Archives for August 2009

Riding With Walt

Riding With Walt

Last week, Amber and I met up with Walt Tashnick at Third Base to watch Talladega Nights.  Walt is a rare breed: an OWANA and DANA member.  Over [more than] a couple of beers we got to talking about my trip to Montreal a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve been interested in buying bikes for Amber and I ever since returning from Montreal and experiencing a world-class bicycle sharing system called Bixi.  The unisex design of the Bixi bike is apparently quite unique and not something available directly to consumers.  I wanted something similar: a cruiser with gears, to be used for recreation rather than as a serious mode of transportation.

Bixi is a world-class shared bicycle system and something Id love to see in Austin

Bixi is a world-class shared bicycle system and something I'd love to see in Austin

Walt is an avid cyclist and generously invited us on a ride, wisely suggesting we should try his bikes to get a sense for what geometry works, or wouldn’t work best.   He promised we wouldn’t get too bored and that we should plan to stop for breakfast along the way – a well timed statement to keep my short attention span at ease :-).  It would be a casual ride where we could trade stories or inquiries about the properties and land surrounding the trail.

We arrived at Walt’s condo on Castle Hill and 12th at 8:30am, just as he was unloading the bikes from the garage.  To put a finer point on our experience level:  Amber hadn’t ridden a bike in 15 years.  She had never ridden a bike with gears!  I on the other hand grew up riding Haros with pegs and gyros, when standing on the handlebars or doing tailwhips in some random parking lot was serious kid business.  Then I got my license and forgot about that ‘kid’ stuff.

Onward to Pease Park where we hopped on to the Shoal Creek trail.  We rode up to 3rd Street and continued to the Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail.  As we rode past the Four Seasons and approached the Boat House I made a point to stop and share the unfortunate fact that the Austin Rowing Club has never paid the city a dime for the use of that facility, yet the Texas Rowing Center which is located down the river generates $750,000 per year for the city as a concessionaire.

We continued on past Milago enjoying the presence of other Austinites on the trail.  The crowd begins to really thin out as you’re heading east under I-35.  We continued on this part of the trail that I had never really explored.  I’m glad I finally did.  The trail east of I-35 is arguably the most serene park in all of Austin.  Stunning.

Along this part of the ride we stopped to take notice of the “For The Love Of Christi” memorial.  Walt shared his story about losing his wife, Marcia G. Tashnick, to cancer.  This is a subject that has recently been significant to other friends of ours and worth noting here.

For The Love Of Christi

For The Love Of Christi Memorial

We decided to grab breakfast at Cafe Mundi and circled back via Robert Martinez through the Holly district.  Cafe Mundi is one of those places I just don’t think about very often when wanting a good breakfast.  I’m glad Walt suggested it.  Amber and I suggested a couple of other coffee shops we enjoy and Walt’s response to those places was funnily “too antiseptic”.  He had a point.  Cafe Mundi was zen on a Sunday morning.

The ride back was exhausting, particularly after a large waffle breakfast, but there were some interesting moments along the way.  We took a more direct route back to Walt’s place, going down Congress through the front lawn of the Capitol to Guadalupe to 12th.  While we had primarily focused on trails on the first leg of our trip, it was neat to do a little “city” riding.  Keeping an alert eye on traffic while bicycling down a busy road will certainly get your senses piqued.  It made us realize the luxury (although some might call it a necessity) that a bike lane provides, not only for motorists, but for bicyclists as well.

I ended up making the same cavalier decisions while riding my bike that I usually curse other cyclists for.  Go figure, but the forthcoming “3 foot rule” should keep cyclists safer.

By the time we made it back to our vehicle, Amber and I were tired, but content.  We had gotten to see downtown Austin (and some surrounding areas) from a slightly different perspective, while enjoying good company.  Looking forward to more rides like this!


Austin Historic Postcards

Historic view of Capitol from south bank of rive

Historic view of Capitol from south bank of river

Over at SkyscraperPage, an outstanding new thread is forming to share old postcards of Austin.  Check it out!


Fun Fun Fun Fest @ Waterloo Park

Fun Fun Fun Fest @ Waterloo Park

Click to visit

Click to visit

I was sold on Pharcyde, and now I learn GZA will be performing the Liquid Swords album.

It’s like 1995 all over again.

I’m in.

November 7-8 @ Waterlook Park.

FunFunFunFest (via Austinist.)

Austin Java and RunTex Working To Reduce Rent At City Hall

2nd Street can be expensive for not just consumers but also retailers that pay expensive leases.   The ABJ is reporting that Austin Java and RunTex are working with the City of Austin to restructure their leases in order to help weather the economic storm.

From the article:

“The city said discussions with Second Street District leasing agents suggest that other retailers are also feeling the pinch of declining sales. According to the city, landlords are having to renegotiate leases and make temporary rent adjustments to help shops avoid closing down.”

Landlords, including the City of Austin, must be willing to renegotiate with retailers to avoid increasing vacancies becoming endemic to 2nd Street District.  City council will discuss the issue this Thursday.