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SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE NO. 15 BIKEARKANSASMEDIA.COM

ROCK THE

S D N O M A DI RIDE BY ART CYCLE THE HIGH COUNTRY TRACK THE MOTO MOVEMENT


making memories since 1958.

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DISCOVER THE TRAILS of

THE DIAMOND LAKES REGION The Diamond Lakes Region has 240 miles of trails plus three IMBA EPIC trails.*

NORTHWOODS TRAILS HOT SPRINGS Beginner to Advanced 27 miles Trailheads: Waterworks: 300 Pineland Drive, Downtown Hot Springs: 800 Pullman Avenue, Cedar Glades: 461 Wildcat Road, Bull Bayou: 1124 Cedar Glades Park Near: Downtown Hot Springs

IRON MOUNTAIN TRAIL Beginner to Intermediate 32 Miles Near: DeGray Lake

LAKE OUACHITA VISTA TRAIL (LOViT)* Intermediate 38 Miles Trailheads: Avery Park, Brady Mtn. Rd., Crystal Springs, Joplin, and Denby Point Near: Mount Ida • Crystal Springs

OUACHITA NATIONAL RECREATION TRAIL* Intermediate to Advanced 108 Miles Added Bonus: Camping Shelters every 10 miles Trailheads: Hwy 7 past Jessieville, Story Near: Hot Springs Village • Story HITA OUAC RIVER

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Intermediate 35 Miles Trailheads: Fishing Village in Story, Hwy 298, and Northfork Lake Near: Mount Ida • Story

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BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 3


IN THIS ISSUE

PAGE 26

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BRAKING NEWS

Little Rock’s Big Dam Bridge 100 will roll on a bit differently, with individual rides recorded with the RaceJoy app; Brannon Pack fills mountain bikers in on progress on trails at Fayetteville’s Centennial Park at Millsap Mountain.

10

MY KIT

Marvin Gilmore leads Mello Velo rides on his Specialized Di2.

12

BMX JUMPS IN POPULARITY

BMX is booming at tracks in North Little Rock, Cabot and Lowell. By Stephen Koch 4 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020

16

ROCK THE DIAMONDS

Advanced-level mountain bikers are finding out that Arkansas is the Black Diamond State. By Bob Robinson

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EVERY ISSUE

43 EVENTS 46 BIKE SHOPS

RIDING HIGH

Finally, cyclists can take the high road, with the Arkansaw High Country Race in October. By Molly Mitchell

34

MURAL TOURS

Cruise by great art from the seat of the bike by taking new mural cycling tours in Fort Smith, Fayetteville and Little Rock/ North Little Rock. By Dwain Hebda

ON THE COVER

Diamonds, like the Lake Leatherwood Gravity Trail, are a North Arkansas mountain biker’s best (and hardest) friend. Photo by Bob Robinson.


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BIKEARKANSASMEDIA.COM FOLLOW US FOR MORE BIKE

BROOKE WALLACE Publisher

brookewallace@arktimes.com LINDSEY MILLAR Editor

lindseymillar@arktimes.com MANDY KEENER Creative Director

mandy@arktimes.com MIKE SPAIN Art Director LESA THOMAS Senior Account Executive LEE MAJOR Account Executive WELDON WILSON Production Manager/Controller ROLAND R. GLADDEN Advertising Traffic Manager KATIE HASSELL Graphic Design/Social Media ROBERT CURFMAN IT Director CHARLOTTE KEY Billing/Collections JACKSON GLADDEN Circulation Director

ALAN LEVERITT President alan@arktimes.com Arkansas Times Limited Partnership 201 E. MARKHAM ST., SUITE 200 LITTLE ROCK, AR 72201 501-375-2985 All Contents © 2020 Bike Arkansas Magazine

6 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020


Contributors

MOLLY MITCHELL is a native Arkansan who has been writing about interesting people in Arkansas and around the world for more than 5 years.

BOB ROBINSON enjoys all things

outdoors and is the author of three bicycle guidebooks, all of which can be purchased at spiritscreek.com

From paved paths through city parks to rugged mountain bike trails to sharrows on most main roads, Conway is working to be one of the most bike-friendly cities in the state. If you don’t own a bike, you can rent a cruiser for up to a full day from one of five bike-share stations throughout town. And when you finish your ride, stop in to one of our local restaurants to refuel. For more information about Conway bike trails visit CycleConway.com.

STEPHEN KOCH is an award-winning

journalist in both broadcasting and print. Author of the book “Louis Jordan: Son of Arkansas, Father of R&B,” he’s also writer/host of “Arkansongs,” heard on public radio stations all across Arkansas, in east Texas and Louisiana.

CVB@ConwayArkansas.org ConwayArk.com 866.7CONWAY

BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 7


BRAKING NEWS

BDB 100 RESTYLED FOR SAFETY The Big Dam Bridge 100, the largest cycling event (with the largest medals) in Arkansas, has fallen victim to the novel coronavirus, at least in its regular form. But, cyclists, things will be A-OK: The BDB will go on, in the form of solo challenges and the “Driveway Challenge,” which can take place anywhere, anytime. In-Person Solo Challenge riders can compete on any date between Sept. 25 and Dec. 31. The interactive app RaceJoy will allow riders to download BDB routes and turn-by-turn directions and the ability to post the results of the ride. There will be no support, but there will be swag: towel, neck gaiter, gear bag, Koozie, finisher medal, event T-shirt and other items. Pick up race packets and ordered clothing at the Wyndham Riverfront

Hotelbetween 2-7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, and 6-10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26. The Driveway Challenge is for folks who cannot ride the actual route in Little Rock and North Little Rock. The goal-oriented ride can be completed anywhere (including starting from your driveway) and is not a competition. Challenges will be tracked through the RaceJoy app. Driveway Challenge riders will also receive BDB swag. To register, go to bikereg.com and include your address to receive swag, finisher medal and T-shirt. If you are already registered, you will receive an email where you can indicate how you wish to participate, including to defer to 2021 at no charge. For more information, go to thebigdambridge100. com/contact.

MILLSAP MOUNTAIN MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS ARE TIRE-READY Though the coronavirus pandemic canceled the FayetteCross 2020 event scheduled for Nov. 7-8 at Centennial Park at Millsap Mountain, where the Pan-America Cyclocross Championships were to take place, the cycling public can enjoy its mountain bike-optimized trails now. The park, the future home of the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships, will when complete feature world-class racecourses and several miles of mountain bike trails woven through the tree canopy around Millsap Mountain. While final plans call for close to 17 miles of soft-surface trails, over half of the trails at Centennial Park are tireready and offer purpose-built mountain bike experiences for cyclists of any skill, from beginners to downhill diehards of the sport. Accessible from the trailhead, the appropriately named Learner’s Permit is ideal for beginners and families looking for an entry-level trail experience. Designed as a loop, riders can expect flowing singletrack with minimal technical difficulty. Learner’s Permit is fun for the whole family and an easy ride through the woods with only minimal huffing and puffing. Riders looking for a more technical, up-and-down mountain bike experience will find that at Centennial Park, too. Several miles of intermediate level trails on the mountain’s southern slope create a challenging loop. From the top 8 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020

of Learner’s Permit, riders can head south across the mountain along the Junk Drawer trail to access these tougher, technical trails with unique features, including an abandoned truck, gap jumps and rock gardens. For fans of downhill mountain biking and a faster ride through the woods, Centennial Park features plenty of adrenaline-injecting directional trails, including both intermediate and black diamond (advanced) experiences. With names like Captain Fantastic and Hail

Mary, these gravity-fed trails are accessible from a series of hubs along Junk Drawer and incorporate everything from air-catching jumps to extremely technical rock features. Originally purchased in 2018 for public recreation and trail development by the city, the construction of Centennial Park at Millsap Mountain conserved 228 acres of wooded mountaintop just west of Interstate 49 and within Fayetteville’s city limits. The park will also include an array of amenities, including places to picnic, camp and play. With ongoing development and construction at Centennial Park, the City of Fayetteville has established an initial trailhead near the north end of the park. The trailhead and parking are easily accessible from the frontage road along I-49 at the intersection of Mountain Ranch Boulevard and Technology Way. From I-49, exit at West Wedington Drive and head south on North Shiloh Drive to Technology Way. In 2019, the then-future park was identified as the home for the 2022 UCI Cyclocross World Championships, making it only the second time the event has been held in the United States. Scheduled for Jan. 29-30, 2022, Fayetteville will welcome the world when professional male and female cyclocross racers from around the globe come to compete in the world championship and for the coveted rainbow jersey awarded to the winners. — Brannon Pack


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MY KIT

10 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020


NAME: Marvin Gilmore FROM: Little Rock AGE: 56 JOB: “High paid computer geek” for Social Security Disability

I’VE BEEN RIDING: Going on three years.

When I got out of the military, my knees were not what they used to be, and the doctor said cycling would be a good way to exercise. He also told me it could be addictive. I believe him now. I try to get in 100 miles a week. I’m a ride leader; I lead C group and D group for the Mello Velo Cycling Club.

BIKE: I ride a Specialized Di2, an

electronic shifter bike. I bought it about a month and a half ago from Arkansas Cycling and Fitness. The main thing is it’s light, easier on my back. It has a very good saddle, a Body Geometry Power Sport. The bike also has shock absorbers on the front, too. I started out with a mountain bike. Then I got my first road bike: I saw a color I liked and I had to have it. I kept that for a little while, until I saw this one with this color and with the electronic shifting.

HELMET, GLOVES, SHOES: Everything I buy is Specialized.

GROUP RIDES: The Mello Velo club

Facebook page announces rides to members on its Facebook page; C group usually rides Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

photography By BRIAN CHILSON BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 11


s p m u XJ m BM X in y t i r a l Popu At tracks in North Little Rock, Cabot and Lowell. By Stephen Koch Photos courtesy Bonzai BMX

C

ycling has its niches, from the twin poles of mountain and road biking on down. But even seasoned mountain and road cyclists may not know much about bicycle motocross, better known as BMX. And while Arkansas trumpets its urban and rural bike trails, the state’s BMX scene grinds on a bit more under the radar. But some say that’s changing. BMX became an official Olympic sport in 2008, and according to Gary Rogers of Bonzai BMX in North Little Rock, “It really does seem it is getting bigger and bigger every year.” Located within Burns Park, Bonzai has been operated by Rogers and his wife for 16 years, and the track, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has been around since 1982. “We’ve been running the same race schedule [implemented in] 1982, too,” he said. “And I’ve got new riders coming out 12 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020

every week. Even down to 2- and 3-year-old kids. They’re going around the jumps. Some of them need a little help going up the jumps, but they go down fine. We have riders coming in from Benton, Bryant, McCrory.” Some may be more familiar with motorcycle-based motocross racing, but beyond the means of conveyance, there are few differences between that and bicycle motocross. With its courses and obstacles, BMX isn’t so different from a tough trail for mountain bikers — or, for urban road riders dodging cars, debris and potholes. Jumps and hairpin turns dot BMX racecourses with challenges; whoever navigates them all fastest to cross the finish line first wins. A “moto” is merely BMX-speak for a race, sometimes held in threes. Riders can win individual motos, with overall winners holding

the best average of the races. “When all this [COVID-19] stuff first kicked off, we were shut down,” Rogers said. “Then, with Phase 1, we didn’t do any racing. It jacked the motos up, and there were no crowds for about a month. Phase 2 turned us loose. We have eight [riders] to a gate, and we’re doing some of the social distancing. Before the races, I announce over the PA to stay distant and no knuckle bumping. We want to do this as long as we can.” Bonzai hosted state qualifier races the week-


HELLO MOTO: Bonzai BMX in North Little Rock will host state championships Sept. 25.

BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 13


end of Aug. 21; state championship weekend begins Sept. 25. Cabot BMX got its start 11 years ago. Compared to the other state tracks, “our track’s a little bigger,” track operator Joe Douglas said. “We have more room and are spread out a little bit.” Douglas also sees an upswing in interest in BMX racing, especially since the coronavirus pandemic. With schools closed and team sports halted, athletes are looking for alternatives. “This year, it’s helped us that there’s no baseball, softball or soccer. BMX is not really a team thing, but an individual thing.” And BMX is open to a wide range of ages, he noted: “If they can walk, they can bike.” The virus “has affected us quite a bit,” Douglas said. “We try to keep the kids and parents separated,” he said, noting that bleacher separation rules remain in effect. Riders wear full face helmets and are still 2 feet apart in the gate, he said. As for safety beyond the virus, Douglas said, “It’s not if you wreck, but when you wreck,” Douglas said. “We require long sleeves and pants — so, elbows and knees covered — and we suggest gloves. We don’t require a full face helmet, but we suggest using one.”

X “If they can walk, they can bike.”

m The third BMX track in the state is Mudtown BMX in Lowell. Track operator Michael Gonzales also said COVID-19 has taken a bite out of the track’s schedule: “Normally we start racing in March, but we didn’t have our first race until July. We’ve held two races so far.” Now, social distancing is practiced at the track. Gonzales also now issues electronic moto sheets and posts them on Facebook; previously, everyone would gather around the bulletin board to see them. “I haven’t heard anything negative from riders or parents,” he added. “Everything is volunteer work: riders, parents and families.” Gonzales said, “I haven’t seen big spikes in [BMX] popularity, just gradual, steady growth.” The biggest change he sees coming up for BMX in the state is the forthcoming move of BMX national headquarters from Arizona to Tulsa. “I think it’s going to be a positive for us,” he said. “Another year and a half, [BMX in Arkansas] is going to be something different.” All three track operators in the state “try to work together to grow the sport,” Douglas, a certified BMX coach, said. “A lot of these kids race on a national level — adults and kids — going around the country competing. I could say Arkansas is well-represented.” 14 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020


BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 15


16 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020


The Black Diamond State A survey of the top advanced MTB trails in Arkansas. story and photography By Bob Robinson

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t is a great time to be an advanced-level mountain biker in Arkansas. The state has come a long way from the early days of mountain biking when riders only had the downhill run at Slaughter Pen and a few volunteer-built lines on the mountainsides in the Buffalo River drainage. Although these trails would not have been considered black diamond, they did include enough speed and jumps for riders to develop their skills. Over the past decade there has been an explosion of world-class bike trails developed across the state, and thanks to organizations like the Walton Family Foundation, the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation and Arkansas State Parks, more are on the way. Most of these new trail systems have been designed to cater to all skill levels, producing many exciting rides that even advanced riders enjoy. But for the hardcore mountain biker, there is nothing equal

LAKE LEATHERWOOD GRAVITY TRAIL PROJECT: Seven different downhill runs with a shuttle back up the mountain set this Eureka Springs system apart from the pack. BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 17


BUFFALO RIVER OUTDOOR CENTER: The trails at Ponca are so gnarly there are no beginners runs.

to the thrill of a challenging black diamond their responses. trail, be it rocky technical flavor or big gap Coler Preserve (Bentonville): Not at the top jumps. Like a surfer searching for the next big of the list for many young-gun black diamond wave, this breed of cyclist seeks features that connoisseurs, but for those who mountain challenge. biked when this Bentonville To help advanced riders trail was home to the first find their next challenge, I big drop in the state, it is For gut-wrenching asked friends, trail crews still No. 1. rock filled boulder and others who prefer adThe Preserve is loaded vanced feature experiences with challenging trails, but farms, Rock Solid is to share their favorite black the consensus is for big air sure to please. diamonds in the state. it’s Cease and Desist, and for Below is the consensus of gut-wrenching rock filled 18 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020

boulder farms, Rock Solid is sure to please. What continues to keep Cease and Desist at the top of many riders’ favorites is the double-black diamond 12-foot drop called Drop the Hammer. Hammer sends riders into a deep hollow, to then pop them up the opposite hillside into a sharp bend that immediately sends them down another steep bank with enough speed to carry them over a 10-foot step-up jump and other jumps that follow. For those advanced riders more into technical black diamonds, Rock Solid Trail is a rockfest extravaganza, with extended lines down steep


GREAT PASSION PLAY TRAILS: Named for the Eureka Springs spectacle, this trail system includes the Atonement run, which attracted the most spectators at the 2019 Enduro Series.

hillsides and over rock ledge slabs guaranteed to capture a rider’s full attention. Slaughter Pen (Bentonville): While you’re in the area, be sure to stop by Slaughter Pen’s newest segment, located on the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art end of the trail. It is so new that at the time of this writing it didn’t even have a name. Jeremy Witek created this exciting 300-yard stretch of trail, which incorporates an industrial-size chain as a guard rail, a large sprocket as a bridge and some of the largest boulders in the Oz Trails network. Gary Vernon, program officer at the Walton

Family Foundation, describes the segment as it all: speed, technical rock lines, gap jumps. a true work of art. Everyone’s favorite feature is a step-up jump Lake Leatherwood Gravity Trail Project with a tricky landing atop a house-size boulder. (Eureka Springs): This is an advanced biker’s What’s not to like about this? dream team of bike trails The Great Passion — seven different mile-long Play Trails (near Eureka downhill runs, complete Springs): Located just 5 Buffalo Outdoor Center with a shuttle service back miles up the highway Trails: If you consider to the top. Each run is super from Eureka Springs, fun, but the one at the top of this trail, along with the yourself a true downhill everyone’s list was DH-1. The Leatherwood system, bikeaholic, then this Rock Solid Trail Contracting was one of only three trail system is for you. crew made sure this trail has locations to host a 2019 BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 19


NORTHWOODS: The big jumps at Lucky 13 at this Hot Springs trail system will make your cycling day.

North American Enduro Series. Several of the challenging black diamond trails in this network will bring a smile to even the most skilled riders, but the trail that attracted the most spectators during the NAES was Atonement. With speed, techie rock ledge drops and super fun jumps, there was no letup. As riders bombed down the mountainside, they put on a show that had spectators cheering and waving banners for encouragement. Another must-do trail here is Deliverance, a super fast downhill run, with the highlight 20 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020

being a rock tunnel named Heaven’s Gate that Progressive Trail Design, said this mountain Andrew Marcum says riders swirl through was so steep and gnarly there was no terrain “toilet bowl style.” suitable for beginner trails. Buffalo Outdoor Center Trails (Ponca): If When the PTD crew began scouting out you consider yourself a true the mountain, Crone exdownhill bikeaholic, then plained, “We strove to create this trail system is for you. trails that rose naturally and Northwoods: This Whereas most of the trail spontaneously with the lay of networks created across the the land to create a unique entire network of state include something for technical experience Arkansas trails has attracted all skill levels, Chris Crone, was lacking.” a lot of attention. director of operations for The crew felt with the area’s


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steep grade and giant geological features they could recreate the natural, rugged, skill-demanding downhill experience they had enjoyed on popular Western trails like Vancouver’s famous North Shore. But you’d better bring your big-boybaggy britches for these trails, because all trails at BOC are rated either Difficult, Very Difficult or Extremely Difficult. The headliners at BOC are White Lightning and Skull Cracker. White Lightning is tailor-made for those with skill sets to handle big gaps and fast descents down monster boulders that launch riders at warp speed into tight rock-ladened berms. With the combination of supersized natural features and a challenging trail design, there is no trail like this in the state.

But you’d better bring your big-boy-baggy britches for these trails, because all trails at BOC are rated either Difficult, Very Difficult or Extremely Difficult.

COLER PRESERVE: The Bentonville preserve broke mountain-biking ground in Arkansas with the 12-foot drop called Drop the Hammer. 22 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020

Skull Cracker ends with one of the baddest and most impressive features on the mountain, a 12-foot drop that sails over a bypass route that circles below and then dives into the middle of a tall dirt berm. Located at the bottom of the run, it makes for a perfect end to a perfect ride. A plus with BOC is that you can bring your heavy speciality downhill bike, because there is a shuttle back to the top. Northwoods (Hot Springs): This entire network of trails has attracted a lot of attention. However, the draw for the advanced riders is Lucky 13. Your fun meter is pegged immediately into this run. With big berms, big gap jumps, big step-ups and offsetting drops, your entire run becomes a feature-filled thrill ride. On Northwoods’ opening day, the crew from IMBA Trail Solutions, who built the trail network, had already worn a path where they had walked their bikes back up to the start of the jumps for do-overs. It would require this entire issue to include all the fun black diamond rides in The Natural State. I hope this will at least provide a starting point for your cycling adventure.


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BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 23


ARKANSAS’ PREMIER CYCLING EVENT

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Riding

26 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020


ng High On the Arkansas High Country Route. By Molly Mitchell

T

he second annual Arkansaw High Country Race, a 1,028-mile self-sustained tour inspired by the highly challenging and rewarding Arkansas High Country Route, is scheduled to start Oct. 31 in Fayetteville. The race, which started and ended in June in Little Rock last year, was delayed until autumn this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. The move to begin and end the race in Fayetteville is part of a plan to shift the home base to different towns every couple of years to showcase different communities and shake up the experience of the race. Fingers are crossed that pandemic conditions will improve by October, and event planners are cautiously optimistic that the race will go on. After all, given the solitary, outdoor

OARK GENERAL STORE

HIGH TRAIL ATTACKERS: Even the most seasoned cyclists will find the Arkansaw High Country Race a challenge. Seen here (left, from left) are Dirk Merle, Brannon Pack, course designer Chuck Campbell, Noel Howard, Patrick Farnsworth, Johnny Brazil and Andy McNeil.

BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 27


28 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020


nature of the activity, bike-packing could be considered the ultimate socially distant sport. The three stacked loops that compose the route connect some of the most beautiful and iconic natural areas in the state. The mixed road and gravel trails wend their way through highlights in the Ozark mountains in the Northwest Loop and Jasper and the Buffalo River in the Central Loop before dropping down into the Arkansas River Valley to reach out and grab Little Rock. The route then heads southwest into the South Loop to explore Hot Springs, the Ouachita Mountains and up and over Petit Jean Mountain and Mount Magazine. The route was born of a collaboration between the Arkansas Parks and Recreation Foundation, the Adventure Cycling Association and Russellville native Chuck Campbell, who designed the route. Campbell has been receiving spirited feedback from cyclists over the past year as they break in the route. “I’ve been cussed at a lot,” Campbell said good naturedly. “[Prominent ultra endurance cyclist] Jay Petervary called me names that we can’t print! Sadistic was one of the words and then it went downhill from there,” he laughed.

Arkansas is growing its reputation for hospitality to cyclists. Fayetteville is ready to impress with its bike-friendly accommodations and culture. The route is a challenge for the most seasoned athletes by design. “I knew that we had places here in Arkansas that were just as challenging as anything out West, and so I wanted to make sure and include some of that in the route. It sounds like I was successful. It is a challenging course,” Campbell said. Sadism notwithstanding, the state’s natural beauty and unique communities were top onmind for Campbell as he designed the route. “I tried to put something together where folks could really experience what’s cool about Arkansas,” he said. That’s ultimately what Jay Petervary found when he gave the route a spin in early July, crushing the time record while he was at it: It only took him 5 days, 12 hours and 6 minutes to cover more than 1,000 miles. Still, he found moments to appreciate the character and characters of the state along the way. “When I got there, I think the route exceeded everything that I thought,” Petervary said. It’s really beautiful, it’s super lush, there’s more waterways BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 29


than I thought — rivers, streams, swimming holes — and the roads are actually in really good shape,” he said. “I really like to do these types of routes because it gets you into what I call the slice of America, like real backcountry Americana, if you will. These small, one-store towns are places I really like to visit. I mean, Witts Springs is pretty funny, but oh, my gosh, how welcoming.” Arkansas is growing its reputation for hospitality to cyclists. Fayetteville is ready to impress with its bike-friendly accommodations and culture. Newly recognized as ranking sixth in the country for having bike-friendly businesses, the city is well positioned to host the Arkansaw High Country Race. According to Brannon Pack of Experience Fayetteville, “Our hotels really helped us take that leap forward. All our hotels are super accommodating to cyclists,” providing easy access to many trails with diverse experiences and allowing bikes to 30 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020

ENJOYING THE TRAIL: Patrick Farnsworth (above) with the BikesOrDeath podcast takes a rest on the High Country Trail; others pause, perhaps for a burger, at the Oark General Store.


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be kept safe in the rooms. While the race offers an opportunity for Arkansas to show off, organizers are approaching it cautiously in the face of COVID-19. Campbell said, “If the masks work ... and the numbers come down, we might have a big start. But, you know, the numbers are going to have to come way down. Not only is the state government going to have to give us the clear, but I really want to make sure that the health experts agree that it would be a good thing to do.” If the pandemic is still a concern, organizers have a contingency plan for a more socially distant version of the race. “If we’re not going to be able to have our big event and everybody start on the same day on Halloween, then we will set it up for individual time trials and set up a window [for the race],” Campbell said. “Everybody should be finished by the opening of modern gun [deer] season, and we even insist that they get off the course by that day.” Up to 50 people may participate; go to rivervalley.ozarkoffroadcyclists.org to register.

While 1,000 miles of self-supported bike packing is probably a little much for most cyclists, any of the

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32 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020

three loops offer the bike-packing-curious plenty to work with. Even if you’re not in the race, the route will be there for anyone looking for adventure and discovery. “It encompasses so much of the state,” Pack said. “We’re talking public lands, wildlife management areas, that backcountry — The Natural State. What Arkansas is known for, you get to experience on this route.” While 1,000 miles of self-supported bike packing is probably a little much for most cyclists, any of the three loops offer the bike-packing-curious plenty to work with. For beginners, Pack advises starting at your front door. “You just need a bike with some beefy tires, and maybe just picking a public campground that’s close to your house and just riding from your own home to that public campground and staying that night, camping off your bicycle, and then riding back home the next day. That’s a great place [to start],” he said. For anyone who works up to taking on the high country, it is a world-class adventure. “It’s not to be taken lightly by any means, but it’s definitely worthwhile for anybody to travel to, to go and do the route,” Petervary said. “I don’t think anybody’s going to be disappointed, no matter how far they come from.”


EXPERIENCE FAYETTEVILLE

Jay Petervary of Idaho set a new FKT (fastest known time) of the Arkansaw High Country Race route over the 4th of July holiday weekend. Jay completed the route in 5 days, 12 hours, 6 minutes.

BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 33


34 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020


Mural tours Public artwork enhances neighborhood rides. By Dwain Hebda

O

BOB ROBINSON

ON THE FORT SMITH TOUR: A biker rides past a mural of Brazilian cowboys dancing the Catira.

f all the benefits cycling provides, connecting to one’s surroundings is one of the most satisfying. There’s nothing like riding through a familiar neighborhood and seeing it with fresh eyes from the seat of a bike. One trend accentuating neighborhood rides in many Arkansas communities is the creation of murals and other public artwork in communities large and small across the state, giving rise to the “art ride.” Here are some of our favorites:

FORT SMITH

Fort Smith is one of the pioneers in the public-artas-tourism movement, particularly as it pertains to murals. Through the work of The Unexpected, begun in 2015, buildings throughout this historic frontier town have been transformed with colorful scenes created by an international cadre of artists. “We really pull from a cross-section of people on bikes, on skateboards and walking,” said Claire Kolberg, executive director of The Unexpected. “We want [outdoor art] to increase mobility within the community and that desire to get out and explore.” Fort Smith’s outdoor art is in its densely popuBIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 35


FUNNY AND FIERCE: Fayetteville murals “Gnomes” (above) and “Athena.”

36 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020


NOVO STUDIO

NOVO STUDIO

lated downtown; most murals are in the heart of the historic district within a couple of blocks of Garrison Avenue. South and west of there, at 400 Wheeler Ave., is the stunning artwork “American Heroes,” Guido Van Helton’s transformation of multiple grain elevators into a photo-realistic work of art that has to be seen to be believed. From Wheeler, travel south to D Street, east to Towson Avenue and turn north. As you cycle north, you’ll see multiple murals (watch for “Rabbits”, “Untitled Buffalo” and “Native”) before you intersect with Garrison Avenue/U.S. Highway 64. Turn left on Garrison Avenue and enjoy 10 blocks of artwork all the way to the river, spliced in among restaurants and quaint shops. Iconic images include “Cherokee Man” (913 Garrison), “Untitled Ana Maria” (800 Garrison), “Cherokee Women” (424 Garrison), “Badlands” (317 Garrison), “War Paint” (115 Garrison) and, with a slight detour between Ninth and 10th streets, don’t miss “Rapto Divina” and “War Birds.”

NEW DATE. SAME CLASSIC RIDE.

FAYETTEVILLE

Northwest Arkansas has long been a hub of cycling activity. So when public art began to gain steam in Fayetteville, advocates and city leaders gave careful thought to the placement of the murals for access by various audiences. “What sets us apart is proximity and accessibility,” said Molly Rawn, CEO of the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission. “There was certainly strategic placement within the downtown core, adjacent to the trails, to encourage a walking or biking tour. As other privately funded murals have popped up, many are similarly placed.” Brannon Pack, cycling coordinator for the commission, has mapped two art routes — one under 2 miles, the other under 5 miles — for taking in the city’s murals on bicycle-friendly streets and trails. Both tours start at the city’s visitor’s center at 21 S. Block Ave. with an initial six-block area bordered by West Rock Street, South East Avenue, West Meadow Street and South Church Avenue. Within those boundaries you’ll find eight works, including popular photo spots “Bearly Illegal,” “Enjoy Local,” “Gnomes” and “26 West Center Street.” A particular treasure is Fenix Fayetteville’s “Athena” mural, tucked into an alley right across East Center Street from the Fayetteville Town Square. Both routes then take the visitor to Dickson Street, where murals grace local businesses Gearhead Outfitters, Grub’s Bar and Grill and Dickson Street Bookshop. The neighborhood is also a great place to fuel up or wind down with a beverage. For full turn-by-turn directions, visit ridewithgps.com/routes/33745230 (5 mile) and ridewithgps.com/routes/33748040 (2 mile).

Rescheduled for SATURDAY, OCT. 24 Check-in at 7am, race at 8am Registration open until morning of the race

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Continued on page 40 BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 37


FOR THIRSTY BIKERS: Matt McLeod’s mural (above) is on the wall of Stone’s Throw Brewing in Little Rock, Robin Tucker’s (below) is on the wall of Flyway Brewing in North Little Rock.

38 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020


BRIAN CHILSON

BRIAN CHILSON

BRIAN CHILSON

WELCOME TO SOMA: Shannon Wallace Norman’s mural can be seen on Main Street in Little Rock. BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 39


Continued from page 37

LITTLE ROCK/ NORTH LITTLE ROCK The joy of having two cities as close together as Little Rock and North Little Rock are the many ways their respective attractions meld into one experience. That’s certainly the case with bike routes, and now with public art as well. North Little Rock’s historic Argenta neighborhood along the river has increased its inventory of public art in recent years. Start at Diamond Bear Brewing (600 N. Broadway) and travel north and east to a full-size cyclist mural (Seventh and Main streets). Travel south down Main to view mini murals on utility boxes and dancing dog sculptures before making a right on Fourth Street to Flyway Brewery’s mural (314 Maple St.). Head back east on Fourth to the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub mural (204 E. Fourth St.), passing the Argenta Drug Store mural (324 N. Main St.) along the way. From the Innovation Hub, head south on North Poplar Street to Riverfront Drive, where multiple murals complement the natural beauty of the Arkansas River. Just south of Riverfront is the Arkansas River Trail; take that east to the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge and cross over to the Little Rock side of the river. Once in Little Rock, start your tour at Main Street and President Clinton Avenue in the River Market district. Traveling south, you’ll see several iconic images, including “Playtime” (Main and West Capitol), “Beneath the Surface” (Main and Sixth streets) and, just a couple of blocks over, “City Dreamers” (West Sixth and Spring streets). Continue south of the interstate past the “Golden Harvest” mural (East 10th and Main streets) and find yourself in funky SoMa (the South Main neighborhood), with additional murals at 1201 S. Main St. and 1500 S. Main St. While you’re there, enjoy the eclectic shops and independent restaurants. Off the Main Street arterial, but well worth the detour, are the social justice murals along Seventh Street west of Capitol Avenue. Recent additions to this poignant collection include themes of social protest and racial justice in memory of George Floyd who died while being arrested by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day. Gabe Holmstrom, executive director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, said as outdoor art expands past the city’s core into other neighborhoods, it combines as a mosaic for the city as a whole. “It’s been interesting to see the different pieces of public art pop up,” he said. “It usually takes building something to alter the focus point of a landscape of a city. But this is a way, with paint and artistic expression, that we’ve really seen a big impact on bringing focus to Little Rock.” 40 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020

TWO SEVENTH STREETS: No cyclist will want to miss Kevin Kresse’s mural at Seventh and Main in North Little Rock; Little Rock’s Seventh Street has become a site for artistic expressions urging social justice.


BRIAN CHILSON

ARKANSAS TIMES BRIAN CHILSON

News and Politics • Culture • Food • History • Cannabiz • Travel

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BIKE ARKANSAS issue no. 15 | 41


42 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020


EVENTS DEGRAY LAKE TRIATHLON SEPT. 13 DeGray Lake, Arkadelphia. Triathlon with a variety of swim, bike and run options. Find more info and register at trirunsignup.com/Race/AR/Arkadelphia/ DegrayLakeTriathlon. ARVEST DIRTY FONDO SEPT. 13 Historic Marlsgate, Scott. $90. A gravel grinder through Lonoke County with two routes: one 26 miles and another 48 miles. Presented by Recycle Bikes for Kids. There’ll be special RB4K Dirty Fondo beer brewed especially for the event by Flyway Brewing’s brewmaster, Nathan Greubel. Prizes and food, too. Limited to 80 riders because of COVID-19 concerns; only a few spots still available. More info at bikereg.com/43793. CONWAY FALL CLASSIC BIKE TOUR CANCELED; RESCHEDULED FOR SEPT. 18, 2021 Grace Methodist Church, 1075 Hogan Lane, Conway. More info at cycleconway.com.

BECAUSE OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, DATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. CHECK ONLINE BEFORE MAKING PLANS. SQUARE 2 SQUARE VIRTUAL BIKE RIDE SEPT. 19-NOV. 1 Bentonville-Fayetteville, fees vary. Ride on your own on Razorback Regional Greenway 30-mile route or a 15-mile option; suggested route maps available. Register at bentonvillear.com/1032/ square-to-square-bike-ride. BIG DAM BRIDGE 100 IN-PERSON SOLO CHALLENGE SEPT. 25-DEC. 31. Driveway challenge, any time and any place. Little Rock and beyond. Because of COVID-19, Arkansas’s largest cycling event will this year offer a Solo Challenge, for those still wishing to ride in Arkansas, and a Driveway Challenge, for persons outside Little Rock/North Little Rock. Register via BikeReg.com, and

include an address for swag, finisher medal and event T-shirt. FULL MOON RIDE SERIES OCT. 2, OCT. 31, NOV. 29 AND DEC. 30 Northwoods, Hot Springs. All at 6:30 p.m. (except the November and December dates, which are at 5:30 p.m.) A beginner-to-intermediate group ride that lasts about an hour and ends with riders cooking out and listening to live music together at the trailhead. Make sure you’ve got a front light on your bike. BIKEPACKING NWA OCT. 3-4 Bella Vista Lake. Semi-supported bikepacking through parts of the Back 40 to campsite with meals provided. Register at eventbrite.com.

Live Your Adventure

INNER CITY CLASSIC SEPT. 19 Rail Yard, 1212 E. Sixth St., Little Rock. A fully supported ride with rest stops and 20-, 40- and 84-mile options. Proceeds go to send kids to Young Life camp. Limited to 120 riders because of COVID-19 concerns. More info and registration at innercityclassic.com. JOE MARTIN GRAN FONDO SEPT. 19 Fayetteville A Razorback Greenway paved option has been added to this Experience Fayetteville event featuring road and gravel races in several distances. Three riding options: In-Person Solo Challenge, Driveway Challenge and the Traditional Rollout. Limited to 500 riders. Go to joemartingranfondo. com to register and get more info.

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THE TOMINATOR OCT. 3 Turner Bend Store, Hwy. 23, Mulberry. 100K event hosted by the River Valley Cycling Club. More info at Facebook.com/ RiverValleyCycling. OZ TRAILS OFF-ROAD OCT. 9-11: CANCELED Bentonville. More info at epicrides.com/coronavirus-covid-19. TOUR DA DELTA OCT. 10: CANCELED Helena-West Helena. Register for the 2021 tour after Jan. 2, 2021, at bikereg.com/45885 JOE WEBER ARKY 100 OCT. 11 Sheridan Community Center, 1511 S. Rose St. Options of 25-, 50-, 62- and 100-mile courses by rolling farm, ranch and timberland, mostly on rural roads and with supporting rest stops. The ride supports donations to the McGehee Boys and Girls Club, Recycle Bikes for Kids, Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas, Adventure Cycling Association and others. No mass start this year; riders go out on their own between 8 and 9:30 a.m. and must stay 6 feet apart from non-family members. See bikereg.com/joe-weber-arky-100 for more info. COLER ROLLER OCT. 17: CANCELED Coler Mountain Bike Preserve, Bentonville. More info at fastrails.org. PEDESTAL ROCK AND LICK FORK BICYCLE RIDE OCT. 17 Witts Springs. A ride with 20-, 40-, 50- and 62-mile paved options and 15-, 30-, 45- and 62-mile gravel options. All riders receive pre- and post-ride meals and a swag bag. The ride benefits Community Voices, a nonprofit that works to showcase the Boston Mountains. For more info, visit wittssprings.org. TOUR DE HOOT OCT. 17: CANCELED. McGehee.

44 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020

PEDAL THE RIDGE OCT. 17: CANCELED Paragould. Find more info at pedaltheridge.com. LANTERNE ROUGE FONDO OCT. 18: CANCELED Shiloh Square, Springdale. For more info, visit facebook.com/ events/931988827144181. FALL BICYCLE TOUR OCT. 18-22 DeGray Lake area. An Arkansas Bicycle Club 5-day tour. More info at arkansasbicycleclub.com or contact Janice Peters, 501-952-8848 or Jim Britt, 501-912-1449. Riders must be club members. GPP GROWLER GRINDER OCT. 19 Pedaler’s Pub, Bentonville. A gravel ride with 100-mile and 100-kilometer options. Contact nick@gppnwa.com for more info. ARKANSAW HIGH COUNTRY RACE OCT. 31 Fayetteville. This 1,037-mile follows the Arkansas High Country Route published in 2019 by the Adventure Cycling Administration. Find more info at rivervalley.ozarkoffroadcyclists.org and see story on page 26. PEDALER’S BASH OCT. 31 Bentonville. $85. A 45-mile mountain bike marathon through Northwest Arkansas singletrack trails systems, including Slaughter Pen, Bella Vista, Blowing Springs and the Back 40. More info at pedalersbash.com. Register at bikereg.com/pedalers-bash. TOUR DUH SUNKEN LANDS NOV. 7 Southern Tenant Farmers Museum, Tyronza (Poinsett County). The product of America’s greatest earthquake, the Sunken Lands are home to unique lowland swamps and agricultural open spaces. More info at facebook.com/ tourduhsunkenlands TOUR DE QUEEN NOV. 7 De Queen. A ride with 15-, 25-, 36-, 38- and 47-mile route options. The 38-mile route includes some gravel. Registration closed; more info at bikereg.com/tourdequeen.

DIAMOND BLUFF BONANZA GRAVEL RACE AND TOUR NOV. 7 Quitman. A gravel ride with 20-, 43- and 63-mile routes. More info and registration at bikereg.com/diamondbluffbonanza. FAYETTECROSS NOV. 7-8: CANCELED. Centennial Park at Millsap Mountain, Fayetteville. More info at fayettecross.com. GUDRUN: NORTHWOODS MTB FESTIVAL NOV. 13-15 Hot Springs. The annual festival includes a mountain bike expo, group ride through downtown Hot Springs and Attila the Hun Mountain Bike Race through Northwoods Trails. Register at bikereg.com/gudrun. 5TH ANNUAL PETIT JEAN OVERNIGHTER DEC. 3-4 Conway Airport. Ride from the Conway Airport to Petit Jean Mountain State Park, spend the night and ride back. Join the Arkansas Bicycle Club to ride. Riders must reserve their own rooms. More info at arkansasbicycleclub. org. R.A.P.T.O.R. GRAVEL GRINDER DEC. 5 (NEW DATE) Fayetteville. A gravel ride with 30-, 50- and 70-mile routes. All entries for this event, originally scheduled for Sept. 20, have been transferred to this event. Go to bikesignup.com/ Race/AR/Fayetteville/RAPTORGravelGrinder for options for those who can’t race Dec. 5 and other race info. NEW YEAR’S DAY RIDE JAN. 1, 2021 North Little Rock. A 30-mile Arkansas Bicycle Club ride from Kroger parking lot on McCain Boulevard into east Pulaski County and back, with lunch option. Contact Jim Britt, 501-9121449, for details.


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The Community Bicyclist

7509 Cantrell Road., Suite 118 501-663-7300 thecommunitybicyclist.com

Giant Bicycles

11525 Cantrell Road, Suite 607 501-508-5566 giantlittlerock.com

Rock Town River Outfitters (Rental) Little Rock River Market 400 President Clinton Ave. 501-831-0548 rocktownriveroutfitters.com

Trek Bicycle of Little Rock

10300 Rodney Parham Road 501-224-7651 trekbikes.com

HOT SPRINGS Hot Springs Bicycle Touring Company

436 Broadway St. 501-276-2175 Facebook.com/hotspringsbicycletouringcompany

Parkside Cycle

719 Whittington Ave. 501-623-6188 parksidecycle.com

Spa City Cycling

873 Park Ave. 501-463-9364 spacitycycling.com

SEARCY The Bike Lane

2116 W. Beebe-Capps Expressway 501-305-3915 thebikelane.cc

HEBER SPRINGS Sulphur Creek Outfitters

NORTH LITTLE ROCK Angry Dave’s Bicycles

3515 John F. Kennedy Blvd. 501-753-4990 angrydavesbicycles.com

Recycle Bikes for Kids 717 E. 10th St. 501-563-8264 recyclebikesforkids.org

BENTON Holy Roller United 108 N. East St. 501-672-4110

SHERWOOD Arkansas Cycling & Fitness 3010 E. Kiehl Ave. 501-834-5787 arkansascycling.com

J&P Bike Shop

7910 John F. Kennedy Blvd. (State Hwy. 107) 501-835-4814 jandpbikeshop.com 46 | BIKE ARKANSAS SEPTEMBER 2020

625 S. Seventh St. 501-691-0138 screekoutfitters.com

MOUNTAIN HOME Mountain Home Bicycle Co. 1310 E. Side Centre Court 870-425-2453 mountainhomebicyclecompany.com

BATESVILLE Lyon College Bike Shop 301 23rd St. 870-307-7529 lyon.edu/bikes

JONESBORO Gearhead Cycle House

231 S. Main St. 870-910-5569 gearheadcyclehouse.com

RUSSELLVILLE Carr’s Chain Reaction 506 N. Arkansas Ave. 479-968-5305 carrsrussellville.com

FORT SMITH Champion Cycling & Fitness 5500 Massard Road 479-484-7500

Phat Tire Bike Shop

1700 Rogers Ave. 479-222-6796 phattirebikeshop.com

SILOAM SPRINGS Dogwood Junction

200 Progress Ave., Suite 5 479-524-6605 dogwoodjunction.biz

Phat Tire Bike Shop

101 S. Broadway St. 479-373-1458 phattirebikeshop.com

EUREKA SPRINGS Adventure Mountain Outfitters 151 Spring St. 479-253-0900

FAYETTEVILLE Phat Tire Bike Shop

3775 N. Mall Ave. 479-966-4308 phattirebikeshop.com

The Bike Route

3660 N. Front St., Suite 2 479-966-4050 facebook.com/thebikeroute

The Highroller Cyclery 322 W. Spring St. 479-442-9311 highrollercyclery.com

UREC Outdoors

1 University of Arkansas, HPER 102 479-575-CAMP urec.uark.edu

SPRINGDALE Lewis & Clark Outfitters

4915 S. Thompson St. 479-756-1344 lewisandclarkoutfitters.com

Phat Tire Bike Shop

101 W. Johnson Ave. 479-373-1458 phattirebikeshop.com

ROGERS Beaver Lake Outdoor Center (Rentals) 14434 E. State Hwy. 12 479-877-4984 beaverlakeoutdoorcenter.com

GPP Cycling

318 S. First St. 479-372-4768 gppcycling.com

Lewis & Clark Outfitters

2530 Pinnacle Hills Parkway 479-845-1344 lewisandclarkoutfitters.com

Phat Tire Bike Shop

321 S. Arkansas St. 479-877-1313 phattirebikeshop.com

The Highroller Cyclery 402 S. Metro Parkway 479-254-9800 highrollercyclery.com

BENTONVILLE Dogwood Junction Trike Shop 907 N. Walton Blvd. 479-268-3021 dogwoodjunction.biz

The Meteor

401 SE D St. 479-268-1500 meteorbikes.com

Mojo Cycling

2104 S. Walton Blvd. 479-271-7201 mojocycling.com

Phat Tire Bike Shop

125 W. Central Ave. 479-715-6170 phattirebikeshop.com

BICYCLE REPAIR & SERVICE ONLY Ozark Bicycle Service

W. Deane St., Fayetteville 479-715-1496 ozarkbicycleservice.com


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T O G ET HER FOR Better. Arkansans appreciate community. We work and raise families. Care for our neighbors. And come together in good times and bad. At First Security, that local strength is what we love best about our home state. There is commitment here. And heart. And hope. Thank you to everyone who is standing together, learning from one another, and making Arkansas a place we all love to call home.

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