Tenth Stop: Austin


I have never been to Texas' capitol, Austin, before although I have heard nothing but good things about it. I have met people from Austin in Portland, where I live, and they either tell me that Austin and Portland are sister cities or Portland is ripping off Austin. Example: they both have the unofficial motto of "Keep Austin/Portland Weird" also Austin has SXSW and Portland has MusicFestNW. Other than those two things I would say Austin is less of a sister city and maybe more along the lines of a second cousin who sweats a lot. With a heat index ranging from 105-110, you'd be sweaty too.


I drove from Memphis to Austin in one shot. By the time we rolled into town it was around 1a.m. and I was seeing things in my peripheral vision. It was a long haul. I am glad I did it that way because at the time, although I have heard about how hot the summers get in Austin, I was definitely not prepared for it, so driving through the night was ideal. I know I've been talking about the heat since my Chicago stop, but this heat was a horse of a different color..... and that color was blazing hot scorching red. Todd had an old friend, Katherine, who was going to let us stay with her. Well, she wasn't old they've just known each other a long time. Don't be so literal...... really. When we got in she and her boyfriend, John, were waiting up for us and it was nice to come off of the road to some smiles . After a night of stories and remembering whens we ended up laying our heads down to sleep at around the 4 o'clock hour, a.m. that is.

The next day Toddy and I went to go stuff our faces at a joint called Bouldin Creek Cafe. Toddy is of the vegan persuasion and there was a lot on the menu to choose from. Even though all my food was delicious, I ate too much of it leaving me feeling like crap. Over eating blueberry cornbread with maple syrup and 100+ temperatures outside doesn't make for the sweetest of combinations. I just sat at our table with a thousand yard stare waiting for my food to digest a little and not saying anything. Needless to say I was great company.Empire

After I came out of my food coma Todd and I took Chrome One over to check out Empire BMX and invite them to the Collection Session for the Urban Cycling Hall of Fame later that week. I heard they had a ramp in the back, but when we got there they told us the city made them tear it down after six month because they built it with out permits. Talk about a bummer. Todd rides BMX and was oh so close to getting a set of rasta handlebars for his bike, but wussed out at the last minute. I got a sweet Empire Spud's McKenzie knock off shirt. Pretty fresh. Later that night we met up with some of Todd's pals at the White Horse where his friend was playing trumpet in a Country and Western band. Austin is the live music capitol of the world so it was only appropriate that we did a little jamming out ourselves. The band dedicated a song to Todd and said it was for his birthday. It wasn't his birthday. As the band jammed and the beer consumed we got more comfortable in our chairs and more excited about cowboy hats. At the time, I was convinced I needed one. We were with Todd's friend whose last name is Hunt. Todd's last name is Danger. The two of them decided they are going to give up their bike messenger jobs and start and airplane repo company called "Hunt 'n' Danger". It was decided that we were all going to get Hunt 'n' Danger tattoos. That was yet just another exciting idea of the evening. Why I was in the HnD tattoo pact is beyond me, but it seemed like a great idea at the time.

fastfolksAustin has some great bike shops and one I have heard a lot about is Fast Folks. It's Texas' first track bike specific boutique. The space is welcoming and has a couch encouraging people to hang out. Those are my favorite kind of shops. Yeah they have service and sales, but it's cool if you want to take a seat and talk bikes as well. It's not a bike store where making a sales quota is the most important thing, it's a bike SHOP where building a community is just as important as making sales. I got a tour of the place, traded some hi5s, bought a couple of tank tops, and headed back out into heat to explore Austin some more.

The next stop was a totally different kind of shop with totally different clientele, Mellow Johnny's. The name Mellow Johnny came from a spin on the French words "maillot jaune" meaning, "yellow jersey". mellowjohnny

With all the beef going down with Lance I wasn't sure what to expect at Mellow Johnny's, but the the yellow jerseys are still up and so is other Lance memorabilia. By the looks of it, it was business as usual and everyone was super busy when I popped in for a visit.  Even the coffee shop, which is named in the honor of Lance's one nut, was hopping. It's called "Juan Pelota". Pelota is the Spanish word for "ball". Get it? Juan Ball? One ball? Lance had one testicle.....man, dude's got a good sense of humor, huh? Even though everyone at  Mellow Johnny's was super busy, they still made time for everyone there including myself and were super nice to boot.

The time had finally come to for me to bid Todd adieu. He was flying from Austin to San Francisco to meet some other friends and camp in the Redwoods for a week. Every year Todd takes about a month off and just travels and this year he spent almost a month with yours truly. It was a wild ride, half of it he remembers.


After Todd cut loose I decided it was a good use of my free time to go get a tattoo so I asked around a bit and word on the street was Bijou Studio was the place to go.biju

Throughout my years I have been plagued with bad luck that has resulted in multiple injuries and multiple surgeries, so a little bit ago I got the idea of getting good luck symbols tattooed on me. It's worth a shot. Give me a little bit of time and I'll let you know if it works.

After being tattooed I rode around awhile because I am a glutton for punishment and wanted to see how fast I could ride before I had a heat stroke..... I kid, I was killing time before we had the Collection Session at The Liberty.austinnightsI rode past Division One Bicycles and was drawn in by a big mural of Eddy on the side of the building and the closer I got I noticed an inner tube dispenser in case you need a tube when they're closed. More places should have these. A lot of flats happen after the bars close if you know what I mean.

I headed to the Liberty set up a computer and it wasn't long before this guy named Ian pulled up a chair and started telling me about his messenger "gang" he was in called "The Boston Blackouts". When I stayed in Boston and hung out at Winthrop Square, I heard stories about how hardcore and violent these guys were, but Ian seemed pleasant as pie. It was a good night of getting to know people and swapping stories. So good, in fact, that when it was over I found myself on a dance floor with these guys drinking, god knows what, and doing some sweet hi-kicks. We closed the place down and let's just say my "ride" back to my room was interesting. It was more of a ride/walk/stumble scenario. On my way back on an empty street I had a pack of dogs roll up on me. Two Rottweilers and two boxers. I pulled up a curb and hung out with the drooling dudes for awhile. Dogs are my jam so I was stoked they wanted to hang out for bit. After a few minutes they took off and I went back to my motel room.... oh yeah, Chrome One was in the shop getting some minor maintenance done. Before I went to sleep I noticed they gave me an ashtray in my non smoking room that reminded me there was no smoking. I laughed hysterically and Palmer looked at me like I was insane.

The next day I picked up Chrome One and hit the road. Goodbye Austin, I will tell your cousin you said hello.