Geared Forward

How Fred Phillips came to steer Arkansas’ biggest cycling event

In 2006, the inauguration of the 4,226-foot, Arkansas River-spanning Big Dam Bridge brought with it the Big Dam Bridge 100—a grueling, meandering century ride and a cyclist’s yardstick of ability. A decade later, thousands of riders from across the country now come together each September to grind out 100 miles, heading west from town, winding past Lake Maumelle and down the Arkansas River Trail. But while they might savor the scenic views of farmlands and mountains, perhaps dread the road steadily tilting upward and maybe worry about the pothole that’s always noticed too late, they probably don’t give much thought to the logistics behind it all.

That’s Fred Phillips’ job. He’s the brains behind the Big Dam Bridge 100, as well as a host of other regional sporting events. It’s a job he’s been doing some 18 years combined, as the owner of DLT Event Management, co-owner of Tri Dallas Events and executive director of the Big Dam Bridge Foundation.

Originally from New York, Phillips worked several engineering jobs (one that brought him to Arkadelphia, where he now lives with his family) before deciding to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions. Now, he oversees more than 40 events annually, including triathlons, duathlons and the like, across Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.

To someone like Phillips—an outdoor enthusiast and a sports fanatic—Arkansas’ untrammeled wilderness makes it a paradisiacal playground for the two-wheeled lifestyle. Asked about his favorite places to ride, he lists a couple of Lake Ouachita’s trails (where he’s hosted events in the past and plans to in the future) in quick succession. And that’s just Lake Ouachita, he adds. There’s a lot more that this state offers to the outdoorsman, and Phillips loves every bit of it. 

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