No one can argue the fact that Austin has long been a city rooted in cycling. Lance brought a lot of attention to the area, in addition to a handful of other pro road riders that have come through the ranks there. Compared to Coastal California or the Boulder scene, however, Austin hasn’t really been considered a cycling destination. That’s quickly changing thanks to the abundance of gravel roads and a new hub for the cycling community, The Meteor Cafe, not to mention year-round riding weather. Austin is a burgeoning cycling haven.
Photos by Andy Chasteen
We had heard rumors of the endless web of gravel roads just outside the city limits, so when Meteor x Giordana rider and current Dirty Kanza champion Colin Strickland asked if we wanted to come out for a gravel event as his birthday ride of sorts, there wasn’t much convincing needed. Utah had just plunged into an early winter, and Austin’s 75-degree mid-November temps was simply icing on the cake.
There was little question that the ride itself would be legit, but once arriving at The Meteor Cafe in downtown it was clear that the riding would only be part of the overall experience. The Meteor Austin has only been open for a couple of months and follows the same blueprint as their original location in Little Rock, by combining bikes coffee, food, and libations. As it turns out, most people can appreciate all of those things and it creates a welcoming environment for cyclists and non-cyclists alike.
A Friday evening pre-event party included getting riders set up on Allied bikes and ENVE G Series wheels to demo on the following day’s ride, in addition to what The Meteor does best, providing a place to hang out with good food and drinks.
Just a 30-minute drive out of Austin is the small town of Lockhart, the kind of place where Lycra-clad cyclists stick out like a sore thumb amongst the old pick-up trucks and barbecue joints–making it the perfect location for what could easily become a household name gravel event. It’s typically small towns that create the very best locations for gravel events. Look at Dirty Kanza’s Emporia, Kansas, epicenter, or Beaver, Utah, for the Crusher In The Tushar. It’s the sleepy, laid back atmosphere that blends so well with a gravel event, and Lockhart definitely had that in spades.
On tap for the day was sixty-two miles of rolling gravel roads with a few “hot zone” timed sections to add a little spice to an otherwise social ride. Once the flag was waved from the bed of our early 80’s Chevy pickup lead vehicle, it was game on for the next two or three miles until the Chevy once again came into sight with a checkered flag waving. After each section a full re-group allowed everyone to ride together once again, or at least until the next flag drop.
Unlike the rutted and rocky forestry roads found in Utah or California, these were buff and fast, allowing you to sit on the wheel in front of you without the worry of what might be coming up. As the route turned back toward Lockhart there was a little disappointment knowing the on-the-bike portion of the day was winding down; but as we soon found out, while Lockhart does gravel well, they do BBQ even better. About two pounds of brisket later, we could reflect back on the day with tired legs and a very full belly.
Good riding, amazing food, and new friends. Thanks, Austin.