It's no secret that Little Rock is a rewarding city for cyclists. Here, almost every cycling preference can be met. There are great flats in the southeast, perfect for experienced road cyclists wanting to burn up the miles, and "rollers" and challenging hills northwest of town for mountain bikers and hearty roadies.
Between these two extremes, the River Trail and connecting bridges offer pleasant rides for everyone from retirees on cruisers to dads on hybrids pulling babies in bike trailers. In Pulaski County, there truly seems to be a trail, path or road route for every cyclist. Who knows, if improvements to the city's roads come with the new city tax hike, perhaps we will see a boom in commuter cycling in our environs. It'd be exciting to see our community become as cycling-friendly as Minneapolis or Portland.
Happily, one key component to a healthy Little Rock bicycling infrastructure is already in place. For a community our size, the city has a wide variety of independent bicycle shops. All of them are doing their part to both outfit cyclists and encourage the sport. Here are some of those shops:
Arkansas Cycling and Fitness Boasting two locations, a large store on Bowman Road in West Little Rock and a smaller shop in Sherwood, Arkansas Cycling and Fitness sells new and used bicycles and offers repairs on all brands of bikes. ACF is a Trek, Specialized and Giant dealer, but the pride of its inventory is Gary Fisher Signature mountain bikes. If you are in the market for a "29er," then this is the place to go. In the community, ACF sponsors a wide number of local rides; find details via their Arkansas Cycling iPhone App. 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat. West Little Rock Store: 15 N. Bowman, Suite 6-9. 501-221-BIKE (2453). North Little Rock Store: 3010 E. Kiehl Ave. 501-834-5787.
Chainwheel Now in its 40th year of business, Chainwheel is the king daddy of bicycle shops in Little Rock. Offering a wide variety of services to its customers, from custom bicycle fittings to repairs, sponsored training rides and fitness tips to purchase rewards and "Freedom to Ride" financing, Chainwheel's got the successful bicycle store thing down pat. The store also recently added Parlee Bicycles to its high-end armada of Trek, Cannondale and Lynskey bikes and brought top-of-the-line Pinarello bicycles to town. Huzzah! 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat. Colony West Shopping Center, 10300 Rodney Parham Drive. 501-224-7651.
Community Bicyclist The indie darling of the local bike scene, Community Cyclist has a vibe akin to an independent bookstore or record shop. Tucked into a location at the back of Tanglewood Shopping Center, CB is filled with a solid collection of affordable bicycles and bicycling accessories. It sells Fuji, Jamis, Surly, and Origin8 bikes plus ultra-cool Brooks saddles. It also does repairs, rebuilds and customizations. A great community resource for everyone from commuter cyclists to more technically-minded riders with a laid-back vibe. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 7509 Cantrell Road, Suite 118. 501-663-7300.
J&P Bike Shop The oldest bike shop in Sherwood, J&P Bike Shop prides itself on pairing riders with the right bike for their needs — which doesn't always mean the most expensive bike. Proof that the soft sell works, J&P has been around since 1981, and in that time has been a great resource for BMX and mountain bike riders in the area. Besides Cannondale, Electra, Diamondback and Raleigh bicycles, J&P offers a wide selection of bikes for kids. It sells skateboards, too. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 7910 JFK (Hwy 107). 501-835-4814.
North Little Rock Bicycles Located 100 yards from the Clinton Presidential Park Bridge, NLR Bicycles caters to the River Trail set. Currently geared more towards service than sales, look to this store for possible bicycle rental options in spring. An authorized dealer of KHS Bicycles and Strider Balance Pre-Bikes. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Tue., Thu.-Sat. 800 B E. Washington Ave. 501-372-2727.
Riders Ready Bicycles Located in Maumelle, Riders Ready Bicycles is the local Scott, Bianchi and Raleigh dealer. Laid-back and knowledgeable, Riders Ready services road, mountain, BMX, cyclocross, hybrid bikes and more. Conveniently located for riders heading out from Cook's Landing near the Big Dam Bridge. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun. 9831 Maumelle Blvd. 501-771-4848.
Spokes The new kid on the block, Spokes opened in January 2011 at the intersection of Kavanaugh and Markham in the building that formerly housed the Station Grocery. A full service shop, it offers a large selection of high-end bikes from Orbea, Cervelo, Felt, Niner and Electra, as well as a wide range of styles from cruisers to mountain bikes to road, triathlon and time trial bikes. An exceptionally handsome store, Spokes also prides itself on its relaxed wi-fi friendly atmosphere and its full service coffee bar. Plus, some Saturday mornings it serves homemade scones. 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat. 1001 Kavanaugh Blvd. 501-664-SPOKE (7765).