Autumn in Austin has been pretty spectacular thus far. Little rain, warm temperatures, and sunny skies. While the dryness isn’t good for plants or the water supply, it is good for bicycling. As the coronavirus pandemic continues for the eighth month (stay at home shelter orders began here in March), getting outside for some fresh air and sunshine have been essential for staying healthy and sane. Most of my rides are solo, but I’ve had the good fortune of being joined by several friends. One such ride the other night was fairly routine for me but pretty good for one of my dudes.
I’ve written about Saurabh before. Younger than I, and a pretty good bike rider, he had to stop for a good long while. He’s never made it back to the frequency he did before, so his form is not great. He’s become a fathlete like I am. So every time he joins me on a ride, he struggles to keep up – and A Dude ain’t fast. However, I finally persuaded him to accept a 30-day fitness challenge. So far, he’s kept it up by taking a walk at night. The other day I texted him “Do you even bike, bro?”, based on a popular meme about some guy who claimed to lift weights but didn’t. The reverse psychology and timing worked, so he joined me on a ride.
Arriving at sundown as the temperature dropped, he unloaded his old Trek road bike he refuses to have serviced. He forgot his water bottles and long pants and had misplaced a glove, but at least he had a jacket and his lights were charged. It was understood we would be avoiding most hills, which suited me just fine for the last day of the Strava week. Riding comfortably, we were able to carry on a conversation on the road, though often one couldn’t hear the other through our masks. So we’d have to catch up and repeat ourselves.
I’m almost always ready to ride, because I’m doing it every day. It takes him a while. Once we were finally ready, I led us out in no particular direction. I thought we’d be in for a chilly night; it wasn’t too bad with the proper layers. The first 10 minutes are generally uncomfortable for me since I seem to have lost much of my resistance to cold. I don’t like to be uncomfortable but overdressing and then having to lug extra layers around isn’t good either. I’d chosen my usual wind breaker and wearing a mask to prevent THE VIRUS also helps with cooler weather.
The most interesting part of the ride was finding ourselves downtown outside the performing arts center. Someone had the great idea of using the concrete patio as a roller rink. A handful of skaters made laps while a DJ spun some funky but laid-back music. We watched as the people rolled by. One in particular had some very long legs and some pretty smooth moves. Some of them had skates that lit up. Other gawkers stood around, and a few skaters talked to each other while some kids played on a light display. The star attraction though was the downtown Austin skyline which sparkled in front of us.
After a few minutes we rolled on. Heading north and then back south again, we eventually made it back near my abode. Saurabh always wants tacos, before, during and after a ride. I said he had to earn it, but when we stopped at a nearby university student hangout, we each got hamburgers. Mine was a turkey double with Swiss cheese and sweet potato fries and ranch dressing. Granted, not the healthiest of meals, so sue me. The tip jar had a picture of THE Dude and the phrase this blog is an homage to: The Dude Abides.
We sat outside at the opposite ends of the table while we watched two women who were in the process of beating each other up. It was a televised pro match on TV. Two NFL teams were playing on other TV’s, in the sleet, with no fans. It was getting cooler so when we finished eating we headed back to my new abode. Whenever there is no crash, ticket or flat tire, I consider that a successful ride, so we had that again. He loaded up and I encouraged him to Just Keep Bikin’, a paraphrase of a movie line uttered by local luminary and UT professor Matthew McConaghey.
As he departed, I hoped he would continue his quest to get back into shape. As for me, I had notched another day of 22 miles, chipping away at my annual goal. A hot shower and I was restored. Just another day in the life of A Dude Abikes. The End.
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