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Tour de Rock bicycle tour route a flat-out ride

by Celia Storey | May 28, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Tour de Rock, Saturday's big bicycle tour at North Little Rock, includes a route the CARTI Foundation calls "the fastest century in the South."

Does that mean cyclists who want to go 100 miles will have to clip along at 21 mph to keep up?

No, it means that route is flat as a pancake, says Sabrina Thompson, the foundation's development officer. And so are the routes for the shorter rides that the 15th annual tour's participants could elect to pedal instead: 25, 50, 62 or 80 miles.

Those are nominal distances; the routes are a mile or two longer or shorter. But all begin and end in the same place -- North Little Rock's riverfront park. All share segments of ancient Arkansas River flood plain to the southeast of the city, passing farm fields and oxbow lakes. And all include rest stops with snacks and drinks.

Because the route hasn't changed much over the years, riders can use it to benchmark their fitness, comparing how far and fast they go from year to year.

The cyclist who coined the "fastest century" slogan did so after finishing his fastest Tour de Rock, Thompson notes. He and friends had joined the tour for years. "He started out doing probably a 5-hour, 4:45 hundred. Now they're doing a paceline, and they're going to try to do Tour de Rock in four hours. Which is incredibly ambitious."

The area can be windy. Wind in your face is like an invisible hill. But, she says, "when it's flat and the winds are with you and you get in a paceline, a lot of times you can accomplish some really good times."

Pacelines are a way a group of bicyclists line up that creates a human windshield up front, so only the leading riders take the brunt of the breeze and everyone else gets to draft. Every rider takes a turn at the front, but then they drop back behind the line and rest. The system saves a lot of effort over the distance.

Sounds great. But, Thompson says, it's a terrible idea to jump into a paceline unless you've had weeks of practice -- with those people. If merry strangers urge you to hop aboard their paceline as they glide past, do not do it.

"Riding in a paceline is a skill that is acquired," she says. "It takes riding with the same people, knowing how to ride in a paceline, and lots and lots of practice. If you don't know what you're doing, and you try to get in a paceline while you're at Tour de Rock, that's how injuries happen."

Anyway, the tour is not a race. People who simply want to "spin" are welcome.

Tour de Rock no longer includes a Family Fun Ride, but a child who has trained and is able to go the distance is welcome to accompany parents or guardians. In 2017, 10-year-old Sophie Webb was the youngest rider in the tour. Most youngsters would be found on the 25- or 50-mile route.

Early bird fees have flown past: Pre-registration for any of the distances is $55, and that fee will rise to $60 on the morning of the tour.

The price includes a party, with music, exhibitors, food and beer (for adults) and a short sleeve T-shirt. Souvenir jerseys are $100 -- or free for cyclists who donate $250 or more.

The registration link -- carti.ejoinme.org/tourderock -- also can be reached through Facebook: Search for "CARTI's Tour de Rock."

Pick up packets from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. today or 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday at Russell Chevrolet, 6100 Landers Road in North Little Rock. Or get them at The River House, 140 Riverfront Drive, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday or 6 to 7 a.m. Saturday.

On tour day, riders must wear their helmets and bib numbers all the time.

They will set off in packs by distance, with the 100- and 80-milers leading the way at 6:30 a.m., followed by the 62-mile group at 6:45, the 50-milers at 7 and the 25-mile group at 7:15 a.m. The event ends at 4 p.m.

Timberland XC

The Arkansas Mountain Bike Championship Series rolls into Star City on Sunday as Cane Creek State Park hosts the Cane Creek Timberland mountain bike race from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The 8-mile woodland racecourse is rated easy to moderate; it rolls along the first gentle hills of the boundary where the Gulf Coastal Plain becomes the Mississippi alluvial delta. There are 10 more miles of bike trails in the park, with 52 bridges -- which says something about the terrain in the wooded part of the park.

Race-day registration opens at 7 and ends at 9 a.m. at park Pavilion 1; but park at park Pavilion 2. All junior and Category 3 race participants should register before 8:30 a.m. Licenses, one-day race permits and pre-registration are available through USAcycling.com.

Fees range from $20 to $45 per heat, depending on the rider's classification.

Online registration is at bikereg.com -- search for "Cane Creek Timberland."

Austin Davidson, an interpreter for the state park, can answer questions at [email protected]

Getting ahead

Chances are this one will be happening as you unfold your next Monday newspaper, so we'd better talk about it now.

Little Rock Parks and Recreation's Little Rock Marathon staff, Rock City Running and KARK, Channel 4, will hold an untimed fun run at 6 a.m. June 6 in Murray Park.

The free run/walk will observe Global Running Day.

Held annually on the first Wednesday in June, the event promotes ... wait for it ... running. Or walking.

After a mass start near the pavilions entrance in Murray Park, runners are free to go any distance they desire. They will find water, refreshments and swag back at the pavilions.

Registration is required. See arkansasonline.com/52818free

[email protected]

ActiveStyle on 05/28/2018

Print Headline: Tour de Rock bicycle tour route a flat-out ride

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