With a few hours to burn in Boulder, Colo., several weeks ago, I headed to the nearest B-Cycle station to check out a bike.
Austin is due to get a similar system later this year. The program will launch with 10 docking stations and about 100 bikes and eventually expand to 40 stations and 400 bikes.
In Boulder, a quick slide of a credit card released a sturdy red bike with a big metal basket, an adjustable seat and a sticker that said “B-cycles will self destruct when ridden on commercial sidewalks and pedestrian malls.”
The system is designed to encourage folks to take short trips by bike, which is what I did. It cost me $7 for a 24-hour pass. (You can also pay $20 for a week pass or $65 for an entire year.) After that, all trips of 60 minutes or less are free. If you go for a longer ride, it’s $4.50 for every extra 30 minutes, but with so many stations around, it’s easy to stop frequently.
I tossed my purse in the basket and took a few tentative pedal strokes. My first reaction? It’s a good thing downtown Boulder is relatively flat, because these bikes are heavy. And a little wobbly, at first.
I chugged up a few inclines, gliding past City Hall and the city’s downtown greenspace. Then I headed toward the Boulder Creek Path, where I melded into the flow of bicyclists commuting along the babbling stream to work, shops, restaurants and schools.
Boulder is all about biking. I passed at least three bike shops, numerous bike racks, a “Real Estate By Bike” office and several more B-Cycle stations. People whizzed past me on road bikes, mountain bikes, cruiser bikes and tricycles.
After 30 minutes of exploration, I checked the bike back into a station near the Pearl Street Pedestrian Mall. I wandered around a bit, then found another B-Cycle station, where I checked out another bike and pedaled back to my hotel.
Very convenient, and cheaper than a taxi. I’m looking forward to Austin’s new system. I’m just a little worried about how riders will handle our hills.
Texas 4000 cyclists finish cross-country trek
With nearly 4,700 miles under their bike seats, 69 University of Texas students rolled into Anchorage, Alaska, earlier this month, wrapping up their summer ride that started in Austin.
The trip marked the 10th edition of the Livestrong Texas 4000, which expanded this year from two to three routes and added 20 cyclists to its roster.
The riders all started in Austin on June 1. They spent 70 days pedaling an average of 70 to 80 miles a day, with a few rest days tossed in.
The group split into three factions, with one cruising west to the Sierra Nevada mountains, another aiming for the Rocky Mountains and the third cutting through the Ozarks and into the midsection of the country. They merged and rode the last 10 days into Alaska together, and on Aug. 9 all 69 cyclists who started arrived in Anchorage.
“Our Ozarks route was a wild success, reaching many new people and sharing our mission across a whole new section of the continent,” said program director Lance Pyburn.
Like two-wheeled postal carriers, they pedaled through wind, rain, snow and heat, covering deserts, mountains and farmland during their trek, which is more than twice as long as the Tour de France. Along the way, they camped, stayed with host families and slept on floors in churches and school gymnasiums. They also led educational programs in the communities they visited, raising cancer awareness and money for disease research and support services.
This year’s group was the largest team ever, and they raised more than $465,000. With the bigger group came a longer dedication circle, too. Before pedaling into Anchorage the last day, the cyclists spent four hours telling the stories of people affected by cancer that they met along the way.
Want to congratulate them in person?
The Texas 4000 Austin Homecoming is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at Austin Music Hall, 208 Nueces St. KVUE anchor Tyler Sieswerda will emcee the event, which includes cocktails, dinner, a silent auction, live music and dancing. Tickets are $175 each at www.texas4000.org. Table sponsorships are also available.
Find your stride with annual races
I’m a big fan of finding a race that you love and doing it every year as a kind of an informal fitness measuring stick.
I’ve found my personal yardstick at the National Blueberry Festival 5K, held every August in South Haven, Mich., where my 76-year-old mother lives. I’ve been doing the race almost every August for more than 15 years and love to compare my results year to year.
Early on, I considered it a victory if I didn’t have to stop and walk along the way. Back in those days, I did plenty of swim races but never lined up at the start line of a land-based contest.
As the years ticked past, I started running more regularly, and my time gradually improved. Pretty soon I could finish in less than 30 minutes. A few years ago, I finally broke 25 minutes. This year, for the first time ever, I placed third out of the 43 women in my age group.
And that’s not all. When the 5K was over, I rested 15 minutes and then headed back to the start line for a 10K run, which was new this year. Somehow I got third in that race, too.
Faster is nice. But more important, I know that I’m staying fit even as I grow older. And that’s what really matters.