A bike-centric guide to Austin, Texas

Lauren Trout welding a frame together.
The artisan at work: Lauren Trout building a custom frame for her company, Saila Bikes. Photo: Courtesy of John Watson/www.theRadavist.com

Last August, Lauren Trout left her home of many years, Boston, to return to Texas. The bike messenger turned custom bicycle-frame builder had lived and worked all over the U.S., delivering packages by bike in cities like Houston, San Francisco, Denver, and Washington, D.C., while competing in courier competitions in urban centers like Seattle; Montreal; New York City; Columbus, Ohio; Portland, Oregon; and Richmond, Virginia, before returning to her home state.

A native of Houston, the owner of Saila Bikes headed back west to escape Boston winters, the fast pace of the East Coast, and to set up shop in a place that doesn’t have the bazillion custom builders that New England does. And she wanted a place with a strong cycling scene, so Austin it was.

“I really couldn’t be happier with where I’m at. Austin is amazing and it’s great to be working solely for myself, doing what I love, and already feeling the support of the cycling community here and the city in general,” says Trout.

Check out Trout’s bike-centric guide to her new home city, in her own words:

Lone Star singletrack!
Austin Ridge Riders is a club that’s open to all and is all about off-road riding in central Texas. Photo: Courtesy of Austin Ridge Riders

Go ride: The cycling community in Austin is huge! There’s every kind of riding happening on a regular basis, so the scene is really diverse: road, MTB, cyclocross, commuting, social rides—you name it, you got it. The weather in Austin is relatively temperate year-round, so there’s no “blackout” season, so to speak. That said, it gets pretty hot here in the summer, so you may want to get your rides in early in the day.

Mountain bike: Austin Ridge Riders hosts mountain bike rides on the outskirts of town at parks like Pedernales Falls and Pace Bend, which are cool places to go outside of the city, but are only about an hour away.

Cyclocross: ‘Cross is big in Texas. There are races all over in the fall. I got to catch part of the Georgetown Cyclocross Fest last November, which was cool to watch, especially since the terrain and ‘cross style here is so different from what I was used to seeing in New England.

Hop in on a casual group ride: On the social scene, there’s a ton of stuff. One of the biggest is the Thursday Night Social Ride put on by Social Cycling Austin. It’s a festive, fun ride that can easily draw a hundred brightly colored riders out for a night of all things bike and beers at the end.

Race (or just watch): My personal favorite is to watch and hang out at the Driveway Series, a weekly crit series held at, well, the Driveway. It’s an actual racetrack a few miles east of downtown, accessible by bike via the Walnut Creek Path. It runs weekly between mid-March and mid-October and is a great place to ride out to after work, grab a bite from the food truck and a frosty beverage from the beer tent, and watch the boys and girls in Spandex go really fast around the track ’til the sun goes down.

What's better than a beer bar? A bar that serves coffee in the morning.
Austin’s Radio Coffee and Beer was rated as one of the hottest new beer bars in the U.S. by Zagat. Photo: Courtesy of Radio

Breakfast and coffee: There’s so much good food in this town that it’s hard to narrow it down, but I’d recommend starting your day by hitting up Radio Coffee and Beer for a great cup of coffee and a breakfast taco from the Veracruz taco truck outside. It’s south of town, but worth the short trip. If you need java and food stat and you happen to be more central, stop by Jo’s on South Congress for an equally bomb cup of Stumptown coffee and Taco Deli breakfast tacos.

Patio cafe fun.
The Cenote in East Austin. Photo: Courtesy of the Cenote.

Lunch: One of my favorite spots that’s close to my shop on the east side is Cenote. They have really good sandwiches and salads, and tacos.

Dinner: Head to Chuy’s on Barton Springs or Guero’s on South Congress. Both make killer margaritas, and you should be eating as much Tex-Mex as possible while you’re in Austin, so don’t be shy about trying two or three different places in one day.

Live music: For fun, when I’m not making or pedaling a bike, I’m probably watching some music somewhere. My second passion in life is music, so I’m always up for going to see a good local band or DJ, as there’s no shortage of that in this town. Go to the Whitehorse and watch some real country music or head over to the Scoot Inn, where you can perfect your skee-ball game before catching the show. The annual South by Southwest music festival happens March 13–22, 2015, at venues all over town.

Post ride dip?
Fed by a natural spring, the cool waters of Barton Springs are the perfect post-ride refresher. Photo: Courtesy of Austin Parks and Recreation

Post-ride soak: A cool-down like no other, Barton Springs is one of Austin’s gems and should not be missed. Unless it’s January, it’s probably warm out and you could use a little refreshing, especially during or after a ride. There’s something cleansing about the cold, natural spring water that feeds this watering hole. If the pool’s open, dive on in and try to hang onto your breath. If not, dip your feet in the spring. It’s guaranteed to make you feel alive, awake, and ready for your next adventure.

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