Photographs and Memories: A Weekend in the Biking Life in Austin, Texas

Like many people in the modern era who are privileged enough to have a smart phone, electricity and mobility, I take a lot of pictures. Some good, some not, a few great. Who’s to say, though? If you like them, great. If not, move along. Trouble is, I don’t use that photo platform named after your grandmother, so when I’m riding my bicycle and take a pic, it goes either here, on my Strava fitness app (follow me there if you’re a bikester) or doesn’t see the light of day. Occasionally I post a blog with a lot of photos and some words to explain them. This is one of those times. Enjoy the whole “picture paints a thousand words” thing, yada yada.

I got to ride two days in a row with Rhodney, a long-time friend who moved back to Austin a while back with his lovely wife. He intrepidly joined me for my cold and wet birthday ride this year, and last year (which featured nicer weather). So we’ve doubled our rides in one weekend. He’s not a spring chicken, but most gents his age would not even dare to bike, so he’s a trooper, although he appreciates a slow relaxed pace. Not that A Dude is a speed demon. After the 150-mile weeks I’ve been having, I was in no rush.

Our ride Saturday was a section of the old standby of which I never tire (pun not intended – I’m that good at them!): the Southern Walnut Creek Trail. Weather was cool but sunny, little wind, in other words, perfect. We put in a few miles up and back, enjoying being outside and saying hi to other bicyclists. Many of them had earphones or just could not be bothered to even say “On your left!” when passing — a pet peeve of mine. You may be a faster, stronger, better bike rider, but you’re a horrible person.

Unfortunately, the Sunday ride began with some delays, first another friend, and then just as we were starting out from downtown Austin, I noticed a flat on my bike Sophie. The tire I got from The Peddler Bike Shop has a steel belt, just like car tires, so it’s super tight and hard to change. I was grateful for his help wrestling it on and off. But the cause of the flat persisted and gave me another one immediately. Fortunately, we were within a half mile of Mellow Johnny’s. I stood up out of the saddle to put pressure on the front tire and limped over to Lance’s shop – no easy feat without strong arms. Once there, Dan the Man fixed me up, and we were finally on our way.

Our goal was to ride a portion of the Butler Hike and Bike Trail which Rhodney likes and I didn’t know so well. It’s lightly traveled, and has some remote dense sections of trees and bushes adjacent to Town Lake and even a beach. A downed bridge caused us to have to pick our way down, across and up the banks of a dry creek bed. And soon we found ourselves at a school tennis court with… you guessed it… Bike Polo!

Kristina from the Austin Yellow Bike Project had mentioned it to me the other day, and kindly invited me to stop by. It’s a ragtag bunch of folks, one had the sense that they were many of the Social Cycling Austin scene. They play most weekends, but this was a special one, since it was a tournament that had people from out of state, even one guy from Alaska. Special single speed bikes with disc brake covers, left-handed brakes, and other features were used in concert with mallets to hit and carry the ball, hockey-style, up and down the court. It looked exciting, hard, fun and dangerous.

During the course of our ride, we passed by the old Seaholm Power Plant, which now houses a buncha fancy businesses and some rich hipster Californians, no doubt. (We love Cali and its fornicators, I mean, fornians, just not the obscenely high rent prices its refugees have brought here.) The “Please Breathe” painted on was a nice reminder to be calm, even as people in cars drove by and in front of us too closely. At the end of our ride, we stopped for some meaty beans and spicy slaw, plus a beer for R and a sparkly water for moi. It was a relaxed Sunday ride, seeing the sites.

I added some miles and finished another long week. Soon, the year will be over, and that Strava counter will flip back to 0 — a depressing sight if there ever is one for a mileage goal-oriented fathlete like myself. We shall see what 2020 brings, bike- and otherwise. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoyed this post and if so, encourage you to share it widely. A Dude can never have too many bike and blog friends.

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5 thoughts on “Photographs and Memories: A Weekend in the Biking Life in Austin, Texas

  1. One of my go to places in Austin is Mellow Johnny’s. The other is Mean Eyed Cat. I also, during the season, enjoy riding to the Driveway Series from Mellow Johnny’s with a bunch of the competitors. (They ride mellowy when I’m with them so I don’t get lost).

    Liked by 1 person

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