne County.

We're assuming that someone in the area got the peafowl as pets or for pest control. They are also known to be obnoxiously loud and may be used as intruder alarms. They are omnivores and will eat anything from seeds to insects and, yes, snakes.