Sunday, January 29, 2006

67 miles in Austin, Texas

K and I visited Austin this weekend where we had dinner and lunch with her very cool blog friends and where I got in some nice warm-weather biking.

I rented a Trek Madone 5.2 road bike from Bicycle Sport Shop South, and brought my own saddle. An impressive shop with great bikes and great people. I hate the name "Trek" - it sounds slow and burdensome - but this bike was not slow. In fact, I got nervous at times when I'd be going too fast down the side of an Interstate - I think the handlebars were further apart than I'm used to.

Austin bicycling has its pluses and minuses. The pluses:
  • Wonderful warm weather in January! I'm told the nice weather lasts from mid-October to March;
  • Very friendly and social - around 70% of Austinites, at least. Though a noticeable minority stare at you like you're from outer space;
  • A couple of captivating views near a dam or aqueduct;
  • Lots of bicyclists and joggers;
  • Easy to find long rides.
The minuses:
  • Few beautiful areas to ride in. The Town Lake trail is gorgeous, but longer routes are basically rides on various freeways. There was no foliage either, though maybe that's seasonal;
  • Shoulders vary; some areas had none and weren't the safest. They weren't bad though, and usually didn't last too long.
The verdict: nice bicycling for visits - I'm sure we'll return.

The route: The "Dam Loop" (48 miles), riding to and from there, and exploration/getting lost time. Austinites call everything a loop, regardless of whether they are actually loops.

The Dam Loop route is (let's see how well my memory's working) Bee Caves -> Interstate 71 -> FN2277 -> FN2222 -> Loop 360 (not really a loop) -> back to the Bee Caves junction.

But to get off, instead of exiting onto Bee Caves again, one continues a few more miles on Loop 360, takes a freaky left at a huge intersection onto Loop 1 (the "MoPac", a bustling highway that is also not really a loop), then continues on its side until it becomes Barton Springs Road, and somehow gets to Congress Avenue to get back to the downtown.


Anonymous crystal said...

I'm glad you enjoyed your ride! I can't believe you rode 67 miles. That's insane. :) Next time, mountain biking.

1:33 PM  
Blogger Capybaras United said...

Thanks Crystal!

6:45 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

By all means, come out to Chico, California. You might fall in love with it. It's biker's Heaven. Outside of Chico are Blue Diamond almonds and Calrose Rice. Yes, that's right, no cars. It's awesome.

Plus, you bike ten miles and you hit the Sacramento River. There's also some cool off road biking in Bidwell Park.

Careful though, Chico has one kind of crime - bike theft.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Lora said...

67 miles! I think you should have had a third entree to recoup the energy spent on that outing.

I've never had the nerve for riding next to all the traffic on the highways around Ausin. I much prefer a ride along infrequently traveled roads, but they don't really exist until you are quite far out of town.

10:09 PM  
Blogger LostInTX said...

Whoa.. no wonder you were hungry! I don't think any of us realized how much you biked that day. Good job! I know that some areas may not seem the safest to ride in but really our city is great to bikers. Enter Lance... :) I mean, they are everywhere and we pretty much just move over for them. We're nice like that.

It was great meeting you guys! Hope you had a safe flight home.

4:27 AM  
Blogger Capybaras United said...

Yes there were some very nice car drivers along the way. I'd move to the left to give them room to turn right on red, but most of the time they'd just wait behind me for the light.

Chico sounds great for biking. If there's a bike route from San Francisco to Sacramento, maybe I can convince Bearette to meet up there by train.

7:35 AM  

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