Three Decades Since A Dude First Landed, Bikeless, in Austin

March 3, 1991. The first Gulf War had just ended. I was out of college a few years and had been traveling and moving around a bit. I grew weary of that, so I did the logical thing and went home. After a year slinging Southern cooking and helping out dear ma a bit, I bought a lightly used car. I went to one last steak night with my dad and brother, and moved in with a friend in Austin, Texas. Today her eldest turned 22, so I stopped by for a COVID-safe outdoor birthday. People trickled by, and I told one about the mom,“She’s my oldest friend in Austin. Looks pretty good for 85, don’t she?” (She’s much less.) With that history and my anniversary percolating in my brain the last two weeks, I figured it’s time for a little trip down memory lane.

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Bicycling While Rome Is Burning

For a while now I’ve been sitting down at the computer on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings to write a blog post. Often I have a topic in mind, usually something that’s come to me from my daily bicycle ride, walk or yoga practice. Sometimes I think of it afterward. Then I publish it so that a few readers in Europe can see it first thing, and maybe some night owls in the US see it, too. I try to get it done quickly, in the 30-minute time-frame that I’ve come to break many things down into. But a decently written blog with photos and links can sometimes take me hours. Especially if I start late, and the later it gets, the fuzzier the brain. Clarity on a national scale seems a bit more hopeful. After the American horror story that was the last four years under the raging, narcissistic, assholian tyranny of POTUS #45, it seems like maybe things are sorta kinda starting to get back to normal. Except the problems #46, good ol’ Scranton Joe, has inherited are serious: the economy tanking due to the still raging coronavirus pandemic, with no quick end in sight to either. It feels to me as if I’m bicycling while Rome is burning.

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Austin’s Bicycle Sport Shop Sells to Trek Bikes

I read the news today, oh boy. Actually, I learned about Bicycle Sport Shop and its, um, transition, a while ago, but I just hadn’t got around to sharing it here. As it turned out, I stopped by the Lamar flagship store and they were having their going out of business clearance sale. While there, I picked up two items and had a chance to chat with a few mechanics, including one from the Guadalupe service-only location. (It shut down temporarily after my post Which Austin, Texas Bike Shops Are Open During the COVID-19 Shelter in Place?.) Here’s a short post about the news.

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Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

As mentioned recently, I moved nearer to the University of Texas, with which I have some history. In the last week I’ve come to appreciate some of the advantages of my new location. B.C. (Before Coronavirus), I didn’t have much of a travel budget. If I were a rich man… Since I’m not, I tend to move around Austin, Texas every time my renter’s lease expires. And while it’s not an exotic locale, every location brings with it differences, physical and otherwise. A new abode brings new opportunities to ride my bike in different places, and to explore and expand other horizons, external and internal.

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Bike Ride for Black Lives Matter, Racial Equality, and Justice For All

Word arrived that this bike ride was happening Friday night. My social calendar being empty as always, and not sitting shiva either, it seemed like a good way to reduce some of my white privilege. I’ve been an ally in a variety of causes ever since I was a baby; my mom took me to civil rights protest in Little Rock, Arkansas and Dallas, Texas. I’ve wanted to be solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, but a small number of people hijacked protests with violence, and there has been a disproportionate police response that has put numerous protesters in the hospital. (See my recent post, Nonviolent Justice for George Floyd and Bronna Taylor.) I have not been on a group ride since mandatory stay home orders and social distancing were set up by the health department in mid-March. So while it was risky, I felt that with a mask, staying away six feet or more from others as possible (often not, but most people had masks), and being outdoors, it was worth it. I always am looking for my daily dose of miles and exercise, too. It turned out to be a peaceful and educational night.

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Hey Austinites! Advocate for Protected Bike Lanes on Burnet Road and Congress Avenue

The advocacy and education organization with which I’ve volunteered over the last four years, Bike Austin sent out two recent messages about protected lanes on two major streets. Regular bike lanes are just painted lines on the road. As such, they provide only some protection from cars only if the drivers respect them. (Many do, plenty don’t.) Lanes that use some sort of barrier to separate cars and bikes offer riders protection. For many riders, that is the difference between riding their bike on the street or letting it collect dust in the shed. Because car drivers cannot be trusted, I’m generally for protected lanes, even when they aren’t the most fun or convenient. While they may not be as urgent as other issues, bike lanes can also be a matter of life or death.

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3 People I Saw Within 6 Miles on 1 Bike Ride

I ran into three people I know in the span of six miles while riding my bike last evening. What are the chances of that, especially with many people staying home because of you, know, the thing? Well, I’ve been in Austin, Texas for 20 years and 16 days. So I have met plenty of people in that time. These three encounters got me to thinking about acquaintances, friends, colleagues, bona fides – in short, the other humans who comprise my community. At a time when the fabric of society is being shredded, while some people sew face masks, what does it mean to be homo sapiens? As George Costanza put it in a Seinfeld episode, “We’re living in a society, here!”

The first in my trio of random encounters was with a fellow volunteer with Bike Austin, who lives around here somewhere. She was a follower of this blog and may still be. It was nice to see her out on a bike ride with a mask, which like mine was down since we were far enough apart. She asked how I was and I asked her the same; she’s well, doing her job, but from home. We parted and wished each other well.

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In a World, Not Too Far Away…

A mysterious disease has ravaged Planet Earth’s once-dominant species, Homo sapiens, wiping out hundreds of millions. Survivors pick up the pieces and begin a movement for a new society. Fossil fuels and internal combustion engines ceased to exist. Even electric cars were no more. The much vaunted high technology — which many people worshiped as an omnipotent deity — mostly failed. A huge electromagnetic pulse triggered by financial and staffing meltdowns decimated the electrical grid.

Humans had no choice but to return to a mostly agrarian existence, as nature began to reclaim the silent concrete in cities. Park land, rooftops and abandoned big box stores were harnessed to grow food. In order to survive, humans had to unlearn many of their modern, urban bad habits. They learned how to live in harmony with the land, sea and skies which they had raped, pillaged and burned for so long in a greedy chase of profits and wealth. Cooperation and collaboration were the new ethos. Unsurprising to those who had been riding them, bicycles became the primary form of transport.

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