This past weekend, Yeah You Ride went on a desert retreat with good friends from Semi-Tough Cycling Club. We rolled out of New Orleans, a caravan of hatchbacks, four men, five bikes, one chihuahua, all united in a quest for answers, thirsting for knowledge, and also Topo Chico mineral water.
Saturday began earlier than any day in my recent, albeit generally hazy, memory. While I can’t say with certainty what time we woke up, I do know that around 7:15 my brain turned on and I found myself in our new friend Jennine’s kitchen, wearing a Rouler kit and eating fried eggs with rice and quinoa on tortillas. One good cup of coffee and several trips to the bathroom later, we were clipping in cruising down South Congress towards downtown Austin.
More after the jump…
At a coffee shop called Houndstooth, we met up with Local Hardman John Trujillo and the fine gentlemen of the Beat The Clock Cycling Club. Naturally, the New Orleans crew was late because one of us ran a light in front of a lawman and got pulled over for a tongue lashing. Being really cool guys, BTC didn’t sweat the holdup one bit. They would be our guide on a 100+ mile tour over two days exploring the geography to the West and South of Austin; mystical landscapes inhabited by strange and foreign formations known among the locals as “hills.”
“Don’t be afraid to drop into the little ring,” Robinson Sudan said to me as we made our way out of town and into the gentle rollers that would gradually become relentless climbs, a thoroughly new challenge to some of us NOLA flatlanders. Until Rob made that suggestion, I had entirely forgotten that my crankset consisted of not just one, but TWO chainrings.
Day 1 took us on a 66 mile circuit of the West Austin hills, providing a solid introduction to physics of climbing, that namely being that your feet spin just below the speed of light, while your wheels rotate about as perceptibly as does the Earth. This was a great chance to meet the really friendly riders of BTC and get a feel for what training on this topography would be like. The silver lining of these challenging climbs was the fact that for every one, there was typically a paired, effortless descent, although some climbs seemed they would not end until we ascended high enough to break away from Earth’s gravity. A lack of wind made the transition to struggling up an incline a gentle one. Nonetheless, the hills were slow and arduous, the descents swift and fleeting. The ride was, altogether, something completely different.
Day 2 began at Mellow Johnny’s, where we marveled at the wonder that is bike shop open on sunday morning, with in house coffee shop, locker rooms, and gym. Perhaps such a place will exist in Nola before year 3030. Sunday’s ride opened with a partial ascent of daunting Redbud Hill, followed by a sharp turn to the south, where we rode more gentle hills out to Buda. This provided us an opportunity to flex a little bit and show John what we flatlanders could do on less vertical terrain. In spite of more challenging wind conditions than the previous day, we took advantage of the topography and hammered until we were spent. Abounding rollers, a couple straightaways, and one steep descending sweeper hosted a high octane cat and mouse game that pushed us all to the limit and culminated in huddling together, wheezing in the sparse shade of a pine sapling. After about 45 miles we called it a day and retreated back to home base.
We came. We saw. We climbed. The change in topography and ecology was drastic and refershing. The change in climate, however, was marginal. The riding was altogether different. We were like children with a new toy, absorbed in the novelty of gasping our way up what felt like giant bridges. And if we could occasionally break ourselves away from the huffing and puffing, it was easy to become lost in the vistas of vast, expansive rolling hills and gentle bluffs, cactus groves, early morning fawn with their spots still on, roadrunners zipping across the street, fleeing the yet unseen coyote. Maybe it was something in the water at Barton Springs, but I was hooked. I’m sure it won’t be long before we find ourselves back in the hills.
Yeah You Ride