Thursday, September 27, 2018

Throwback Thursday- Natural States Criterium March 1990 from September 2010 Article

I've had a busy week or two and obviously haven't devoted time to writing new material, but you may find this interesting.
In 1990, I had no interest in cycling but had many friends who rode and raced locally. I had vague recollections of some big races taking place back in the day, so I went to work researching them.
The good thing was that the Democrat and the Gazette were battling it out for newspaper market share so there were entire sections devoted to outdoor and recreational activities. The bad news was that my only access to the articles contained in those fat newspapers was to figure out an approximate date and scroll through microfilm at the local library.
Lance Armstrong was an aspiring 18 year old kid from Plano.
Relatively big prize money made these races a draw for top talent. .

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

1990: Natural State Capitol Criterium

This Arkansas Gazette article laid out the weekend events surrounding the Natural States Capitol Criterum

Lance Armstrong manages 13th, goes home $110.00 richer...

Little Rock is becoming a bike town. We owe much of that to a nucleus of folks who have supported and helped grow the sport over the years. This is the first in a series of articles about the Central Arkansas bike scene which will focus on the teams and some of the notable events of the past.

In the spring of 1990, Greg LeMond was the reigning Tour de France champion and the USA was actually kind of interested in road bike racing. About 500 people turned out on a cold March 25th morning to watch the 1990 Natural State Capitol Criterium, which was won by Wisconsin's Tom Schuler of the powerful 7-Eleven professional team. Schuler was the 1987 USPRO national road champion and the 1981 US Pro criterium champion and, more recently, the director of Team Type 1. The 1990 event, held on the State Capitol grounds, naturally, had the 62 riders in the senior 1/2 division, 28 of whom finished. According to the Gazette, "One of the most promising young racers in the country traveled from Plano, Texas, to compete". Eighteen year-old Lance Armstrong , racing for Team Montgomery, came in 13th* and collected $110.00 for his efforts. After the event, he commented on the tough race, the good organization, and the high level of competition.

...and the winner is Tom Schuler. At the time, he was a much bigger name in cycling than teenaged Lance Armstrong

 The event was sponsored by Colonial Bread and others. With prize money of $10,000.00, this was a rich race and the pros showed up along with all the regional hot-shots. There were several classifications with payouts, along with a Citizen's Race division that was made up of 33 mostly local riders.

The winner of the women's division was Juli Furtado, a former US National team skier who had won the National Road Championship in 1989 and who went on to win the first World Mountain Bike Championship cross country title. She followed that with a string of World Cup wins. You know the Lance story, of course. He was, indeed, a promising talent!

Let me note here that searching newspaper archives at the library is much harder than Google! You actually have to search for whatever it is you're looking for! Much of this information came from the Gazette archives along with helpful direction from Steve Shepherd and John Kelly.
 If any readers can make this story more complete, feel free to comment!

(*In researching this article, I found a statements in a 1991 Arkansas Gazette article twice referring to Armstrong as "last year's winner", and elsewhere in the 1990 article, he was said to have come in 14th. Confirming obscure information from before the information age is difficult!)

Next up....1991 Natural States Stage Race

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Throwback Thursday- Two Rivers Bridge Center Span Assembly and Lift from October 2010

Two, Two, Two Posts in One!!
I decided not to string you along for another week on the erection of the center span on the Two Rivers Park Bridge so I've included two posts from the time. I followed this project closely and on several levels. I had regular contact with the Pulaski County construction supervisor, a representative of the steel supplier, and the project engineer among others. One thing I was NOT going to miss was the lift of the massive center span assembly. It did not disappoint. It was an awesome morning for any boy who likes big toys.

I post to a number of groups and you can be sure of notices by following the JBarCycling FB page.
Thanks, JBar

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Two Rivers Bridge News!

Work continues at a brisk pace on the Two Rivers Bridge, with the final piers being poured and the steel truss sections arriving over the last couple of days.

The truss sections were shipped in on trucks, assembled on barges and moved out into the river.

The entire span will be assembled and then lifted in one piece.

These trailers carrying the two halves of the next section arrived on Wednesday. The last two trailers were on the road and expected to arrive Wednesday night.

There is no set schedule for the lift, but I hope that I get some notice so that I can be there! Everything will be done and ready before the lift starts, because once it is in the air, they don't want to put it back down anywhere but in its place on the piers. The rest of the horizontal structure is also moving right along. I was told that within the next couple of weeks, "people looking at it from I-430 will see a bridge".

Monday, September 17, 2018

Big Plans For Big Rock Regional Bike Park

Okay, I'll confess to adding the term "Regional" in the title of this article because that is the kind of vision I was hearing about at a meeting I attended last week at the North Little Rock Community Center.

 A Visionary Plan 
For several months now, North Little Rock Parks officials, along with local bike advocates from Central Arkansas Trail Alliance (CATA), and others, have been working on a far-reaching plan for a mountain  bike trails and skills complex on the north side of the river. At the heart of this broad plan is the development of a bike park at the Big Rock Quarry. The working name for the project is Big Rock Bike Park.

Some Recent History
Big Rock Quarry has seen a couple of other development plans rise and fade in the last few years. The first, and most ill-conceived, plan was the sale of the quarry for a real estate project consisting of a couple of apartment towers and a couple of hundred town homes. When this plan was exposed, initially here at JBarCycling, the public was outraged and  rapidly responded. That project was quashed by the waves of protest and bad publicity that followed. The property was eventually integrated into the parks system.

The Future
Initially, the existing mountain bike trails at Burns Park and the adjoining Emerald Park would be improved and extended. The work will make the riding experience on the existing trails better and will enhance the connections to Big Rock.

 The yellow lines represent existing trails. The proposed Bike Park drawing is overlaid in the center. The switchbacks near the left side are on the old road bed that climbs to Emerald Park from the River Trail. Current talk is that it will be rebuilt to facilitate climbing to the top of the bluffs. Multiple downhill routes are planned to rejoin the trail near Paul Duke Drive. 

Setting The Stage
The other older Burns Park "Boy Scout" trails (Red, Yellow, etc) will be improved or rebuilt as needed, and a large parcel of previously unused park land off of Overlook Dr. will see new trails and the restoration of the existing pavilions.
Lookout Dr. near the I-40 entrance to Burns Park has long  been gated due to "inappropriate activity" at the isolated pavilions at the top of the hill.
Overlook Drive- There is plenty of elevation on this large island of park land.

 The roof is in disrepair but the rock, steel, and concrete bones of the Overlook Pavilion are stout.

 Secondary, smaller pavilion nearby.

The Overlook was a favorite spot in Burns Park for many folks, but, over the years, vandalism and misbehavior led it to be closed. Trees will need to be cut to restore the vista, and there is plenty of other work to be done, but this will be a valuable "re-addition" to the park.

Center Stage

At the heart of  all of this will be the Big Rock Bike Park. I was blown away by the scope of this plan. Though the designer with whom I spoke at Progressive Trail Design described this as a very preliminary "cartoon drawing", you can get an idea of the direction of this development. 

                                 Get ready for some mountain bike action!

This Is For Real
Obviously, an endeavor of this scope will take time and money, but what I saw at the recent meeting told me that this is not a pipe dream. I have questioned the commitment of the current NLR city government to cycling infrastructure, as neither Mayor Joe Smith nor Parks Director Terry Hartwick have many ties to cycling. The mayor was NLR's director of development and Terry comes from the Chamber of Commerce. Ultimately, those leaders understand that the strength of this project will be its contribution, not only to quality of life for us locals, but to the economic growth that will follow. Visits to Northwest Arkansas provided a close look at the kind of dollars that follow the introduction of first-rate outdoor lifestyle amenities.
The Railyard at Rogers serves as a bit of a model, but the quarry offers several times the area of that park.

The Mayor is all in, saying, "We don't want to do this on the cheap. We want a Taj Mahal." That's the right way to do it, Mayor.

The vision is long range, and will require several phases and budget cycles. With eyes wide open, the group is already discussing financial and operational plans for maintenance and sustainability of the trails system and supporting facilities. The Parks Department included money in this year's budget for preliminary engineering, and I was very impressed at how far along the project concept has come.
North Little Rock's commitment, along with CATA, of land and labor to the overall plan represents substantial local investment as the City seeks grants from entities such as the Walton Family Foundation and the Arkansas Department of Transportation (ARDOT) recreation trails program (RTP). 

It looks like I've resurrected JBarCycling just in time to follow the next very big step in making Central Arkansas a major cycling destination. Watch your mail box for notices of programs at CATA meetings and elsewhere.

It's hard to even define the scope of all of this in one article, so I think I'll be writing about Rig Rock for several years to come. I'm excited.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Throwback Thursday:Willie's Pedigree October 7, 2010

 This is a tale of Willie dating back to 2010.  My dogs, Willie and Ivy, frequently show up in my social media posts. The simple reason for that is that they go with me damn near everywhere I go and they are always ready for action, whether it be running as I mountain bike at Camp Robinson, fishing on the Little Red, canoeing the Buffalo, paddle boarding on the river or the lake, or just wandering the woods. 

Willie is one handsome dude and he takes naturally to modeling.

He is a competitive trout fisherman but struggles to tie his own flies. He chases MY fish without shame. That's right, Willie, mine!
Flatboat Willie. He's better at wade/swim fishing but is always up for any kind of boat ride. 

At the time of this post, Willie had been in the family for almost a year, and the best guess is that he was about three years old.  He is now over eleven years old and not slowing down. I think he's actually doing this senior athlete thing better than I am, as he is still good for running 10-12 miles of trail out at Camp, while my road mileage has dropped significantly over the last few years.  I had Willie's DNA tested for breed and, as you can read, he's a fine blend. 


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another Dog Tale (No Biting!)

Pop Quiz: What do these dog breeds have in common?
Golden Retriever






Have you given up, yet? Think about's coming to you....

The correct answer is: Willie

My man, Willie, shown here cooling off in a creek at Camp Robinson during a mountain bike escort run. He loves to run the trails, but at home, he's a Mama's boy.

Last Thanksgiving, we adopted Willie, a rescue dog that was purported to be Border Collie and who was still recovering from a badly shattered leg that he had suffered six months prior. We'd lost Diane's beloved Josie a few months earlier and we decided it was time for another dog. Our little Aussie mix Zuli also needed a pal, so Willie came into our lives. We speculated at length on his ancestry and my opinion was that he was most likely a cattle dog/terrier blend. We continued to speculate until one day Diane read an article about DNA testing to determine the genetic make-up of mutts. The subject came up a few more times, so I dropped by the  CARE  office one day and picked up the testing kit.  We swabbed Willie and sent his sample off to the lab. Two weeks later, we got Willie's report. While chatting with the volunteer at C.A.R.E. as I  purchased the kit, she had mentioned that one dog tested had been the product of seven different breeds. Willie came up one short of the local record with six. Yes, we are the proud owners of a purebred Golden Retriever-Beagle-Chihuahua-Dachshund-Maltese-Poodle, and we have the papers to prove it.

Willie is the product of several generations of artfully indiscriminate breeding and we couldn't be prouder! He is one very fine dog.


Jo said...
There has GOT to be some border collie in that dog- I think your sample got switched!!
JBar said...
If I was willing to throw another 60.00 at it, I'd send in another sample. It's been fun, though, and I've been calling Willie "Poodle" just to piss him off. He does have giant chihuahua ears!