Sunday. A day associated in America with religious services, football, laundry, getting ready for the dreaded return to work on Monday, and driving. The Sunday drive is a relic of days of old, when people would drive about aimlessly while sightseeing and not paying much attention. For many cyclists, a Sunday bike ride is de rigeur. Temperatures in Austin, Texas were forecast to be in the high 70’s. For February, that’s warm. Old friend Rhodney invited me to join him for a laid back ride, and I was happy to oblige.
I was still bleary-eyed after recovering from another late Saturday ride with Saurabh (which need to start earlier and end before dark from now on) when Rhodney rolled up in his Volkswagen van. After my customary banana and my morning chocolate, but not my usual meal of oats, we headed to a section of the Shoal Creek Trail that was not paved. Parking on a side street, we knew it well, and I did not. He led, I followed.
Soon the pavement turned to gravel, and quickly we had to portage the creek itself. Sophie the Weekender Archer is not as suited to off-road conditions as Rhodney’s Ghost mountain bike with shocks and wider knobby tires. She handled the rocky terrain well enough, though. We made our way onto sidewalks and then back to the trail, getting away from cars and into a more natural setting I usually eschew to get from A to B.
Riding with Rhodney is more about the experience, not speed or distance, which is a nice change from the usual pace. Soon after these pictures, he had an issue with his bike gears. It wasn’t evident what was causing it, so we stopped at Recreational Equipment Incorporated, REI, where he recently got the bike. It was under warranty so they fixed it up while I strolled around looking at the high-quality, high-priced merchandise.
Soon we were back on the road, or rather sidewalks, carrying our bikes across rail road tracks and down to Town Lake. Also known as Ladybird Lake after the nickname for the First Lady to President Lyndon Baines Johnson, it’s a mecca for Austin runners, cyclists, dog walkers, scooter riders, and more lined the shore. Canoes, row boats, paddleboards dotted the lake. Soccer and volleyball players, and families having picknicks use the parks, It’s a veritable Leroy Neiman painting of activity, color and motion. Perfect for people-watching, if that’s your thing.
I was running low on energy so we stopped at Juiceland. Now with 44 stores in Austin and expanding quickly, they have a very large menus of juices, smoothies and other healthy food. We sat on a bench in the funky garden-like spot and had our colorful drinks. Mine was bright green with a shot of B-12 and an orange-y taste, R’s beverage was beet red. Kids with their parents, and individuals came and went. A woman needed help picking up her Vespa to put it on its kickstand, so I leapt into action. Energy somewhat restored, we continued onward.
Crossing the lake, we bobbled and weaved like slow-motion boxers, dodging the foot and bike traffic on the bridge that’s under a highway. All manner of people were out on this fine day: casual walkers, hard-core athletes, and everything in between. It started with clouds and by the end of our ride it was mostly sunny. Not long ago, it snowed. Changing atmospheric conditions happen everywhere, although Texans like to brag about how varied and unpredictable it is. But that’s actually the definition of weather, isn’t it? Yes.
My riding buddy got a call inviting him to play pickle ball, so we parted ways. I added on some miles, continuing the vibe of a Sunday drive. Arriving home after a mere 18 miles, I was nonetheless snookered. I had a recovery drink and hit the hay for a tasty nap. I guess I really needed the sleep after a week of 101 miles on the bike. That’s 19 in a row over 100 if you’re counting. (I sure am.)
Later, I went on a walk, another ride to the store, and back to enjoy the latest episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm with the roommates. I love the comic genius and truth-telling of Larry David! I don’t know if he rides a bike, but I’m pretty sure he could if he felt like it. He drives a Prius and his show wife was an environmentalist, so he has that going for him. Then again, it’s LA. Very deadly for cyclists, according to the Biking in LA blog. I read it sometimes, but the fatalities are too frequent and depressing so I can never bring myself to give it any likes.
Another 110-mile week of riding every single day is in the bag. A new week begins, when the meter on my Strava app resets to 0. It taunts me with the call to keep being active. Which I’ll keep doing until I can’t. Until next time, A Dude Abikes wishes you a happy Presidents Day, and all that encompasses. From my view, we can — and we must — do better at picking a leader who has the interests of the people on Main Street at heart, not Wall Street. I’ll be at the polls when the time comes, but for now, I vote for more biking.
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