There’s a boom happening around Arkansas. It’s not a housing boom or a baby boom. This is more of a two-wheeled boom. Spandex is optional.
After a hot, dry summer, organizers are coming out of the woodwork with rides for road cyclists interested in tackling routes of up to 100 miles and, on many occasions, raising money for charity.
From Saturday to Oct. 27 there are eight big events for cyclists interested in noncompetitive, organized rides on Arkansas (and even, for a few miles, Mississippi, Missouri and Oklahoma) pavement. The terrain will range from the steep pitches of the Ozarks to the serene flatness of the Delta.
The advantages for riders rolling out with a large group over a prearranged course are numerous. Most of these rides are well supported, meaning volunteers are waiting at rest stations throughout the course where riders can take a break and refuel before heading back out onto the road. Some rides even offer support and gear (sag) vehicles that drive along the way, ready to assist riders having mechanical problems. And the courses are usually traffic friendly, with local police or sheriff’s departments sometimes providing temporary road closures.
And really, not much on a bike feels as cool as rolling through a stoplight with a police escort.
So where and when are these rides?
BIG DAM BRIDGE
In just its second year, the Big Dam Bridge 100, scheduled for Saturday, has become one of the biggest cycling events in the state. Registration this year has been expanded to 2,000 riders, and spots are going fast. See the story on Page 1E.
TOUR DE CURE
Riders in the Northwest Arkansas Tour de Cure will pedal through three states while raising money for the American Diabetes Association. Promoters plan a gala event Oct. 6 based at the Shoppes at Pinnacle mall in Rogers. Not only does the bike tour include a range of routes — 10, 20, 50 or 100 miles — but there will also be a dinner the night before, footraces and a bicycle parade for children.
While the 100-miler rolls through Missouri and Oklahoma as well as Arkansas, the footraces will stay within the state. Runners and walkers have their choice of a one-mile, 5K or 13.2-mile course. Registration costs $20 (free for ages 10 and younger); no other fundraising is required.
Cyclists, on the other hand, are encouraged to collect as many donations as possible. Their minimum donation is $125 plus a $25 registration fee.
Pro cyclist Brice Jones of Team Jelly Belly is doing the tour. The night before the ride, participants can meet him at a Rider Rally dinner, free to registrants. That event will include a silent auction.
More information is at tour. diabetes.org, (479) 770-6402.
MEDIC ONE RIDE FOR A BETTER LIFE
Starting in Jonesboro, this Oct. 6 ride features 20- and 60-mile options sponsored by Medic One Ambulance and the Better Life Counseling Center.
The courses take in Crowley’s Ridge and areas surrounding Jonesboro. Organizers counted 84 cyclists last year and are looking for at least 100 riders for the 2007 version. They say that fully supported rest stops and sag vehicles will be on both courses.
The registration fee is $30 in advance and $40 the day of the event, with registration beginning at 7:15 a.m. Oct. 6 and the ride getting under way from the counseling center at 8 a.m. Proceeds will benefit the center, a nonprofit that provides Christian marriage and family counseling to families and individuals.
From 1 to 3 that afternoon, the Kiwanis Club of Jonesboro will sponsor a Bike Karnival for children at Southwest Church of Christ, 1601 James St. Any school-age child can ride the safety-practice course for free. Kids just need to show up with their own bikes and helmets.
More information and registration are at www.betterlife.org.
JOE WEBER ARKY 100
Back after a hiatus last year is this venerable south Arkansas spin through the rolling hills of Dallas and Grant counties. The Arky bears the name of “Bicycle Joe” Weber, a founder of the Arkansas Bicycle Club and one of Little Rock’s pioneer commuter cyclists until his death at age 82 in 1993. Weber organized the first Arky in 1971.
Beginning at the Community Center in Sheridan at 8 a.m. Oct. 14 (a Sunday), the Arky offers 25, 50-, 62- and 100-mile options with rest stops and support vehicles until 3 p.m. Participants can also camp and eat spaghetti together Oct. 13.
Registration costs $25, with riders who are pre-registered being guaranteed a souvenir T-shirt. Day-of-event registration begins at 7 a.m. at the community center, where post-ride snacks, beverages and showers will be available.
More information is at ar kansasbicycleclub.org, (501) 221-3491 and arky 100@arkansas bicycleclub.org .
After the club announced it was reviving the Arky, the Sheriff’s Ranch Hilly Hundred, a fundraiser that for months had been set for Oct. 13, was postponed until spring.
KRAZY 8 RIDE
One of two newbies on the organized ride calendar this year, the Krazy 8, presented by Buffalo River Cyclists, will be Oct. 20 in Harrison.
There are four options, including routes of 12, 25.4, 58 and 100 miles.
The Krazy 8 100-mile loop, which will take bikers over some of the steepest roads in the state at grades of up to a leg-breaking 17 percent, is a ride “for those who don’t mind a good challenge,” according to organizers.
The 58-mile version is the notorious Jasper Disaster loop, which is also included in the 100-mile course. It involves a fearsome climb and descent at Jasper.
And the 25.4-mile course is, organizers say, “for those with a little more sanity.”
Entry fee is $30 before Oct. 1 for those 18 and older and $15 for ages 17 and younger; after Oct. 1, it’s $40 and $25, respectively. Riders under 17 must be accompanied by an adult. A T-shirt, post-ride meal and goodie bag are included with the fee, organizers say. Proceeds will benefit K-Life Harrison.
All rides begin at 8:30 a.m. at Harrison Junior High School.
More information is available at buffalorivercyclists.org .
ARKANSAS BREVET SERIES
The next event in this series of laid-back, friendly, randonneuring rides leaves Little Rock at 6:30 a.m. Oct. 20. There will be two distances, 100 kilometers (62 miles) and 200 kilometers (124 miles).
Randonneuring is a longdistance, unsupported form of riding where self-sufficiency is paramount. A sag vehicle will be available, but no support is allowed between checkpoints on the routes.
Registration costs $10. More information is at ultra.green goblin .com.
TOUR DA’ DELTA
The second of this year’s newcomers is Helena-West Helena’s Tour da’ Delta, and it’s also the second ride that will take participants out of the state for a time.
Rolling off from Cherry Street in downtown Helena-West Helena at 8 a.m. Oct. 27, riders can choose from 30-, 62- and 100-mile routes. All three head across the Mississippi River for a spin around Moon Lake before re-entering Arkansas for more pedaling through the flat, fertile Delta.
Well, it’s not all flat. Those on the 100-mile loop will cross Crowley’s Ridge thrice, so there will be a few rises in the road to challenge the legs.
The tour is a tribute to Helena-West Helena rider Tom Kinnebrew, who died after crashing his bike while he was a spectator at this year’s Tour de Georgia professional race. Kinnebrew’s family, along with his Phillips County cycling pals, are organizing the ride.
Support vehicles and several rest stops will be available, ride officials say.
Registration is $25 through Oct. 24. On-site registration is $40. More information is available at tourdadelta.org.
TOUR DE PUMPKIN
Also on Oct. 27 is Russellville’s Tour de Pumpkin, which coincides with that city’s Fall Festival.
The Tour de Pumpkin offers a pair of rides, 17.5 miles and 30 miles, through rolling hills with two rest stops. Registration is from 8 to 9 a.m. in front of Poppa Wheelies, 217 N. Denver Ave., in Russellville. Entry fee is $20, and the ride begins at 10:30 a.m. Proceeds will benefit Main Street Russellville.
More information is at www. bikearkansas .com.