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As I started getting around the morning was off to a good start because the wet riding clothes that were hanging all around the cabin were now dry. Great news to start the day. I do not have numerous sets of riding clothes for the winter. Summer clothes abound, but the very expensive winter riding clothe are sparse. Getting them dry and warm was key to having a good second day.
The restaurant did not open until 8:00 for breakfast, which was later than most of us wanted, but it's their rules and we decided to stay there. With temperatures just above 30 degrees and fog I am not sure why we wanted to get around any sooner. However, all eight of us were standing at the entrance when the clock stuck 8.
Sitting at the table with my short stack and beacon I looked around to see six riders and two sag drivers, all over 60 and at least half over 70 years of age. This is a tough old group to be up and ready to ride another 36 miles in the cold damp weather. Some if not all has had bike crashes that caused some type of major injury and here they sat having breakfast in anticipation of another adventure on the bike. I was happy to get to participate.
The decision was made to depart at 10:00. The temps were up in the mid 30 range and there was no rain, just clouds. My job had been delayed, so I was free to join the group riding back to the Conway airport. The unfortunate situation was that I had worked so hard to move my vehicle to Mather Lodge and now I had to move it back.
Susan saved the day for me again. She volunteered to meet me at Conway and drive me back to Petit Jean if I really wanted to ride with the group. She saved the day, and my ride.
We normally do not stay together while riding. Each person can travel at the speed they desire. Sometimes there are single riders and often two or more stay together, To each his own. There are gathering points so that we know if everyone is doing OK. This event was especially good with two sag vehicles.
Climbing Petit Jean is an event in itself. Descending Petit Jean in the cold and wet is another event in itself. With cold hands to handle the brakes and very slippery pavement, caution was the key to the 1 1/2 miles of steep downhill. My trike makes descents easier than on a bike, but it should since it is so much harder to climb. Sort of evens itself out.
One rider decided to sag down the hill, which was not a bad decision at all. If you do not feel like you could enjoy it and do not feel safe at all, then do not do it. At the bottom we were all together again and relieved everyone was vertical on their bikes. We had 28 miles of rolling terrain left to enjoy.
In Houston there is a house where a man sells pecans. Most of the group stopped to make a purchase. I chose not to stop but i did stop at a nearby intersection. A man pulled up to me in his vehicle to ask how I was doing. He then told me he saw us at the airport the day before and wondered how we had progressed. I told him the ride was great and our overnight at Mather Lodge was also good. He was our age and indicated how amazed he was that our group made this ride, and up Petit Jean. He said he was proud of us and to carry on.
Lunch was at a convenience store and deli at the West end of the bridge over Toad Suck lock and dam. The sandwiches really hit the spot, along with the coffee. I now felt warm and strong for the final six miles to the airport.
I rode with Janice to finish the last half dozen miles. Actually, I enjoyed this segment as I was pedaling well and would not have minded if there were some more miles. However, the warm terminal building was nice.
We said our "good-byes" and wished each other well until the next event. There are some very good relationships developed on these treks around Arkansas and quite often it is with people that you would not normally meet in your daily living. That makes these events more special.
Susan soon arrived to take me back to Petit Jean for my vehicle. She also brought Marley, our Welsh Terrier puppy. By 6:00 I was home. As I walked into the house I thought about a statement Janice made as we were riding the final miles together. She said she travels all over the world on vacations, but our adventure rides are some of the most special days she has. So TRUE.
Note: I must add that Jim Britt, the club president, did design and promote this ride. At only 3 years old, this event is quickly becoming one of my favorites with its great balance of total miles, difficulty and amenities. Thanks Jim.
The smooth blacktop on Lolly Road was a welcomed surprise as I drove my pick-up toward our starting point for the annual overnight ride to Petit Jean State Park Mather Lodge. We begin each year at the new Conway Regional Airport. I did notice that Janice Peters was behind me when suddenly a sign appeared that the road was closed. Then I saw the construction cranes at the old bridge. After phone calls and direction changes, everyone arrived at about the same time. A bumpy start to the ride, but nothing to discourage us. We did have a long list of potential participants, but the nasty weather report and the prospects of making the climb up Petit Jean pared our riders to six.
The weather was trying to be the real deterrent to our event. A bit cool at 39 degrees along with overcast skies that occasionally spit our some misty rain. However the stubborn gang of six riders, including myself, started the process of dressing for wet and cold. After stepping out of the vehicles there were various layers of protective clothing added and assessed. There is a real art to preparing for this type venture.
We had a very gracious couple driving "sag" for the ride. Charlie and Judy Jacob were driving their vehicle along with Jim Britt's vehicle so that we had ample sag if we were rained out on the return trip. Also, due to a couple problems I had to have my vehicle. First, I had a job the next morning on Lake Greeson. Second, if a sag was needed, my trike would not fit either of the sag vehicles or bike carriers. To accomplish this I drove to Houston, AR, unloaded my trike and rode back toward the group.
The timing was great. I met them at the intersection of Bethel Road and Hwy 60. At this time there was a steady drizzle to light rain. This continued as we made it to Houston and then on to Oppelo where we had lunch in the convenience store. Charlie drove me back to get my pick-up which I moved to Oppelo. From there Linda decided to drive my vehicle instead of taking on the daunting climb up Petit Jean. Worked out great for both of us.
We now had five people pedaling this climb. As I said before, I am riding a trike and all the other riders were on various types of bikes. After a year on this contraption I have basically accepted it is very slow on climbs, so I set it on 3 MPH and kept pedaling. Both Jim and Janice were with me at the start, but they went ahead as I slugged it out. About 2/3 up I heard Mike Knabe greet me and then blow right by. It was evident the trip across the United States had developed his climbing skills. Jenny came up later. The story I heard was that she thought there was much further to go, so she sagged up when she only had less than 100 yards left to finish the climb. I will count that as a very good climb anyway.
The distance from the top of the climb to Mather Lodge is six miles. When competed that gave everyone 36 for the day, except me. Due to moving the vehicle I finished with 30 miles. I still felt those miles due to the climb and the wet cold conditions. It was time for a hot shower and warm clothes.
Dinner was early because of winter hours at the restaurant. We finished eating and were sitting in a large room with a great fireplace blazing by 6:30. Our group was joined by a some nice ladies that meet yearly at the lodge. I think we hung around until about 8:30. It was time to retire for the evening.
The alarm was sounding off the next morning...............
Finish this tomorrow.
Yes, the Bike Ride Around Arkansas is completed. The weather was great and the roads provided. Unfortunately for me, it only lasted two days and one night. Making a living jumped up and took me away. A blast of wind hit a marina in the state so I was called to work. However, the rest of the group continued and encountered many sights along the way.
The tour started at Wal-Mart in Camden, AR. The store manager granted us permission to park our vehicles for the week while we toured. It was a chilly day as we headed South on US 79 toward our first campsite 30 miles away.
This road had medium to light traffic for a US Highway and did have a good shoulder. The terrain featured rolling hills and scenic country.
We stopped at a grocery store in Stephens, AR for evening meal provisions. We knew there would not be a cafe in the area. Each person made their own selections. I had decided before the start that I wanted to do more cooking in the camps, so I bought a couple hamburger patties and cheese.
The group stopped at a convenience store/cafe in Stephens for a late lunch. However, this was not a good day to get a hot sandwich for the kitchen is closed on Sundays. We made do with what was there and traveled on.
In late afternoon we arrived at Logoly State Park about 6 miles North of Magnolia. This is a neat little park for tent camping only. The park attendant and the park ranger were very cordial.
Our traveling group started with 5 riders. Jim Britt and myself were on the original BRAA about 11 years ago. Robert Carrol is a veteran rider in the group. Paul Young was starting his first fully loaded tour ride. We also had our special guest from Illinois, Rob Grider, who is also a veteran of many BRAA events. Great group.
This area was a tourist draw from back in the late 1800s due to some mineral springs. Jim and I walked to the springs only to find them mostly dry due to a falling ground water level. Still interesting and a good walk.
Everyone prepared their meals in camp, including the hamburger patties I bought. This actually worked out well.
We had a chilly night with the temps dropping barely below freezing. All the reports were that a good sleeping night was had by all.
Personally, I did not stir until about 7:00 AM Monday morning. I boiled some water for a hot cup of coffee. Breaking camp was not high on my list of desirable chores when the hot coffee tasted so good on this cool morning. However, it had to happen. It seems that making and breaking camp gets easier as a week progresses, but this was the first morning. I finally got it done and we rolled out at 8:30 for Magnolia and breakfast.
Although we try to find local cafes, this morning brought us to the ultimate national establishment, McDonalds. It actually worked out well but it does not have the local flavor we like.
We took US 82 East upon leaving Magnolia. We did find road construction underway, along with lane closures. It is a bit odd being on bikes, or a trike in my case, in a line of vehicles waiting to pass through the construction area. Once we got to move we allowed all vehicles to go first and then "scurried" through the area. Unfortunately for me, our "scurry" was mostly up a slight incline. I was simply winded by the time it was done, but recovered quickly.
Then I received the phone call from a very good customer that I was needed at the damaged marina. The indication was "next week" was not an option. I had to go to keep this good customer. At the next crossroad I had to depart. So sad. One of the other guys will need to continue with this story about the 2018 BRAA.
The BRAA is about to start (in the morning). Personally, it has been a hectic week to finish all the work needed so I could be gone for a week, but it is here whether I am ready or not.
We are starting at Wal-Mart in Camden, with permission to leave our vehicles in their parking lot. We travel South on US 79 to Logoly State Park. I already have a possible alternate route, but it will wait until we get there.
The rest of the ride is subject to change, but will include Magnolia, El Dorado, Crossett (maybe), Moro Bay and Smackover. Changes are very possible.
If anyone has questions, contact me or be ready to ride at 11:00 from Wal-Mart in Camden, AR.
John LInck 501-231-9350
The 2018 Bike Ride Around Arkansas is just a few days from now, so Jim Britt and I plan to drive the route this Sunday. Hopefully we will find the roads and camping sites in good shape.
Our plan is to start in Camden, AR on Sunday, April 15. I am not naming most of the camp sites on this blog because there is always a chance of a change after we drive the route. The first area we plan to visit is Magnolia. I am not real happy with the camp site there, but at least there is one.
Our second night will be in El Dorado. The anticipated camp site there is a mile or two from town. Not too bad to go to eat is anyone wants.
The third night will be in Crossett. Not much choice there on camping. We will have a few miles to town, but easy riding if we do not want to cook in camp.
The fourth night will be in Moro Bay Park. This is somewhat remove, very pretty, if not flooded, and a good place for everyone to prepare dinner in camp.
The fifth night is not set. I am working on a possible site, but may change.
As most participants of previous BRAA rides, plans are mostly made to be changed. We will just see what happens. If anyone has any ideas for this area of the state, let me know.
John Linck 501-231-9350
The 2018 Lake Ouachita Ride is in the books. Everyone that started the ride completed the ride. That is always a good thing.
Each year this event presents its own unique challenges, with this year not being an exception. This group met the challenge of muddy roads and cold night temperatures and kept on going.
We had good meals at cafes along the way, including the ending at the Pancake House in Hot Springs. We did find a couple closed cafes, but worked around the situation.
Now, for the part I did not like and will not do again. The section of the trip along US Hwy 270 was not fun, enjoyable, tolerable or anything else. That is my opinion, which is partly based on the fact I am now riding a recumbent trike. That section was very heavily traveled AND had the rumble strips which beat me up time after time. In addition, it seemed most sections of the trip were more heavily traveled that when we started on this route 11 or 12 years ago.
So, what am I going to do about it? Much of that is up to the participants and how they feel about continuing this ride. It has been a classic winter event up to this point. I would not be surprised if many riders would want it to continue. However, I will not ride it again, as I have stated.
A new route? Yes, I am working on developing a new winter event with its own challenges and rewards. At this time I am concentrating on the roads and campgrounds around Lake Greason. I hope to either have a proposed route within a couple months, or move on to another area, but it does look promising.
I would like to hear from riders that have participated in the Lake Ouachita Ride to determine if anyone has an interest in the new route I am developing or any other route suggestion. Or, forget it, we are sticking to Lake Ouachita. I am looking forward to comments and suggestions from everyone.
This does not happen often, but the weather has forced the Arkansas Bicycle Club to make a one day delay for the start of the Lake Ouachita Tour ride. The event will now start at 9:30 AM on Sunday February 25, 2018, which is that one day delay. Hopefully, the forecast will stay the same as it is now so that we have 3 nice days (for February in Arkansas) for the event. The continuing forecast of 100% chance of rain Saturday and Saturday night forced our change.
We will have a total of 7 miles of dirt roads for the 3 days. These roads may be a little muddy, but we will make it with the use of some patience.
At this time the forecast is calling for lows of 38 and 40 degrees for the two camping nights. This is much warmer than we often find on this trip, so that is a good thing. The highs will be around 60 degrees and partly cloudy. Of course, all this is subject to change.
Once again, I will be riding my trike and pulling a trailer for his trip. This will be my first attempt with this rig, so anyone worrying about the speed of the riders please do not. I will be plugging along way back there and enjoying the scenery.
I would like for everyone to bring a card, or two, with your name, phone number and contact person, with their phone number, in case of an emergency.
For any questions please call me at 501-231-9350.
February is here, which means the 2018 Lake Ouachita Tour is very close. This year the event starts on Saturday, February 24, 2018. This is a 3 day event that would need to be rated fairly difficult, but not really. I will give a brief description of each day along with a general description.
This event starts in the parking lot at the Hot Springs Convention Center on Saturday morning. Just one look at the date will tell you that weather could be a factor in this event. We have been fortunate in that we have not had to cancel this ride due to weather. Also, do not worry about the forecasts until a couple days before the start.
Day 1: (42 miles) We ride up the Cedar Glade street and over to Mountain Pine and then over to Hwy 7 near Hot Springs Village where we have lunch at Home Plate, a neat local cafe. After lunch we ride a couple miles on Hwy 7 then make a left on Hwy 298 which takes us to a dirt road (2 miles of dirt) to Irons Fork campsite on Lake Ouachita. This campsite has tables and a vault toilet. There is no drinking water, so each rider may want to carry a little extra. Do not depend on phone service. Prepare your own meal. We will have a campfire.
Day 2: (42 miles) Yes, the distance is the same the first two days. This is an accident, not planned. It is 2 miles back to the highway where we take a left, up a nice hill and 10 miles to Story where we will take a break at a little store, cafe. Then take Hwy 27 to Mount Ida where we will have lunch, probably at a Dairy Queen, or where you want. Not a lot of choices. Then on to Crystal Springs park where we will have bathrooms with hot water and showers. This is always welcomed by the riders. The evening meal is up to you. Some ride back out to Burl's, which has sandwiches and Bar-B-Que. Some cook their own. Sometimes we have a campfire.
Day 3: (25 miles) A few miles after leaving the campsite our route takes us down a dirt road. Normally this is a good ride for 3 miles. When we are back on pavement we go through a pretty valley that takes us to the dam that forms Lake Ouachita. Normally we take a break there before riding the final 15 miles back to Hot Springs. On that 15 miles we go up a hill that we descended. It rides a little more difficult while climbing. If we find a good place, we will have lunch in Hot Springs to end the ride.
We normally start the ride in a group, but the riders spread out quickly. It is up to each rider if they want to ride together or solo. The hills help in breaking up the group. This year I will be on a trike due to a neck injury and I will be pulling a trailer (thanks, John Red). Hills will be very slow for me, but I will get there, hopefully before dark.
If you have any questions give me a call: John Linck 501-231-9350
My brother and his wife have decided to ride the "Freeze Your Fanny" event in Longview, TX on February 3, 2018. I did try this event a few years ago and found it hilly and cold. What's new, there are hills and the date is February 3rd. So, I guess I am in with the trike. Probably not a good idea, but good ideas do not come my way very often.
They are offering a number of distances. I am considering the 50 mile course which does feature a little over 3000' of climbing. That is major climbing for this time of year. The only way I know to prepare for this much climbing is to go ride hills. If anyone knows a better way, please let me know. I have gone up River Mountain and Fort Roots in the past week. About a month ago I rode up the East Side of Petit Jean. That was a climb.
As anyone that has spun the pedals on a recumbent trike knows, the weak point of a trike is climbing. However, there are actually some good points about a trike on a hill, such as the fact you can stop, rest and start again without unclipping or falling over. As long as speed is not an issue the trike is just fine on a hill.
Considering all this, am I ready for 50 hilly miles in the cold on a trike? If everything works out to attend this event, I will know in a few weeks.
The year is ending with some bitter cold which is not great for riding a bike, but due to Jim Britt consistently leading good ride events, I have been able to work on my recumbent riding. Most of the rides have been in the 30 mile range with varying terrain.
Today, December 30, 2017, we rode a loop from Mayflower which included climbing Round Mountain. Scott Stafford and Janice Peters joined Jim and I on this cold grey day. We had a nice stop at the new Conway airport about half way through the ride. Personally, I was happy with my ascent of Round Mountain. The descent is getting better as I am learning to handle my Catrike 700 trike. This Catrike is my road trike. The Scorpion FX-20 is my touring and all purpose trike. Both have their good points.
I have been told it takes 6 weeks to get "trike legs". This is not true. It will take me more like 6 months, or longer to get "trike legs." Even little things, like avoiding pot holes is taking a while to learn. With three wheels it is more difficult to steer away from road or trail hazards.
Even with set-backs and difficulties, I am really enjoying riding and learning this new way of pedaling for me. It is different in many ways, including the sights. With the position on the trike there is a much better view of your surroundings than on a bike and more of a chance to take them in. Also, the sounds of the road are much different which is a little odd to me. Only a few feet lower to the ground and many events sound differently. I am sure there are even more changes coming.
Address: P.O. Box 250817, Little Rock, AR 72225-0817
Phone: (501 912-1449