Writers League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference 2021 Wrap-Up

For those new here or who’ve forgotten, this blog is an outgrowth of all my bicycling. In turn, that has spawned a manuscript. Books don’t just publish themselves, and it’s an epic battle to get it done and revised, and like a war to get it published. So I spent most of the past weekend at a nice hotel in downtown Austin on the south shore of Town Lake at the Writers League of Texas conference. This is my summation.

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Si, Se Bici: Yes, Latinx People Ride Bicycles

Texas used to be part of Mexico, and 40% of its inhabitants are Hispanic. for our neighbor to the immediate south, Mexico, which celebrated its independence from Spain on September 16. The day before was Independence Day in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month in the US. Since I’ve written about Asian Americans, African Americans, Native Americans in relation to cycling, it’s high time I highlighted Hispanics who bike.

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Austin Bike News Roundup for September 7, 2021

These Austin Bike News Roundups appear sporadically, usually when I grow bored of writing about myself and notice enough newsworthy items to share. If I were a more organized writer (a planner, not a panstser) and a more energetic dude in general, I might solicit entries from local bike shops and groups and publish them on a regular basis. If I had more actual readers living in Austin, and some income from doing them (like sponsorships), then it would make more sense. And, if I were a rich man ya ba dibba dibba dibba dibba dibba dibba dum… Of course I’m not rich, yet still I write this blog. Why? I cannot say. Oy vey.

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Going Postal: Apparently We All Can’t Get Along

Half-descended from a nomadic people, and with the high, High, HIGH cost of rent in Austin(tatious), Texas, I tend to move around a lot. Realizing that would be my lot when I first returned here after surviving Y2K, I rented a mail box at the downtown post office. No matter where I was living (always within a five mile radius north or east), I figured it would also force me to hop on my bicycle and ride down to El Centro at least once a week. (“It’s ALL downtown, George,” said Jerry on Seinfeld.) It was on Guadalupe Street for many years, but a while back it moved to Congress Avenue. And anything named after that junction of dysfunction — Congress being the opposite of Progress — is bound to have problems. I saw one tonight.

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What’s Up With Austin Bicycle Community Groups?

We’re deep in the heart of Texas and COVID-19’s fourth wave, with allegedly only two (2!) ICU beds available for an 11-county, 2.3 million person region. That news is real and dire, but somehow the beds seems to expand when more staff become available. But with the Governor Hey Abbott! getting infected with the virus himself this week, after his horribly out-of touch, anti-science, and anti-mask mandate law, it’s strange days indeed. Almost enough to write a follow-up to The Coronacles of Blarneya, Part II. Instead of that unpleasantness, it’s best to go outside and exercise those lungs in the fresh air and sunshine — the latter being the best disinfectant, after all. Anyway, it occurred to me to do a little update on a few of Austin’s community groups that help get butts on bikes.

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The Art of Taking the Lane on a Bicycle

“Get yo’ bitch ass offa the road!” yelled the guy in the truck at me. That’s because I was in the middle of the narrow car lane, since there was no room for cars to safely pass me a bike lane or alternative road, and the sidewalks suck. I was in Southeast Austin, Texas in a neighborhood called Govalle (a Swedish, not Spanish word). It’s a less wealthy part of town near the airport that billionaire Elon Musk is transforming with a huge Tesla manufacturing plant. (Teslas are still cars, and they still pollute, albeit less than a standard gas engine car. And those lithium batteries are hugely wasteful to make, even if recycled.) Anyway, it’s a car-centric neighborhood. Traffic wasn’t heavy, so I chose to take the lane — which is completely legal in Texas. Anyway, it was not a pleasant interaction and it got me thinking about how and when to take the lane.

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6 Reasons Why You Should Use Bike Index (My 600th Blog Post!)

There’s a specific feeling that goes with being robbed that’s like a punch in the gut: it’s infuriating, nauseating, and saddening all at once. What’s worse is there’s little you can do about it. Sure, you can (and should) report it to the police (who frankly don’t care or have the resources to investigate), search online and at pawn shops, but more often than not once it’s gone, it’s gone. What’s a bicycle rider to do? Well, I’m here to tell ya’: BikeIndex.org to the rescue (sometimes literally)!

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A Fool, A Weirdo, and an Idiot on My Bike Ride: Really!?

“Keep It Weird” has been one of Austin’s slogans for a while now. I’d like to report to you that the tradition is alive and well. Except these three interactions weren’t with Leslie, the former bearded and homeless celebrity drag queen who was famous for wearing a g-string around town. Once I was behind him walking downtown on Sixth Street. Burned into my brain that I can’t ever unsee were his ass cheeks adorned with the words “APD (Austin Police Department) Kiss My Ass.” Pretty weird, but also pretty harmless.

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Juneteenth 2021 Black History Bike Ride

With President Joe Biden’s declaration of June 19 — Juneteenth, the day slaves in Galveston, Texas received the news two years AFTER the Emancipation Proclamation — as the newest United States federal holiday fresh on our minds, over 500 of Austin’s stalwart riders joined at the Texas State Capitol African American Historical Memorial for a Black history bike ride around north central Austin, Texas. Your reporter was there, braving the heat and sweatin’ to the oldies with everyone else. Compared to last year during the protests over the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others, there were a few less people. But it was still a huge crowd, and it’s a real pleasure to take over many city blocks of streets, in a huge crowd of bicycles, as far as the eye can see. Here’s my report.

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Austin, Texas Bike Lanes and Sidewalks: A Few Updates

This makes my 10th post with a title including the words “bike lanes.” I’m generally a fan of anything that will separate cars from bikes and pedestrians, or in other words, will save my tuchus and that of other riders from being maimed or killed by cars. As a walker (not of The Walking Dead zombie variety — so far), I often use sidewalks when there are any. I also used them instead of biking on high traffic roads, so I don’t, you know, like, die. Several emails from the City about mobility improvement projects are clogging my email inbox, and with two personal examples, I figure it’s time for an update. Here are just a few of the many projects for intersections, bike lanes and sidewalks going on in Austin, Texas.

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