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Support the Urban Trails Master Plan

September 20, 2014

From the good folks at BikeAustin!

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One of the best things about riding a bike in Austin these days is our growing network of off-street paths and trails. Have you had a chance to ride the new boardwalk on Lady Bird Lake? How about the new Southern Walnut Creek Trail? These are both amazing cycling facilities that you can ride through some of the most beautiful areas of Austin and never encounter a motor vehicle, perfect for outings with those who aren’t quite ready to take it to the streets, and a ton of fun for cyclists of every type!

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That’s why I’m reaching out to you today on behalf of Bike Austin, Austin’s bicycle advocacy organization. We need your help to make sure the Urban Trails Master Plan (UTMP) passes with flying colors when it goes to City Council for their approval this Thursday, September 25th. The UTMP is an amazing document (read it here) that lays out a grand vision for hundreds of miles of off-street paths in every part of the city. The trails in this plan will be integral to creating a city wide network of protected cycling facilities when linked with the cycling facilities in the updated Bicycle Master Plan that is expected to go to City Council for approval in November.

Join me in letting our City Council know how important this Plan is to you, your family and your friends who love to ride their bikes. You can send a single email to every member of the Austin City Council here.

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These are some of the important points that I suggest you may want to share with the members of our City Council:

Safety
•Many people, especially our most vulnerable users, prefer to ride or walk on off-street trails that provide protection from vehicle traffic. A citywide Urban Trails system provides the backbone for a safe all-ages/all-abilities system of walking, running and cycling paths.
•Trails in neighborhoods provide connectivity to adjacent schools and services.

Healthy, green Austin
•Trails are one of the most highly requested amenities when Austin citizens are surveyed about their desires for new city facilities. Trails in heavily developed areas such as downtown provide a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life and the opportunity to exercise for health and well being.
•The Master Plan calls for urban trails to be constructed to protect trees, vegetation and wildlife habitat and provide a sustainable travel surface through ecologically fragile areas that minimizes the need for ongoing maintenance.
•The Urban Trails System expands access to the green infrastructure across Austin, providing a quick and easy way for people to experience parks and open spaces and the recreational opportunities found there.

Cost effectiveness
•Constructing urban trails is the most cost effective means of adding to our transportation system-50 times less expensive than roadways and 12 times less expensive than on-street cycle tracks.
•Sustainable travel surfaces are more cost effective to maintain.

Reducing congestion, helping the environment
•Austin’s Urban Trails Master Plan places a priority on providing another transportation option for its citizens and visitors in addition to being a great place for recreation.
•A comprehensive Urban Trails system protects air quality and decreases traffic congestion by providing people an alternative to using an automobile.

Riding a bike in Austin is a great way to get around for every reason and building a great network of cycling facilities will make riding in Austin better for each of us and for generations to come. Let’s pull together and tell our City Council to approve the Urban Trails Master Plan so we can begin building the kind of city we want!

Thanks for your support!

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Ridden & Reviewed: 2014 Trek Race Shop Limited Classics Edition Domane

September 15, 2014

The endurance bike for the race crowd.

By now you know the story of Trek’s endurance geometry bicycle, the Domane. If not, you can read about it as well as my ride impressions of the first generation, stock Domane from last year.

Since the Domane’s initial release, the chorus of folks wanting to see the IsoSpeed decoupler appear on a cyclocross bike as well as a Domane with a more race-oriented geometry grew.

On the later point, everyone knew it was possible and probably already in existence. After all, it seemed unlikely that Fabian Cancellera, the cobblestone king of his generation, was piloting a stock Domane through his Spring Classics campaigns in Flanders and Roubaix. On the later point, it too seemed like a given, since Trek had signed cyclocross’ two biggest stars in Sven Nys and Katie Compton and had a wholly re-worked cyclocross bike geometry in the Crockett.

And both things came to pass, not only for pros, but also for enthusiast riders.

Early January 2014 saw the release of the excellent Boone cyclocross bike, featuring the IsoSpeed technology. And around that time Trek somewhat more quietly made the Domane Classics Edition available not only to Trek Factory Racing team members, but also to the general public.

The 2014 Race Shop Limited Classics Edition Domane.

The 2014 Race Shop Limited Classics Edition Domane.

When I first rode the Domane last year, I said the bike was on my short list for whenever the time came to consider a new road bike. So when the chance came to demo the Domane Classics Edition, I welcomed the opportunity. Having covered a little over 5,000 miles on it, I can say that it does not disappoint.

The biggest difference between the Classics Edition and a stock Domane is the geometry. The Classics Edition presupposes a race oriented fit with a bike that is notably longer and lower than a stock Domane. My 56 cm Classics Edition features an effective top tube length of 56.2 cm compared to the stock Domane’s 55.4 cm length. And the headtube on the Classics Edition is a staggeringly short 12 cm compared to the stock Domane’s 17.5 cm. The Classics Edition Domane headtube is actually shorter than the H1 race geometry of the venerable Madone and only .2 cm shorter across the top. This means that both reach and stack for the Classics Edition Domane favors those who undoubtedly prefer a more aggressive position. It’s not for folks looking to experiment with fit.

There are some construction differences as well between the Classics Edition and the stock Domane. The Classics Edition is built in Trek’s facility in Waterloo, Wisconsin, whereas the stock Domanes are built overseas in Asia. Being built here means that the Classics Edition is a Project One offering only. As a bike designed originally as “team only,” the Classics Edition foregoes the nifty integrated fender mounts as well as the replaceable derailleur hanger found on the stock Domane. Keeping the weight down and the functionality up, the loss of the fender mounts isn’t surprising, and the integrated hanger means stiffer derailleur function and better shifting. Not to mention a more robust dropout for the frequent wheel changes team bikes see. I’ve also been told that the seat tube on the Classics Edition features a different carbon layup to render it slightly stiffer than the stock Domane offering, likely a nod to the ride characteristics wanted by pro tour riders.  The Classics Edition also sports a nifty looking metal head badge as opposed to a graphic on the head tube. No added functionality there, but a nice touch.

No fender mounts. And no replaceable derailleur hanger. Extra crisp shifting though.

No fender mounts. And no replaceable derailleur hanger. Extra crisp shifting though.

Other aspects of the Classics Edition Domane are what you may well expect from Trek: the BB90 bottom bracket standard, the E2 tapered head tube, their quite clever “ride tuned” seat mast system, OCLV carbon, and tidy internal routed cables.

Ordering my bike through Project One, I selected a matte black finish to keep things simple, a SRAM Force 22 kit, and a bevy of Bontrager bits to round out the build, including the XXX stem, RXL bars, XXX Paradigm saddle, and RXL TLR wheels—tubeless ready offerings from Bontrager that I knew were top flight (I raced a pair two years ago for cyclocross season and they were bombproof). After ordering, I sat back for two months and waited. And the wait was worth it.

I'm old enough to remember when every bike had a head badge.

I’m old enough to remember when every bike had a head badge.

The Classics Edition Domane is a revelation in terms of ride.

The geometry of the bike as it relates to fit works particularly well for me in the size 56 that I selected. I can get all my contact points in the same place relative to the bottom bracket as I have them on my personal bike. So switching between bikes was a non-issue as there was virtually nothing to get used to aside from the road manners of one bike versus another.

Of course, I ended up loving the Classics Edition Domane’s feel. The bike sports the familiar longer wheelbase of bikes in the “endurance road bike” category. That feature alone would give most bikes some measure of added comfort. The bike also has a lower than normal fork rake compared to a typically “neutral” bike. This renders the bike quite stable at lower speeds over rougher roads—perfect for cobblestones–and demands more aggressive turn input from the rider at higher speeds, a characteristic I like. The lower bottom bracket drop sets the center of gravity lower, which also adds to the stable feel. Add the IsoSpeed decoupler, which adds a noticeable measure of compliance to the rear end, and you have the makings of a true all-day racer. It’s not too surprising that Cancellara chooses to ride this bike in nearly every setting, despite having access to the Madone, and now the Emonda, as well.

Not the soft handling you'd expect from an "endurance road bike."

Not the soft handling you’d expect from an “endurance road bike.”

On the road the Classics Edition felt much like the stock Domane I rode last year. Looking over my notes from both bikes, I made the same remarks—smooth, comfortable, pretty stable, traction, not happy on Terrace Mountain, 3 hours NBD. The fit for the Classics Edition is more to my liking, but the ride wasn’t all that noticeably different aside from the front end, which was welcome. The Classics Edition fork sports a lower trail number than the stock Domane, 5.1 cm versus 6.1 cm, in my size 56 cm bike. That means it retains much of the straight line stability of the stock geometry, but handles appreciably better–at least to me–at higher speeds. These are hairs we’re talking about splitting, but ride a bike enough and you start to see these things in terms of how and where you ride the most.

But it’s not just an all-day bike. The Classics Edition Domane faired fine at criteriums. I didn’t race the stock Domane I tried last year since, well, the shop’s rental department frowns on that. So I was anxious to put the Classics Edition to the test. The aggressive position translated to great feel in terms of weight balance on the bike. And an added measure of care was taken on a few turns because of the lower bottom bracket as I wasn’t interested in clipping a pedal on the ground. Aside from that, the bike behaved similarly to the Specialized Tarmac Pro that I rode last year. Fast, easily maneuverable, confident. Like a race bike.

Climbing the very steepest pitches is still the weak spot of the Domane, even in the Classics Edition livery. It’s not to say it can’t be done or that it’s awful. But the bike—even sitting at 16 pounds—isn’t the snappy ascender the Tarmac or other bikes with shorter wheelbases seem to be.

It’s no matter though. The Classics Edition Doamne’s overall performance for the majority of my rides and a handful of races makes it a podium contender in my book. As a Project One bike, you can spec it out nearly anyway you can imagine with any build you can think of. Mostly at home on longer rides over rougher roads (re: nearly any road around Central Texas) it’s a capable crit racer and an able if not overly eager climber.

Maybe if I don’t say anything I won’t have to give this demo back.

Being a Responsible Road User

August 17, 2014

As cyclists, we tend to look at drivers as “them” just as much as drivers look at us the same way. And that’s even if we cyclists are ourselves drivers. It’s an attitude that leads to more roadway tension for sure. And, like folks that just drive, when we’re on our bikes we too can get distracted, make poor choices, and generally make the same errors drivers that don’t ride make, and for which we tend to be hypercritical when in cyclist mode.

I made such a mistake Saturday. On my bike.

Heading home from Bastrop I was making what I thought was a protected left with the turn arrow in my favor. I was moving at a good clip, and as I crossed the apex of the turn I was fairly close to the car waiting to make its way down the road perpendicular to the one I was turning off of. As I did, I noticed the car waiting at the light was a sheriff patrol car. I didn’t think too much of it. But aparently the deputy behind the wheel saw something that I didn’t. A quick u-turn and a switch of the lights and siren and I was getting pulled over.

A traffic stop beats an accident or altercation anytime.

A traffic stop beats an accident or altercation anytime.

Of course, I immediately stopped and got off my bike. Deputy Jones asked if I knew why I was being pulled over and I said that I honestly didn’t. He then asked if I knew I was obligated to follow all the same rules of the road as if I was in a car. I told him undoubtedly. He then informed me that I made my left in front of his car against a red arrow.

Honestly, I thought the arrow was green.

Perhaps it was changing as I entered the intersection.

I was 60 or so miles into my ride. It was getting hot and I had a long headwind-filled ride home to look forward to. In all likelihood, thinking about it now, I was probably lost in thought and the light may well have turned red, or was changing to red as I entered the intersection as opposed to changing after I entered it. I had just spent just over two hours on roads where I saw nothing more than a cow. It was indeed possible that I was “zoned out.”

In any event, as the deputy correctly pointed out, I was lucky he was who he was, and not a similarly distracted, lost-in-thought road user like me. After talking with me a bit about riding in general, he gave me a warning, told me to be really careful, and sent me on my way.

The stop by the deputy brought home a good point. Enjoying the road and being vigilant about being predictable and focused on your surroundings aren’t mutually exclusive. That goes whether we’re in cars or on our bikes.

Be safe out there.

Trek World!

August 7, 2014

Some of the folks from the buyers’ office have been busy at Trek World, getting the scoop on the latest and greatest from the good folks in Waterloo, WI. There’s so much to see at a dealer event like this that’s it’s almost impossible to really look carefully at every product in every category. Scott has given us a few of his favorites bikes, many of which you’ll soon see at the shop!

Suffice it to say, the one offs and the bikes of the pros that appear at these events are always crowd pleasers. This particular one, Fabian Cancellara’s actual Paris-Roubaix bike is one you won’t se at the shop soon, but it’s still a “must share.” Cancellara was actually the keynote speaker at the opening evening of the show.

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Cancellara carries a cue sheet aboard his top tube. It’s not to prevent getting lost, but to know where exactly along the paracours the major pave sectors are. Fairly typical fare for those with a shot at victory in the Queen of the Classics.

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If you’ve seen the District line of city bikes, the new Chelsea is the women’s/step through design compliment to the District Steel model. Very attractive.

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There were so many new and interesting colors and color combinations on the MTB side of things at Trek World that it was hard to pick a favorite. This is a Remedy 9 in a nod to Gulf Racing.

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It’s no secret Scott likes green bikes. Or at least it seems that way. But however you feel about green, the paint detail on this Speed Concept is top notch.

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It’s a cliche, but it really does look fast sitting still.

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Trek’s made a big push into cyclocross in the last two years, signing Katie Compton and Sven Nys. Here is a close up of the Boone Sven will ride, complete in Belgian National Champ colors. Guess they haven’t quite finished up the BSSCX team colorway yet.

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The cyclocross shrine. As Scott put it, “there was a keg to the right of this shot. You could have stood here all night and basked in the glory.” Indeed.

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Again, crazy interesting colors for the whole MTB line-up this year, like this Stash 7.

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Single Speed MTB in a killer grape-tastic purple.

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The show stealer? The integrated toy storage on the kids bikes!

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Speaking of integration, lights that are built into the bike on the new Lync. There’s a removable and rechargeable battery as part of the set-up.

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Maybe you know, maybe you don’t, but Trek purchased Electra Bikes some time back. So there were bikes and gear from Electra to see too. This moto-inspired cruiser was an eye catcher.

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Another eye-catching electric blue bike was this Slash 7 with a piggy bak shock and a Pike up front for the enduro riders out there.

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Scott loves green bikes. And fat bikes. So you bet he stopped to check out this rig, complete with suspension fork.

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Adventure bikes, gravel bikes. light touring bikes. Call them what you will, but the overall concept is one that growing: a bike that can cover distance and terrain changes. The lightweight bags seen here would be perfect for a quick overnighter to the Hill Country.

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Trek’s venerable 920 heads up a complete line of adventure bikes.

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Accessory integration isn’t just for kids. All of Trek’s hybrid bikes no feature a mount to hold our smart phone. Simply download your favorite fitness app.

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Thanks for sharing your top picks with us Scott! Hope you brought me something nice!

National Youth Bike Ride with the Ghisallo Foundation!

August 5, 2014

One local  organization that we’ve always been big fans of is the Ghisallo Foundation. They work to educate and develop youth riders into cycling experts who integrate bicycling into their daily lives.

And speaking of kids, next week is National Youth Bike Ride Week and the Ghisallo Foundation is kicking it off in style on Sunday! Get the details below and go learn more about the Ghisallo Foundation!

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Join the Ghisallo Foundation in partnership with Cycle Academy, Youth Bike, East Side Pedal Pushers, and Mueller Farmers’ Market for Austin’s participation in the National Youth Bike Ride Week. The ride will run along the Mueller Hike and Bike Trail and feature shorter and longer routes for varying age levels; instructors and volunteers will assist along the ride. Parents and adults are more than welcome, and are encouraged, to ride along with the group.

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We will be performing bike safety checks and basic maintenance to insure kids’ bikes are safe and ready to roll.

There will be a cooler of water available for participants and lots of food and drink options available within the Farmers’ Market.

Please bring your own bike, a helmet, and maybe a water bottle.

Date: Sunday 8/10/2014
Time: Station opens at 9:45am, ride starts at 10:15am
Location: East Side of Browning Hangar at the Mueller Farmers’ Market

Interested in National-level Bike Advocacy?

July 25, 2014

We get asked quite a bit about how to get involved in bicycle advocacy. Obviously, the local level–where you live and ride–is important. Austin’s “new” advocacy group Bike Austin–born from two great organizations sharing common goals–is already making great strides right here at home. And at the state level, we’re fortunate to have BikeTexas advocating for cyclists across the Lone Star State. But there are national policy matters and dollars at stake too and folks like the League of American Bicyclists are leading the fight at the national level. If you’re interested in bicycle advocacy on a large scale, consider joining the League for American Bicyclists as well as your local bike advocacy group!

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It’s easy to spot the leader of the Tour de France.

It’s just as easy to see who’s leading the movement to build a bicycle friendly America.

The League of American Bicyclists works with hundreds of communities and businesses, thousands of cycling instructors, and tens of thousands of cyclists like you. Together, we are shifting how roads are built, and how people behave on them.

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The League’s Winged Wheel logo can be found on the most effective programs changing the face of cycling today. The League’s experts are the most frequently cited in the media when covering the rise of cycling. And the League is rated as one of America’s top charities by Charity Navigator.

You may never get a chance to break away with the leaders of the Tour, but it’s easy to be on the forefront of cycling advocacy in America. Join the League of American Bicyclists and ride with the leaders.

Join now!

JOIN THE LEAGUE

AND YOU GET:

» Your membership dollars help build a bicycle friendly America

» Our magazine

American Bicyclist

One or more of:

» Bicycling

» Bicycle Times

» Momentum (digital)

»  Discounts  on gear and services

Join now

City of Austin Urban Trails Program Open House!

July 21, 2014

The City of Austin Urban Trails Program is currently analyzing the feasibility of a portion of the Violet Crown Trail though Sunset Valley/Eastern Oak Hill Area.  We would like your feedback on the proposed alignment of the trail. Together with the Hill Country Conservancy and the Oak Hills Trails Association, the Urban Trails Program staff hope to receive input from area residents, property owners, cyclists, pedestrians, and other stakeholders to plan, design, and build a beautiful trail that will accommodate neighbors, families, and friends for many years to come.  

Please attend the open house (come-and-go) on Wednesday, July 30th at the Will Hampton Library (5125 Convict Hill Road) from 5:30-8:00 PM to discuss your preferred alignment for the trail.

Please also share this information and the attached flyer about the meeting with your networksassociations, organizations, groups, and connections.We appreciate your help in getting the word out about this exciting project.

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Thank you!

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