Howdy. We spent our last visit deep in the heart of Texas. We rode our bikes and talked about trails. We even tried our feet two steppin’ at the local honky-tonk bar. We loved Austin.
Traveling to the Hill Country of Texas was a first for both of us. And it is just like it sounds, hilly. Comprised of karst topography (ancient seabeds of limestone) the landscape is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Throughout the area various sections of rock are exposed, creating interesting and challenging features for mountain bike trails. For our weekly trail sampling, we found ourselves riding at Reimers Ranch, a great introduction to Austin area mountain biking.
We were lucky enough to stay at the White House during our visit – we even slept in the Oval Office. Our host, the president of the Austin Ridge Riders bicycle club, lives in charming white bungalow in Central Austin. Did I mention she has a great sense of humor? She started mountain biking as a ‘recovering runner’ who first got started with the Ridge Riders Ride Like a Girl program. It’s great to hear about someone who developed a passion for riding with the help of their local club.
The Ridge Riders are a great example of a club that has been able to tackle multiple projects while keeping a pulse on the local issues. Through grant writing, events, and trail stewardship they are an integral part of the riding scene throughout the Austin area. We had the pleasure of meeting a few members at the Thursday night social and were impressed by their commitment to enhancing mountain biking in the community. We look forward to hearing about their work in the future.
Rain spoiled an otherwise perfect Saturday. We had a large group of friendly folks who were eager to get out and build trail. Unfortunately, all of the positive energy could not overcome the saturated ground and we shifted our focus to an afternoon of trail design knowledge. Planning and design is often overlooked so Chris and I really appreciate the chance to talk about it in detail. It’s an important part of building a trail or trail system, something that can make it ultimately sustainable.
Urban riding was the theme for Sunday’s group ride. Our guide (and host for the weekend) took us on a very thorough tour of Austin’s bikeways, part of which is his normal bicycle commute. It’s always fascinating to get the local’s perspective, especially from the seat of a bicycle. We got a rich lesson in biology, history, and good ol’ Texas hospitality. The highlights include: the hanging gardens along Shoal Creek, Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop (owned by that famous Tour de France champion), the largest urban bat colony in North America, and the capital building (just a bit bigger than the one in DC).
We’ll have great memories of our visit to Austin. We hope our bicycle travels take us there again.
More pictures from the weekend: