There’s alot of bike stuff happening in Austin, Texas. Woom Bikes, which is a company that makes bicycles for children, is having a big event this weekend. The City of Austin is starting a roll-out to provided dockless bikes and scooters with special parking “boxes” to try to get them out of harm’s way. Next weekend is the Texas Bicycle Advocate Summit organized by Bike Texas, with people coming from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Yours truly was offered to attend as a representative of Bike Austin. The next day is Cyclists in Suits, where riders go to members of the Texas Legislature to promote better safety for bike riders. That night will be the Pedicab Parade, with a marching band playing from the pedicabs. Check back here for news and views you can use next week. But meanwhile, I want to talk about an important subject: jerks.
Today was a somber occasion, the ride to remember Anthony John Diaz, run over by a bus on January 28th. I’ve been on a few of these now and it both causes me literal grief, not to mention that another senseless, needless, horrible death of a person on a bike who was doing the right thing simply pisses me off. For some reason, a city bus driver ran over and killed a person riding a bicycle. We don’t know yet if she was overworked, high on drugs or booze, hated cyclists, or what. The place it happened is one I ride a lot and was due to be fixed years ago, but wasn’t.
Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.
— Mother Jones
For some riders, 4,000 miles is not alot. For me, it’s no joke, and a milestone worth noting. I’ve had Sophie the Fairdale Weekender Archer bicycle for two years this month, actually. But to reach 10,000 miles on my lighter Fuji Silhouette bike named Sookie (on whom I finally pedaled almost 13,000 miles before she developed a fatal crack in her fragile aluminum frame), I gave the steel commuter and light touring bike a rest for seven months. The other day I was asking about getting new disc brake pads, and it turns out that after a while of frequent braking, they wear out. Well, that’s because I’m riding her all the time now that Sookie has been forced into retirement. Nothing lasts forever. But while the ride still lasts, it’s important to acknowledge the accomplishments and share them with you.
Today was a day that I could have biked, but I didn’t. I could use the sleet and tiny hail that fell on Austin streets today and the cold weather for excuses. But the precipitation didn’t stick to the roads, and it’s not like I’m in Fargo, North Dakota or somewhere actually very cold. With enough layers it can be done. There was my headache, probably due to a lack of sleep. For the latter, I can blame the excellent film Sicario: Day of the Soldado which I stayed up to watch on DVD. Or there was being busy: two friends were over to help start packing for my move, and they gave me a ride to the second half of a how to start your own business class. I walked almost two miles and then just wasn’t feeling like going back out. So I didn’t. It was nice to, um, just chill out.
Should I Go to Ol’ Mexico? I Dunno
I was talking with a young woman today who told me she was going to Austin’s Yellow Bike Project to work on her bike. She would be taking it to Mexico in May as part of Bikes Across Borders. A couple of dozen anarchists ride for a couple of weeks to a town where they have relationships with people there, donate the bike, and take the bus home. Sounds fun, scary, dangerous, hard, and maybe a bit crazy. Oh yeah, inefficient. Why not just send the bikes by truck? Well, that would be boring and harder to raise money for. Continue reading
It’s hard to follow up my profile of the amazing Dena Kinate. If you missed it, you should go read it right now then come back. But I’m going to try. What comes to mind are miscellaneous bits of information about biking news. I’ll try to make it interesting for those who aren’t in Austin, but no guarantees. (That’s not an invitation to move here like 150 people do a day — or some crazy number like that.)
The Aftermath of Bike Fatality #1 of 2019
I hoped there might be more of an update about the cyclist killed last week. He was identified as Anthony “Tony” John Diaz, a nice guy who worked at a TV station. The only other update is news reports from witnesses that the bus driver was said to be speeding up and slowing down and generally acting erratically. Drug tests and more information will take a while. There’s also a petition to put a white ghost bike white ghost bike where he died, but the University of Texas threatens to enforce their policy to remove abandoned bikes. And amazingly, his aunt was quoted as saying she forgave the bus driver.
Another Bike Shop Bites the Dust
I was planning on a story about Performance Bicycles which closed its North Austin store due to bankruptcy of its parent company, Advanced Sports Enterprises. That link says 40 of the 104 stores would be closing. The south store appears to be open still, for the moment.
However, that happened two days earlier than advertised, so I missed the chance to go take pictures and talk to staff. Anyway, hopefully brands like Fuji will survive. That’s the maker of my now reitred Silhouette named Sookie. We traveled together about 13,000 miles since summer of 2015. Here is where you can (and must!) read my “interview” with Sookie. Austin is lousy with bike shops, though. Fortunately, the head of the Performance repair department has been swept up by one of my favorite stores, Sun & Ski Sports,
Bike Austin: Rising from the Ashes
I’m not at liberty to say much about what Bike Austin is up to, mostly because it’s not much, and I wasn’t at the last meeting. But I was at a previous one, at which two dozen of notable Austin cycling advocates got together. The call was for an initial group of volunteers to join the four remaining board members to try to reinvigorate the organization. After a number of setbacks and the departure of all its staff, the decision needed to be made: Do we continue the organization? And if so, how?
Fortunately, enough people feel strongly that Austin deserves and needs a strong organization to advocate for safety for cyclists. The plan is to do it as volunteers for now. I hope to be involved as time allows. But it’s encouraging to see that while the website is out of date, the Facebook page is advertising Bike to Work Day.
So, mark your calendars for Friday, May 17, 2019. The day is usually observed by having numerous stations around town with donated drinks and snacks for bike commuters. There’s also a contest for those who can visit the most stations, collecting stamps, with a party and prizes afterward. I volunteered with the afterparty last year and had alot of fun. Let’s hope it happens this year, too.
Biking Slower, but I’m Still Going
The massses aren’t exactly clamoring for my own personal news, but I’m including my training log for the last 35 days just for fun. I had a slowdown this week. Tomorrow I see a doctor and maybe he’ll have some idea why this seems to have been going on for some time now. Sure, I’m averaging 105.5 miles/week, but it’s been taking me a longer period of time for a while. Some of that is due to the winter cold, wind and rain. Part of it was a pretty strong cedar fever reaction that turned into a chest cold and sinus congestion if not infection, the last vestiges of which (I hope) I’m still fighting off. There’s also that big-boned bike gal named Sophie who is er, slower than the more svelt Sookie who as mentioned is now retired due to a crack. Saturday, I slept for over 10 hours, but last night I was back to my old tricks of burning the candle at both ends Maybe there’s just a sleep deficit that will take time to correct. And with no rest days off the bike since December 25th, I am due for some serious rest and relaxation. But I have places to go and things to do, and so there’s no rest for the wicked. Speaking of sleep, good night!
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She walked onto the patio like she was walking off her yacht. I was waiting for her at the back of a coffee house overlooking Lake Travis. It was a rainy, lazy day, and she had texted to tell me that she had just awakened from a nap and was running a little late. Dena was sporting a long mane of naturally curly hair (never combed except in the shower), brown with blond highlights), a plaid shirt with a few buttons undone, short shorts and canvas shoes. She gave a cute, shy little wave and then came around to the picnic table to give me a polite but gentle hug. Thus began a fascinating interview, series of calls, texts, emails and a photo shoot that would lead to this profile. Continue reading