Wednesday, July 30, 2014

NLR Trail Updates: New bridge open; Detour on River Road

The approaches to the new Shillcut Bayou Bridge at Burns Park were completed yesterday, though a few hours later than expected. The crew was still rolling out asphalt at about 5:30 or so, but they said it would be ready to ride in a couple of hours.
A later visit found the crew done, asphalt sufficiently cooled, but the barriers still in place. The situation called out for a test ride, so it was done for the sake of proving the safety of the new structure. It seemed stable. I'm making the assumption that the barriers came down this morning.

This unidentified rider testing the new bridge at my encouragement.

The east approach just looks fast! Don't let your awesomeness overwhelm your good sense when coming out of the woods onto the bridge.
River Road
Expect a detour around the River Road trail section between Pike Ave and Rockwater Blvd.,  beginning today. The road-wide trail is being narrowed to allow for landscaping and some lights. Work is expected to take about a month. The detour is easy and won't add more than a minute or two to your ride.

Thanks to roving reporter John Martin for this photo.

Monday, July 28, 2014

JBar Cycling MiniLeague-Lanterne Rouge Stranglehold Broken, Truckers Can Tour Takes Grand Prize

It looked like Marshall Meggers's Team Lanterne Rouge was going to simply steamroll the other 28 teams in the JBar Cycling VeloGames Tour de France MiniLeague, but Kelly Thompson's Truckers Can Tour surged with a powerful performance on stage 19 and finished on top with a score of 7858 points! Congratulations, Kelly, you have won the grand prize of a Team CARVE jersey.

Thanks to Team CARVE for providing our podium prizes.

Mat and Regina at Spokes generously provided 2 $20.00 gift cards for our Spokes Leader Board prizes, awarded for top scores at each rest day

Chainwheel  provided 5 $10.00 gift cards for the First-In Yellow, Stage 5 Hard Man, 2 Chainwheel KOM prizes and, finally the Lanterne Rouge for our last place finisher.
Marshall, who won damn near every thing else (multiple gift cards from both Chainwheel and Spokes), will also receive a Team CARVE T-shirt for his 7086 point second place finish. Michael and Krissa  Mattox of Team Wheel2Wheel will also get a CARVE T-shirt as they round out our podium with 6943 points.

The scores here were pretty impressive, as Kelly's team finished in 139th place out of over 30,000 entries worldwide. And she did it using only 94 of her 100 point rider budget.

Jeremy Boyd's Angry Vikings kicked things off by taking the Chainwheel First-In-Yellow prize, and things finish up as our last place finisher, or our real Lanterne Rouge, is also a winner. Tyler Bayles, Team alldopedup, please email me at, and I'll arrange for your $10.00 Chainwheel gift card. In case you're wondering, Tyler finished in 29,771st place

Thanks again to the prize sponsors and to everyone who played or followed along.

This has been an unusual Tour de France in that so many top riders crashed out early, and there was never really much of a challenge to Vincenzo Nibalo after he gained 2 minutes over the remaining contenders on the cobbles in Stage 5.

There is some good racing in Utah and in Colorado coming up, and then it's the Vuelta.
Bike racing season doesn't end with the Tour.

River Trail Closure-Tuesday, July 29, At Shillcut Bayou Bridge.

The River Trail east of Burns Park will be closed for much of Tuesday to allow for the paving of the approaches to the new Shillcut Bayou Bridge.

Read the signs, please.
Please respect the trail closure. There is not an easy detour, so last time it was closed for work at this location, several cyclists apparently pushed on through. The job should be complete and the new bridge open by mid-afternoon if all goes as planned.

Very nice! Smooth and wide.

While the old bridge has some bone-shaking character, the new one promises to be a big improvement. It was initially planned to leave to old bridge, which is built over a sewer main, open, but recently discovered structural deficiencies led to a decision to close it to all users.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Have You Had A Toolbox Stolen??

NLRPD is looking for you! And not in a bad way!
If you are this theft victim or know somebody that may be, floow up on this!

From John Alston, NLRPD:
ALERT: Pass along to all cyclists you can...if you know someone who had a cycling toolbox stolen from their vehicle near the Big Dam Bridge or Two Rivers Park, let me know ASAP! We are working a big case & believe we have recovered a distinct toolbox that belongs to a cyclist. Sorry if I may not have included others in this message. I've been up all night working on this case. Put the word out to all cyclists you know!

Blast it wherever. Like I said, we "believe" it is what I described. Don't want to be too specific, but whoever is missing it will know. Have them call me @ 771-7153 or 351-4528. Both are work numbers.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Trail Updates: River Road, I-30 boat ramp, Shillcut Bayou Bridge

North Little Rock River Road

The revamping of the River Road  trail section near the Rockwater development will begin soon, starting with the milling of the existing asphalt as the area is narrowed to normal trail width. The project will also involve underground power, landscaping, and the installation of 15-18 decorative lamps. The work will be done by a combination of contractors and the employees of various city departments. That requires quite a bit of coordination and will make scheduling challenging.
Chris Wilbourn, an engineer with the city of NLR, is going to try to keep us updated on the schedule, but things can change from day to day.
The work may start as early as next week, so be alert to possible detours.

Bass boat traffic at the I-30 boat ramp.

Apparently, there have been some traffic conflicts between cyclists and bass fishermen at the launch ramp under I-30 between Fike's Bikes and the Clinton Park Bridge. On tournament nights, there are a large number of pickups with boats on trailers entering and leaving the area, and their drivers tend to pay more attention to their boats than to riders.
After a report of a couple of cyclists getting bumped, I got in touch with some city officials. I got the impression from the tone of the reports that it was nothing really consequential, but vehicle/bike encounters are never good.  The City is contacting the tournament organizers so that they can ask participants to use more caution, and there will be discussions as to whether some signs would help.
We share the resource, so be aware of the congestion and use appropriate caution in the area.
As usual, NLR City folks are engaged and responsive. Thanks!

Shillcut Bayou Bridge

Do not use this ramp! The bridge will be open soon enough.
The new bridge should be opening around August 1, which is the original schedule. Construction was ahead of schedule but rainy weather has slowed things down. There will likely be a day or two of trail closures as the pavement is tied into the new bridge.
One significant change to the plans is that the old bridge will be closed to all traffic when the new one is complete. It was originally planned to leave it open for walkers, fishermen, and folks just wanting to gaze at the water, but recent inspections indicate that the structure is in poor shape.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Margaritaville Alleycat Race: No Losers Allowed

..because everybody is a winner!! You're on your own to figure out how, but take a few bucks for a Vino's IPA at the finish and you will definitely not be a loser.
Check it out on Facebook! This is one of the fun events that is usually associated with one Vinny Ferguson. It is a part of the growing Central Arkansas bike culture that not only includes races, big ol' event rides like the BDB100 and the upcoming Wampoo Roadeo, but quirky fun stuff like the Tweed Ride and Seersucker Ride.
Race Starts at MacArthur Park 3PM, Finishes at Vinos backroom!

Short Alleycat race with around 5 checkpoints
$7 suggested donation to race
*Road Category
*Women's Category
*Fixed Gear Category (Single Speed might get lumped into this Cat)...
Made possible by:
Chrome Industries
Loblolly Creamery
Arkansas Cycling and Fitness
Recycle Bikes for Kids
Vino's Pizza-Pub-Brewery
Stone's Throw Brewing
Rocktown Distillery

Race Starts at MacArthur Park 3PM, Finishes at Vinos backroom!

What's an Alleycat Race?

What will I need?
*Helmet! (YES)
*Cash for one checkpoint

JBarCycling MiniLeague: Oh, the humanity...


This continues to be a brutal Tour de France, oth for the riders and for most of the 29 teams in the JBarCycling MiniLeague. The weather has finally cleared up a bit, but riders continue to withdraw due to injuries and illnesses acquired in the first two weeks of racing, with current world Champion Rui Costa being the latest notable departure. Costa wimped out with pneumonia.
On the home front, Marshall Meggers's Lantern Rouge team maintained a stranglehold on the leader's jersey and wins yet another $20.00 Spokes gift card.
Kellie Thompson's Truckers Can Tour team is hot on Marshall's wheel and I'm sure that most of us are hoping that she can jump him at the finish. No offense, Marshall, but you've been cleaning up!

I set up the prize schedule with the goal of spreading the awards as much as possible, but I obviously need to be more heavy-handed! There are at least 4 more primes, including the Team CARVE jersey for the overall winner, Team CARVE T-shirts for the other podium finishers, and a $10.00 Chainwheel gift card for the true lanterne rouge, though the alldopedup team of Tyler Bayles seems to have the lock on that last place "honor".
Thank the sponsors!!

Once again, I would ask that you THANK THE SPONSORS!!! JbarCycling has got a revenue stream of exactly -0- dollars so, while I can order up a few coffee mugs from time to time, this would adventure would not be possible without the generosity of Team CARVE, Chainwheel, and Spokes. CARVE helps it because they are investing in the community and would like to grow their membership and gain a sponsor or two themselves. Spokes and Chainwheel are also giving back to the cycling community and they would appreciate your business.  Please mention the Tour Minileague when you're in the stores or around the CARVE guys.  I couldn't have supported this adventure without them.

Rider Down: Laura Wooldridge

By now, everyone in the cycling community is likely to have heard of the tragic loss of Laura Wooldridge, 39. Laura died in the aftermath of injuries suffered while pre-riding the race course at the Eureka Springs Fat Tire Festival on Saturday.

Laura leading a group ride at Camp Robinson recently.
I was just getting to know Laura, but seemed to see her everywhere. Whether I saw her at advocacy meetings, leading a mountain bike ride, or signing up women for a ladies' road ride Laura seemed to be front and center. She was an easy friend, in that if she had met you once, she always seemed genuinely glad to see you. She was a leader and a friend to many. She will be missed by her friends, family and the entire cycling community.
Laura has been remebered in various ways by her friends, and there will be a memorial ride and service on Thursday at 4:00PM fromthe New Life Church on Crystal Hill Road.
Joe Jacobs at Arkansas Outside knew Laura well and did a far better job of telling her story than I can do here.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Along The Trail

Family Statue Unveiled

The "Family" statue commissioned by Pulaski County Judge Buddy Villines and paid for by generous donations from Arkansas Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Garver, and many others, was unveiled on Wednesday at River Mountain Park near the Two Rivers Park Bridge.

It was a rare sunny and cool July day for the unveiling.

Judge Villines wanted the statue to represent the many families who benefit from the River Trail and bridges. photos by Diane Barton

I dropped by on my ride last night and found a small group of folks admiring the work. One snarky observer noted that the donor plaques looked like grave markers, but that could simply be seen as part of the total effect. You know, completion of the circle of life from the infant in the stroller to those who have passed....
I don't think that is what the sculptor or Judge Villines had in mind, but much of the beauty of art is in its interpretation, so see it as you will.

Rider Topiary

Speaking of art, every time I pass this point near the BDB, I notice what looks to me to be topiary of a rider. Though by definition, topiary requires the clipping or training of a plant, this vine covered tree is close enough for me.

Changes in store for the River Trail near Rockwater Marina

The North Little Rock City Council approved the expenditure of $70,000.00 to make improvements to the River Trail near the Rockwater Marina. The trail, which is now simply a blocked off section of what was River Road, will be narrowed to its standard width, and lighting and landscaping will be added. The developer of the area requested the changes and it was seen as a way to make the adjacent residential lots more attractive while creating a buffer between the trail and private residences. I can appreciate the desire for lighting in this area, along with some separation from the trail, though I have mixed feelings about the City footing the bill.

This stretch will soon look more like the rest of the trail. It is unique in that residential lots abut the trail. Several lots now have "sold" signs.

...on the topic of the marina
Things seem to be progressing very slowly at the Rockwater Marina. In spite of a large federal grant to provide transient slips and the support of the City, only a few slips are occupied, I don't think the fuel dock or the ship's store are yet to open and none of the promised Rockwater Amenities such as "concierge services" seem to be in place.
When ground was broken with great fanfare in February of 2013, I fully expected the marina to soon be bustling with activity, with my greatest concern being that of traffic conflicts with trail users. Time went by and I then figured that spring of 2014 would bring an influx of boats along with the promised store, beer sales, and activities.

I would have expected things to be hoppin' by now at the Rockwater Marina on a July Sunday afternoon, but there was not a soul in sight.

As of last Sunday, there were about a dozen boats scattered among the hundreds of empty slips, the ramp the marina and docks was gated and locked, and the facility was not staffed. Given the time of year, I would say that 2014 will come and go without much additional progress. I hope the developer proves my concerns to be unfounded and that the Rockwater Marina becomes the center of activity that was promised.

 Launch Ramp Coming to Area Near Skate Park

I don't have a time line on this project, but the City of NLR sold a parcel of land near the skate park on River Road for the construction of a new launch ramp. Part of the proceeds of that land sale are being used for the trail improvements at Rockwater.

The inlet to the existing launch ramp at Burns Park is silted in to the point of being unusable by most boats.
The new ramp will be convenient to the marina, though few of the boats served by the marina are likely to use it. The ramp is needed because the inlet to the ramp at nearby Burns Park so filled with silt that only small, light craft can get in and out. Dredging is expensive and temporary and, since it is not in the navigation channel, it does not qualify for any assistance from the Corps of Engineers.

Shep The Goose Dog-Back From Injured Reserve
I dropped a note to NLR Park Ranger Ian Hope a couple of weeks ago to suggest that he and Shep the Wonder Dog spend a little extra time around Victory Lake. A gaggle of poop producers was littering the trail and terrorizing the citizenry. Hope responded that Shep was off-duty, having injured his paw while on the job in Burns Park.

This scene was reminiscent of the bad ol' days when the geese gangs controlled much of the North Little Rock River Trail.

 I'm happy to report that Shep is back on the job and the geese are back to watching their step.

Back where they belong.

While the geese are beautiful birds, they are a nuisance when they cease to migrate and overpopulate. Unfortunately, parks, golf courses, and soccer fields are perfect habitats for them with water, plentiful food, and no predators.  I'm glad that Shep and Ian are on duty.

Pat Hays Pedaling For Progress Event, and My Debut

My friend Joe Jacobs of the Arkansas Outside blog recently asked me if I would be willing to fill in for him in interviewing former NLR Mayor and Congressional candidate Pat Hays  for an article on the AO site. I have enough trouble keeping up with writing for this space, but I readily agreed. Joe and Pat are both friends and I am supportive of Hays's campaign.

There is a fund raising ride for the Hays campaign, Pedaling For Progress, from the Burns Park soccer complex at 8:00 AM Saturday. It should be a beautiful morning for a ride and the requested contribution is just 45.00. You can get in a good ride and a very good lunch is on promise.

Pat Hays is well known in central Arkansas as the result of his long and productive tenure as the mayor of North Little Rock. In today's political climate the term "progressive" is often translated to mean "liberal", while the word "conservative"  has come to be associated with the extreme, often radical, right wing of American politics. I'm going to disregard the polemic that accompanies the common rhetoric of the day and call Pat Hays a "conservative progressive". He's a hometown boy who graduated from North Little Rock High School, a dedicated family man with a penchant for naming pet projects after his grandchildren (Isabella Jo Trail, Harper's Loop, Savannah Lou......), and a pro-development friend to the business community. He’s accustomed to operating on a balanced budget and has made that an issue of his campaign, along with other traditionally conservative positions.

His time as mayor has not been without controversy, but it has been without scandal. While his harshest critics, and I have been a critic at times, can point out areas of disagreement, there simply isn't much in the way of mud to be slung. That in itself is a remarkable feat for a politician who held a highly empowered mayoral office for 24 years. Of course, once the campaign gets geared up and the dark dirty money of the Koch brothers gets involved, Hays will somehow inevitably be tied to, yep, you got it, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, and maybe even Benghazi. That will be a hell of a stretch, but reality is not much of an impediment in politics in this era of Citizens United where the purchasers of power are not held accountable.
Check out the article at AO. Joe and his contributors mostly cover the fun stuff like mountain bike races, kayaking, and all things outdoors, so I reserved the above commentary on the state of politics for here.

 Something I had wondered about...
I've admired this bike boy statue, but never knew the story.
In talking to Pat Hays about his tenure as mayor and his run for the House of Representitives, I heard the story of how this statue came to be at the Clinton Park Bridge. Alderman Murray Witcher had spotted the boy cyclist statue at a sale for half-price and told Mayor Hays that he thought it would be a good fit….somewhere. It was agreed that it belonged somewhere on the River Trail. It was purchased and put in storage for a few years before it found the perfect home at the foot of the Clinton Park Bridge. I had always assumed that it had been commissioned for that spot, as it seems to belong. You will often see people stopping to admire the Bike Boy and have their photo made with the small cyclist.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tour de France-First Rest Day for Riders Not Currently Hospitalized

Every time I start thinking that this Tour is going to settle into some sort of natural rhythm, a spanner is tossed into the works, a frame pump is poked into the spokes, and the shit hits the fan. All at once.
Yesterday's first big climb, which had promised a showdown between Alberto Contador and Vicenzo Nibalo, instead saw Contador withdraw after suffering a broken tibea in a high speed crash. He tried to continue but a broken leg is kind of a big deal to a cyclist. Nibalo gained a big stage win as he outclassed the remaining climbers and my team's last hope Andrew Talansky lost more big time.
Niboli is riding like a star after being called out by team director Alexander Vinokourov  in June for not earning his keep. I'm shocked that doping speculation has not hit a fevered pitch, especially in light of Vino's past, but we're all racing clean here in the JBarCycling Minileague and we have a new race leader.

On the strength of a huge daily score of 520 points, Marshall Meggers Team Lanterne Rouge not only claims to Chainwheel KOM $10.00 gift card, but the team also took

the overall lead to claim the Spokes Leaderboard $20.00 gift card.

Two other teams, Kelly Thompson's Truckers Can Tour and Paul Alexander's txotx, each scored over 500 points on the day, which earned best, the respect of their peers.

I tried to arrange the prizes to avoid a sweep by one or two teams but Team Lanterne Rouge is on a roll. Unless the wheels come off, the prize Marshall certainly will not get is the one for lanterne rouge, or last place in the league.

This Tour de France has been brutal, but if fantasy bike racing was easy, anybody could do it.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Women Ride n Run Takes Mug, Stage Takes Toll

The Women Ride n Run team of directeur Turtle Runner n Cyclist scored top points in the MiniLeague on the strength of a 1,2,3 finish by riders Blel Kadri, Alberto Contador, and Vincenzo Nibali. WRnR picked up a daily total of 469 points. Turtle Girl, drop me an e-mail at to claim your exclusive JBarCycling coffee mug.
In the meantime, American Andrew Talansky crashed for the second day in a row, losing over 2 minutes to the other top contenders. Night before last, as I looked over the prospects of my team following the Stage 1 loss of my sprinter Mark Cavendish and the emergence of Nibali as the race leader, I had, in spite of those factors, become pretty optimistic about my chances. I still had Alberto Contador, Peter Sagan and Talansky. I reviewed Talansky's time trial cred, which includes being 2010 under-23 national TT champion, and started feeling pretty good about his chances in the one individual TT  in this Tour. If he could only gain a little time in the mountains. They don't call him Pit Bull for nothing.  Then Talansky crashed and lost another 2 minutes.
That's the way it goes in the Tour de France. Training, talent, and team can win the race. A moment of bad luck can wipe it all out. Ask Cavendish. Ask Chris Froom. So Talanky's crash might have put him out of reach, but anything can happen. Ride hard, ride smart, and hope for good luck.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

JBarCycling MiniLeague-Prizes Awarded and More Added

The Chainwheel gift cards are flowing, with Jeremy Boyd and his Angry Vikings scoring first on the opening day and the ill-named Lanterne Rouge team of Marshall Meggers racking up an impressive 452 days on the incredibly brutal Stage 5. Hot on the heels of Marshall's team was Leave No Trace, directed by Rob Stephens, with 444 points. That impressive total got Rob.....squat, other than this heartfelt congratulations.
The Wheel2Wheel team of Michael and Krissa Mattox continues to kick our collective asses with 2281 total points.
I've add a mugging for today--an exclusive JBar Cycling coffee mug to the top one-day score.

Folks, you can't get this beautiful mug at Williams -Sonoma, Wal-Mart, or on TV. There's only one way to get one. Be a winner in the JBarCycling MiniLeague.
Though today's Stage 8 is not a huge mountain day (that comes Monday), it is a day that should leave the sprinters behind and expose the form of the climbers.
Attrition continues at the Tour, as key some key support riders have fallen victim to crashes and withdrawn, and US contenders Tejay Vangarderen and Andrew Talansky both crashed late in Friday's Stage 7. Tejay lost more than a minute while Talansky's crash occurred 100 meters from the finish, costing him no time but with the hard tumble along the pavement surely leaving him bruised and battered.

I want to once again recognize our prize sponsors. While I know the JBar mugs are valued highly, their generosity has made this a lot more fun!

 Chainwheel contributed 5-$10.00 gift cards.
Spokes offered up 2- $20.00 gift cards

Team Carve is providing our grand prize of a CARVE jersey plus 2- CARVE T-Shirts.
Most of the prizes are on the calendar, but I will be adding a few as the days go by. I will tell you that the last Chainwheel card will go to the Lanterne Rouge; not to Marhall Meggers's team, but to the last place finisher in the league. Here at JBarCycling, even the loser is a winner!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

In The Meeting Rooms

This is the time of year for after work rides and my usual Tour de France fixation, leaving little time for writing, but the local bike life goes on! As always, there are a lot of folks spending time indoors working on our behalf. Here are reports on some of the ongoing efforts to make cycling better for all of us.

Arkansas River Trail Task Force

I attended the Arkansas River Trail Task Force meeting a few weeks ago. I've already covered a couple of the items that were on the agenda, including the Big Dam Bridge Pitstop project and the Pinnacle State Park Bud Light "Do good. Have fun." event.
Rob Stephens chairs the meetings, held  at Metroplan, and participants include representatives of agencies ranging from Arkansas State Parks and Tourism to M.E.M.S. and Little Rock Public Works. 
One important project that has seen ongoing discussion is the placement of 911 trail medallions along the ART and connecting trails around central Arkansas. 911 operators often have difficulty in getting a good description of location from emergency callers on the trail. The medallions, which will be glued to the trail at .2 mile intervals, will have a simple code that, when relayed to a 911 operator, will precisely identify the exact location and will allow responders to know if special equipment will be required.
Another ongoing topic is that of event planning. As anyone who regularly rides the ART knows, there are a lot of events taking place along the trail. Many of these events cover multiple jurisdictions as they cross the bridges. Event organizers can go to the event planning area on the website for a jurisdiction map, a planning form, and contact information. We have had everything from 5K's to marathons, a square dance convention, dragon boat races, a 100 bike Southwest Tandem Rally, charity events and mass bike rides, and a few more things that I can't think of right now. The point is that there can a lot of coordination required, and this is where it starts. Everybody involved wants to help create successful events on the River Trail and the link above is the place to start!

Bike Advocacy Of Central Arkansas

I was a little late to the BACA meeting this week, but it is hard to get a ride in and be on time for a 6:30 meeting. We all have our priorities. The crowd was small by the standards of recent meetings, which have seen over 100 in attendance, but it was still a good showing.
US congressional candidate and BACA board member Pat Hays was present, as was Barry Hyde, a North Little Rock cyclist, general contractor (Hydco), and candidate for Pulaski County Judge. I suggest that everyone in the cycling community use this election cycle to press candidates on their position on alternative transportation and, for local candidates, their stance on specific issues like Complete Streets and completion of the River Trail. Both Pat and Barry are active riders and who better to recognize the value of these resources than folks who use them? Both have served their communities well in the past, Pat Hays as NLR mayor and Hyde as a state representative.  Forgive the politics, but we're in an important political cycle and your engagement can help shape policy. It is a simple fact that the people who drive change are the people who show up at meetings, express their opinions, and vote. Bitching after the fact doesn't have much real impact.

OK, on to the meeting topics! Both of the speakers at Tueday's BACA meeting were touting bridge projects that could become important links in growing the status of Arkansas as a bike tourism destination.

Harahan Bridge Project-Memphis
Greg Maxted, director of the Harahan Bridge Project, has headed an effort to add a
bike-pedestrian lane to the existing Harahan Bridge over the mighty Mississippi River from Main Street in West Memphis to Memphis. The project is funded and should get underway this fall.

From Greg Maxted:
The overall project is Main street to Main Street, connecting Memphis to West Memphis.
The greenway connector from the bridge to West Memphis is a separate bid.
Bidding and construction will run concurrently. 

Obviously, a safe crossing of the Mississippi would be a huge addition the any east-west bike route.
The railroad bridge once carried auto traffic on traffic lanes cantilevered off of each side of the bridge.
One of the traffic lanes will be converted to a multi-use trail.
Here's a segment from a Memphis TV station news broadcast taken from the Harahan Bridge website.

The Harahan Bridge Project received a $15m TIGER grant , along with some other funding commitments toward the estimated $30m total project cost. As I understand, the project has bid once but the bids exceeded the budget. The project was released for re-bid in June, with bids due August 1. Assuming bids are within the budget, and Maxted is confident that they will be, construction is currently expected to begin in November.

The Big White River Bridge -Clarenden, Arkansas

Once the Mississippi is crossed, the swampy Big Woods and the White River become the next geographic barrier. Johnny Moore of Clarenden followed Maxted's program with a presentation about another east Arkansas bridge repurposing project.
Historic photo of the Big White River Bridge
The Big White River Bridge crosses the White River below its confluence with the Cache River, just south of Clarenden. The bridge curently serves Highway 79 and heavily used; however, the bridge is 80 years old, narrow, and scheduled for demolition in 2015 when a new bridge is completed.

The BWRB crosses about 2.5 miles of bridge and causeway through the White River National Wildlife Refuge
Since the bridges run through a National Wildlife Refuge, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's agreement with the AHTD requires demolition and removal of the existing bridge to mitigate the loss of 98 acres of habitat taken by the route of the new bridge.
The highway department is neutral on the subject and has, in fact, pledged the money budgeted for demolition to the repurposing project if the Fish and Wildlife Service will relent and allow the bridge to remain. The agency's mission is to provide wildlife habitat, so I am unsure of how much flexibility they have.

The bridge, along with the Harahan project, could add a link in a vital route across the Mississippi delta and, in the bigger picture, across the United States.
The Big White River Bridge Project has an excellent website that tells the story of the project along with some interesting reading about the history and future prospects for the region.

Little Rock Bike Friendly Community Committee

After years unfulfilled promises, lip service, and a perceived lack of commitment to the support of cycling, I must give credit to the City of Little Rock. I can't say whether the selection of Jeremy Lewno as Bike-pedestrian coordinator was a sign of the new attitude of if Jeremy has driven it, but there has been a definite change in attitude and action. A couple of years ago, department heads were likely to come complaining about problems with cyclists and a "just say no" attitude. The situation came to a bit of a head a couple of years ago when several members of the BFCC resigned in disgust and frustration. The negativity has been replaced by "what can we do to help?".
The result is that the City is near to finally adopting a Complete Streets policy, all street resurfacing projects are at least being assessed for bike lanes, and several capital projects have been approved.
 Some projects of note:
East and west trail terminals near Dillard's:
The east terminal project still requires formal approval of a bridge over the UP RR right-of-way, and two parcels of land must still be acquired.The railroad has approved it in principle. 
The west terminal land requires reappraisal due to a technicality of the financing.
Public Works Director Jon Honeywell was confident that these projects are moving forward.
It is recognized the neither of these links will add much real value, but they put us a couple of steps closer to "closing the loop" and will serve as the gateways to the proposed River Bluffs section behind Dillard's HQ.

Overlook resurfacing: Overlook Dr. from Rebsamen Park Road is due to be resurfaced. It will be striped to include a bike lane going up and sharrows going down so that us slow-climbing types will have a little protection and the new asphalt will likely make the descent both faster and safer. This is being done under a contract that runs through March '15, so it should be complete by March at the latest.
Rodney Parham Road from Hwy 10 to Valley Club Circle: This is a reconstruction project that will be bid this year. Plans call for bike lanes in each direction from Highway 10 to Valley Club Circle. This stretch is frequently used by cyclists and the lanes will be a welcome addition.

I won't try to list all of the projects and discussions that took place, but Little Rock is definitely moving forward! The BFCC meetings are open to the public so if you have something to contribute or just want to observe the process, show up.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Carnage On Stage 5- Chainwheel Hard Man Award

Stage 5 of the 2014 Tour de France was expected to be full of drama and some carnage. And that was assuming that the difficult cobbles would be dry. It rained. The result was that there were dozens of crashes even before the peloton hit the fabled cobbles, including 2 crashes involving the already-injured 2013 winner and race favorite Chris Froom. Froom limped to a team car after his second hard crash of the day and withdrew from the Tour, changing the dynamic of the race and taking a toll on many JBarCycling Minileague teams. Between the withdrawals of sprinter Mark Cavendish and GC favorite Froom, many teams have lost big point potential.

Garmin-Sharp GC contender Andrew Talansky after stage 5. Photo respectfully poached from Velonews.
Stage 5 of the 2014 Tour de France will be one for the history books, and one the riders will never forget.


The Hard Man Award goes to Team Lanterne Rouge and director Mashall Meggers. The team racked up a whopping 452 points for the day on the strength of 1-3-4 results from Stage winner Lars Boom, third place and yellow jersey holder Vincenzo Nibali, and fourth place finisher Peter Sagan. The stage also moved Team Lanterne Rouge up to third place in our league at 1545 points.
Marshall, drop me an e-mail at and I'll arrange for you to receive your $10.00 gift card, compliments of the fine folks at Chainwheel.

Michael and Krissa Mattox of Team Wheel2Wheel continue to lead our 29 team league with 1729 points. As proof that clean cycling can prevail, Team Alldopedup is riding the tail of the autobus at 271 points.

I'll be adding a few more prize points and will update the awards calendar.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stage 1: Winners and Losers

I'm going to count myself among the losers in the VeloGames Fantasy Tour de France. I'm a big fan of Mark Cavendish and, in spite of the fact that Marcel Kittel has beat Cav  every time they've met in a straight up sprint dating back to last year's tour, I stuck with the Manx man. Cavendish admittedly caused the crash that took him out with a separated shoulder. I hope he enjoys a rapid recovery.

If I had gone with Kittel, I also would have freed up a couple of points to pick up a classics rider for stage 5, but, like everyone else, I'll be playing the hand I drew.  I'm just among those who are a card short from here on in.
Even with the loss of Cavendish, I'm in the top 5, but our first winning team is the Angry Vikings, as "Chainwheel First In Yellow". Mr. Boyd, please drop me an e-mail at to claim your $10.00 Chainwheel gift card.

A note on spoilers:
Many folks watch the tour stages in the evening, so please be respectful and don't be a spoiler! A text message or Facebook post saying, "How about Alberto on that final climb today.", or "Too bad your guy crashed out." can just take the drama out of one's viewing.
My posts here will likely run a day behind, and I won't post results in the header.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The 2014 Tour de France Is ON!

And so is the JBarCyclng Minileague! This year, we have a whopping 28 teams and some sponsors. Team CARVE had donated a CARVE jersey, our grand prize to the overall winner, along with 2 CARVE T-shirts,
Spokes is providing 2- $20.00 gift cards, and Chainwheel is providing 5- $10.00 gift cards.
I will be adding more prizes over the next few days.

I've set up a calendar for the awarding of prizes and will be adding more. I've tried to set it up so that a wide range of team choice have chances to win, but will accept no whining, whimpering, or crying. Gloating and bragging is permissible unless it is at my expense.

Please be aware that many folks record stages to watch later, so maintain spoiler silence or make spoiler posts clearly identifiable.
Here's the calendar as it stands:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Central Arkansas Trail Alliance: Getting Things Done

I've been remiss in giving a call-out to CATA and the fine work they are doing in establishing and maintaining mountain bike trails around central Arkansas. Group president Bruce Alt, along with Mike Mitchell and others, has been involved in meetings I've attended over the last few weeks with the Arkansas River Trail Task Force and at Camp Robinson, and each time I see him, I promise to get around to an article.

Last night, as I rode along the ART, finishing up a road ride, I noticed some suspicious characters walking along the trail carrying paint cans and rollers. While they didn't have the look of the usual Krylon-armed bridge tagging vandals, I don't want to be accused of profiling.
I decided to circle back to see what kind of mischief the pair was up to.
As it turned out, they were heading into the Pfeifer Loop to add nonskid paint to some recently constructed bridges, so I flashed a thumbs-up gang sign to them and moved on.

(As an aside on profiling, I found myself feeling a bit guilty when I stopped to observe a couple of 12-14 year-old boys walking around between cars in a lot near the trail. There are a lot of break-ins in the area, but my suspicions were unfounded, as the boys were apparently just heading for some shade. The fact that one was wearing a flouro T-shirt with the word "THIEF" emblazoned across the front might have influenced my attitude.)

Mike Mitchell and Bruce Alt of CATA on their way to work.

From CATA Facebook post:Two bridges painted with non-skid coating: Green Trail at Burns Park and the connector between Pfeifer Loop and the soccer fields near the paved Isabella Jo path.

From the CATA website.
Visit the CATA website to see what the Central Arkansas Trail Alliance is all about, to see what they've been up to, and to join. Membership gets you IMBA membership, as well.
This is another example of the many people gwho give their time and talent to efforts to make cycling in Central Arkansas better for all of us. When you hit the trails and find bridges built, brush cleared, or, for that matter, when you consider the trail itself, you can bet that some volunteers worked to get it done.
A word to anyone in the market for a Subaru, the IMBA discount is a real deal. They offer the same program through the American Canoe Association and we have saved thousands of dollars on the purchase of a couple of Subies over the years.