Coffeeneuring in Arkansas: Trip N°7

Well, the final trip was somewhat of a bust. I was on my way to get beans from the local roastery, but they closed early because of the coming bad weather. In fact, on my way out there, I was being pelted with sleet. Kinda painful, but not too bad. At any rate, I had to detour and go to the grocery store, unfortunately. At least this particular has a bike rack, a rarity in these parts! I got my coffee beans and called it a day.


Trip N°7: November 16th

Total Distance: 4.2 miles

Coffeeneuring in Arkansas: Trip N°6

This ride was truly cold. Cold and windy! However, with the right gear and the right riding partner, it turned out not to be so bad. Rode out to Piney Bay Recreation Area, some 18 miles from my apartment.


Note to self: when it is below 40 and windy, maybe it is not a good idea to stop to make coffee. Tim and I didn’t ride the same after that stop; hard to get the engine warm again and ride with the same vitality as before. However, most any day on the bike is a good day so I can’t complain too much!

Trip N°6: November 15

Total Distance: 33.3 miles

Coffeeneuring in Arkansas: Trip N°5

Lovely weather this past Sunday, so I packed the stove and jumped on the bike. Some 8 miles later, I came to Lake Dardanelle State Park. They were having a fishing tournament, and all of the boats were coming in for weigh-in. The sun felt good as I set up the stove. Shortly afterward, I had coffee all ready to go as I finished the ending of a novel I was reading.


Trip N°5: November 9th

Total Distance: 14.2 miles

Coffeeneuring in Arkansas: Trip N°4

Didn’t have a whole lot of time this past weekend, so I had to make a quick trip to Hastings to complete this week’s coffeeneuring ride. Rides in town are always fun. It seems like most people here in Arkansas are skittish about riding bikes, especially in town. I figure, the more I ride and the more visible I am, the more people will join in, hopefully.


Late afternoon coffee is always good, especially with a window seat and a good book.

Trip N°4: November 2nd

Total Distance: 6.4 miles

Coffeeneuring in Arkansas: Trip Nº3

Approach to Mt. Nebo Waking up on Sunday really early always makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something with my day. I had hills to climb, and this time I picked the steepest one in the shortest distance. Mt. Nebo stands some 1,700 feet above the Arkansas River and it is a formidable climb. After a little over 13 miles of riding, I came to the base. From here, I texted my friends that coffee time was near!

Mt. Nebo 18

The climb to the summit is two and a half miles of 9 to 12% grades. It’s best not to think about the 1200 feet of climbing. Just give yourself to the mountain and accept the burning. According to the highway sign, there’s one section of 18% grade. It’s not very long, but you definitely feel it going up it.

25 minutes later, I was at the top! Soon after, my friends showed up and I started in on the brewing process. Fired up the stove and had some (almost) boiling water in short order. They were fascinated by the whole setup: the stove, the nalgene, the be-stickered camping french press. Even better, everyone enjoyed the resulting brew from the beans, freshly ground that morning and roasted less than a week before. The credit goes to Penny University Roastery in Russellville, though. Without their beans, coffeeneuring just wouldn’t be the same!

Coffeeneuring Mt. Nebo

The view from here is spectacular, especially on clear fall days with little humidity. A trip worth taking, especially with coffee in tow.

On Top of Mt. Nebo

Coffeeneuring Trip Nº3: 19 October 2014
Drink of Choice: Freshly roasted coffee from Penny University, Russellville, AR
Total distance: 31.6 miles round trip
Total climbing: 2197 ft

Coffeeneuring in Arkansas: Trip Nº 2

Assessment and CoffeeneuringLong story short, I had been at work all weekend, had an ESL Assessment test to study for, then I realized at 9pm on Sunday that I hadn’t made my pilgrimage by bike for coffee. So, I loaded up the bike with the book and headed to Starbucks: coffeeneuring destination of last resort. Hurray for generator hubs and LED lights!

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Coffeeneuring Trip Nº 2: 12 October 2014
Total Distance: 5.2 miles round trip.
Drink of choice: caffeine free rooibos tea
Total Elevation: 83 (yes, 83) feet

Coffeeneuring in Arkansas: Trip Nº1

Piney Crossing

A little creek fording never hurt anyone.

Arkansas is full of little surprises if you know where to look. One of those special places lies along a relatively remote stretch of state highway. After an 45 minute drive, I parked the truck at the Ozark Highlands Trail access on AR 123.

Two miles in to the trip, Ben and I came across our first creek crossing. I managed to not get wet feet.

Stunning overhangs and potential bouldering problems lined the next three miles of the gravel road.

The second crossing of the Big Piney has an actual bridge. Followed by a long climb, the longest one of the day.


Thar be boulderin in dem hills. I feel it in me bones.

After some thirteen miles of gravel, you come to Rosetta. Nowadays, it exists in name only, sharing the name with the USGS quadrangle it resides within. There’s no sign saying you’ve arrived. You’d go right through it without knowing it even had a name. In fact, it’s one of hundreds of places that dot the Ozarks where nothing but a cemetery and a small collection of uninhabited houses mark the place where a group of farming families once eked out an existence plowing the rocky ridge top.

Welcome to Rosetta

Welcome to Rosetta

Descending for two miles on loose gravel can be a test of one’s cycling ability. I never felt unsafe, but I wished I could feel more stable. Riding my brakes for two solid miles was not my idea of fun. I have never experienced a blowout on a downhill section of road before, but I wasn’t in the mood for testing these limits, either. Let’s just say that the heat buildup on my rims made me wish for disc brakes.

Some five miles after Rosetta, we came upon the Little Piney and the coffee I packed was calling my name. As I broke out the stove, Ben explored the creek. By this time of year, the creek had become a collection of small puddles. Ben, an avid fisherman, caught a moth that had landed on his hat and threw it in the water. Surprisingly, it took the fish a few minutes to find the moth struggling away on the surface.

Coffee Break in the Little Piney Creek Bed

Coffee Break in the Little Piney Creek Bed

Every piece of camping gear must have a maiden voyage. This little stove’s first trip was inside of a saddlebag. Fired up nicely and brought the water to almost boiling in short order. Couldn’t be more pleased!

Another four miles of gravel brought us back to AR 123. The pavement felt like a pool table, albeit unfairly inclined against us for 2 miles. We were rewarded with a descent all the way to the truck.

Coffeeneuring Trip Nº1: 5 October 2014

Drink of Choice: Coffee from Penny University Roastery, Russellville, AR

Total Distance: 28.1 miles round trip

Total Climbing: 2718 feet


Honesty and Self-Improvement

On Thursday two weeks ago, my climbing partner and I competed in the 12 hour competition at Horseshoe Hell.

What does this have to do with a biking blog? Does it explain my time off the bike? It would be easy to say that was the reason, but it wouldn’t be true. So, let’s start this randonneuring thing (again) by being honest. Seems smart, yeah?

Honestly, I have figured out that I try to make radical life changes after becoming absolutely fed up with myself that it drives me to action. I get fed up with not being able to travel the distances that I want to travel. I want to get up in those mountains and grind away for hours along. I want to transcend myself, transcend my weaknesses. Time after time, I planned. Time after time, training began in earnest, only for my efforts to come to nothing after I run out of energy within a couple of weeks. Distance becomes intimidating. Difficulty becomes a sign of weakness. Then weakness becomes proof of lack of ability.

Oh yeah! Rock climbing… So, rock climbing has exposed my weaknesses. My true weaknesses are all mental: fear of failure, an unhealthy relationship with difficulty and pain, and most painful to admit, lack of belief in ability. But in order to uncover all of those, I first had to become comfortable with admitting these weaknesses to myself in a healthy way. Through rock climbing, I’ve learned quite a bit about being honest with myself about personal limitations and testing those limitations. As an added bonus, I have upper body strength and core strength now! The challenge will be taking what I learned from the rock and applying it to the road.

Difficulty and challenge will come, as they very well should. With the right attitude towards them, they can be transformed into gains both on the bike and in the head. Above all else, there’s one things I must keep in mind above all else:

Perfection is an unattainable goal, but true progress is always within reach. All is required is honest effort.

Chugging along, but not at full steam.

I’ll be honest. I still have to wrestle with myself in order to go out and ride.

What is this elusive thing called motivation?

Well, I did go out and ride this week. Admittedly, not as much as I should have, but I did the two most important rides.

I did a hilly 48 miles on Wednesday and I gotta say, I surprised myself with how strong I am still. Given that I have not been riding as consistently as I have in the past, I am still able to climb strong after some 30-40 miles of riding. The hill out of Atkins on AR 363 is just long enough to where I have to concentrate on pacing and my mental game, but short enough to where it doesn’t take forever. I did it in 20ish minutes. On my next rides, I’ll concentrate on getting faster here.


In other riding news, speed work might be my new favorite! Here in Russellville, there’s a nice, long, flat stretch of road with no driveways on it. Perfect for speed drills! When its all said and done, I ride a half mile stretch as steady and as fast as I can 5 times or more. (The repetitions increase every week. Currently at 6x.) During my speed work this week, my bike odometer rolled over 2000 miles! Not bad for only having the bike since September 2013.

This weekend, I’ll be riding my first 100k since this past winter. It could very well be a challenge, since the last few miles of this 48 miler were. However, the first permanent of mine that I have chosen to ride is not very hilly and I’ve done it before, so it could be easier than expected. We’ll see what happens on Saturday!

Hills in the Distance

Strung out along the backroads of the Ozark Mountains are the most beautiful parts of Arkansas. The only way to get to the good stuff is through miles of climbs. Luckily, I find it oddly satisfying to climb an 8% grade for 3 miles. The struggle of grinding away at a hill is all worth it once you reach the top. I just don’t get that same feeling of accomplishment after fighting the wind or riding fast and well. Nothing can compare to bombing down the side of a mountain at 40 miles an hour. Even better, doing it well. Reading the lines, leaning into the curves, braking just enough to keep control. It’s a balance between bravado and finesse.

But in order to get out to the good stuff and really enjoy it, I gotta ride. It’s the only way to get strong enough to go the distances long enough to get to the hills. Going out and riding can only get me so far. I need a way to motivate myself, a plan, and a goal.

My goal for the next year is to ride a 200k permanent and a 100k permanent populaire every month for the next year.