Once in a Lifetime Encounter in Austin

Today, on my last day in Austin, TX for SxSW, my friend Jennifer and I were exiting a hotel courtyard on South Congress to make our way back to the Convention Center. Just as we stepped into the misty air out in the sidewalk, a helmeted cyclist rode by on the street, his sharp features and lean physique instantly recognizable. Agog, we exclaimed in near unison:

“Holy crap, that was David Byrne!”

We stood gaping as he maneuvered his bicycle tentatively across the lanes of oncoming traffic and into the center turn lane of the five-lane street. He was evidently trying to get himself onto the other side of Congress in order to ride with traffic.

Watching him negotiate with a blue pickup truck for the center lane, aggressive traffic on all sides of him, one of us spoke the words we both were thinking: “I really hope David Byrne doesn’t get hit.”

For a fan of Talking Heads and David Byrne since elementary school, coming so close to the man was an incomparable thrill and I stood with Jen on the spot until he had ridden out of sight. But afterward, having walked toward downtown Austin for about a half mile, who should appear but the same gangly figure–now riding on the sidewalk toward us.

Perched bolt upright atop a touring bike, wearing a navy-blue suit, an inexpensive backpack, and what could have been a rental helmet, David Byrne looked like a tourist from some imagined past–or possibly Utah. He rode by, I said “Hi, David” and he reciprocated pleasantries.

Who knew that David Byrne is a committed cyclist but a little Googling indicates he travels with a folding Montague (not what we saw him on) and can be seen tooling around the streets of New York or with helmet in hand.

Cross-posted to Textura Design.

T@B trailers

Traveling a lot to ride and race bikes, I’ve always thought about a trailer, rv, camper, bus or something. Yesterday I spotted a T@B trailer on the highway and it looked cool, designy, and spiffy. There’s a bike-rack option and even better, I bet you could put two bikes inside the trailer. Check this flame paint option with the banana seat bike.


Bike Expo(se)

As promised, this year’s Bike Expo was huge. Held again in Magnuson Park, the gloomy Seattle drizzle kept only weenies like me from riding over for a weekend of bike fun. I took advantage of the new two-day pass offered this year and for the bargain price of ten dollars, I showed off my beautiful Cascade bracelet for entry.

The entry to such an exhibition can be a bit overwhelming. Wall-to-wall people, music and televisions with a constant stream, smiley volunteers shoving bags and programs and freebies into your hands and the bling of shiny new bikes calling you by name. Snazzy components, carbon-this and streamline-that, the most beautifully obnoxious new jerseys I’d ever seen (with matching socks, of course). For a moment, I was certain Heaven existed and I was surrounded by it.

Arriving just before noon on Saturday, our clan quickly made way through the crowd and parked the stroller in the standing-room-only crowd gathered near the main stage. Frankie Andreu was getting ready to begin his “Behind the Scenes at the Tour…” and I wasn’t about to miss it. With lunch procured by my better half, we were all quickly captivated by Frankie’s funny commentary and vast experience. As most of our family is glued to Versus for most of July, it was important that our two-year-old begin to appreciate the ins and outs of cycling. Captured by the images of Lance, beautiful bikes and stuffed lions, he was content with his hot dog for nearly an hour. Now that’s saying something.

Milling around the booths, I took care not to drool directly on any of the incredible bikes. For not being in the market for a frame, I spent far too much time investigating all the new “must haves” to hit the market. Mesmerized by the 2007 Orca I found myself explaining to a toddler why some, but not all, bikes are carbon fiber.

I am consistently impressed by how approachable a sport cycling has become. Once dominated by the echelon of professional racers, groups like Cascade and the many different styles of cycling provide enough variety to appeal to almost anyone. The exhibitors included several non-profit groups that do so much to bring now people into the sport each year. The once self-proclaimed couch potato is now welcomed into the sport with a wonderful support system and the tools to succeed. Those that enjoy more risk and less ride prop themselves up on bikes small enough for kids and throw themselves into a back flip off a ramp. New frames and great clothes continue to encourage women to enter the sport of cycling and make it a far more comfortable sport for those of us that have been around a while.

Bike Expo is truly an incredible venue for “everything bikes”. For the novice, it provides fantastic resources on bike fitting, coaching, injury prevention and gear. For the seasoned rider, everything “smaller, lighter, faster” is available at great prices, with new rides and tours making their debut each year.

As in years past, the photo contest provided a great opportunity to reflect on some of year’s best moments. While I always enjoy the comedy photos for a good laugh, it’s often the action and the still life that really bring me back to what I love most about cycling. This is a sport where everyone is in it for a different reason and the photos seem to capture the emotion that we as cyclists share.

While I promised a report on the beer garden, I didn’t have enough cash to pay off the bouncers and sneak in my rug rat. I did, however, eye the pints of Fat Tire longingly and salivate appropriately. The BMX show was more than tolerable while sober and a huge hit with the under-21 crowd gathered just across from the ever-tempting beer garden.

We left on Sunday afternoon with bags and bags of great stuff, free water bottles, samples and lots of information on this season’s rides. Newly re-inspired, I’m ready to hit the road and gear up for another great cycling season in Seattle. Just as soon as this darn rain lets up.

Rolling Across Europa

John Robinson wrote to tell us about his ride across Europe for a Ukranian orphanage. From his journal,

During the summer of 2006, I traveled with only a bicycle from Lviv, Ukraine down to Napoli, Italy, then north to Calais, France. From Calais I ferried to Dover, then rode to London to complete the voyage. I visited eleven countries and saw a variety of landscapes and weather. I had encounters with many people and most of these were positive. I also used this experience to draw attention to a little orphanage in eastern Ukraine, the Makiivka HIV / AIDS orphanage.

To date John has raised $2,400, logged an amazing amount of miles, and wrote about everything.

Photo of the day: Ferry Ride

That’s Mike Rogers and Chad Brothers from the Wines of Washington team on the ferry towards the Tour de Dung, a classic early season bike race in the Northwest. Photo courtesy Frederick Soo.


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