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  1. #1
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Can't get away from bicycles

    I flew out to Phoenix last week for my niece's wedding. Barely made the flight because the taxi's wouldn't drive in the snow and the buses were barely able to. I would have ridden my bike but there's no bike parking at the airport.

    The wedding was great, but a lot of work because I was on the setup and cleanup crews. After all was said and done, I had a day left over. The choice of what to do came down to renting a bike for 4 hours or repairing the flat tire on my brother-in-law's department store mountain bike.

    Since my brother in law had been saying how he didn't care about the bike and my sister had been saying how she wanted to get one, I figured that getting their machine roadable again might be a way to transfer the machine into her control.

    I had spent a little time in one of the Chandler bike stores the day before, perusing what kind of bikes they sold locally, and talking to the fellow in the store about the differences between utility cycling in Phoenix and Little Rock. So I returned to get a new tube, tire levers, etc.

    The repair was easy, but I discovered that this was the kind of bike where you could raise the seat, but not the handlebars. I did what I could. Lack of a water bottle rack and any kind of curly cable or lock made sure that the bike remained a toy.

    So, after chugging down a large amount of water, I set out, riding south, hoping to escape the shopping centers and gated communities. It was so nice riding on flat ground in a bike lane, with perhaps a mile between stop signs or traffic signals. In Little Rock I had forgotten what a joy simple intertia could be. I finally got out to where horse pastures and plowed fields replaced tan brick walls. I reveled in riding in street clothes instead of having to bundle up in winter clothes.

    Coming back I happened upon a Chandler police substation and environmental park which had a welcome water fountain. And later I passed the Gilbert SWAT team doing training exercises in an abandoned house. It was about a 12 mile ride in total, and was very enjoyable.

    Coming back on the plane the next day, I found myself trapped next to a man who loved to talk and who only asked a question about you when he ran out of subject matter and needed a cue for a new subject to talk about.

    He talked on about his one-owner 69 GTO, and his Cummins diesel truck and his other 5 cars. After he finished, I mentioned that I was like him, but only with bicycles. I got as far as briefly listing my two vintage 10 speeds, my utility bike and my recumbent, and he took off again. His son owned a couple of recumbents, and quite a few others. This was a bit more interesting, and the son did seem to be a good solid dedicated bicyclist, which I was glad to hear about. And his grandchildren seemed to be picking up the biking bug as well.

    But it was good to see my own wee beasties greeting me when I stepped back into my apartment that night.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

  2. #2
    Senior Member xizangstan's Avatar
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    At my age (64), I seem to be interested in looking at the pretty young women, but dreaming about riding my "Lady Xizang" mountain bike most places I go. If it was easier to pack up my titanium-frame GT Xizang and take her with me everyplace I go, I am positive I would.

    It's funny how we get with bicycles. I mean, back when I was a kid, I would have told you that as a grown man I wouldn't be interested in bicycles anymore. Now here I am over 50 years later, and I catch myself judging hills, road shoulders and the abundance or lack of public bicycle racks, most everyplace I go.

    Many of you might also be into boating. And some of you might frequent the larger, coastal marinas where people bring larger private boats. When you do, keep an eye open for the bicycles that people keep on their boats. There are those transient boaters who are essentially a nautical version of the RV road warriors you see out on the interstate highways with bikes hanging on the backs of their big RVs. So many large sailboats and motoryachts, with their precious bicycles lashed down on deck!

    Yep, whether by land or by sea, we hardcore bicyclists love taking our 'babies' with us wherever we go...
    Who is John Galt?

  3. #3
    Senior Member kevrider's Avatar
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    ArtKS, let's hear about little rock. it's on my list of places to go when i move away from memphis. is the city relatively safe for cycling? progressive, conservative? glad to hear it's hilly.
    In a world full of people, only some want to ride. Isn't that crazy?
    Seal/CRAZY/misquoted

  4. #4
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kevrider View Post
    ArtKS, let's hear about little rock. it's on my list of places to go when i move away from memphis. is the city relatively safe for cycling? progressive, conservative? glad to hear it's hilly.
    Boy, that's a wide open question. Hard to know where to start.

    The core of Little Rock bicycling is the River Trail which goes along both sides of the river from downtown to about 7 miles west. The half through North Little Rock has been pronounced one of the nicest bike trails in the U.S. by Andy Clarke, League of American Bicyclists president. Little Rock being a bit more developed has had to work harder, but the trail on its side is just about completed with the refurbishing of the President Clinton bridge on the east end, and the building of the Two Rivers bridge across the Little Maumelle river, which connects the river trail with the Two Rivers Park trail and allows bicyclists to ride all the way to Pinnacle Mountain where they can pick up and do a great loop around Lake Maumelle.

    I use the loop around Lake Maumelle as a training ride for Centuries as it is hilly, climbing up Wye Mountain and back down to the lake again and then has a series of rolling hills all along the southern edge for about a 35 mile ride.

    The Little Rock Bicycle Friendly Communities Bike Plan subcommittee is finishing up its bike route recommendations so as it can bike lanes and sharrows will be implemented by the city. They are competing with North Little Rock which has already achieved a Bicycle Friendly Cities - Bronze status.

    Also there is a movement afoot to combine some local parks in the west along with some abandoned golf courses to make the biggest park in Little Rock. They are actively working with bicycle advocates to ensure support. Due to the golf cart paths, this area is already rideable and they encourage you to ride.

    And downtown, the bicycle polo enthusiasts have been working and established a polo court and gotten active participation and I believe they are even working to get some world class contests happening there. There are a number of big rides here including the Big Dam Bridge 100, Tour De Rock, and the Joe Weber Arky 100. There are quite a few mountain bike trails, many in North Little Rock in Burns Park as well as at Camp Robinson the local Air Force base. Statewide, there are nationally recoginzed trails like the Womble Trail. And if you are into gravity bikes, I can recommend the Talimena trail which has some downhill sections that go for miles, but it is near Mena on the western edge of the state.

    There are very active clubs, Arkansas Bicycling Club being the biggest, and offering a busy riding schedule in Little Rock and the surrounding areas. Central Arkansas Recreational Pedalers is very active and focused on maintaining trails and riding at Camp Robinson.

    There are a good number of bicycle stores in the area. All seem to be good, though each has its own nature. Most importantly, they realize that they must support the bicycling community, and they do. Orbea has an outlet store here, and Competitive Cyclist which advertises on Bike Forum is based here in Little Rock.

    The utility biking scene has a tougher road. Due to terrain and the fact that most of Little Rock's major roads seem to have been built in the 1920s there are few through streets and they are not bicycle friendly. They are narrow, hilly, high-traffic and potholed. I was very intimidated when I first rode here, and Markham street in particular led me to join the Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas because something had to be done. To the west of the 430, things are better. It's the newer part of town, richer and the streets are wider.

    The drivers are less used to sharing the streets with bicyclists and they complain more and often don't seem to know what to do, whether it's throwing things, nanny-driving where they hold up traffic to give you a right of way that you don't have, not observing a comfortable passing distance, or yelling rude remarks: I definitely get more of it than I did living in California.

    But I have heard worse of Memphis, so I can say that it's relatively safe. But it's important to join in the bicycling community. They can tell you the safe areas and the dangerous ones.

    My last bicycle commute took me through a neighborhood that I had previously perceived as dangerous. But one road through it, I discovered was a great cruising road, well paved with an 8 foot shoulder. I never had any problems and one time was even offered a $20.00 bill after a motorist saw me looking through the trash cans at a gas station. I was searching for a towel to wipe the chain oil off my hands when repairing a flat and the dispensers were empty, but I guess they thought I was looking for food.

    Progressive, conservative? Hard to tell. We have been swept up by the great Republican tsunami. The Democrat senator was replaced by a Republican party liner, and the Democrat representative was replaced by a Republican closely allied with the Tea Party. We still have a widely popular Democrat Governor though. The roughest part is that both Democrats were supporters of bicycling, and the Republicans not. But historically, Republicans have not lasted long in office in Arkansas, so who can say what the future will hold. Arkansas avoided that last Real Estate bubble, so we are fairly settled that way, and the financial markets tend to overlook us, so we avoided the financial bubble. So our economy is fairly strong at the present moment.

    And finally, I must mention the topography of Arkansas. There is an imaginary line going from the Southwest corner to the Northeast corner of the state. It roughly marks the division of the mountains and the Mississippi river delta. West of that line there is nothing but hills. East of that line it's flat as a pancake. Little Rock is right on that line, so the west is hilly and the east is flat.

    It pays to look around a little before deciding where to live. I live in the Pleasant Valley area. For car-free living it is hard to beat. I have all the necessities close-by including post office, movie theaters, restaurants, two bicycle stores, a big box store and grocery stores. It's at the end of one of the bus lines so I can get to downtown or anywhere else in the city. It's also laced with a series of creeks that support a variety of wildlife including fish, snakes, muskrats, crawdads, rails, and herons. Others with cars prefer the Heights for it's ambiance, and downtown is developing a series of lofts for a more urban lifestyle. Like most southern cities, its a mixed population with the whites tending toward the north of the 630, the blacks to the south and hispanics toward the west and the south. The true white flight though was what powered the growth of cities like Jacksonville on the metro perimeter.

    But Little Rock seems to be fairly cosmopolitan, and relations are pretty good. Pleasant Valley, where I live appears to be one of the most cosmopolitan areas with a good number of Indians and Asians as well as a hetrogeneous mix of the more traditional American populations. That just means more good restaurants if you ask me, and this area has a lot of variety, from BBQ and Catfish to Pho, Steaks to Felafals. The nearest pizzaria prepares their food to muslim Halal standards, but they don't make a big deal about it. There are even good places to get pie.

    The weather here is good for bicycling. Just a few days of snow a year and it melts in a couple of days. There is rain, but that keeps Arkansas green.
    Last edited by Artkansas; 02-20-11 at 05:10 PM.
    "He who serves all, best serves himself" Jack London

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjforrestal View Post
    I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

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