Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fayetteville Trail System Expands

The Fayetteville trail system just got a little longer. At the intersection of Scull Creek Trail & Mud Creek Trail you can now continue north into Johnson. The new trail takes you under Gregg Avenue coming to a junction. If you stay left heading north the trail runs directly into Ball Street. If you hang a right heading east the trail runs under Gregg once more and stops along Clear Creek. Eventually it will connect to Lake Fayetteville.

For more info. check out the link below.

Bridge is now open.

Mud Creek.


Ball Street.

Future connection to Lake Fayetteville.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

These pretzels are making me...

long day at the offee
87° in August..gotta
engine one, go
engine two, go
tower this is ghost rider..
permission to take off
legs feel light
wind? nil
slow roll from TBR
chattin up The Freshman
taking his show to RussVegas
got him a new NEW bike
another good one 20+
71, Cato Springs, diagonal to PG
Yellow Kit brought his left hand
1-2 combos to the face tonight
first wrinkle coming
move to front
Greenland sign gone
made the split
sawed off half the bunch
Yellow Kit 1 SAVAGE pull
just gotta haaaannngggg....
laaaccctttiiccc aaaccciiiiidddd
gotta get through it
phew...these pretzels are making me...
little kicker
gonna have a dig
Orange Bike is there
soft regroup doesn't work
strewn all over the road
time to get it
small group up
Yellow Kit 2 comes round
The General drifts back
JMSR seals the deal
all together
PG hill coming
bunch shatters
ahhhh...cold water
gaggle of old ladies givin cray-cray looks
these pretzels are making me...
Viney Grove to Goose Creek
worlds take 2...action
lasers on the wheel
how fast are weeee...?
yo-yo ma
my turn
captain to engine room...
hello engine room?
talk to me engine room...!
sorry sir...taking a photo
what the *&*&* get it together!
small wrinkle coming
get to front get to front get to front
out of saddle
dancin on the pedals
ugly clawing my way...honey badger
made the split
what a view
TT Smackdown to Farmington sign
battle stations...we must take Stinky Hill
Yellow Kit 2 digs
made the split
Yellow Kit 1, MG, then me
not ideal
give it the business
Yellow Kit 2 opens
New Guy Hesjedal chases
The Mountain Biker goes!
old man legs...don't fail me now
bunch settles
puttin the knives away
lickin open wounds
these pretzels are making me...
losing the light
good times

Losing the light.

What do you eat after Worlds? Chips & salsa of course. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Saturday Ride 8-17

Winslow Death March

Twenty miles was a big deal ten years ago when I first started riding. As the miles pile up you start looking for new challenges. Longer distances, harder climbs in all types of conditions. The Winslow Death March was that route for me back in the day. It's not such a big deal anymore but it is still a great route. It is one of the classics here in NWA. I take great pleasure in introducing folks into the fantastic roads, beautiful landscapes and challenging routes here in Arkansas.

Last week we were totally spoiled. August in Arkansas is usually a total beat down with high humidity and scorching temps. The north wind decided to give us a break. 70's all week made for perfect riding conditions. I even started the ride with a base layer. Go figure.

  Into the fog.

The great weather brought out solid numbers. 

The sun finally breaks through.

Headed into another fog wall.

A great morning. 

The bunch finally sits up at the turn to Winslow.

Blink and Winslow is gone.

There is a little kicker exiting Winslow on Devil's Den road.

.9 miles, 271 feet of gain. 

Kudos to The Captain for snatching the KOM.

The next 12 miles is flat out Ozark goodness. It ends with a white knuckle descent into Devil's Den. The smiles & chatter in the bunch always let's me know when folks are having fun. I think I let out a yelp of my own dropping into the Den. 

Rolling terrain that is more down than up.

With a group this large the pace got super hot.


After stopping in the park for water we climbed out of the Den. This climb is used in the Joe Martin Stage Race time trial. It is 2.5 miles with 694 feet of gain.

Can you....



Gerald is on form. He even had flames coming out of his helmet.

What a way to spend 3 hours. Good times.

From here we smashed it back into Fayetteville. Average speed was over 20 for 64 miles. That's solid.

PCG and I both got off early Friday.

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time." John Lubbock

All the pieces of the puzzle came together. It started with PCG getting inspired.

Carrots from farmers market.

Friends who had too much meat from a fishing trip in Alaska.

Egg plant from the Harris garden. Tomatoes "flown" in from Indiana.

Let's Eat! Paige named this dish Summer Harvest Stack. Eggplant was cooked to perfection.

Drizzling this cranberry sauce stuff she made.

Yum! Let's Eat! #spoiled

Thursday, August 15, 2013

79° + August + The Natural State = Gift

It is the 6th grade.
I am at school work.
Head on the swivel.
Stare out the window.
Stare at the hands of the clock.
Leg is tapping.
Would somebody ring that darn bell!
I might explode inside.
70°'s + August + Arkansas = gift.

Soak it up Arkansas! Get out and enjoy every second you can!

Took to the gravel yesterday. So pleasant. 

Is it Spring? Stuff is so green and vibrant. All the rain and now cool temps has my head spinning.

One of my favorite views. Up top on Mineral Springs Road. 

Ahhh...Tilly Willy my old friend.

  PCG's, mom got a special delivery yesterday. Indiana mater's! Thanks Aunt Toni.

Let's Eat! PCG's bacon quiche keesh with spinach, kale, basil, avocado, Indiana tomatoes salad. Yum!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Symond Cycles

Arkie Profile: Joel McCourt

I recently had the good pleasure of visiting with Joel McCourt owner/operator of Symond Cycles. What is Symond Cycles? Well now...I'm glad you asked. Joel designs finely crafted purposefully built custom steel bicycles. Yup, that's a mouth full. But all so very true. So hang out for a sec and find out more about Joel and what he's up to at Symond Cycles.

Custom Built

Going custom is a unique process from the first time you shake hands until the last time you shake hands. You can be involved in almost every detail of the build or you can come up with a basic plan and let Joel fill in the blanks. The final product will have more of "you" in it then any factory built bicycle you can purchase. Doesn't that sound fun? 

About Joel 

I've always said Joel is one of those guys you wish you ran into more often. I have my own way of determining when I like someone. I say to myself, "so and so is someone I could sit down and have a beer with or so and so is not someone I could sit down and have a beer with." Joel is in the first category many times over. After spending some time with him at his shop I quickly got to see a very serious passionate person who is pouring himself into the 'old ways' where a handshake still means something. Where building a relationship with the customer and providing top notch service is the life blood. Where helping to solve problems and collaborating with the customer is worth its weight in gold steel.

The Interview

WHF: Can you speak to what inspired you to start your own frame building company?
SC: Like many, I grew up around bicycles. The efficiency of the machine intrigued me from an early age and I loved working on my bike under a tree in our yard. This ultimately led me down the path of becoming a professional bicycle mechanic. At some point in my cycling involvement I realized these bicycles we ride are made by people (as silly as that might sound) and I wanted to further my knowledge. So, I decided to take the necessary steps to become a frame builder. I have also thoroughly enjoyed working and creating with my hands — seemingly, a dying art in my generation.

WHF: Tell us about the name and that super cool head tube badge.
SC: Naming a business that is effectively “you” is tough. I wanted to avoid using my name b/c I desire this business to be more than just me and give a nod to those who have influenced my journey. My education is deep with a background in graphic design and also architecture — I say this only to illustrate how much I toiled over my name and creative for this endeavor.

Symond = Si McCourt & Raymond Bascom
These men were my grandfathers. They both lived through the great depression and were in WWI. Their spirit and ability was always impressive and my intention is to honor them with this name.

The head badge is both symbolic and aesthetic. There are many people in the frame building community that think head badges are unnecessary. I disagree. Could the same artwork be done in a sticker? Yes. But I feel it provides a unique finishing touch to my work and shows that I take this profession seriously. It would be cheaper and easier not to have it…

Symbolism — the eagle represents freedom. Both the freedom you feel as a child when you first rode a bicycle and the freedom my grandfathers put their life on the line to defend. The breastplate is a graphic representation of the three branches of the military where my grandfathers served. The background shield is a simple abstract bicycle wheel. I am a bit of a wheel geek so I put it in my creative as a tie to my appreciation for one of man’s best engineering achievements. Think about it — some thing made of 30+ pieces that is within .0001” in 3 dimensions and can support many many many times its own weight. WOW.

WHF: Can you tell us the top challenges you have faced thus far?
SC: Speed. Everything I do is with a hacksaw and files. This is not a complaint, just my reality. I enjoy the work and am looking for my niche. Perhaps being a truly 100% hand crafted frame is interesting to people? I do have plans to tool up more but am growing slowly. Also, paint has been the hardest thing to self teach.

WHF: Can you tell us the top satisfactions you have experienced thus far?
SC: My client responses have been very encouraging. I cannot think of anything that fills me with more pride than knowing I interpreted someone’s idea into reality. Along a more tactical note, my paint is getting better and better and I love that I have built most of my tools.

WHF: Do you have a favorite build?
SC: It is a tie between the S&S coupled & internally routed wire Ui2 travel bike and my latest road bike. Both have their merits. It would be hard for me to choose between the two.

CMT Travel Bike.

Latest road bike.

WHF: Tell us about steel. Are you planning to work with any other materials in the future?
SC: If all one cares about is weight there are arguments against steel. However, those arguments are pretty thin considering the advances in steel since the 80s. I have seen some 12 lbs fully functional road bikes made from steel. Ultimately, steel is a wonderful material to work with and it has great ride quality that is significantly tunable to one’s height, weight and goals. The true magic with steel is riding a “lively” frame. A rider experiences this when their frame is built for them and their needs. Lively refers to an appropriate amount of frame flex where the amount of give and stiffness are balanced (not to be confused with equal). The ultimate goal is to build a bike that rides well for my client — not the masses. Think about the 54cm road bike at your LBS; if a lady that is 5’ 8” & 130lbs and gentleman of similar height but weighs 250lbs want to ride a bike, that road bike will most likely be dimensionally close. However, ever consider the ride quality for each rider? My point is that mass-market bicycles are designed for the 90th percentile. This is not a bad thing. Bikes must be safe for everyone, but a custom tailored bicycle takes all of you into the equation yielding a ride a cut above what most are used to.

As far as other materials and processes — for now steel will be my medium of choice. I have no plans to change. That said, I am very interested in technology and other materials. We shall see…

WHF: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
SC: Great question. I see Symond Cycles being one of two things. 1) Still a very 1 off custom design house servicing client that desires every excruciating detail accounted for — very small scale. 2) Providing custom bike frames with more scale but still crafting beautiful functioning machines. This would require some employees. I like the idea of creating a family of employees. I admire Chris King for his ability to create his company, which creates some of the highest quality bicycle parts available and the atmosphere reminds me of a large family. That is my little pipe dream…

WHF: How can interested customers get in touch with you?
SC: Many ways…

It all starts on paper. Each frame starts as a drawing. Tailored to fit the customers goals, needs and desires.

A key component is this work table that weighs a boat load and then some.

Once the plans are approved and the green light is given the ball starts rolling. This holds the bottom bracket in place and Joel will spend many hours working around this fixed point. 


Not your average bottom bracket. Makes me think of baby birds in a nest.

Something super interesting about Joel is he made many of his tools. This holds the lug in place so he can file. 

A closer look.

This is a 'fork bender'. Yup, you guessed it. It actually bends the fork tubes to spec. 


I was like a kid in a candy store or a grown man in a bike shop.

Precision, the name of the game.

I love the look of the lugs. Not sure why, just do.

In action.

Before and after.

Before and after.

The final steps involve paint. That takes place behind this door.

Joel even built his own paint room. 

Powered by this monster compressor. 

When the dust settles you will have one sweet custom steel machine.

Final Thoughts

It's really cool to see someone chasing their dream. Joel is competent, honest and passionate about his craft. So if custom steel interests you give Joel a shout. He is happy to show you the shop and walk you through the frame building process.

Some other services at Symond Cycles. Do you have and old frame you'd like to see resurrected with shiny new paint? Do you have a dream wheel set you would like professionally built? Joel is your man and Symond Cycles is the brand. 

I've started a Symond Cycles savings fund for my own custom steel machine on down the road!