Austin Diary I

Texas, USAThe journey to Austin went pretty much as expected. After an early morning start, and two connecting flights, both the bike and I arrived in good condition to be collected by the hotel’s shuttle bus. My first impressions of Austin, albeit in the pouring rain, were favourable – pretty countryside. 

The following morning, the good weather returned and I met my friend for a ride into Austin, where she was working as a volunteer in the Austin Convention Center, handling  the Livestrong Event Registrations. I left her stuffing goody bags while I went to explore.

Of course, my first stop was “Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop”: a mecca for any cycling fan. The shop was easily 20 times the size of my LBS, extremely light and airy, while the staff were equally friendly and knowledgable. They happily re-inflated my tyres which had to be deflated while in transit and promised to check out my bike if I had any problems putting it back together. Thereafter, I had the obligatory mooch around the shop checking out all the stock. Amazingly there was nothing screaming “Buy Me” although I did buy a few t-shirts for friends.

Austin is billed as the “Live Music Capital of the World” borne out by the number of venues showcasing live music. In fact, downtown Austin is pretty much wall-to-wall restaurants. It also has some delightful period buildings Austin State Capitolnestling in among the obligatory sky scrapers. Thursday afternoon, we hit the shopping malls. Well, someone’s got to take advantage of the weak dollar.

Friday morning, I reassembled the bike. It was all going swimmingly well until I got to the left pedal which stubbornly refused to be re-attached. I tried everything, in every position; a veritable karma sutra, all to no avail. Finally, after anointing the screw joint with my miracle, super charged, wrinkle erasing cream, it obliged. It was now all systems go. I took the bike for a ride around the area to confirm all was well. It was, but I didn’t enjoy riding on US roads. The tarmac seems to end quite abruptly leaving the cyclist with little option to ride on a very uneven road surface. Passing traffic is limited to gas guzzling 4x4s pulling trailers or gas guzzling RUV and SUVs. If any one of these hit you, it’s unlikely you’d live to tell the tale. Friday afternoon, I registered for Sunday’s ride.

Saturday I rode around the town lake, evading joggers and dog walkers alike: so much better than dodging 4x4s. Lunchtime, Team Fatty had a rendez vous at a local Austin institution where I, and everyone else, got to meet the Fat Cyclist in person. Actually, he’s not fat, certainly not by US standards. I also met up with my husband’s cousin.

Austin Oct 2009

The ride was scheduled to start at 08:00am on Sunday, in a rural location about 20 miles from the hotel where I was staying. But my comprehensive instructions advised I get there at 06:00am. So I booked my taxi for 05:30am and had an early night.