Brandon won’t be able to ride his bike for quite a while but otherwise he can get around. I took a second ride today, a 13 mile loop around Town Lake. It’s a very groovy ride and naturally I got lost at the far end. Fortunately I happened across good Samaritans who got me back on track. I started riding after “playtime began”. (Playtime for working people is 5-10 PM), so there were lots of people on the trail.
Part of the trail is built on the water with flagstone surface that is easy riding. Most of the trail is packed something or other and the heavy rains last night made sections of it very slow going. It was a really fun ride and I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking because I’m being hounded to go out do dinner. On the cheap. Olive Garden.
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Secret Places are what a visitor to a city or town gets to experience when they ride a bike with a local. The local takes you not only to the best tourist places, but also to those really great spots that only the they know exist. A bar, a restaurant, a beautiful riding route or a local event are the secret places that make a visit memorable especially if you have people. My people were #3 son Brandon and his riding friends.
Austin was one of those visits and was such great getaway that provided a bundle of highlights beginning with my bike rental. Most visitors rent bikes from Mellow Johnny’s, a shop that boasts Lance Armstrong as one of it’s owners. Because I had people in Austin, I was taken off the beaten path to Austin Bikes where the owner Saul Frost, provided me with a new Scott 40 comfort bike, that was perfect for riding around the city with a camera, at a rate that was more than generous. Renting a bike was a priority that preceded checking into my hotel.
Brandon left me at the Austin Motel to give me time to get settled and take a nap before returning with his bike to give me a tour of the city. A visit to Mellow Johnny’s for coffee and a bit of shopping before meeting his lady at work. She also rides, and the three of us rode to dinner at G’Raj Mahal Cafe on Rainey St. Put this place on your list during your visit to Austin. Brandon works on Rainey St so we also did a bar crawl to meet some of his fellow bartenders and bar owners. We road back to the hotel after midnight and that was very cool on Austin’s bike friendly streets.
A few short feet from the Austin Motel sits Joe’s Coffee. This is a very popular spot that has a perpetual line standing at the outdoor order window. One taste of their cappuccino was enough to make Joe’s my go to first morning coffee, joint.
Brandon showed mid morning for our 3 mile ride to breakfast at the Counter Cafe. The more time I spend in Austin the more I felt like I was in Boulder, Colorado. Both are very hip, athletic comfortable cities. Any city with a vibrant bike culture sits very high on my list of desirable destinations.
After a healthy meal, we mounted our bikes for the six mile ride to the Austin Botanical Gardens, the jewel in the heart of Austin. As a bonus, we had to ride in the area of Austin City Limits festival grounds. The festival is two weekends of great music that is often featured on PBS. Watching ACL on PBS is how I got to know performers such as Robert Earl Keene, Delbert McClinton and a few others that would have not been part of my playlist without ACL.
Mellow Johnny’s, bar crawls on Rainey St., the LBJ Libraray, great restaurants, Austin City Limits, rides through parks along the Colorado River, gardens, and coffee shops by bike make Austin very sweet. I got to do this because I had people. On Thursday night those people provided the highlight that paled all the other wonderful things we did in Austin. The Thursday Night Driveway Series Bike Races.
I got to ride the seven plus miles with a few of the pro racers from Mellow Johnny’s to the venue. Our route was side streets and bike paths at a reasonable pace that allowed me, on my rented comfort bike, to keep up and take pictures.
The Driveway was much better than I had expected. It was minimally controlled chaos because of the limited time caused by the dwindling daylight. There were three races, senior riders, Cat 3,4, and 5 and the last to start were the CAT 2-1 and pro racers. The chaotic part was that as soon as one group passed on the bell lap, the gates would open and the next group would roll onto the track. Some riders were still crossing the finish line across the field, when the next race would begin. Riders who were really far behind, were SAGed off the track before beginning the last lap to insure the next group would not catch them.
Bike racers proved to be a friendly group we found when, on our ride home in the dark, (an Austin bike culture theme), a group of racers called us into a convenience store lot to share, stories and their beer.
There are some really special places to visit. Austin, Texas is surely one of them. But if you have people to show you the secret places, that special place can become so much more.
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Thursday night is the Driveway criterium races in Austin. When I go away alone, I usually rent a bike in stead of a car and sometimes stumble into the local bike culture. In Austin that is very easy to do. Go to a bike/coffee shop or a hipster bar or two on your bike and, wah lah. Your a member.
A few of us met at Mellow Johnny’s (Armstrong’s bike and coffee shop). It was pretty neat riding my comfort bike and wearing my best hat with a few of the racers in their full kits for the six mile ride to the races.
It was very dark when we left the race (we all had lights), which made and equally neat ride to our dinner destination, East Side King, a food truck behind and attached to Liberty Bar.
We did get side tracked however on the easy spin to dinner, when we heard this loud commotion and yelling off to our left side as we were about to cross a busy intersection. A couple of dozen of the racers, who normally ride to and from the event, had stopped at a convenience store and bought a couple of cases of cheap beer, Miller High Life. They insisted we stop and join the party. Who are we to refuse? So we stopped.
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I waited till today to begin my challenge in order to do it on a road trip. First order of business in Austin was to rent a bike. Austin Bike who sponsors #3 son gave me a good deal. (I think). “Take the bike and we will settle up when you bring it back” was the owners comment. I have no idea what it’s going to cost, but I have confidence he will do me right.
Brandon, had a training ride today with his group that met at Lance Armstrong’s bike and coffee shop. We decided that was our coffeeneuring challenge #1 entry. An iced latte for me and a regular old hot coffee for him. His gang went off on their ride while I hopped on ole 40 Scott (the bike brand) and rode to a great dog, jogging, biking, fitness park in the center of Austin. Norwood Estate park sits on the bank of the Colorado River. It’s a really nice spot.
We are doing all our transportation around the city by bike. Tonight we will dine at G’Raj Mahal on Rainey St. And for those back in the Northeast wondering about riding a bike at night in October. It’s 8:30 PM here as I write and it’s 85 degrees. No sweat. Um well you know what I mean.
Coffee challange #1 is done and it was a very sweet one. Nothing like a road trip, with a bike on a warm October night.
You love to ride your bicycle. You like a great cup of coffee. The Coffeeneuring Challenge could be for you. It’s simple. It’s fun. From their website.
You have 7 weeks to do the following:
Get on your bike
Ride to a coffee shop
Drink a beverage
Take a picture
Ride your bike home (or elsewhere)
Repeat 7 times
You can do it alone, with friends, accompanied by your kiddos (or parents), in a “real” coffee shop, in a gas station, in a park. Twice in a weekend, one time a weekend, or any combination until you reach the magic number of seven. I think Marvin K. Mooney would excel at coffeeneuring.
Drink coffee, or tea, or hot chocolate, or whatever else catches your fancy (within reason). Share it on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram, or don’t. It’s what you want it to be.