Golf Digress

Physically cultured commentary on Sport and Wellness

Category: Austin cycling

Austin on two wheels – ACL Fest

Saturday night ACL Music Festival "parking lot." Impressive!

Saturday night ACL Music Festival “parking lot.” Impressive!

Robert Smith wasn’t wasting any time. Perhaps he heard the forecast. (Heavy rains washed out Sunday’s Austin City Limits Festival.) The band raced through their set, their sound, his voice, unmistakable. The songs were unfamiliar, but that wasn’t surprising. The last time I’d heard The Cure was over 30 years ago. They opened for Siouxsie and the Banshees at the Southampton, England Gaumont. It was, I think, November, 1979. To a recently-arrived exchange student, it was a big deal, my first UK concert. Neither band was familiar. It did seem odd when one of Siouxsie’s band flung down his guitar after a few songs, and left the stage, feedback blaring. It turned out to be an auspicious moment. He’d quit, right then and there.

The before.

The before.

I figured the theatrics were part of the act. Robert Smith stepped in. My friends and I did like them. The next day we bought their single, “Boys Don’t Cry.” It didn’t even have a picture sleeve. Thirty years later, I gave the single to a young and very dedicated Cure fan. He looked up the exact show. I suppose I might’ve reconsidered when he told me the rare 45 was worth $50, but I was happy to see it find a home with someone so elated. Just getting to the downtown theater was an adventure. It took several buses, the last meandering through Southampton’s red light district. Near campus we waited for the first bus, bordering a rough area called the flower estate, where college students were routinely harassed and even beaten.

Saturday night of ACL Fest, riding my bike towards Zilker Park and the music,

Early Saturday afternoon.

Early Saturday afternoon.

I was stopped at a light. One of the dozens of pedicab drivers told me he’d just gotten a $100 tip. Another said he’d had a rough night with a bad flat. Another told his passengers that he’d worked a 12-hour day. I followed along in the midst of the nighttime pedicab parade. Navigating between the chariots took some dexterity and courtesy. Hearing the weary peddler, another, who happened to have his dog sitting on his back seat, said to no one, “I wish I’d had a 12-hour day.”

It looks like hard work. Some of the drivers are creative. One was dressed in a full-length leotard with a bolt down it, like a generic super hero. Another wore a ballet dancer’s outfit (female, thankfully). Some of the carts had awnings, like Victorian horse drawn cabs. The drivers were all quite jovial and energetic. There were dueling soundtracks, glitter, sparkle. They waited in a very long line for weary concert goers.

Pedicab Junction

Pedicab Junction

The highlight was seeing so many bikes. The racks were jammed. The photos show the same spot on Saturday afternoon, when ACL Fest folk were still arriving, and then at night as The Cure were finishing up their set. Barton Springs pool was predictably deserted and idyllic. The drum beat was just perceptible under water, but it wasn’t unpleasant.

Maybe it was just the pleasant vibe, the memory of a concert adventure long ago, or the fun in ducking and whizzing by the crowd. The bonus was just getting home before the rains imposed themselves on the night. But seeing all those bikes! Wow. How ‘bout that?

Back to "normal" in the part of town where keeping it weird has never required any special effort.

Back to “normal” in the part of town where keeping it weird has never required any special effort. Same vantage point as above.

Austin on two wheels – West

Beili Liu's haunting sculpture "Thirst," enjoyed, oddly enough, during a light rain.

Beili Liu’s haunting sculpture “Thirst,” enjoyed, oddly enough, during a light rain.

Early morning ride pointed West, on the eve of the second weekend of ACL Fest. Pleasant chill of a morning, humid with a slight drizzle, no wind to speak of.

Waiting patiently at the light at the top of hill along Lake Austin Boulevard. Never get enough roadside art.

Waiting patiently at the light at the top of hill along Lake Austin Boulevard. Never get enough roadside art.

A little Fartlek interval training, fast than medium to slow, a continuing loop of exhausting attempts, intermittent work then rest. The optimum ratio is said to be 20 seconds “on,” 10 “off,” what’s known as, I believe, the Takata Protocol, developed originally for Japanese speed skaters and now widely embraced by other sports, for good reason. Much more on that shortly.

The “Vardon Flyer,” an aging Raleigh Technium, has only just consented to allow me to ride it without gripping the handle bars. We’re keeping it to a minimum. On the road, one can’t help but note the menace of jaw-clanking potholes and missing water main lids, especially at night. The one below caught my attention. It’s directly across from the UT married student housing complex on Lake Austin Boulevard. Nasty bit of hazard.

Nasty!

Nasty!

Last weekend the area around Zilker Park, the site of ACL Fest, was positively thick with cyclists, pedicabs and pedestrians. Barton Springs Road bisects the park. It was otherwise closed to motorized vehicular traffic, bursting at the seams as the music raged. Directly across the street from the ACL main entrance, a small field, regularly favored by rugby players and Frisbee types, has again been converted to bike parking. Fifteen neat rows of bike racks, 15 across. Each rack with a slot to accommodate 15 bikes. Here’s one of the ‘before’ photos. I also took several of the approach to the festival at low tide.

I heard the line-up is the same with the exception of Lionel Ritchie who, unlike the other acts, could be distinctly identified from Barton Springs pool. Perhaps the other stages had ceased for the night.

I heard the line-up is the same with the exception of Lionel Ritchie who, unlike the other acts, could be distinctly identified from Barton Springs pool. Perhaps the other stages had ceased for the night.

A veritable sea of waiting bike racks, more even than the triathlons along the lake.

A veritable sea of available bike racks, more even than for the triathlons held along the lake. They were filled last week during peak festival hours. We’ll see what they look like, especially if the weather holds.

I

A pleasant sight riding West. The lone skuller seemed to be laboring, badly trailing a companion. Still. What a nice way to begin the day.

A pleasant sight riding West. The lone skuller seemed to be laboring, badly trailing a companion. Still. What a nice way to begin the day.