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Bike & Hike for ALS race doubles the challenge

By Jennifer Nixon

This article was published August 4, 2014 at 2:33 a.m.

Ride a bicycle for 36 miles? No problem. Climb Pinnacle Mountain? No sweat. Do both in the same morning? Hmm.

"When I first came up with this, I was thinking it would be an off-week, dual-sport, dual-training exercise for the hard-core cyclists," says Tim Vahsholtz, explaining the activity required by the Bike & Hike for ALS.

At 7 a.m. Aug. 17, bike-and-hiking racers will undertake the third annual dual-sport fundraiser for ALS Arkansas. Vahsholtz and a group of his cycling friends founded the event after Vahsholtz's father was diagnosed and subsequently died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis -- ALS.

To his surprise, many of the first participants were casual riders who saw the Bike & Hike as their big challenge event for the summer. And many of them fell in love with it.

The Bike & Hike for ALS starts off with an approximately 18-mile bike ride from North Little Rock along the Arkansas River Trail to Pinnacle Mountain State Park. There, riders trade their bikes for climbing shoes and make their way over and around Pinnacle in a 3 1/2-mile hike -- before getting back on their bikes and riding the 18 miles back to the starting point.

"Because there were a lot of cycling events going on in Arkansas already -- that I had been a part of -- I wanted to do something kind of like that; but a couple of cycling friends said, 'How can we do something different?'" Someone suggested a hiking event, and they decided to combine the two activities into one challenge.

After staging the first two years at Fike's Bikes, this year's event begins and ends at the DAM Riverboat Co., 100 Riverfront Park Drive in North Little Rock. The move provides the opportunity for a new spectator activity. For those who have friends and family taking part and need something to do while they wait, or for those who can't handle a long ride and a hike over Pinnacle but still want to contribute, there's a Riverboat Cruise for ALS leaving from DAM Riverboat Co. at 8 a.m.

The sightseeing cruise aboard the Mark Twain includes a continental breakfast. Tickets are $30 in advance, $37.50 at the door.

The event "brings out all kinds," Vahsholtz says.

It's not an activity that requires one to be a fitness guru or expert, although some experience in bicycling and hiking is definitely helpful; whether they're serious cyclists or more low-key, they'll have plenty of support.

"You don't have to carry a lot of stuff with you," Vahsholtz says. "You can just enjoy the ride."

All participants will receive a drop bag. If they bring their hiking gear and stow it in the bag, the event staff will shuttle the gear out to the transition station at Pinnacle for them.

Once at Pinnacle, riders-turned-hikers can leave their bicycles with event volunteers, who will keep a close eye on them until the hikers reappear for the return trip.

Racers will be required to sign in and sign out of the hiking portion. Vahsholtz promises, "We're looking out for you. We're not going to let anybody fall behind or get lost."

There will also be a sag wagon, rest stops and misting stations, just in case the surprisingly pleasant summer weather comes to an end. Afterward, there will be food and drinks at the Sandbar Lounge.

Registration for the Bike & Hike is $45, $35 for those under age 18. The costs increase $5 after Aug. 15. While registration will be available the morning of the event, they encourage people to sign up by the day before at the latest.

"I have not heard of one person who said they did not enjoy doing it," Vahsholtz says. "There's one person who did it last year at the last minute and was so enthralled with it, he's one of our sponsors this year."

Call (501) 470-8559 or visit bikehikeforals.com.

Milk it

A milk run is a routine trip or undertaking, usually for purposes of collection and distribution of goods. Maybe milk, maybe not.

If one squints and tilts one's head to the side, that definition might apply to the Arkansas Breastfeeding Coalition's Milk Run 5K, but not quite. It's about milk in a more literal sense.

This is the second year for the run/walk and the money raised goes to facilitate support groups and provide money for special needs, such as nursing chairs and privacy screens to make it easier for mothers to breastfeed their babies.

It starts at 7 a.m. Aug. 16 at the boat launch area in Murray Park, where runners and walkers will take off, cross the Big Dam Bridge and then come back.

This time out, there will be chip-timing, provided by Mac's Race Timing Service, with awards given three-deep to male and female runners broken down into age groups: 0-9, 10-14 and 15-19 for young people and then by decade for adults.

In keeping with the organization's mission of promoting, protecting and supporting breastfeeding as a way to improve the health and well-being of children and families in Arkansas, this is a race that's open to everyone.

"Strollers are welcome," says race director Lena Strickland. "We want the whole family there." Registration is $25, free for children under 12, but a release form is required for all ages.

Call (501) 350-2353 or visit arbfc.org.

Mighty melon

Milk isn't everyone's cup of tea but how about watermelon? It's prime time for watermelons, and that means the annual Hope Watermelon Festival and its Watermelon 5K.

The race is one of the older, well-established ones, having begun in 1978 and been part of the Arkansas Grand Prix Series since 1994.

Race director Don Still promises a race that hasn't changed much.

"It'll be a fast course, as always. I always guarantee it's going to be hot, but it might not be this year, the way this summer's been going."

If it is steamy, the nearby swimming pool and showers will be open for runners to cool off and clean up after the run.

And there will be ice-cold watermelon: one melon free to each runner.

It starts at 7:30 a.m. Saturday on the east side of Fair Park and continues on a predominantly flat course (just a few rolling hills after the first two miles) through town before ending back at the park.

The race is chip-timed and awards are given three-deep in five-year age groups.

Registration, which includes a watermelon and a T-shirt, is $20 in advance, $25 on race day.

Once the adults have had their run, it's time for children under 12 to tackle the Melon Mile (at 9 a.m.). Registration is $8.

Call (870) 777-1917, email still1@sbcglobal.net or visit arkrrca.com.

Readers can send tips about wellness-supporting active recreation opportunities to Jennifer Nixon at

jnixon@arkansasonline.com

ActiveStyle on 08/04/2014

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