Monday, June 30, 2014

Tour De France Velogames- Rules On The Fly

We now have 14 teams registered in the JBarCycling MiniLeague. As the result of the actions of a certain unscrupulous lawyer (Actually, he's a VERY scrupulous lawyer, none finer, but looking for an edge in Velogames), I am going to ask that participants limit themselves to 1 team in the JBarCycling League. The fine folks at CARVE have offered some swag, as has Spokes Bike Shop. I'm going to see if any of the other shops would like to participate, as well, so there is  a little more at stake than bragging rights.
Bob Fegtly won the prized JBarCycling coffee mug last year and Bob is back to try again!
If you want to field a number of teams, you can enter them in the open leagues on the site or even form a league of your own.

That keeps me from having to be a rules guy!

I'm just trying to be fair and keep the scoring as easy as possible. Besides, I can see a massive escalation if this is not nipped in the bud.

Log on to Velogames. Sign up. Pick your team. Join the JBarCycling League.
It adds another level of fun to Tour watching.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Bud Light-Do Good. Have Fun at Pinnacle Mountain State Park

At a recent Arkansas River Trail task Force meeting, Pinnacle Mountain State Park superintendent Ron Sallee mentioned a volunteer event sponsored by Bud Light. I envisioned the typical "pick up some litter and eat" event, which is certainly not a bad thing, but what I found when I did a ride-by on Saturday was far more.
The Pinnacle Visitor Center is a favorite destination for road riders, and a great many more pass through the park along Pinnacle Valley Road and Highway 300, not to mention the popular Jack Fork mountain bike trail, so the park is particularly important to the cycling community.
Anheuser-Busch's Bud Light has teamed with Keep America Beautiful to sponsor 2014 "Do Good. Have Fun" events across the country, and a restoration of Pinnacle Mountain State Park was one of those events.

Bud Light and local distributor Golden Eagle sponsored the park restoration.
Volunteer registration and lunch took place near the launch ramp below the Pinnacle Visitor Center.
 I mildly chastised the half-dozen folks at the registration desk/ party site for not working hard, but was told that they had already registered 75-80 volunteers and had dispatched them to between 20 and 25 projects around the park. A good morning's work, ladies!

Nope, not a CD cover. This crew was clearing debris and trimming back the brush along the Jack Fork Trail.

I'll admit that I've never seen speed limit signs being washed, but these young women were getting it done! Attention to such details can make the park really shine.

I was surprised by the extent of the work being done. The volunteers even painted the Visitor Center!!

This event had to have saved the Park some maintenance dollars, and likely accomplished things that would never have hit the budget.
Thanks go out to the volunteers and to all of the sponsors of this program. Sure, the volunteers got a lunch and a beer our of the deal, but us park users are the real winners.
Its location in highly populated Central Arkansas and the variety of activities available make Pinnacle Mountain State Park a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. This volunteer-powered makeover will enhance the experience of all of those many park visitors.  
Since I've been writing in this space and taking part in various committees and advocacy efforts, one thing comes through again and again--there are a lot of people out there who donate their time, talent, energy, and money to make things better for the rest of us. While various governmental agencies and taxpayer funded initiatives provide much of the infrastructure that we enjoy, volunteers on committees and work crews often drive the projects and policies, do the trail work, pick up the litter, and raise the money to keep things moving and in good working order.
Thanks again, folks. Good work.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Game On: Tour de France VeloGames JBarCycling MiniLeague

Join the VeloGames JBarCycling 2014 Minileague. You can now form your team, pick your riders, and join the fun. The JBarCycling 2014 Minileague code is 27142157.

I've selected my JBar 2014 Tour Team and I'm set to do battle, can change your rider selection up to start time, so my selections  are subject to revision. Team CARVE has promised some cool swag and I'll be asking around to see if a couple of local shops might want to participate. When I get a handle on the prizes, we'll set up some points in the race to award primes.
Get on board or get dropped!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Tour de France Fantasy League

The 2014 Tour de France is just around the corner and, once again, I plan to have a JBar Cycling minileague at  The Fantasy Tour has yet to open for registration this year, but now is the time to start looking over provisional team rosters and recent race results so that you can pick your team. Read over the rules and scoring schemes  at VeloGames, but the basic premise is that you select a team using your 100 point budget and your team is then scored based on the performance of your riders. Riders range in price based on their ranking in various categories like General Classification, Sprinters, etc. 
Last year's winner Bob Fegtly received the exclusive JBar Cycling coffee mug, but declined the offered 6-pack. I may sniff around for some more swag for this year's edition, the coffee cup is a rare commdity.
Pick your team. I'll publish the JBarCycling Minileague code when it is available. You can join multiple leagues.

Report-CARVE'S Star-Spangled Classic

I had a birthday last Sunday and, as many of us are wont to do, I intended to ride miles equal to my years. That ride gets longer every year so I knew it would take a good slice out of my morning. I also wanted to check out the criterium action so I went to the Argenta area early and parked my truck at the flood wall near the finish line before embarking on my ride.
I dutifully knocked out my miles, along with many bottles of water and sports drink, and got settled in just in time for the kids races. There were some talented youths ranging from pre-teens on race bikes to toddlers on striders. CARVE is doing a great job of encouraging young people to embrace the sport. It was all good fun and the crowd loved it.

Built for speed-Race Bikes!
My favorite moment was also a lesson in sportsmanship as a young man cruised toward the finish, looked over his shoulder to judge his big lead, and then decided to cruise to the line with his hands off the bars in casually cool victory. Nice move, kiddo, except the rider behind him was having no part of it, jumping out of the saddle and hammering out a sprint that pipped the showboat at the line. It was fun to watch the sprint unfold, as it was obvious to everyone in the viewing area that the gap was being closed down. There have been some Pro Tour riders who have famously taken second place by way of early victory celebrations, so it is not just a foible of the inexperienced. There's a reason they call it a finish line.
The Masters race followed and proved to be some good racing. Well into the race a beer prime was announced, so there was the usual acceleration to the line for the prize. Robert Mooney, racing for Arkansas Cycling and Fitness along with Richard Machycek, took the sprint and a big flyer, as he simply rode away from the pack.
Mooney's lead stretched out to about 35 seconds..
The chase was on. Machycek could just sit in, doing no work, as the pack pursued his team mate.
Robert took the win .
and Richard took the sprint for second.
It was a nice well-deserved 1-2 finish in the Masters race for the AC&F boys.
The CARVE bunch created another well-run, enjoyable event. I think both the race fields and the crowds may have down a bit from in previous years, but that may be at least in part due to the success of bike racing in central Arkansas. Some local racers were participating in bigger races elsewhere; such as Hunter and Evan East at the Tour of America's Dairyland, and Alex Bumpers who has been racing in Belgium. The East boys had take 1st and 2nd place in the Burns Park crit series. There was also the Dawg Days Cross Country MTB Race on Saturday that pulled a lot of local racers. As the local scene grows, more and more talent is rising up through the ranks.
Good job, folks, and thanks.
 I only took a few photos on Sunday, but Cliff Li, whose work often appears at ArkansasOutside graciously permitted me to link to his Facebook album of the event.


Pit Stop and Pavilion at the Big Dam Bridge

Though there is likely some small, perverse sliver of the cycling community that enjoys stepping into the port-o-potties that currently serve us on the Little Rock side of the BDB on a summer day, most of us tend to avoid the stinky little hot boxes. The Big Dam Bridge Foundation, along with the City of Little Rock and others, has started a campaign to fund the building of restrooms and a pavilion at the site. The foundation has amassed some funds generated mostly by the successful BDB100 and will use that money as matching funds for donations.

From the BDB website:

Help Us Add Restrooms to the Big Dam Bridge
The Big Dam Bridge Foundation (the Foundation), the city of Little Rock, and others, are campaigning to add a permanent restroom and pavilion on the Little Rock side.
  • • Opening in 2006, the Big Dam Bridge (BDB) had over 1 million visitors in 2013.
  • • The only restroom facility on the south side of the BDB is two port-a-potties.
  • • This is a multi-phase project (click here to see the phases).
  • • The Foundation needs to build evidence of community support to pursue matching grant funds.
  • • The Foundation needs to raise $50,000+ by August 15, 2014. To help get there, the Foundation will match your donation dollar for dollar up to $30,000.
  • • Should we reach our fundraising goal, Little Rock will provide more matching funds and will seek an additional matching grant that will help us complete the project!
You can obviously help with a donation, but you can also show your support in other ways.
-Take a short 5-question survey.
-Attend a public meeting at 5:30, Thursday, June 26, at the Willie L. Hinton Center, 3805 W. 12th Street, Little Rock
-If you would like to see these facilities built, spread the word to increase support.

The facility would eventually include a pavilion, a viewing area overlooking the river, , concessions, and additional parking. The concessions plan is wide open at this time and proposals would be requested from vendors or organizations interested in operating in the space.
I have some concerns that the enhanced facilities will create congestion problems in the area, but my broader position is that the more people and the broader range of use that our trail system attracts, the more likely we are to see support for additional infrastructure, such as the proposed River Bluffs project behind Dillard's on Cantrell.
You can stake your position by taking the survey.

Friday, June 20, 2014

CARVE'S Star-Spangled Classic- Sunday, June 22

The 2014 Ronde de Burns Criterium Series wrapped up last Tuesday night. CARVE closed out the series in fine form with a kids race and a big ol' barbecue for participants, family, and fans making for a festive close of another good series of crit races. Joe Jacobs over at did a very good job of covering the event, so I'll refer you via the link to check it out.

Criterium Racing is fast, up close, and fan friendly!
Sunday! Sunday! Sunday! Racing This Sunday!
(and it's my birthday, so you know it's special!)
The 4th annual Star-Spangled Classic, presented by CARVE and sponsored by The Pantry , takes place on Sunday. The races start at 8:00AM and the full schedule is in the flyer below. 
Central Arkansas Velo has been a leading entity in fielding bike race teams and promoting the sport in Central Arkansas for many years. A few years back as the core of the leadership group got a little older or moved on to other interests, CARVE faded a bit. Competitive Cyclist kept up the crit series, but otherwise, there was not much happening in the Central Arkansas bike racing scene. Then came a resurgence and in a big way. Folks like Sid DeGarmo, Scott Penrod and others took the helm and now CARVE is a vital organization building on the success of events like the recent Rock City Racing weekend, hosted along with the SimplexQ racing team.
The leadership of Central Arkansas Velo has more big plans and bigger ambitions for the future. I know they would like to recruit some strong local sponsorships. The represents an opportunity for some forward thinking businesses to participate in the fast-growing local cycling scene. They say "cycling is the new golf" but golf is losing participants at a rate over over 1,000,000 players per year as cycling grows across a wide demographic range. By the nature of the sport, cyclists have discretionary income and are willing to spend it. Where else will you find customer willing to pay $10 per gram to shave weight?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Along The Trail: Catching Up

Another Colorado vacation is in the books and I'm behind on everything everything writing to bush hogging, not to mention that paying job of mine. Here's a little catch up of trail happenings.

Shillcut Bayou Bridge:
Construction of the replacement for the much maligned wooden bridge at Burns Park is progressing nicely. The new bridge will have concrete deck and is wider than the old bridge, which will stay in place. Many people enjoy simply standing on the old bridge to look at the water and it will be much more conducive to relaxation without cyclists rumbling by inches away. There is no reason to remove the old deck as it was built over a wastewater force main so the primary structure isn't going anywhere.

Damn, I thought I was done with orange barrels when I got through Oklahoma on I-40 earlier in the week. 
So far, the trail has only been closed for two days to facilitate installation of the new bridge primary structure and to place a culvert under the trail. I expect we'll see a few more brief closures before the project is complete.

Explorer pavilions are open for business

The two pavilions built as and EagleScout project near the trail in Burns Park are complete and ready for use. Since the photo below was taken, some landscaping and signage has been added.

Eagle Scout Zach Baxla dedicated  the pavilions to native Americans and to Wounded Warriors
The pavilions are available on a first come-first served basis, with no reservations required or accepted.  They would be a very nice venue for an evening ride, followed by burgers along the river. If any of you get that together before I do, invite me!

Work Station Vandalism-Two Rivers Park Bridge

The pump at the work station near the Two Rivers Park Bridge has been vandalized and the handle is completely gone. I came across a rider who had already connected  the pump to his valve stem to top off a low tire before realizing it was inoperable, resulting in a completely flat tire. He was a new rider, but appropriately equipped, so I showed him how to use his CO2 inflator and he was on his way.
The pumps at the stations near the Two Rivers Park restrooms and at Fike's Bikes in Argenta have both been replaced with tamper resistant pumps. Hopefully, there is funding available to place one of those pumps at Two Rivers bridge, as the work station there gets a lot of use. I haven't I think that most of the damage at the work stations is perpetrated by unsupervised kids who are allowed to play on the stations as opposed to a'hole purposeful vandals.

Competitive Cyclist building is sold

I guess it could be considered the end of an era as the Competitive Cyclist building in the NorthShore Business Park has been sold. It was exciting to watch the small Bikeseller evolve into an international online retail powerhouse as Competitive Cyclist, and it was a little sad to see them leave as they were sold to
Thanks to Dan Lysk for this photo.
We have a number of very good local bike shops, but Competitive Cyclist had a huge inventory of almost everything to do with bikes. Local shops can order you anything, but few can support such a huge stock of components and parts. The local trade had become a very small part of a big business at CC and, while they no longer supported a retail storefront, it was very convenient to order a component or other item and be able to ride by and simply pick it up off of the "will call" shelf.
Now, you can go to the same location and plan a kitchen remodel or pick up a Big Green Egg.
They're back...

Snakes are very common on the River trail, especially in Two Rivers Park. Many are cottonmouths or copperheads, so they deserve respect, but there are also many nonvenomous species.
I've been accused of posting a lot of snake photos here, but they are simply a part of the trail environment. I'll sometimes stop and encourage them off of the trail, but for the most part they mind their own business and I mind mine.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Arkansas River Trail Closure - June 17

You can't tell from my posting activity, but we've been very busy in the vacation mode. More on that to come, but this announcement regarding a little trail closure needed posting:

Arkansas River TRAIL Shilcutt Bayou BRIDGE Update: Additional drainage pipe will be installed next week. This will CLOSE the construction area MOST OF THE DAY on TUESDAY, June 17, 2014. Please use an alternate route on this day. We apologize for any inconvenience.

An image of the updated sign is available at:

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact me.

Jeff Caplinger, CPRP
Project Coordinator
North Little Rock Parks and Recreation
phone: 501-791-8540
fax: 501-791-8528

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Little Rock Gran Fondo Report

The first Little Rock Gran Fondo is in the books and by all it was a good one. The organization was very well done, the weather miraculously cooperated, and the post-event party, Pop On Main, had a very good vibe as confirmed by the many smiling faces that stuck around in spite of a few showers until the food was gone and the beer had run out and been replenished a time or two.
The Start
The weather was on everyone's mind as Saturday approached. A wet, stormy week and a forecast for more of the same had us resigned to riding in rain, at best. The ride was sold out and almost everyone who had a number showed up to ride.

We were all a little wary of the weather, but everyone was determined to ride. 

Joe Jacobs and Lisa Mullis of Arkansas Outside, obviously cranky about the foul weather. Joe's quote o' the day was, "This doesn't suck." He even shared a beer with me.
We gathered in the drizzle, fog, and rain showers awaiting the 8:00 o'clock start; however, after all of the housekeeping announcements were made by ride official Steve Shepherd, we were held for another 15 minutes for the sake of live TV coverage of the roll out. There were a few grumbles, but at least the word was out and we knew what was going on.

We had a champagne toast for 250.
 And then we waited.

Some of my ride crew. Phillip and Michelle in event jerseys, Jill looking as patient as she can, and Sam, well, I'm not sure how to describe the expression.
 Chomping at the bit.
I did have several folks mention that they saw the start on TV and they were impressed by the coverage of a cycling event. That had value it in terms of letting the noncycling community know about the Little Rock Gran Fondo--and the appearance of Lance Armstrong assured some media buzz.
The Ride
We finally got released about 8:15 with police motorcycles controlling the pace in a neutral start for a few miles.The sound of a mass of riders clipping in always brings a smile.There was not a big rush to the front as riders were not really concerned about their finishing time. The route crossed several active rail lines, so Shepherd had cautioned everyone to observe all crossing signals "in the unlikely event that we should encounter a train." 

"In the unlikely event...."
At the first crossing, a train was parked on the tracks. It pulled forward after a few moments and a police officer manually raised the crossing arm to allow us through and we were finally headed for the open roads.

Light traffic, rolling hills, a few token country dogs, and wet roads marked the early miles.
The course is an interesting one, and not a route that sees a lot of riders. The first 30 miles was rolling terrain that includes about 2200 feet of climbing. There are no big climbs like Wye Mountain, but a steady diet of rollers will take its toll on the ill-prepared! The scenery was rural and a lot of the roads were chip and seal, though I hardly noticed the rough surface. Such is the wonder of a ti bike!
The rest stops were well above par, with some tasty offerings. The promise of good food at the rest stops was appealing, but most of us don't really savor much more than the usual ride food until we are done, and then it's "game on".
The Finish
Pop On Main delivered up fare by some of  Little Rock's finest chefs and Diamond Bear beer to satisfy the hunger and thirst of the riders. 
Some of the SimplexQ-LeBorne crew enjoyed the posh seating at Pop On Main
Yes, it was!
The first has got to be the hardest!
I've got to commend the organizers of this first Little Rock Gran Fondo. While a lot of people worked to make it successful, the ringleaders were Michael Chaffin of the Capital Hotel, Tony Karlins of Orbea, and Jason Warren of title sponsor Arvest Bank. To manage and event that takes 250 people over 70 miles of road is a huge undertaking, and doing it for the first time means that you have to deal with, well, everything. Next year should be a little easier, but the guys have made notes of their lessons and are already planning to for an even better Second Annual Little Rock Gran Fondo.
Chaffin, Karklins, and Warren handing out awards and prizes.
The Little Rock Gran Fondo was very different from the larger BDB and Carti Tour de Rock, and had many more amenities. There were the small things like the fact that both of the rest stops had access to restrooms instead of port-o-potties, hot coffee, latte, and some gourmet snacks were offered alongside the usual bananas, oranges, and electrolyte drinks. Wet cool towels were on offer to take off the road film and Pop On Main was simply a good party. I was also pleased that I saw no crashes in spite of the wet road conditions, though I heard there were a couple. All in all, the ride met my expectations, which were pretty high. I'm looking forward to next year to see what the boys can do to top the first Little Rock Gran Fondo.  
Mandatory Lance Armstrong commentary:
I didn't see Lance Armstrong, but he rode, as evidenced by the Facebook blowup of "selfies with Lance" among my friends. He came at the invitation of the organizers, but went on line, paid his money and registered like the rest of us. This was not a "celebrity appearance", but more like a guy who just wanted to ride his bike with a bunch in relative peace. By all accounts, he was friendly, talkative, and engaging. He signed autographs and sought out the kids at the rest stops. I'm not sure if he let Kris French win a sprint, but he rode with the locals like one of the boys. I cheered Lance in spite of the fact that I had long assumed that he and the rest of the peloton were doping, so I can't be pissed off that he finally confessed. He's still got a bunch of challenges in front of him, and I hope things work out well for him. He lied. He cheated. He survived cancer. He brought cycling to the forefront of the American conversation. He sold a shitload of Trek bikes and Shimano group sets, Nike gear, and Mich Ultra (the most shameful thing in my book). He raised hopes and spirits and a ton of money for cancer survivors. He was an asshole. He's got charm and talent. He's a bully. He's a hero. He's some dude from Texas that could race a bike. He is probably not that different from other folks that you know, but his circumstances and his talent made his story and his life remarkable. Long before he fessed up, I wondered about the burden of carrying around such an all encompassing lie. Unless he's a complete sociopath, confession had to be a huge weight lifted. I don't blame the haters for hatin', but I don't have the energy to join them.
Lance, glad you could join us for the Gran Fondo and hope you had a good time. Next time you're up, drop on by the house. We have a front porch and some good beer. I'm sure you've got some good stories.