This past Saturday, I went on my first bike ride since moving to Austin. I teamed up with a group ride that left from Mellow Johny’s bike shop in downtown Austin – the shop is owned by Lance Armstrong. I was torn between two different rides they offered, one of them being a slower paced ride that explored the bike routes of Austin, the other being a faster paced ride that leads you outside of town through the scenic hill country. I ended up opting for the second ride, because I figured I would be bored riding 12 mph and having to wait for people every few blocks. I’m very glad I chose the faster ride, we ended up getting back from our 35 mile ride around the same time the other group got back from their 15 mile ride.
The ride left from the bike shop in downtown Austin and headed out west, down Bee Cave road. The highway eventually ends up in the town of Bee Cave where we turned around. I don’t know the exact distance for the trip out, because I accidently paused RunKeeper at one of the stops. The ride was a “no drop ride”, meaning that no rider is left behind. We had about three stops total through the course of the trip.
Coming from North Texas, I expected the hills to be a bit of a challenge, but surprisingly I found myself doing fairly well. I never had any problems making it up the hills, and often times I was at the head of the pack going up the hills. I did however end up getting passed on a few of them towards the top of the hill. I am definitely not as efficient at attacking the hills as I could be. I’m sure I will learn though the more I ride. Throughout the course of the ride we had well over 2,00 feet of elevation gain.
The scenery was amazing too. It beats riding down the flat lands of North Texas. The surroundings themselves make the ride more enjoyable. I can hardly wait until the next ride. I look forward to trying out other routes and pressing my limits. I’ve already been tempted to upgrade my bike to a carbon frame after visiting another local bike shop and learning of the advantages a carbon frame brings. During this trip the faster people in the group had a max average speed of 18.5 mph. On a carbon frame I would probably easily be riding 21+ mph. However, with climbing and running being a huge hobby of mine too, I’m unsure if I will ever make that investment.
To fuel my ride I consumed a delicious smoothie and drank lots of water. I did however feel lacking in the energy department during the ride. I felt I would have performed a lot better had I brought a little bit of food with me. On my next long ride I will be sure to pack some raw snacks with me. I had planned on doing that for this ride, but never got around to making anything.
The bike community here is pretty huge. There are numerous bike lanes and excellent bike routes. Just check out this bike route map of the city. I plan on riding my bike around town for general commuting purposes a lot on the near future. The first week I spent just getting used to being here and this week it has been raining every day. Hopefully, I will begin my bike commuting habit very soon.
I am very excited to live in such a bike friendly city. Not only do I look forward to more bike commuting, but getting plugged into that community and meeting other people that are passionate about cycling and bike commuting.