According to Arkansas Parks and Tourism Director, Joe David Rice, Arkansas has been moved to the forefront of one of America’s fastest growing interests. His article in the May issue will tell you all you need to know about the current state of, and existing and future endeavors of bicycling in Arkansas. His take on it? “Things are pretty damn good.”
Meet Dr. Jennifer L. Conner. She is one of the 11 members of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Cycling, appointed to keep the momentum and maintenance of the sport in Arkansas going. Here she shares her enthusiasms on the beloved sport.
How long have you been riding?
I’ve been riding for about 18 years. I started riding around the age of 22.
What are your favorite trails and why?
I enjoy the River Trail for road riding. For many years, I commuted by bike from Maumelle to the State Capitol area for work. Of course, I also use the River Trail for recreation, but it means so much more to me because it was my daily route. For off-road riding, I enjoy the forest roads around Lake Sylvia along with the singletrack at Devil’s Den State Park.
How did you first get into cycling?
My cousin started cycling while living near Jackson, MS. He relocated to Little Rock and moved in with me — and all of his bikes moved in too! I remember riding one of his bikes and falling in love with cycling just as I did as a kid. It didn’t take long for me to head to a local bike shop to buy my first bike. It was a heavy hybrid and I remember riding along the River Trail and getting passed by all these people on road bikes. It didn’t take long at all to trade that bike in and get a road bike so I wouldn’t get passed! Not long after that, several of us launched the Fast Girls, Slow Guys Cycling Club and met every Tuesday and Thursday for fun rides around the Central Arkansas area.
What has been your greatest general and/or personal discovery about the world and sport of cycling?
The cycling community is full of committed, passionate people that go the extra mile to not only care for other cyclists as much as they care for family members, but also stand strong as advocates for our sport/recreation. I’ve had the honor of serving as a board member for Bicycle Advocacy of Central Arkansas and the Big Dam Bridge Foundation, as well as launch the Arkansas Safe Routes to School program and represent Arkansas at the National Bike Summit. In each of these roles, I have encountered countless people that have heightened cycling in our state. Through RAGBRAI and other charity rides, I’ve also met people who use the bike as a platform to raise awareness and reach constituents in a way that wouldn’t happen otherwise. I have a network of cyclist-friends across the US and it is amazing how two wheels of a bike can connect us in unimaginable ways.