Cycling in Austin

Texans are insane. It’s the heat and the good food. More specifically though, Austin cyclists are really insane. By some lucky quirk of geography and wind patterns, the weather in Austin is dry enough (a little more so than the eastern parts of the state) for us to pretend like we’re in a really hot, less mountainous version of Colorado. With no pine trees. And no snow.

People in this city are active, almost psychotically so. You want  to drive across downtown on saturday morning ? Forget about it, there’s a 5-10-15k going on. Probably most Sundays too. Something wrong with your car and you need to pull off to the side? Chances are peloton of road bikers are going to be asking you if you need a hand.

And all this while it’s 100 degrees out (and god knows how high with the heat index). I like to think it makes us tougher than our neighbors to the north who tend to stay inside or do non-stupid sports (frisbee golf? ) when the weather gets ridiculous. Or maybe we just work to hard – most of my motivation for getting on a bike after work has to do with dispersing some of the rage built up from sitting in an air-conditioned mausoleum all day and having photons unsympathetically shot at my face. An effort to dial the asshole meter back to a more tolerable four or five so my co-workers will be able to deal with me the next day.

I think we instinctively, biologically miss the old days, when working for a living meant physical effort, whether ti be tilling an existence out of the land, or earning a wage via the fabrication of something physical. Although I’m certain my Great-Great-Grandfather, a farmer from southern Oklahoma, would probably think I’m absolutely insane for waking up and riding a bike 25 miles for fun. Different times I guess. He probably wouldn’t get the time-investment involved with this website either (neither do I sometimes).

To cycling specifically, though,  Austin breeds some hard riders. Setting aside that one guy who won the Tour de France a few times, there are hard-core people out on the roads and trails – this dude for example who’s doing an eight day, 530 mile endurance race on the Colorado Trail (A race with camping sounds pretty fun – anybody?). There’s two weekly Crits that go on through out the summer, even when your tires are starting delaminate from the heat coming off the pavement. There’s also a Short Track Mountain bike race in the fall and a rumored Cross Season. There’s even just plain stupid people like us who do dumb shit like ride Lost Creek after work, when the average temperature is 98 degrees.

I was in a meeting recently, with some guys who know what they’re talking about and someone said that I was an average Austin cyclist – In this town, that’s one hell of a compliment.

Doping Sucks

Or does it?

Sign me up for some socks that say “Rural Moldovan Destitution Sucks.” And what about “Kazakh Existential Terror Sucks”? Can SockGuy fit that many letters around an ankleband? Do you have enough room on those socks to write whether you’re sincerely committed to the fight against doping if you’re not giving these kids other options — that potential to see Door #3? These no-hope kids, do they really “suck”? Are ultra-advanced WADA testing protocols the cure to our real ills? If we want to rehabilitate our sport and our world shouldn’t we be investing in other initiatives?

An interesting treatise from one of my favorite shops on the real problems in cycling, and how we should fix them. Maybe buying socks and wristbands that say ‘Dopers Suck,’ isn’t really all that productive in places like eastern Europe where the alternative (to being a winning cyclist) is working in a soviet-era coal mine.

Reimer's Ranch Race

“If you’re going to walk out, I think you need to go that way, “ said the hippy race volunteer, pointing to the right.

“Really?” asked Tim, “Are you sure you have the map turned the right way?”

“Oh huh. Right,” she spins the map around,” Yeah, I guess you go that way,” pointing to the left.

Needless to say some of did not have the best race Sunday. Germ took some unscheduled stops on some sandy turns (although still managed to beat me by two minutes) and Tim managed to get a flat at the perfect spot on the trail–as far as you can get from the start or the finish. Before the race we’d checked in with them and finding out Tim only had a pump with which to change a flat we said, hey dude, take this CO2 canister, if something does go wrong, you’ll be able to get back in the race faster. Or, maybe not.

As somebody said we took away the device that Tim was fully familiar with (a small pump) and gave him a new fangled thing that neither he, nor apparently anybody on the trail knew how to use, and thus was unable to inflate the tube once he got it changed. There’s a usability study there. Needless to say chaos ensued, Tim actually ended up doing a kind of triathlon where he rode seven miles, reversed and walked back up the trail another three (for the second event), and finished up with a creative-explicative event (that replaced the normal swimming part of the tri – he excelled in it, apparently).

In the end, we all lived. I also have to say, despite their reputation for building excessively windy trails, Austin Ridge Riders did a heluva job putting this thing together, the first race to happen in a Travis County park in many a year–hopefully the first of many.

My Pics | Germ’s Pics

New to the Stable


After a little bit of waiting, my custom road bike is done. Well, almost, but hell, its painted and sexy. More to be had here.

Bike Gods Are Pissed


For those of you not hip to this jive, normally part a and b are attached to each other in a fashion that allows one to shift gears, while simultaneously maintaining tension in the chain and generally keep the bike moving in a forward, or at least semi-forward, direction.

We’d already had a crap crap crap ride, due to some erroneous information about the general dryness of the trail. When this forum says it’s dry, remember to take it with a kayak-sized grain of salt, because you’ll need one to cross all the flooded creeks.

Inexplicably though, after we were almost at the last major crossing (just before the fun part no less), on a stretch of flat reasonably level trail, these two parts decided to go their separate ways in mildly spectacular fashion, without any reasonable provocation. I’ve been riding a bike on trials for almost 12 years now, and I’ve never had this happen.

Yo bike gods – I apologize for any past transgressions (making fun of Gary Fisher’s goatee maybe?), but can we please, please stop this?


We raced Waco on Sunday and accomplished our two primary goals: not being last place and not dying. Germ did better on the first goal (finished 10th) and I did better on the second goal (his freakishly big-wheeled bike tried to throw him off a cliff).  Good Times.

Other Peoples Pictures.

Lack of stash

Apparently I’m doomed to fail as a cyclist because I am genetically lacking in a crucial department: facial hair.

When one thinks of mustaches, the connection to the world of cycling might not be the first thing to come to mind, but upon further inspection, there is in fact a long and very esteemed list.The top of which would undoubtedly be occupied by none other then Ned “The Lung (Flanders)” Overend. A near second to ‘The Lung’ would obviously be Tom Ritchey (as well as many other of our mountain biking forefathers.) If any of you ever happen to ride the trails in Occidental California, rumor has it that part of Toms Mustache is still attached to a tree he crashed into at the second of the legendary Ring of Fire races.

Yes, sadly, the entire combined qualifying field for the womens Olympic cross country team has more facial hair than yours truly.

Loose Bolts are Bad


(All apologies to the fail blog for a little bit of plagiarism)

Following the stunning feat of not dying in Terlingua last weekend, I thought I’d do some light biking around Austin. Riggggggggght.

Sat: Walnut Creek’s BMX loop has some great little jumps on it. Nothing serious, but good for some fun – until you realize that you neglected to throughly tighten the bolts on the stem, causing a sudden shift downward in the spiffy new riser bars. Suddenly I get to switch from mountain biking to hurdles as I try and clear myself from the tumbling chaos that once was my proud bicycle. I would have stuck the landing too, if my feet weren’t so freakishly large. See the picture above for an object lesson in proper torque.

Sun: Given Saturday’s shortcomings, I figured road biking might be a better Sunday option. Flats on a road bike are to be expected. The first one was no big deal, we found some shade, put in a new tube, and moved on. The second one was a little alarming. Standing on the side of 360 with traffic raging by, putting our last spare tube in my bike, we’d pretty much resolved to cut the ride short, given the craptasticness of things so far. On the record breaking third flat, not 20 yards down the road, I just had to sit there and try not to throw my bike down the hill, while Germ called in an Rob-e-vac.

Mas y Menos


When we told Tim about the specifics involved in a marathon race his highly appropriate response was something along the lines of, “that sounds like something you should get paid to do, not the other way around.” I’m also pretty sure he prefaced the entire thing with an emphatic and heartfelt “you stupid hippy, why the hell would you do that?”

I can safely say that at mile 10 of the Mas y Menos this weekend in Terlingua, I couldn’t agree more. At mile 12 I was praying for any kind of mechanical failure that would necessitate as short break, and at mile 15 I actually considered selling my bike to a random Mexican dude who was watching the race and walking away forever. Nothing compared though, to mile 20 as we neared the tres cuevas climb. On the approach it went something like this –

Dude this is going pretty good.

germ: Yeah, not to shabby.

me: Is that the big climb (motioning to sheer, 13,000,000 ft cliff to our right)?

germ: Nah, I’m sure we’ll go back around that….

me: Oh ok, cool.

germ: Well actually…yeah, I see tiny people up there…

…and by tiny people, it was like the way 18-wheelers look like ants when your on an airplane.

This thing just went on and on. Not having the benefit of a pre-ride I tried to assault it assuming the end was a reasonable distance away. The sunofabitch just kept going up and up. One switchback after the other until, right before I started knocking my head on the International Space Stations’ solar array, there was a bunch of hippies sitting in rocking chairs and wearing oxygen tanks, welcoming us to the top, like some kind of weird patchouli-scented version of Into Thin Air with bikes. Clearly, I exaggerate a bit, but this was the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever ridden a bike up.

Big bend is, well, big. It’s aptly named. Medium Bend would not do it justice. And the race fits, nothing about it is tiny, from the course, to the climb to the kickass food and free beer. There was a pancake breakfast at 5a.m. the morning of the race – you know those people had been up since 3 a.m. cooking in the freezing cold desert. The people who put this thing together are incredible – the only thing that’s been close rivaling it was the livestrong ride and that has the freakish, Lance Armstrong cult of personality to back it. This is just a bunch of people, in a tiny hippy town in west Texas putting on a big race. That’s a pretty neat thing to be a part of.

My Pics | Germ’s Pics

Riding With Pros

They are fast. Stupidly fast. If they get a flat and a wheel change it takes them about 90 seconds to catch back to a big-ringing group, and that’s with no motorpacing assistance. If they stop at a traffic light, they accelerate up to 28mph before settling back down to cruising pace. Fast is their natural state of matter.

The guys from my second favorite bike shop in the whole world take a spin with team CSC. These guys burn about 6000 Calories a day for training purposes – about what I do (sometimes) in an entire week of workouts. (via fancycanoe)