Arkansas Footdown Championships

2012 12 14 Vinny Footdown 1 What, we’ve found yet another ridiculous bike-related thing to do? Ummm. Yep. Avoiding ‘foot down’ is a highly valued skill in bike polo; if you can’t balance on your two wheels and your mallet, and your foot touches the pavement, you’re penalized. I suppose it’s also good to be able to balance without touching down in things like cyclocross and mountain biking, too, since putting a foot on the ground would mean a loss of forward speed and rhythm. Even road bike people like to be able to ride very slowly so that they don’t have to unclip from their pedals. And it goes without saying that people who ride tall bikes and unicycles should avoid the need to put their feet on the pavement. Learning to improve balance, in all kinds of cycling, is important. Continue reading “Arkansas Footdown Championships”

Smoke and Suds Cyclocross

2012 11 03 Cyclocross Race Poster Mandy wanted to go to Fayetteville this past weekend to ride in a couple of cyclocross races. Bryan already had something planned for the weekend, but our friends Joe and Lisa from Arkansas Outside offered to take her – their family was planning to camp, and they promised to put her to work helping with cooking and dog-minding duties. She was eager to go, and we couldn’t think of a good reason not to send her. Continue reading “Smoke and Suds Cyclocross”

‘Cross Dresser

Cyclocross is a kind of bicycle racing popular in Europe and in the more interesting parts of the US. Arkansas cyclocross is just getting started – last year’s fall/winter series was sort of ragtag, I’ve heard, but there’s more momentum and organization behind this year’s races. Racers do several laps around a closed course, on a mix of surfaces – usually some pavement, some gravel, and some grass or dirt or mud. There are obstacles to ride or jump over, like tree limbs and boards, ditches, and sometimes even stairs to run down while carrying a bike. The course is taped off in such a way that there are often sharp turns to navigate as well. Racers ride as hard as they can to do as many laps as possible in a certain period of time – 40 or 50 minutes seems to be the usual length of a cyclocross race.

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Mandy was a little bit interested in cyclocross last year, but we never actually got around to watching a race. This summer, when her bike was wrecked, the replacement we bought was a cyclocross bike. We thought it was a good choice because it was set up more or less as a road bike, but the frame and fork were broad enough to accommodate wider tires when we wanted to ride on gravel roads or smooth trails. Having a cyclocross bike, though, made her think that maybe she wanted to race cyclocross this season. Continue reading “‘Cross Dresser”

Goodbye, BFCC

I’ve been on the Little Rock mayor’s Bike Friendly Community Committee for the past year. The committee itself was formed several years ago to provide review of the city’s infrastructure and policies alongside a sort of list of ideal practices one would find in a city friendly to cyclists of all kinds. Little Rock can’t become Portland overnight, but by choosing things that would be simple and low-cost, we could make real progress toward treating cyclists and pedestrians well and providing safe space for all road users. Sounds good, right? It was useful and worthwhile work, I’d thought. I was aware that there were problems – that the specific structure of LR’s city government made progress of this kind difficult, and that there were people on the committee itself who were happy with the status quo, who would be difficult for me to work with. I knew it would be time consuming, and that I’d have to go to a lot of meetings. (I hate meetings.) Continue reading “Goodbye, BFCC”

Bon Ton Roulet

A couple of months ago, we gave Mandy a present: A plain white envelope. Inside was the receipt for her ‘ticket’ to participate in the Bon Ton Roulet, a seven-day supported bike tour around the Finger Lakes in upstate New York. It’s her first trip in that direction, and more importantly, it’s her first trip out of state without parents.


We dropped her off at the train station for a late-evening departure on Thursday. She was to travel with our friend Kathy, as well as with a couple of other women cyclists from the Little Rock area. We sat with them for a bit but left before the midnight train arrived. Mandy had really been looking forward to even this part of the trip – she was by far the youngest in the group, but as the only one who had traveled on Amtrak, she was ready to provide a tour of the facilities! They sent texts from the train: they’d arrived in St. Louis a bit late, they’d left the train in Chicago, they’d used my notes to find stuff to do during their layover, they’d boarded their new train for Syracuse. Continue reading “Bon Ton Roulet”

Training Rides, New Bike

Mandy and Kathy have spent the last couple of weeks getting ready for their trip to New York. Neither has been riding a lot, so now that Mandy’s back from her trip to Tulsa, they’ve been getting together nearly every day to spend some time on the bikes. It was a good idea, except that on Thursday, on the way home from their practice ride, Kathy’s little grey Mini got rear ended on the interstate. The liftgate is crumpled, the bike rack is ruined, and – the worst news – both bikes are twisted up. Both front wheels look like flattish Pringles. Mandy’s frame is only bent a little, but because of it the bike won’t shift properly. Kathy’s carbon fiber is dinged enough that two or three bike shop people have said it would be unsafe to ride. Continue reading “Training Rides, New Bike”

National Bike Week – Rocktown Trackdown

Since last summer, Bryan and I had been thinking that a bike/walk scavenger hunt in Little Rock would be fun. Vinny’s alleycats are great fun for a handful of people, but what if somebody did a race that was a little less competitive and a little easier to navigate? If participants were given a map, it’d be easier to plan a route. If people just had to answer questions, we wouldn’t need many volunteers. Continue reading “National Bike Week – Rocktown Trackdown”