Random Thoughts from the Life of a Car-Free Bicyclist in Austin, Texas

Sometimes there’s no one unifying theme to a blog post, but even then, there is still a framework. Today, it’s that many factors affect my cycling, and also that there’s more to life than cycling. (Impossible, I can hear some of you saying!) Here are a few of those thoughts. As to whether they’re Deep Thoughts, you’d have to ask Jack Handy, which is an old Saturday Night Live skit. Basically he had short quotes that were inane, so I’m not claiming any wisdom. I am just sharing my experience in hopes it educates, inspires or at least amuses you as one of my millions of followers (any day now). Read on, it’ll be good, you’ll see. After all, I’m not The Dude, I’m just A Dude. And A Dude would never steer you wrong. That would be very un-Dude-like.

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How I Biked 167 Miles in One Week and You Can, Too

Does 167 miles seem like a long distance to ride your bicycle in a week? If not, and you can easily rattle off that distance in a single day, then this post (and blog) will probably bore you. Good on you! Thanks for stopping by and not being all judgy. (Like Rootchopper, currently doing 300+ miles per week on his big ass No Name Tour.) Does 167 miles in a week seem impossible? Well, if so, this may also not be for you. Of course you’re welcome to come along for the virtual ride.

But what if you’re in between those extremes and have ridden 100 miles in a week before? Maybe you’re thinking, “Hmm, if this middle-aged fathlete (who isn’t the typical skinny cyclist stereotype) can put up some pretty big numbers, then I wonder if I can, too?” Well, this is for you.

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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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1,213 Miles: First Quarterly Report of 2019

This is a summary of my bicycle riding statistics on the Strava app for January through March.  It shows my total miles biked so far for 2019 is 1,213.  At 13.47 miles per day over the first 90 days, that isn’t bad.  It’s only slightly off the pace of 13.75, which will put me at 5,000 for the year — IF I’m able to keep it up.  That’s always the question.  By the way, virtually all of these miles are being done on Sophie, the Fairdale Weekender Archer

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My Recent Bike Riding: Stats and Feelings

After a number of bike news posts, it’s time for a personal update. This blog is meant to educate, inform, inspire and motivate. But it is also to shine a light on one bicyclist’s journey (literal and figurative), not just the good, but also the bad and ugly. Regarding the latter, lately the engine room has not been firing on all cylinders. But truth be told, it’s been that way since I can remember, just different degrees.

As I recently told a fellow rider on Strava, “I’m only as good as last night’s sleep.” Since that generally isn’t great, my biking suffers accordingly. There are plenty of reasons for that, and while some are under my control, most are not. So I do my best. The question is what to do about it, besides the obvious: stop blogging late at night and do what those celebrities like Jennifer Garner said in hilarious videos of a book with the same title: “Go the F*(& to Sleep!” However, if I did that, you wouldn’t have anything to read.

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