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THE BUS BLOG – RESEARCH AND RACING

22 Dec

So obviously I haven’t been on my toes about keeping my blog up to date, or even finishing the Bus Blog experiment. I am extremely sorry. I know it’s frustrating when I find a blog I like but the writer doesn’t keep it updated. In my defense blogging is a lot more time consuming than I thought!  Shortly after the month was up I became preoccupied with some other thing and kept putting off the last entries until I decided I would just have to wait until I had some more down time to finish them. I actually had written most of my last days entry shortly afterwards, but I just never finished it. So I wanted to go ahead and post it along with my follow up results entry. But also I would like to mention that because of many of the people I met through the biking and busing communities in Little Rock, I have become more heavily involved in some other things around the city, primarily promoting more bike trail connections from the river trail into Little Rocks neighborhoods. So I will once again be blogging this time to help promote bike use in the city along with my wanderings. But that’s for another day. This last entry is a bit of a long one but entertaining. I am ashamed to say I do not have nearly the number of pictures I would like to have! Hope you enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Friday after work, I biked down to EJ’s to meet Troeger, Lindsey, Lucas and Jeanne Marie for lunch. My friend James who sits across from me at the office also went. He drove there but even though we walked out of the office at the same time, I actually beat him there by a good 5 minutes. You can get around downtown a lot quicker when you don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot!

 

 

 

 

 

After lunch I took the rest of the afternoon to do some research for the upcoming Learning Fair. I was searching for some photo’s of Downtown Little Rock during the height of the bus era. As I mentioned in a previous post about the Learning Fair, I had been asked to run a booth about the stigma people have about commuting via bus or bike. Car’s have become such an integral part of America’s culture and are such a dominant status symbol that if you’re not driving a car, you’re often looked down on. So I decided the best way to help people get over the aversion to going Car-free would be to show how common it decades ago, and not just nationally but here in our own city. I biked over to the Arkansas Studies Institute to look through their archives. They have a large collection of photos but it’s kind of difficult to sort through. I found some images and newspaper articles about Little Rocks early busses. The most interesting thing I found was a story from the 1930’s about how Little Rock was moving into the future by decommissioning old streetcar lines and slowly moving to busses. The streetcars were seen as slow and noisy and could only travel a defines route. It’s funny to see how we have come full circle and light rail is the new future and busses are a dirty, noisy inefficient thing of the past.

After the Butler Center, I biked back over to the Capitol to the Arkansas History Commission and searched through their archives. There search system was  just as difficult with the added bonus of being all in a card catalogue. I didn’t think anybody still used those! I came up empty handed as far as pictures go but I found a great pocket fold out map of Little Rock from the 30’s(?) that showed all the streetcar lines that crossed the city! The only problem was it was 12 bucks a linear foot to scan and I had no money and I couldn’t even take a picture of it. Ugh! So I left frustrated and empty handed. (But I’m going to go back soon and buy a copy of that map!) But I headed back to work and did a quick search for a picture I had seen before of Little Rock in the 50’s that was a busy street scene in downtown. I posted it in an earlier post but here it is again. I love this photo!

 

It  was getting late in the afternoon and I had to quit researching so I could focus on my other priority for the night. Making a costume for the Mud Run Saturday! I’ve ran in the Mud Run for the past 4 years with friends. It’s the only race my fat butt runs in but it’s a lot of fun. It’s a 5K at Two Rivers Park and everyone dresses up in some costume and the end of the race is a 300 ft mud pit you have to get through. This year we were going as Braveheart FREEDOM!!!!! So I had to get some stuff for our costumes. Troeger was also running it with me and he was able to get some plaid fabric for kilts. I had to run to the Halloween store and get blue face paint and a wig. The nearest costume store was in the Mid Town shopping center, where the old Lewis and Clark store used to be. So I checked the schedule and biked to the bus station. I was going to be cutting it pretty close but the busses usually left at least 5 minutes late so I figured I would make it in time. But I was wrong. I got to the station 3 minutes late and most all the busses had left including the West Markham bus. I tried to prepare myself for the 30 minute or so wait for the next bus to return but started to get anxious. So I decided I would try and bike the route and see if I could catch up with the bus. I took out through downtown and rode west on 7th street all the way to UAMS but I never saw it. However I was already on the edge of Midtown so I decided to just bike the rest of the way. I rode across Markham and wound my way through the neighborhood heading west. I had never really been in this neighborhood, north of Markham near UAMS and War Memorial before but it was a great looking neighborhood filled with small craftsman style homes. By the time I reached the back side of the Mid town Mall it was dark and I was coming to the realization that biking five miles uphill the day before running a 5K might not have been the best of ideas. But I made it. I went inside and got a wig and some blue face paint for the next day and walked back out to go find the nearest bus stop.

I pulled the time tables up on my phone and was surprised to see a blank row where the next bus was supposed to be shown. I wasn’t sure why this one particular interval was left out completely. It may have been so that if the busses were running exceptionally late that day because of heavy traffic, this could give them a window to get back on schedule. I debated just biking back but it was pretty dark by now and I figure I probably didn’t need to work out my legs anymore that night so I decided to just wait the extra half hour for the next bus. The closest stop was across Markham at St Vincent’s. Crossing Markham at night is horrible, even at the crosswalk! I made it up to the stop at the main entrance of St. Vincent’s and waited. ….and waited…. and waited. The bus showed up at 7:45, 10 minutes late, and I rode back to downtown. I got off on 4thand Chester and biked back home. Troeger was already there waiting for me to get back so we could finish up our costumes. They were pretty awesome. We worked on them that night while watching the Cards win the World Series. T’was a good night!

Waiting for the Bus at St Vincent's

My brother had asked me earlier that week if he and some friends could run the Mud Run with us, so we had made a few extra costumes for them as well. Samuel and his friends Candice and Brent showed up about the same time as Troeger did Saturday morning and we all got our costumes together. I had decided earlier on it would be fine for me to just jump in the car and to ride with everyone out to Two Rivers Park, but that doesn’t make for a very interesting story. So Troeger and I decided we would ride from my place to two river on our bikes dressed as Braveheart. Much more entertaining! Unfortunately we didn’t take any pictures. I know. I guess we just got caught up in the moment and totally forgot. But Troeger and I headed out in to the cold morning on our bikes wearing kilts. I’m sure this is how the Scotts really felt as they marched to the battlefield that day. But we had only made it to Cajun’s Wharf when Troeger realized he had got a flat. it seemed that we had rode through some glass and he had a pretty sizeable hole now leaking air out of his tire. So he called Samuel to ask him to pick him up when they left the house. Meanwhile I pressed onward, alone. I have to say that was the coldest I had been in a while as I peddled hard trying to get the blood flowing. I got quite a few looks on my 9 mile journey. There aren’t many people wearing blue face paint and kilts on the trail I finally made it out to the park and checked in about 15 minutes before the race started. Samuel and his friends had been a little late leaving the house and picking up Troeger so they got there about the same time I did.

And the Race was on…

If you get the chance, I would highly recommend running in this race or at least just coming out and watching it. The costumes are hilarious and creative and the mud pit at the end is the highlight and is great to watch. Like I said, I don’t run many races and for most of the race I gasped for air and tried to keep at least a somewhat respectable pace (I failed by the way.) But we finally reached the end and all 5 of us charged the mud pit together. It was awesome.300 feet of bone chilling mud later we emerged victorious and in desperate need of a shower. So everyone headed back to the car to drive home, while I sheathed my cardboard and aluminum foil sword and dismounted my trusty paper bag and dowel rod steed for the wet and frigid bike ride back home to the highlands. Once I got through the park and back on to the River trail in the sun, it really wasn’t so bad. I got even more looks on my ride home. The only thing more strange that a Scotsman in blue face paint on a bike is a Scotsman in blue face paint on a bike covered in mud. I arrived home a short while later and walked up the stairs. I figured everyone else had already made it back, grabbed their stuff and headed back home. But when I turned the door knob to enter, it was locked.

(Insert expletive here).

I had left my keys and phone in the house and Nicole had locked the door when she had left for work that morning. But where was everyone else? I assumed they had found the door locked as well and had decided to just head home anyway. But their cars were still in the parking lot? So I went to my neighbors and knocked on his door to borrow his phone and just as I pressed send to call Nicole to come rescue me, Samuel, Troeger Brent and Candice all pulled up. Apparently they had been stuck in traffic, trying to get out of the park this whole time and even though I waited around at the park a good 20 minutes after they had left, I had still beat them home. Luckily my rock-climbing, monkey of a brother was able to climb my balcony on the 2nd floor and get into my house to let us all in. Everyone grabbed their clothes and headed home and I took a shower and a nap.

But the day was not done.

Every year my family throws their Fall Fling for our church, and our family and friends. We have hay rides, live music bonfires, chili. All that fun stuff. And I had promised my dad I would go help. So after my rest I biked off to the bus station to ride the Rosedale line out to my parents again. I helped my parents set up some and parked cars. Nicole had to work that day but she came out later that evening so I was able to load my bike up in her car afterwards and ride back home with her. I slept like the dead that night!
Thus ended my month of not driving in Little Rock.

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1 Comment

Posted by on December 22, 2011 in Bus Blog

 

One response to “THE BUS BLOG – RESEARCH AND RACING

  1. roger smith

    December 23, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I love this blog and as a longtime bike rider in the Rock and baca member I applaud your experiment.
    The thing I must try as a result of reading is ride the bus with my bike.

     

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