The Big Dam Bridger 100, Arkansas
This is my first year of riding and I've only done 5 organized rides (one being HHH) so far, but I have to say that the Big Dam Bridge 100 was my favorite of the lot. This is a relatively large ride, with ~3000 riders in attendance. Packet pick up was very easy. We picked up our packets the night before at the convention center. The number of vendors present was a little disappointing considering the number of riders attending, but that's their loss. We also attended the included meal, which was pulled pork sliders, quesadillas, and free beer from an outstanding local craft brewery. All of this made for a very nice night before the ride. Lineup the next morning was easy. The start is from Downtown Little Rock and from there all routes follow the Arkansas River through beautiful parks and over the namesake of the ride, the Big Dam Bridge. After the bridge, you continue through the parks for several miles before you eventually make your way onto traveled roadways. I rode the 52 mile route, which had beautiful scenery with genuine rolling hills, the kind where you build up enough speed on the descents to make ascending the next one a lot easier. At mile 17, the 52 mile route turns right and goes to Natural Steps and Roland, eventually looping back into itself and returning back the way you started. The longer routes turned left at mile 17 and went over the mountain, a Cat 4 climb, and then joined back up with the 52 mile route in Roland. Even though 34 total miles of this ride was technically an out and back, it didn't feel like it. I don't typically like out and back routes, preferring different scenery, but this was different. The beautiful route made me want to spend all day exploring the countryside and 52 miles flew by before I was ready for it to end. All the rest stops were well placed and well stocked, with plenty of volunteers with smiles on their faces. SAG was evident all along the route, and the few actual intersections I crossed were well manned. As you finished the ride, there were announcers calling your name and announcing your time, all to the cheers of bystanders. Once you crossed the finish line, you proceeded to the after party, which was very nice. Plenty of racks to secure your bike, free beer and hot dogs, plus free massages. There were even changing tents available if you wanted to get out of your sweaty kit before heading home. In conclusion, this is one ride I would wholeheartedly advise everyone to attend. Beautiful scenery, outstanding organization, and wonderful support. I'm already looking forward to next year.
September 27, 2014
The BBD100 is a first-rate must do rally! I've done probably 30 or so rallies this year and this was by far the best! I just can't say enough good things about this one. Not a single negative. This is a large rally with around 3,000 riders. Packet pick up was smooth and it was best to pick up the night before at the convention center where there were lots of vendors selling gear at pretty good prices, live music, and a carbo dinner. Parking the day of was ample. We parked at the finish line and rode less than 2 miles to the start. The routes offered were 30, 50, 68, and 100. I rode the 100 mile route. The scenery was AMAZING and the roads mostly as smooth as can be. You will not find riding like this anywhere in Texas! The route was fairly challenging, including two long climbs, 1 of which was over 5 miles long. There were some very fun descents. All rest stops were well placed and amply stocked (including PB&J sandwiches). The volunteers were great. Loved the cheerleaders at the rest stop half way up the first long climb. Great encouragement. At the top of the mountain (the second long climb), they had coffee shots, cool cloths, bike racks, shaded seating, popsicles and more. Every major intersection was well supported. There was SAG everywhere. The finish line was a big old block party with live music and food. As the ride was timed, the announcers called out your name to lots of cheers as you crossed the finish line. Then there were volunteers to take your bike and secure it to a bike rack so you could enjoy the festivities and perhaps a free massage. Loved the free ice cream and chocolate milk at the finish line. All in all, this is a rally those planning rallies need to study. The BDB100 folks have the planning and execution down to a science. This will be a permanent fixture on my cycling calendar!