Community: people with common interests living in a particular area
People like to say that little Rock is a city with a small town feel and that Arkansans are so tight knit that here in the South, there aren’t six degrees of separation, there are typically just two.
A couple of years ago we met cyclist, bike polo player and all around nice guy Vinny through another pair of cycling friends. This past Saturday night we got our comfy commuter bikes out for a ride downtown on our way to Loblolly Creamery for their Pie a la Mode event at the Green Corner Store. Before we get in the door we see Vinny who is there to oversee one of the games planned to entertain patrons because his girlfriend happens to be one of the proprietors of the creamery. We want ice cream, we know Vinny, Vinny knows the ice cream artiste. Two degrees.
This is PIE a la Mode so the pie part of the story is the Little Rock Pie Cycle. A few weeks ago we read about this young woman who was selling fruit pies via a bicycle rig she was riding from her house to a local Farmers Market. We love when two passions coincide, like cycling and pie, so we had to get pie and see this bicycle rig. After we shared photos of us, our pies and the Pie Cycle peddler, Hannah, our son says “Hey, that’s the wife of one of my co-workers!” We want pie, we post pictures of our pie, we find out the pie is baked with love in the home of one of our son’s friends. Two degrees.
While having our pie a la mode we also got to play games with our buddy, take photos of his vintage Schwinn and see a few other recognizable faces from bike polo and other cycling events. We met up with a friend who stopped for pie in the middle of a long Ironman training ride, who declared the peach pie was better than GU. We even saw some friends from our neighborhood who had also stopped by for locally made goodness. As we got on our bikes to ride for more substantial food we had to comment that sometimes it’s okay to eat dessert first, really, that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
Not long after we sat down at another locally owned restaurant, another familiar face walked in but it took me a minute to recognize him because he wasn’t wearing the Community Bicyclist kit I’m used to seeing him in. While the two degree assumption doesn’t fit perfectly here I’m going to take a hammer and make the square peg fit: we take pictures of cyclocross races, Andy races cyclocross, we see Andy at dinner and almost don’t recognize him out of his lycra uniform. Two degrees. Sort of.
We love being involved in so many of the outdoor activities described in Kiplinger’s report as reason for Little Rock to be considered one of 10 great places to live. It gives us a sense of community that we’re trying to share with everyone who reads our ramblings, everyone who looks at our photos and everyone we see and talk to at competitive and noncompetitive outdoor events. If a community is defined as people with common interests living in a particular area, Central Arkansas’s active community is growing and building and spreading. Just last night I asked a new friend, whom I met through a running group, about her transition to living in Central Arkansas as a recent transplant. I found out that she has been using sports and active lifestyle groups to fit in as she has moved around several times as an adult. I’m so glad she was able to quickly find community when she moved here. Perhaps the Kiplinger writers/researchers are on to something in Little Rock, active lifestyles and amenities for those activities add value to a community.
Group rides and runs are easily found and newcomers are welcomed and encouraged. AO supporters GO!Running have had a Thursday night group run practically since they opened their doors and newbies will find themselves enveloped in welcoming sweaty arms if they decide to join in. Ask at your local running store or bike shop, I’m betting they have a group run or ride on their schedule.
Recently a small group of women led by Victoria Crumpton of Arkansas Heels on Wheels has been hosting short social road rides for newer riders and they have also been hosting training rides for the upcoming Cystic Fibrosis Cycle for Life ride.
Tune in later this week for more news about another community that is growing: Mountain Biking Women. Come on girls, get dirty with us.