It’s been 10 years since:
- Barack Obama became President,
- Circuit City Stores shut down (important because I spent 7 years there as a manager wearing the red jacket),
- Michael Jackson died,
- The Unemployment Rate hits 9.5% for the first time since August 1983,
- and, the first cycling guide produced by Arkansas Tourism since the 1970s hits the stands.
That’s right, it’s been 10 years since cycling was recognized as an important part of the tourism product in Arkansas. Of course, cycling had been bringing visitors to The Natural State for many years before that. Back in 1978, a group known as the Arkansas Bikeways Commission along with the Arkansas Highway Commission, Arkansas Parks & Tourism Commission, and the Arkansas chapter of the League of American Wheelmen printed the Arkansas State Bike Tours Map. We’ll be covering that some more starting next Thursday as part of a #ThrowBackThursday series.
In 2009, the first “modern” state bicycle guide came out. A two-sided brochure that reading from one side gave the reader mountain biking ideas and on the other, road cycling ideas. In the middle was a map of the state showing the location of these trails and routes. At the time there were only two IMBA Epic Trails in the state, Womble and Syllamo.
After a few reprints of that first one, cycling had grown to the point that the decision was made to split the guide into two separate guides giving space to promote other things to do around cycling. The popularity of craft beer was on the rise along with unique overnight accommodations and they dominated much of the editorial in the guides. By now there were five IMBA Epic Trails in the state with the addition of Buffalo Headwaters, The LOViT, and the Ouachita National Recreation Trail.
The addition of more trails, IMBA Epic Ride Centers and Regions kept Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism along with the add agency busy with reprints and updates over the years. Now on the tenth anniversary, a new guide is being released. The road and mountain biking guides have been reunited into the Arkansas Cycling Guide. The 130-page brochure is all-inclusive and features not only mountain bike trails and road routes but bike parks and gravel grinders throughout the state. Articles on how cyclists can enjoy Arkansas during their visit are also prominent. In fact, the top of the cover reminds visitors that, “The ride is only the beginning.”
Because of the popularity of the guide, it was decided to add advertising to help pay for the reprinting and design work of the guide. This doesn’t seem to diminish it’s worth at all and actually enhances it giving our guests ideas on places to stay, eat, and be entertained. If you’re interested in receiving one of the new guides you can pick one up at a tourism information center, many state parks, and soon in bike shops throughout the state. You can also order one online on the Arkansas.com website.