I move to Austin, TX 25 years ago and never left. For a while, you might have been able to talk me into moving to San Diego, but that was long ago. San Diego and Austin have grown tremendously since that time and I have to say I still love living in Austin. I’m not sure I can say that about San Diego, but in all fairness, I’ve never actually lived there. One thing I really appreciate about Austin are the wide open spaces that are easily accessible even when I’m on a bike. It really doesn’t take long to get out of the city into country side. To the east it’s mostly farmland and to the west is the fabulous Texas Hill Country. The Texas Hill Country is especially picturesque and I look forward to any organized ride that takes place there.
Most rides take place in the spring or the fall, although you can always find one just about any time of the year. The summer rides usually have some sort of fire theme (e.g., The Ring of Fire, the Hotter’N Hell 100, etc.). There are the beer rides (e.g., Shiner GHASP, the Real Ale Ride, Austin Cycle Camp’s Bike to the Bash sponsored by Lonestar Beer, etc.)…as you can imagine, I’ve done all of these this year (hey, a party with beer, great food and live music is a pretty powerful incentive). Then there are a variety of other rides such as the Texas 4000 Atlas Ride, LBJ 100 Bike Tour, Outlaw Trail 100, Armadillo Hill Country Classic, Red Poppy Ride, the Wurst Ride, the LIVESTRONG Challenge and the River Region Classic just to name a few. Finally, there’s Tour Das Hugel, 100+ miles of all the big hills in Austin (something like 14,000 feet of climbing – ouch, that’s gonna hurt).
I’ve done many of these rides and they are well supported. The volunteers are usually pretty enthusiastic and it’s always fun to get over 1000 bikes on the road at once. I just completed the Outlaw Trail 100 last weekend and just found out about the River Region Classic. I’ve been out to the Uvalde area by car and that’s what’s tempting me to do the ride. I’m not sure I’ll be doing the LIVESTRONG Challenge this year because I didn’t want to sign up and not be able to participate for health reasons. If you think I should and want to donate, let me know and I’ll do it, but I don’t have much time left to raise the required minimum. I’m toying with the idea of trying Tour das Hugel, but I may not complete it this year to earn the right to buy the T-shirt…we’ll see. I’m still working on being a better climber. I see lots of Chris Charmichael’s hill repeats in my future.
My cycling fitness is finally at a level where I’m not intimidated by these rides, no matter how long (ok, so Tour das Hugel is intimidating…even if your name is Alberto Contador). More important than that, I’m having fun. Needless to say, a lot of my spare time is spent riding and I’ve got another cycling related goal as well. I’m trying to get my wife out on rides with me. We’ve been out a few times now and I’m trying to organize my training so that there’s still time to get out with her at her pace. The days are getting shorter and so are my ride windows.
So, next time you’re complaining about the traffic in Austin, think about this. Go in any given direction on your bike and within 30-45 minutes you’re on a rural road with little or no traffic. 7 days a week. 365 days a year. Sure we have a few cold days every now and then. Yes it gets a little toasty in the summer time. But you can still get out and ride. Given all of this freedom, there are still so many rides and so little time. What’s not to like about that? Check out all your options on one of the best local cycling calendars available, Austin on Two Wheels.