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We are less than a week from the start of the 2019 BRAA.
Our starting point is in front of an abandoned Wal-Mart in Brinkley, AR which is located beside a Kroger grocery store. The address for the Kroger store is 1421 Pinecrest Street, Brinkley, AR 72021. This is very close to Interstate 40.
Our starting time is 11:00 AM, Sunday, March 31, 2019. Give or take as needed.
There are some nationally known motels in Brinkley, but I am not familiar with them or what condition you would find them. I do know there is a fairly new Holiday Inn Express in Forrest City, AR, which is 28 miles from Brinkley.
Since it is Sunday there are very few choices for eating establishments on our route, so each rider should plan accordingly. We will stop at a cafe at mid-morning on Monday.
Call me with any questions: John Linck 501-231-9350
On March 11, 2019 I drove much of the proposed route for the 2019 BRAA, along with the assistance of Kenny Gober. I think this will be a fun BRAA, even though it might be more challenging that I originally thought.
The roads are not optimal for the first day, but we can manage. Rumble strips will cause us to ride in the lane more than I wanted, but we can make it work. We will end the day with some climbing up Crowley's Ridge. Also, with the first day being Sunday, our cafe choices are almost none.
The second day will be similar to the first, but we will find some better traveling choices. There will be more hills than you would think for Eastern Arkansas, but not that bad.
The third day will be a challenge. Mostly gravel roads with a few steep climbs. The scenery is great. This is a very short day in miles, but if we take our time on the gravel and really take in the great views and enjoy the National Forest, it will be a great day.
The fourth day will be our longest. We will need to get rolling that morning to make it to the cafe in Elaine. About 50 miles total.
The fifth day is all flat with mostly good shoulders on the main road. We will most likely end up at a motel this night.
The sixth day is a flat 20 miles back to our cars after a good breakfast in Clarendon.
Due to the area we are traveling we will need to prepare more meals in camp than usual, but there are grocery stores available to purchase food to prepare.
We have arranged, with the help of a friend that works in a bank at Brinkley, to park our cars are an old Walmart parking lot which is next door to a Kroger store. Also, Pennie, our friend, did contact the Brinkley Police Department and they agreed to patrol our vehicles each night.
Please contact me if you have any questions.
John LInck 501-231-9350 firstname.lastname@example.org
The Arkansas Bicycle Club holds a self contained ride each spring around a selected area of the state. The only requirement of a rider is to join the club, which is $25.00 per year. Each rider is responsible for their own meals and camping fee or an occasional motel charge. For those not familiar with the term "self contained" it means a rider will carry their camping equipment and clothing on their bike ( I actually ride a trike), and there is no sag vehicle. We are on our own.
An exact route is not yet set, but we seldom stick with a set route anyway. This year we plan to tour East Central Arkansas. The start will be in Brinkley, which is a town on Interstate 40 about mid-way between Little Rock and Memphis, TN. Most days we will travel around 40 miles with one shorter day, but the shorter day will include a few miles of a dirt road. This is basically a flat tour, but it does take us over Crowley's Ridge a few times which does require some climbing.
The current working route will include Village Creek and Mississippi River State Park. One night will be in Helena-West Helena at a private campsite. Another night will be spent at the starting point for the Delta Heritage trail with the final night at a campsite in Clarendon. As stated previously, this is subject to change during the tour.
There is some suggested reading prior to the tour. This route will include areas rich in history. Natural events of interest would be the New Madrid Earthquakes of 1811-1812 and the flood of 1927. Also there is the starting point for surveying the Louisiana Purchase. Surprisingly, this point in in a swamp, which we plan to visit. Nathan Bedford Forrest was a general in the Confederate army. After the war he was instrumental in building the railroad tracks from Memphis to Little Rock. Forrest City is named after him. And then there is the tragedy that occurred in Elaine, AR where we plan to have lunch on this tour. That tragedy was a race riot in 1919 that resulted in the death of an unknown number of people, possibly in the hundreds.
Originally we planned to visit Memphis on this tour, but the Mississippi River decided against that. The entry to the bridge is in a low lying area on the Arkansas side which is flooded now and the prediction is that it will be flooded at the time of this tour ride.
Some nights there will be a choice of preparing the evening meal at the campsite or riding to a nearby cafe. However, at least two of the nights this choice will not be available, so plan to prepare your meal in the campsite, especially the first two nights.
This is not a commercial tour. This is just a group of people that like to ride self contained for a week.
John Linck 501-231-9350 email@example.com
After 12 years of the same route around Lake Ouachita each February I was a little nervous about making the change to Lake Greeson. The Lake Ouachita ride was definitely a success - over and over. Why change success? Traffic was getting worse and worse.
We pedaled away from the Glenwood Country Club at 11:00 on Sunday, February 23, 2019 with our first stop 11 miles away at Kirby, AR on Hwy 70. Our group consisted of 12 riders ready for three days of riding and two nights of camping. Even though this was a Sunday morning, there was considerable traffic. The wide shoulder on Hwy 70 made the stream of cars and trucks a mute point. The rolling hills on this part of the route seemed to be a challenge, but later on we found this was actually not all that bad.
We had lunch at the cafe in Kirby. The food was very good, but the ladies were a bit overwhelmed by a bunch of hungry cyclist in addition to their normal Sunday lunch crowd. We had plenty of time, but all was well.
Kenny Gober and I had stayed at a motel in Glenwood the previous night. We had purchased a couple steaks to grill over a campfire during our first camping night. As we were nearing Kirby we discovered the steaks were still in the refrigerator at the motel, 9 miles back in Glenwood. Luckily we were successful in purchasing the last two steaks at the grocery store/general store across the road from the cafe.
Upon leaving Kirby on Hwy 27 there were a number of hills to climb before we turned on a dirt road that took us to Laurel Creek Campground on Lake Greeson. Four miles of gravel, dirt and mud were interesting but not a problem for this group. No crashes reported. The campground is primitive with no water or electricity. However, the vault toilets were clean and well supplied and the picnic tables were in good condition.
That night everyone prepared their own meals and then enjoyed a campfire, which was needed with a cold night falling upon us. And cold it was. The water on our table was frozen the next morning. Everyone survived and was ready to travel the next morning.
There was a warning that the middle day was going to be the hard travel day. It was just that, but also scenic and enjoyable. Of course the first part of the trip was getting back to pavement. There was one flat which is a great record for a total of 8 miles of dirt road with gravel. Then came around 10 miles of hilly road, but once again good shoulders.
Our first stop of the day was at a cafe in Murfreesboro. Once again the food was great, and we had a good hard working waitress that kept things moving. This was a very good lunch experience on the road. Unfortunately, due to being a witness in a trial the next day, we had to bid farewell to Jim Britt after the meal. He pedaled back toward Glenwood as we went on toward Daisy.
There were a few new riders to our group, which we always like to have. As this day kept going the new riders were becoming settled and the group was becoming a nice cohesive set of riders. This always makes the traveling enjoyable.
The afternoon scenery was great. The traffic was very light. The weather was quite tolerable. The steep, but fairly short, hills kept coming and coming. We did get occasional breaks, especially with a stop at the community of Nathan where a small store was open. But, the hills kept coming. I was getting tired, and it appeared I was not alone. We turned on Hwy 279 with about six miles left to New Hope where we could get some rest at a store, where I did down some chocolate milk and a bar.
We traveled the last nine miles back on Hwy 70 with the good shoulders and some nice scenery of the lake. A little after 4:00 PM we arrived at Daisy State Park where the tents were thrown up and the showers started. It was nice to clean up with a hot shower and then fix a hot meal. I think I stayed up until almost 9:00 PM before making my way into the tent and the warm sleeping bag. The temperature did stay above freezing for the night.
The third morning was warmer, so preparing for the final ride was easier. The group was ready to go by 9:00 AM. We pedaled the 6 miles or so to Kirby where we took a short break and then started the final 10 miles to Glenwood. We crossed the bridge over the Caddo River and then up a slight hill to the Fish Net cafe which flipped on the "Open" lights just as we arrived. Perfect. Two riders had to go on, but nine of us enjoyed a great lunch buffet and conversation.
After lunch we went the final mile or two to the Country Club where we loaded up the bikes (trike) and equipment for the trip back home.
I am considering this route a "keeper". Maybe a change or two and maybe not, but it will be with us for a number of years.
This is our first attempt at a 3-day tour ride around Lake Greeson with a start in Glenwood, AR. For the past dozen years we have ridden around Lake Ouachita for our 3-day winter outing. It was a great run of rides, but the traffic kept increasing yearly. Finally, last year I complained excessively about the traffic.
The time had come for me to quit complaining and do something about the situation. For a number of months I scoured the maps for a different route and came up with Lake Greeson. However, maps alone do not design a ride. I started driving around the area and made changes after each excursion. I will describe the final proposal below.
Anyone considering this tour ride should know that it can be a fairly easy event or it can be very difficult, according to the weather.
Our start will be at the Glenwood Country club which is a few miles East from "downtown" Glenwood. Since our first day is relatively short in miles we will not start until 11:00 AM. The first section of the ride will be on Hwy 70, which is fairly busy but has a good shoulder. There is a small cafe in Kirby, AR about 11 miles from the start which would be good for lunch. Also in Kirby is a small grocery store where supplies can be bought for the evening meal since there will not be a cafe nearby.
The other 11 miles to complete the first day will be a little different. The first 6 miles will be on Hwy 27, which also has an adequate shoulder. The final 5 miles will include 4 miles or so of dirt road. The condition of the road will depend on he amount of recent rain.
Our first night of camping will be at a remote campsite named Laurel Creek. This campsite has tables and a vault toilet. No water or electricity. Also, do not expect to have phone reception, but a bar or two will occasionally show up. We will plan on a campfire, but of course the weather will play a roll in everything.
The plans for the second day is a 48 mile ride with the 4 miles of dirt road to start the trek. Then we take a right on Hwy 27 into Murfreesboro which is about 14 miles from Laurel Creek. Here we could have an early lunch, or late breakfast, your choice. Also, some might want to purchase items for the evening meal.
From Murfreesboro we leave on Hwy 19 N for a short distance, then turn left on Muddy Fork Road. It is paved. Stay on Muddy Fork to Nathan Road where there is a right turn. There will be a four way stop a few miles later where you will go straight on Gum Tree Road (Nathan Road turns to the left). Stay on Gum Tree Road to Hwy 369 where you will make a right. Stay on Hwy 369 about 8 miles to Hwy 70 at New Hope. There is a small store (very small) if you need some last minute supplies. Go East on Hwy 70 around 9 miles to Daisy State Park where we will camp for the night.
Daisy State Park does have full bath houses with showers. We will need to check in and pay a camping fee at this park.
Sunday morning we are 7 miles from Kirby. Most will probably want to have breakfast there (although some may want to prepare their own breakfast in camp). The end of the ride is 11 miles back to Glenwood Country Club.
Please contact me with any questions.
John Linck 501-231-9350 firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone from Arkansas going to Iowa this summer? If so contact me about meeting up!
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
Address: P.O. Box 250817, Little Rock, AR 72225-0817
Phone: (501 912-1449