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The Big Dam Bridge 100 (BDB100) is a 100-mile bicycle tour that takes place each fall in central Arkansas, traditionally on the last Saturday in September. The event has been held annually since the inaugural ride on October 1, 2006, and it has become the largest cycling event in the state.
In addition to the 100-mile tour, several shorter routes are offered. The additional courses in the 2016 event included 68-mile, 50-mile, 32-mile, and 11-mile distances. The route has varied over the years, but, in 2016, the ride started at Riverfront Drive and Willow in downtown North Little Rock (Pulaski County), headed west toward Perryville (Perry County), and finished on Main Street in North Little Rock’s Argenta Historic District.
The 2016 route crossed the Big Dam Bridge and the Two Rivers Park Bridge as cyclists traveled through parks along the Arkansas River Trail before leaving Two Rivers Park on County Farm Road. The 100-mile and 68-mile routes proceeded to Arkansas Highway 10 and then headed west before each group rode up Wye Mountain for the most challenging climb of the ride. The 68-mile group turned north at Highway 113 for the climb up the south side of Wye Mountain, as the 100-mile group continued west to Perryville before turning back to the east. Their climb began near Bigelow (Perry County) and followed Highway 113 up the north side of Wye. The 50-mile course followed Highway 300 to the Roland Cutoff near the base of Wye Mountain before returning to North Little Rock for the finish.
Planners considered making the BDB100 a large event modeled after the Hotter’N Hell 100 at Wichita Falls, Texas, which hosts up to 15,000 riders. Logistics for an event that size are daunting, however, particularly when the route begins and ends in an urban area and includes miles of bike paths and parks, in contrast to the rural country of Wichita Falls. BDB organizers tailored the event to the area and, in doing so, created a cycling tour that is both challenging and enjoyable. In 2006, registration for the BDB100 was limited to 1,000 riders and has steadily grown; it had nearly 3,000 participants in 2016.
The route evolved over time, with early versions passing through the cities of Maumelle (Pulaski County) and Mayflower (Faulkner County) before circling Lake Conway and returning. With the opening of the Two Rivers Park Bridge in 2011, riders began crossing the Arkansas River at Toad Suck near Conway (Faulkner County), and the climb of Wye Mountain was added to the return route on the south side of the river.
For additional information:Big Dam Bridge 100. http://www.thebigdambridge100.com/ (accessed July 5, 2016).
Jensen, Van. “Trails Met ‘Big Dam Bridge Opens.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, pp. 1B, 3B.
John Barton JBar Cycling
Last Updated 12/10/2016
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