After a number of bike news posts, it’s time for a personal update. This blog is meant to educate, inform, inspire and motivate. But it is also to shine a light on one bicyclist’s journey (literal and figurative), not just the good, but also the bad and ugly. Regarding the latter, lately the engine room has not been firing on all cylinders. But truth be told, it’s been that way since I can remember, just different degrees.
As I recently told a fellow rider on Strava, “I’m only as good as last night’s sleep.” Since that generally isn’t great, my biking suffers accordingly. There are plenty of reasons for that, and while some are under my control, most are not. So I do my best. The question is what to do about it, besides the obvious: stop blogging late at night and do what those celebrities like Jennifer Garner said in hilarious videos of a book with the same title: “Go the F*(& to Sleep!” However, if I did that, you wouldn’t have anything to read.
The last three days I spent participating in these two events were a slice of bicyclist advocate heaven. Although I’m not being literal (read my post In Bike I Trust: The Faith of an Agnostic Athiest Cyclist for my thoughts on all that), it was a smorgasboard of education, networking, lobbying, and of course, bike riding. The first-ever event hosted by the board, staff and volunteers of Bike Texas brought 40 people together from many parts of Texas. I volunteered to attend as one of three representatives of Bike Austin. The summit was held Saturday-Sunday and the lobby day was today, Monday. If you’ve read this far, you may as well keep going to read the rest. You know you wanna!
Not since Navin Johnson (played by Steve Martin) got overly jazzed about the arrival of the new phone books in The Jerk (a film I’ve referenced as recently as my post Jerks in Cars Messing Up My Bike Rides) has a printed and bound document been quite so anticipated and well-received. Well, maybe that’s kind of a little bit of a possible smidgen or a skosh of hyperbole. Sure, when I became a member of the League of American Bicyclists, and Bicycling was was offered as a perq, I was glad to hear it. Just not jumping around shouting it to the whole street glad — only to my blog readers. Anyway, after four long months of anticipation, the last four weeks or so have brought incessant emails from the publisher but not actual magazine, it finally arrived. Let’s take a look under the hood.
Today the weather was sunny and warmer than it has been, with little wind, a perfect day to bike. I wasn’t feeling perfectly, and in fact was laying outside trying to get some Vitamin D on my skin. I had to go to the post office so at 4:59 I finally got on Sophie the Fairdale Weekender Archer. Errand complete, we headed towards my familiar stomping on the pedal grounds, the Southern Walnut Creek Trail. Let me tell you about it.
There is always something happening related to bicycles in my little world, but there have been a number of bike-related headlines around the city in recent days. On this day of closed post offices due to the 40 or so men who have resided at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, here are the stories that caught A Dude’s eye:
- Keep Austin Weird: Man charged with assault after Sixth Street fight with pedicab driver, police say (February 17, Austin American-Statesman)
- Fortunately, he survived: Man injured in bicycle crash in downtown Austin (same as above)
- The investigation into the death of Anthony John Diaz, killed after apparently getting run over by a bus, continues: UT Austin police seeking Good Samaritan witness to fatal crash (February 13, 2019 KXAN News)
- Former resident, cancer patient, and guy who did some other bike-related stuff: Lance Armstrong becomes ‘charity chaser’ for Austin Marathon (February 14, KXAN News)
- For a bonus, although happening 11 days ago and is slightly out of town in Burnet, Texas: 2019 FIRST CHAIR ALERT: Spider Mountain Bike Park Opening Day (February 4)
Let’s dive into the details, shall we?
There’s alot of bike stuff happening in Austin, Texas. Woom Bikes, which is a company that makes bicycles for children, is having a big event this weekend. The City of Austin is starting a roll-out to provided dockless bikes and scooters with special parking “boxes” to try to get them out of harm’s way. Next weekend is the Texas Bicycle Advocate Summit organized by Bike Texas, with people coming from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Yours truly was offered to attend as a representative of Bike Austin. The next day is Cyclists in Suits, where riders go to members of the Texas Legislature to promote better safety for bike riders. That night will be the Pedicab Parade, with a marching band playing from the pedicabs. Check back here for news and views you can use next week. But meanwhile, I want to talk about an important subject: jerks.
Today was a somber occasion, the ride to remember Anthony John Diaz, run over by a bus on January 28th. I’ve been on a few of these now and it both causes me literal grief, not to mention that another senseless, needless, horrible death of a person on a bike who was doing the right thing simply pisses me off. For some reason, a city bus driver ran over and killed a person riding a bicycle. We don’t know yet if she was overworked, high on drugs or booze, hated cyclists, or what. The place it happened is one I ride a lot and was due to be fixed years ago, but wasn’t.
Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.
— Mother Jones
For some riders, 4,000 miles is not alot. For me, it’s no joke, and a milestone worth noting. I’ve had Sophie the Fairdale Weekender Archer bicycle for two years this month, actually. But to reach 10,000 miles on my lighter Fuji Silhouette bike named Sookie (on whom I finally pedaled almost 13,000 miles before she developed a fatal crack in her fragile aluminum frame), I gave the steel commuter and light touring bike a rest for seven months. The other day I was asking about getting new disc brake pads, and it turns out that after a while of frequent braking, they wear out. Well, that’s because I’m riding her all the time now that Sookie has been forced into retirement. Nothing lasts forever. But while the ride still lasts, it’s important to acknowledge the accomplishments and share them with you.
Today was a day that I could have biked, but I didn’t. I could use the sleet and tiny hail that fell on Austin streets today and the cold weather for excuses. But the precipitation didn’t stick to the roads, and it’s not like I’m in Fargo, North Dakota or somewhere actually very cold. With enough layers it can be done. There was my headache, probably due to a lack of sleep. For the latter, I can blame the excellent film Sicario: Day of the Soldado which I stayed up to watch on DVD. Or there was being busy: two friends were over to help start packing for my move, and they gave me a ride to the second half of a how to start your own business class. I walked almost two miles and then just wasn’t feeling like going back out. So I didn’t. It was nice to, um, just chill out.
Should I Go to Ol’ Mexico? I Dunno
I was talking with a young woman today who told me she was going to Austin’s Yellow Bike Project to work on her bike. She would be taking it to Mexico in May as part of Bikes Across Borders. A couple of dozen anarchists ride for a couple of weeks to a town where they have relationships with people there, donate the bike, and take the bus home. Sounds fun, scary, dangerous, hard, and maybe a bit crazy. Oh yeah, inefficient. Why not just send the bikes by truck? Well, that would be boring and harder to raise money for. Continue reading