The winter solstice happened in Little rock at approximately 11:30 pm on December 21st. I wasn’t going to stay up that late to greet it, so I decided to set up a ride for 5:30 pm on December 22nd. If you lived in a magical place called Greenwich you would have greeted the solstice at 5:30 pm on December 22nd. So I mixed things up a bit and set up a ride. Karma would mess with me for the timing foul.
I had plenty of time to get to our starting point, Cajun’s Wharf on Cantrell Road. The plan was to ride in the dark west to the Big Dam Bridge and then back down the North Little Rock side of the river trail to the Clinton Library Bridge and then back to Cajun’s. A ride of about 16 miles. It would be easy going, a “no-drop” ride. Once I got to Cajun’s I started putting my lights on the bike and my helmet, only to find that they seemed to have no juice at all. This could be a problem but I had some time so I made a quick trip over to Spokes bike shop and picked up a $20 light that would do the trick, heck, it would be good to have a spare in the truck anyway. Once back at the parking lot, I got my shoes on, figured out a way to use a headlamp I had to give me a little extra light and waited. I waited until about 5:45 pm and then giving up on anyone showing (I had had decided on this ride only the day before and figured people were too busy getting ready for the holiday weekend), I took off on my own.
Just as I came out of the parking lot, Jim Britt, president of the Arkansas Bicycle Club rolled up with two friends. We were officially a ride. By the time we got on the river trail two other riders joined in and less than half of a mile up the road we were joined by old friends of mine, Chris and Linda (they were on my team for my first adventure race many years ago). Most were on road bikes with Chris on his recumbent and me on my mountain bike. I had chosen it in case we had some really slow folks along. Slow riding on the road is much more comfortable on it.
We rode at a good pace to the Big Dam Bridge and I hustled up the ramp only to find that I had left most of the riders. Two guys who had joined us decided to move on a little faster and I waited for the group. I have a bad habit of attacking hills, this was not one of those rides. We stopped at the pavilion at Cooks Landing to check out the new bike repair center that John Barton had told me about. A really cool addition to the trail. It would be nice to see another one in the River Market District on the opposite end of the trail.
A very short video crossing the Clinton Library Bridge:
It was a nice, dark, quiet ride through Burns Park and eventually to the Clinton Library Bridge. Once we were back in Little Rock everyone stopped to discuss eating options. I opted to head home to a meal I knew was waiting for me. The others rode with me back to Cajun’s and we parted ways. They headed on to dinner as did I.
Riding in Little Rock continues to improve and much of it is because of the great people you find along the trail. Cyclists aren’t punctual at least not while ricing. That is part of the charm. I’m looking for many more night rides this winter and I’ll welcome the light when it returns.