Friday, September 27, 2013

BDB100- Last Word

While much of the River Trail system will be closed to the general public, most of the miles for tomorrow's BDB100 will be on open roads, and there are some other events that will bring traffic to the locale of the finish in Argenta. Burns Park is hosting a soccer tournament so the short stretch of road through there will be busy with distracted soccer moms, and there is a Family Fun Fest at Dickey-Stephens Park downtown. Traffic control is always good, but let's all be careful out there! 

Diane, George, and me at the BDB100 Expo.
Diane was helping at the BACA booth when I went to pick up my packet tonight. As I was heading out, George Hincapie walked in, escorted by local rider Hunter East. Of course, we had to grab a photo with George. I think George finished 17 Tours de France and always enjoyed the reputation of being a good guy in the peloton, a tireless worker. and a sound leader. The history of his era is still beng written, but I have always held Big George in high esteem.

Ready to Ride?
Number pinned, food picked out, seat bag contents checked, tires aired, and bottles at the ready.

Let's go ride bicycles in Arkansas' premier cycling event, the Big Dam Bridge 100!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Arkansas River Trail Closure Information for This Satuday's BDB100

This information just came to me regarding trail use on Saturday during the BDB100 ride event:

Please update your social media to advise non-participants that the BDB and Two Rivers Bridges will be closed until 3pm on Saturday. The ART will however be open, just very congested.
Also, the section of the ART from County Farm road (rest rooms) to the Two Rivers Bridge will be closed as well to non-participants (walkers and runners).

Obviously, this is for the safety of ride participants and trail users. Please help spread the word so that non-participants can plan their weekend River Trail activities accordingly.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Getting ready For the BDB100

If counting on my fingers has properly served me, we are coming up on the 8th BDB100. Since the inaugural ride on October 1, 2006, this ride has grown and matured at a nice rate, with some course modifications that have only enhanced the quality of the course. With the opening of the Two Rivers Bridge, the organizers were able to add another crossing of the Arkansas River at Toad Suck near Conway and add a bitch of a climb at Wye Mountain about 60 miles into the ride. I will admit that I had little appreciation for the Wye climb as I was riding it last year, but from a strictly aesthetic point of view, the challenge adds positively to the experience.
It also eliminates the return trip back in along Maumelle Blvd., a stretch that is unpleasant and slightly dangerous for riders and that became damned irritating for the fine folks of Maumelle, who had to tolerate several hours of disrupted traffic as cyclists straggled in over the course of the afternoon.
In the beginning...

Beyond the route, the scope of the BDB100 as an event has expanded. I was somewhat disappointed that the 2006 "street party" appeared to consist of a boom-box and some leftover pickle juice and Powerade from the rest stops. These days, Argenta jumps with live music and the closed area encourages the local pubs and restaurants to set out tables and serve adult beverages to be taken out to the street, allowing riders and spectators to roam and mingle while watching later riders stream in. In 2006, the ride was to be limited to 1000 cyclists. This year, that number is 2750. Logistics and planning have kept pace with the numbers, and rider support and traffic control remain excellent. This year, cycling legend George Hincapie will be here for the ride and the festivities. In spite of all the negative history surrounding US pro cycling, George remains a well-loved and respected figure, a very good guy caughtup in an ugly ersa

Final Prep
If you don't have the miles on your legs, it's too late to do much about that. I've been riding long and often and still have my doubts about my likelihood for having much fun over the last 20 miles, but I'll be rolling out with the rest of you anyway!
What it is not too late to do is to be sure that your bike is in good shape and that you have some kind of a plan.

- Give your bike a good going over--this is a good time for cleaning and lubing--to be sure that tires are in good shape and that there are no obvious mechanical issues. While I have yet to convince my wife or any of my female friends of this, bike cleaning and maintenance are not gender-specific activities. Girl bikes need love, too.
Check the contents of your seat bag. You should have, at the least, a tube, CO2, and inflator. I carry 2 tubes and 2-3 CO2 cartridges. If you flat on the way out of town, you don't want to ride the next 80 miles without resources. The support on this ride is very good, but you're better off being self-sufficient so that you can get on up the road with your group.
Prepare for a big ride with some carbs.

-Don't get caught without food and drink- Unless you plan to stop at every aid station, you need to be carrying much of what you plan to eat. My little gang usually starts out with at least a vague plan of what aid station we'll hit and what our pace will be. That plan sometimes even stays intact all the way to the start line.

You may start out planning to make a stop at mile 30, only to find that you're in smooth rolling pack headed for a first stop at mile 50. If you're in a good group, you don't want to be forced out to fill bottles or grab some food, so you may find yourself rolling by a planned stop. It's OK to end the ride with a few extra gels in your pocket. It sucks to bonk. And don't experiment.  Only eat and drink what you know your stomach can handle. I can't drink pickle juice or PowerAde, so I'll have a couple of packs of Skratch drink mix in my pocket.

Post Ride-
As cool as you may think you look in your stinky, salt-encrusted bibs with Gu streaked down your leg, my advice is to get out of those nasty things ASAP. If you plan on hanging out downtown for a burger and a brew, I suggest leaving a car close by with a bottle of water and a towel for a quick rinse before jumping into some cotton clothes. The Argenta restaurants and pubs will be serving fine fare and sticking around for a hour or two, sipping, snacking, and watching your later-arriving friends come in is a great way to unwind.

Post Post Ride..
Don't use up all of your post-ride swagger, because this year the Capital Hotel and Orbea are hosting a street party in downtown Little Rock Saturday night.
It's not a freebie, but for the price of a tire, you can eat, drink, dance, and check out some really cool Orbea bikes. A refreshing Saturday afternoon nap will be in order for me, and then on to the party!

A BDB100 Post Race Celebration:
  • pig roast
  • live music by Runaway Planet
  • beer provided by local Diamond Bear Brewery
  • come see the latest products by Orbea
I love the marketing the Capital is doing with their street party and ride package. The Capital Hotel supports the cycling community in many ways and I hope that they fill the house this weekend.

Go forth and ride. Let's all be careful out there on the road and take care of our brothers and sisters. I'll be looking for you at the finish line.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lighting Up: A Practical Approach To the Dark Side

In spite of the recent heat wave, the dark mornings and shortened evening hours make it apparent that fall is on the way. It can be a treacherous time of year in terms of visibility for cyclists. The glare of the low afternoon sun upon typically dirty windshields blinds drivers, and the early darkness that follows means that you'd better have some lights on your bike, both to see and to be seen. I always keep a front and rear blinkie on my bike for visibility on pre-dawn starts and dusky finishes, but we're approaching that time of year when batteries are kept charged and the headlight mount goes on my bars. Ending a weekday ride in true darkness can become the norm and night rides along the River Trail in mild weather are a delight, with wildlife active and the city scenes reflected in the river all along the way.
Fortunately for us, lights are like most technology-based products--they've been getting better and, in the case of headlights, mostly cheaper. The 600 lumens $120.00 Cateye that I use is self-contained, USB charged, will blast on high for a couple of hours and on low for about 3 1/2. Only a few years ago, that kind of performance would have put you at the high end of top brands like Light and Motion. It would have cost more like $500.00, the battery would have to go in a pocket, on the frame, or in a water bottle cage, would have weighed several pounds, and would likely require up to a 12 hour charge. Advanced LEDs have replaced HIDs and batteries just keep getting better, brighter, and lighter.

How much light do you need?
As usual, the answer is, "it depends....".

Lights-a-plenty to choose from in this display at Spokes.
At a minimum, you need a front and rear blinker. On the River Trail you don't need much power to be seen if you're just scampering back to your car at dusk. If you're going to be on the street, obnoxiously visible brightness is no sin, but tone it down on the trail.
Lights add a little cockpit clutter, but modern lights are compact and powerful. I've got a 600-lumen Cateye from Arkansas Cycling and Fitness on top of the bars and a small blinker below. Both employ USB charging.

This small light is plenty for being seen on the trail and in blink mode will enhance your visibility on the road.
While it is cool to light up the night, a bright light in the dark confines of the River Trail will blind anyone you encounter. You can fumble with dimming the light or simply shade it with your hand as you pass others.
A light on the bars and another on your helmet will allow you to light the road ahead while scanning through turns or lighting up the eyes of all those creatures of the night, of which there are many! This Black Diamond light is not made for the purpose, but an added Velcro band or zip tie will keep it in place on a bike helmet.
This seatpost-mounted Serfas tail light from Angry Dave's falls into the "obnoxiously bright" seizure-inducing realm. I need to hang a small blinker on my seat bag for trail and group ride use.

After dark, I suggest something in the 300-1000 lumen range, bar and/or helmet mounted. 300 lumens will be plenty of light to see the trail and to dodge wandering skunks, and 500-600 is plenty to light the way ahead. You can buy lights in that range for $100-150.00, probably less if you shop around.

With great power comes great responsibility.
It's easy to blind other riders, so be aware of the awesome power that you wield some of today's lights. I was finishing a ride recently at dusk; still plenty of light to navigate, but perhaps a blinker would be in order so others could see me. I encountered 3 riders, all of whom had flamethrower headlights, one of which was in some hyper-flash mode.
I was blinded for several yards and it wasn't even dark, yet! Please, dim those lights, boys.

This article mostly concerns road riding, as single track riders usually want all the light they haul. I also did not intend to get into the legal requirements for reflectors and/or lights. If you ride in traffic after dark, add every shred on visibility that you can manage. Reflective gear is often more visible to a motorist than your lights.

Even with all of that, I still follow the mantra of "ride like you're invisible", because to drivers, we usually are.

A call out to Chainwheel, J&P, Community Bicyclist, Riders Ready, and all the other fine shops that I didn't mention above. They'll all have what you need to make your transition to the dark side of the Fall Equinox.

Two Rivers Park Paving Project Complete!

I just got  a report that the Two Rivers Park repaving project is complete and that the trail is open for business! The paving was finished yesterday and the trail was re-opened this morning. Thanks to Jon Light of Little Rock Parks and Rob Stephens of the ART Task Force for this information.

Go ride!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Two Rivers Park Bridge and Trail - Closing For Repaving

A contract has been let to repave the trail loop nearest the bridge in Two Rivers Park. You know the place--it's where you bounce all over the bike as you go over speed-bump-like tree roots forcing the asphalt into ridges across the trail. We all complain about it and the City of LR is going to fix it.

At this time, the contractor plans to begin work on Monday, September 16 and finish by end-of-business on Wednesday. That time frame is subject to change!!
The Two Rivers Bridge and the trail through the park will be closed during construction. The work will require heavy equipment and large trucks to move along the trail.
Plan accordingly.

Pavement and Dirt Trail Updates-Two Rivers and Burns Park

Two Rivers Park After Dark

During the course of a recent evening ride in Two Rivers park, a group of cyclists encountered a Pulaski County Sheriff's Department patrol car and a couple of deputies blocking the River Trail. They were told that the park closes at 8:00PM and chastened for ignoring the signs. I did a survey of signs after that adventure and discovered that the only sign regarding Two Rivers Park hours was at the County Farm Road entrance on the west end of the park which advised that the park closes at sunset. Another sign on the other side of the same entrance now says that the park closes at 8:00PM. There is nothing at the Two Rivers Bridge entrance regarding park hours.

A similar incident in the spring of 2012 led to Judge Villines saying that cyclists would be allowed to pass through the park after dark. The problem, he said at the time, was that walkers were entering the park at dusk only to find that it gets really dark out there at night. Some would then panic, a natural reaction to being in a snake, critter and likely zombie infested swamp in pitch dark, and call 911, triggering a trip by deputies to escort the fearful strollers back to their car.

BACA and the Arkansas River Trail Task Force got involved in seeking clarification of the after-hours policy for Two Rivers Park and received this e-mail from Judge Villines:

From: Buddy Villines <>
Date: September 6, 2013, 10:30:17 AM CDT
<>, doc holladay <>
Subject: RE: Two Rivers Park

I’ve heard from everybody, including the sheriff’s office.  I believe the policy is that cyclists may use the trail as part of “transit” through the park.  There will remain a problem of walkers who should not use the trail as access to the park which is closed after sundown.

Even Buddy's statement leaves a little wiggle room, but the intent is that cyclists should be able to ride through the park after dark. Note that Pulaski County Sheriff Doc Holladay is on copy. If you're cruising the trail loops and encounter deputies, you will likely be asked to leave.

In any event, should you have contact with law enforcement folks, please just be polite, relate your understanding of the policy, and then follow their direction. If it conflicts with the judge's understanding, then we'll go back to work to get a more definitive statement.

Burns Park Mountain Bike Trails

BikeNerds noticed some equipment staged at Burns Park recently and started asking questions, as nerds are prone to do. The work going on in the area of the mountain bike trails is an effort to locate any old ordnance from the area. As you may be aware, this was a training area as a part of Camp Pike before it was deeded over as a park and some old explosives have been found over the years. Joe Jacobs of Arkansas Outside and I were in a race for information and he won! I got the basic info from Jeff Caplinger, NLR Parks, but here's some detail from Joe:

The Corps of Engineers has cut a grid pattern in that they are using to determine "areas of interest" for possible ordnance. They now have about 25 50' X 50' grid areas that they will be doing some digging in to look for bad things. Each area has a surrounding buffer area. Jeff didn't know how long the work would be going on, depends on what they find. All is suppose to be put back to normal when done. There are other similar areas they are working on near Mayflower. 
The trails are clear, that was taken care of when Bert Turner reworked them a couple of years ago, Jeff said if you are off trail and come across something suspicious, mark the spot, leave it alone and go tell someone. I suggest telling JBar our local bomb ordnance expert.


Friday, September 6, 2013

Orbea Move- It Is Official

You read it here last week, but there was a news conference last night at the Capital Hotel letting the rest of the world in on what JBar Cycling readers knew. Well, you guys knew most of the story, anyway!

Tony Karlins confirmed the move to 119 S Main Street, and added some details.

From the front entrance, visitors will see the coffee bar, display area, and a view of the private offices.
As reported, the new location will include a retail display area and coffee bar, which will be operated in partnership with local Orbea dealer Spokes. While Tony described the current location as prison-like with its razor wire and perimeter fence, the Main Street location will be very inviting to both the public and to visiting Orbea dealers and prospects.
Tony Karklins of Orbea USA and Mat Seelinger of Spokes: International bike presence partnering with a local bike shop for an exciting business model.
Over the last few years, the needs of Orbea USA have shifted so that the operation is less focused on bike assembly and more focused on adding value to the product line and building on the dealer organization. Where the current model has sales reps calling on prospective dealers with a limited sampling of the product line, Karklins says, "Now, we'll send them a ticket, put them up in a first class hotel, and allow them to see the entire product range".  
The bike business, particularly at the high end, has evolved from one in which frames were built up with component groups either at local bike shops or at distributors. Currently most bike builders like Orbea (and Trek, Specialized, Pinarello, etc) ship complete bikes with carefully matched groups and accessories. The modern model means more sales dollars for bike manufacturers, closer control of product offerings, and generally more value for consumers. Karklins said that their 20 local employees would be making the move, and some would be shifted to other positions to reflect the change in the profile of the operation. 4 to 5 "global" positions will also work from this location.
 From the press release:
 "Downtown Little Rock, was a natural choice. The re-development of Main Street is changing the face of Little Rock, and we are proud to be part of it. With quick access to the River Trail network, our new facility is easily connected to almost every neighborhood of central Arkansas. We look forward to hosting our dealers from around the country and showing them the outstanding cycling culture of central Arkansas," says Tony Karklins, Orbea's North American Managing Director.

The Main Street location will also include a new project dubbed "Orbea on Main", a joint venture between Orbea and local retailer, Spokes. The 3,500 square foot Orbea on Main will be a retail showroom for all products distributed by Orbea plus a select few items from our favorite partners. "We look forward to pioneering retail in the Main Street re-development and expanding the Spokes brand in central Arkansas," says Mat Seelinger, owner of Spokes.
The Orbea on Main showroom will also be used by Orbea for product launches, media interactions, dealer events and video creation. "We are working hard to make Orbea on Main, one of the best bicycle retail environments in the industry," says Karklins.
We're delighted that the decision was made to keep Orbea USA here in our community. Central Arkansas has a robust and growing cycling culture. Folks like Tony Karklins, Mat Seelinger, and  Michael Chaffin of the Capital Hotel  are building on cycling as a dynamic for economic growth.

Little Rock has been named recently by publications as diverse as Kiplinger's and Outside Magazine as a top destination for living and for recreation--and both named the River Trail and cycling as  key quality-of-life components of the positive ratings.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Protect The Buffalo River

I've Got Nothing Against Pigs. In fact, I just finished off a rack of ribs from Brother's BBQ in Heber Springs. Mighty tasty! But, pigs, like anything else, have their proper place. Especially if you're talking about 6000 pigs-a-pooping on a factory farm in the Buffalo River watershed.

You can follow the link for more information, on the remote chance that you're not familiar with this plan, which flies in the face of the decades of preservation work and politics to protect the national treasure that is the Buffalo River. Many Arkansans feel that permitting this farm is just plain wrong and they are joining the battle to stop it. You can help by attending a fundraiser, your personal invitation below, or by dropping a check in the mail! It's that easy to do your part.

Folks, every apprentice plumber knows this simple fact: Shits runs downhill.
Apply this bit of knowledge to the surface application of the waste of over 6000 pigs to a pasture within the Buffalo watershed and it is easy to see where things go from there. Arkansas is notoriously lax when it comes to environmental regulation, but  we've all got a stake in preserving what is arguably our country's most beautiful free-flowing stream and our only National River.