I Think I May Have Just Accidentally* Founded a Neighborhood Bike Gang

(* on purpose) I posted this on Next Door tonight in response to yet another barrage of attacks on bike lanes on a street called Loyola Lane in Austin, Texas. I couldn’t resist sharing it verbatim with my blog readers. My previous two posts are here and here. I hope you like them all. If you’re in Austin, Texas and wanna join the gang (we’re nonviolent), let me know. Contact me via the About page.

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Meeting Bicyclists and Writers at a Poetry Reading in Austin, Texas

My first time at Malvern Books, a small independent store in Austin, Texas, was exactly what I expected and yet wholly surprising. The expected part was that people would come to hear the author and the poet, there’d be snacks before and Q & A plus schmoozing after. One Page Salon creator and host Owen Egerton had announced the reading of his good friend Walter Moore, who also read a page earlier in the week. When I bicycled over to the site formerly adjacent to Vulcan Video, I was greeted outside the door by Owen. He took a moment from his conversation with the smoking guest poet to smile at me. I thought he was opening the door but instead gave me a big hug. Sorpresa numero uno.

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Mamma Jamma Training Ride #1 of 2019 + Fairdale Bikes Party: My Social Saturday

Saturday was an eventful day for me on and relating to the bike. I somehow got my butt up early and the five miles down to the start of a training ride. Then later I attended a party for the bike manufacturer of my bike, Sophie the Weekender Archer. As usual, engaging with various people in different realms of the bicycle community was meaningful and fun. Seeing people you know and meeting ones you didn’t is always cool, right? Yes.

Breast Cancer Charity Ride

Mamma Jamma Ride to Beat Breast Cancer is September 21, 2019. Are YOU in?

I haven’t registered yet, but last year I missed all the training rides, so I figured I’d at least get myself to the first one in town. If I do join the main event, it will be the fourth time. The ride itself is September 21, 2019. Given that I’ve raised over $5,000 total over rides #1-#3 (2015 and 2017-18), my goal would be to meet or beat that. I think $3,000 is very doable.

The cool thing about the money raised for this ride is that it really is for a good cause — seven local groups that support women surviving the disease, and their families. It’s for services mostly, like wigs, or counseling — not all research, unlike some events. So whether I do it will depend on availability, health, and pledges from donors. Could you be one? We shall see.

Arriving at the cancer support headquarters of Livestrong, I found around 80 people waiting for the ride to start. I said hi to some folks I recognized and took Sophie right over to the Buda Bike Company tent. Her chain has been slipping ever since I regreased it at Yellow Bike Project. The nice mechanic took a look and must have tweaked it a little, because I didn’t have a problem all day. A nice perk of showing up, a free adjustment!

I signed in with my waiver, got a wrist band, and greeted the director, Marion, who seemed happy to see me. A few board members where there. And then it was time for the speeches and mentioning the Sustainable Food Center, the beneficiary of the day. They provide cooking classes for women with breast cancer, how cool is that?

We divided ourselves into fast, medium and relaxed groups. But by the time I got myself organized the medium group had left, and I saw the familiar freckled face of Marty at the rear, so joined her as sweeper. We were off and chatted about where she’d traveled, where I hadn’t (a quick conversation), and other things like how the office is moving.

The ride went east and north and then got on the Southern Walnut Creek Trail. It’s great for novices and not so great for conversation and group riding. The whole distance was only going to be 13 miles, but for some that’s a lot. We gathered at almost the halfway point, the bottom of the steep hill where a YMCA sits for a break. The leader and Marty let the mostly women riders know they could skip it if they wanted, but everyone was game. I reminded folks not to grind, but to spin in a lower gear.

Overall time included lots of stops at several bike shops and other stores. But I got it done.

I went up first to possibly inspire and also to avoid congestion, but then I quickly got smoked by two fast women eager to build up speed and get it over with. My fitness, energy and legs aren’t what they used to be, and good on them. At the top we cheered on everyone as they crested the hill.

After a stop at the urination station, some water and wi-fi, we were back down reversing our tracks. At the end I scooped out the sausage, cheese, egg or potato from several kolaches and had a couple of fruit popsicles, too. A pair of free bib shorts and some promo materials were also gifted to me, and I hung out to help put things up a bit and chat some more. It was a pleasant ride and I was happy to “support the girls.”

Jeb, a fellow rider I’ve met before, and I sport our Big Wig Top Fundraiser jerseys

I then went out and did another 15 miles for a total of 33 so far. I got a flat, even with a new back tire, which was super taut and took a long time to fix. I got caught in some heavy rain which I waited out at a bus stop. My speed had been averaging 11.5 but began to drop as I tired. By the time I returned home I was ready for a shower, some food, and a nap. It was good to put on the official Big Wig Fundraiser jersey and bib shorts and put in some mileage.

HEY YOU! PLEASE READ THIS! If you’d like to pledge to financially support me doing this ride on the first day of autumn, or you’re in Austin and want to get a jersey and be a member of Team T.ime I.n T.he S.addle, please contact me, my Gmail is ADudeAbikes.

Fairdale Bikes Party

I had heard about this shindig on the Mamma Jamma Ride, so I cancelled other plans and after recuperating, I headed back downtown. The gathering was in full swing by the time I got there, but mostly just people hanging outside behind this clothing shop and art space. They were talking and drinking free beer (which never motivates me – I prefer my carbs in solid, chocolate form). There was also a BMX / skateboard ramp, and dudes were throwing tricks on that. I met some Fairdale as well, including Mia, a brand ambassador and was just back from breaking her elbow in Germany.

The new line of bikes was available for viewing, but I didn’t pay much attention, not being in a position to buy one. I did buy a raffle ticket to win a new one. Since I won Sophie in a raffle, and Sookie the Fuji Silhouette has been forcibly retired, I figured I’d try my luck again. It was looking up because not only was Katie, the manager of my nearest Bicycle Sport Shop there, but so was a former co-worker of mine who was also a bicyclist and former mechanic.

Meghan seemed happy to see me as I was her. Hugs were exchanged and I was reintroduced to Katie’s husband Reese and Meghan’s boyfriend Aaron. The women already knew each other from the shop world, which was pretty cool. Worlds collide, as it was said on Seinfeld. Aaron and I chatted about this blog, which he seemed genuinely interested in, having had some health challenges himself. We talked about the book I’m writing, his biking, health, art versus commerce, and a lot more. He’s a creative himself, doing art for a job.

I got some water and talked with some BMX dudes. One owned a bike company, another took photographs, and there was Carlye, who is Jared’s girlfriend. They were a cute young couple but I didn’t feel up to asking people to pose for a picture. We talked for a while about animals and her writing and photography and not being ready to share it on her blog. Jared came over and I told him I was interested in profiling more types of cyclists and that I was fascinated by the risk-taking of BMX’rs. He said his big toe was injured and showed me a video of the two-story jump he did when he injured it.

Everyone I met were nice people. Jarred ran off to do some jumps, and I went back to the group. Katie had to leave by bike with her co-workers, so she rushed over and gave me her three raffle tickets. I was taken aback and didn’t know what to say except thank you and gave her a hug of gratitude. I had just been speaking to Meghan and Aaron about how unfailingly nice she was. She said I deserved them and she could get an employee discount anytime, which was sweet.

Finally it was raffle time, and several smaller prizes were awarded. Then the bike was awarded, and several people had left so missed out. The winning number was six digits away from mine. So it was not A Dude Abike’s karma to win a second Fairdale. That’s ok, it was only seven-speed, two less than Sophie. The highlight of the evening had passed, so the energy petered out pretty quickly. Goodbyes were said, and Jim with Fairdale nicely gave me a branded water bottle with some grape juice in it. So I didn’t leave empty handed. I got another 11 miles for my efforts, too.

Parting Thoughts

Heading home, I was aware of an insight that you might even say is a theme of this blog. Once again, even though I’m so often a solitary rider, and a writer in solitude, that there’s a world of other people around who ride, love and live bikes. Because no matter what kind of bike you ride (even a stationery one) or what kind of shape you’re in, if you ride a bike, you’re a winner in my book.

If you don’t bike yet and are able to, maybe I’ll inspire you to get on a bike someday. There are always going to be plenty of faster, fitter folks out there (and if you’re one of them, good on you!). But if you’re like me, a middle-aged fathlete who struggles with knee and other aches and pains, lack of sleep, etc. can do 44 miles in a day, I bet many of you can, too. So, pedal on, people! And if you can’t do that, cheering is good, too.

Oh yeah, I got a 100+ mile week for the first time in a while.: 100.9 miles biking, 11.4 walking.

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Victory! Protected Bike Lanes on Shoal Creek Boulevard in Austin, Texas

After a several year grassroots campaign by members of Bike Austin and Walk Austin, victory was achieved! The City of Austin (Texas) announced it will construct a two-way protected bicycle lane on the west side of the major bike thoroughfare from 38th Street to Foster Lane. From that point to 183, it will put in one-way bicycle lanes on each side of Shoal Creek Boulevard (SCB). This is an important win for bicyclists of all kinds who use the street, as well as for pedestrians. Because currently it’s a mess of weaving in and out of parked cars, which can be deadly. The details are below.

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A Mellow Evening at Austin’s Cool Community Yellow Bike Project

A friend who did me a big solid (aka favor) the other day has had a bike in a shed collecting cobwebs for a while. He’s been wanting to fix it up but was a little intimidated by going to the community shop, Austin’s own Yellow Bike Project. So I figured I’d help him out by assessing the situation and then get him going on repairs while I paid some attention to the neglected brakes of Sophie, my Fairdale. He’s shy and didn’t want his photograph or name mentioned, but I can still talk about the evening.

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5 Unexpected Perks of Being a Bicyclist in Austin, Texas

Sophie Gets Me Compliments

“Dude! That’s a sweet bike you’ve got there,” says a random person on a bike every week or two at a stoplight or while I’m locking or unlocking my bike. They’re talking about Sophie the sea foam Fairdale Weekender Archer, my main squeeze these days. “Yeah, she is, thanks. I won her in a raffle from Bike Austin,” I counter.

“Really? Wow, that’s great!” they say. “I love that color too, it’s really pretty.” I reply, a skosh sardonically, “Yes, she’s pretty, just like me. And she was worth $850 new! Lucky me, right?” That’s usually the extent of it. Some car people talk about their cars in a similar fashion, but it doesn’t seem the same. Back when I had one, 14 years ago, I didn’t have such conversations. It wasn’t pretty, it just got me from point A to point B.

BENEFIT #1: For me, these little chats are specific to being out on a bike. It’s a small thing, but they brighten my day. (Sophie loves it too.)

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Bike to Work Day 2019 Party

Today was Bike to Work Day in Austin as in many cities worldwide. I didn’t make to any of the morning fueling stations or the gathering and speechifying at City Hall. My excuse? I don’t have a job. Well, aside from the job of being A Dude Abikes, and lemme tell ya’, it ain’t easy bein’ me. Or green. Or green me. But I do work my ass off every day, actually, I’m just not getting paid for it! I’m either researching, writing and editing this blog or my book, walking, and doing yoga… every damn day for over 16 months now (the yoga goes back over 64 months). Then there’s biking almost every single day — about 100 miles per week (sometimes less and slower lately with knee pain, but I’m still doing it). Plus I’m looking for work and housing, not to mention volunteering for Bike Austin. I did make it to the after-party like last year, so here’s my recap.

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