Dallas to Austin

Words: Tyler 

Photos: Angga & Tyler

The only thing I knew about Rapha’s Festive 500 before our Dallas to Austin ride was that Angga and his friend Cash have tried to complete it for the past three years with no luck. The premise is to ride 500 kilometers (roughly 311 miles) between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Their previous attempts have been characterized by cold and rainy weather, forcing them to stay inside. Dallas to Austin seemed like a good idea for Angga and Cash to get a majority of their Festive 500 kilometers and I needed some training miles for an upcoming ride. Over the past few months, our good friend Reid had started to fall in love with bicycle riding, and he jumped into the deep end when he agreed to come along as well. The ride was about 220 miles from Dallas to Austin over two days, which is no small feat. We booked an Airbnb near the halfway point in October, so all that we needed to do was get a few training rides in, finalize our bike setups, and wait for the holidays. 

Christmas came quick and Angga, Cash, and I met up at the Megabus station in Austin and were on our way to meet Reid in Dallas. Upon arrival, Reid gave us a few hugs and coughs and told us he had been battling a cold for the past few days. Nonetheless, we hopped in his car and stopped by the One-Eyed Penguin for a quick drink before heading home for the night. I still needed to put my bike together and it turned out to be a very frustrating build. 

My rear axle had been in bad shape for a while and the axle nuts weren’t greased properly which required me to try and work both nuts loose at the same time with wrenches. Typically you should be able to loosen and tighten your axle nuts with your fingers, but it ended up turning into this chinese finger trap where one bolt had to be tight enough to get the other one loose. As soon as you got one side loose, you needed it to be tight enough to have enough leverage to break the other side loose, but without surprise, I was only able to get one side loose at a time. Reid and I went for a quick run to 711 for WD-40 and vaseline to try and grease the axle. With one side greased and working properly, I tried to tighten it as hard as possible so I would have enough leverage to loosen the ungreased side. I ended up over tightening it and stripped my rear axle around 11:30pm the night before our ride. I let out an expletive loud enough for Angga to hear. Reid and Cash were already fast asleep by this point in the night and weren’t phased by my yell. Angga and I brainstormed a few ideas and reached out to every fixed gear rider we knew in Dallas, hoping that one of them was still up. We got a text back from Hamza, but he was unfortunately at home in San Antonio. He told us to reach out to his roommate Joe and after a few minutes, Angga and I hit the road for their apartment. Joe was heading to bed soon but told us to use the visitor elevator and that their apartment door was unlocked. It would have been helpful to confirm their apartment number before Joe went to bed, but we were already tired as well. Once we got to the complex, we frantically tried to call Joe and a few other friends who would know the number but no one was answering. Luckily, Joe woke up and texted us back and we were in and out of the apartment with the wheel in less than two minutes. Whew. Angga and I retired and set our alarms for a brutal wake up call in four and a half hours. 

It took a while to fall asleep so when the alarm went off the next morning, I quickly crawled out of bed to hit the snooze button. Once everyone else started to stir, I got up and prepared for the first of two century rides ahead of us. We rolled out the door at about 6:45am and made our first stop at Mags (local coffee joint) a few miles later. We were joined by the Henke’s and Jenko. After a quick coffee and a few hugs, we were on our way. It was a foggy and brisk morning so we needed a few extra layers to get us through the morning. Luckily, Angga got each of us a rocking new @notchas sweater for the ride, but I was the only wearing mine at the time.

Once we got outside the urban sprawl of Dallas, we winded our way through chip-sealed back country roads. For those who don’t know what chip seal is, it’s essentially a short-term  ‘band-aid’ for deteriorating roads. The department of transportation sprays oil across the road and then covers it with either Grade 3 or Grade 4 rock and rolls it to make sure it stays it place. It helps seal the road but doesn’t fix any of the existing cracks below the surface. For most rural roads, TxDOT uses a Grade 3 rock, which is cheaper, but a larger rock. For bikes, it’s creates a mind-numbing surface that rattles your entire bike straight into your hands. Once we hit mile 50, these road conditions started to get to us. The palms of my hands were numb and I was getting close to bonking. For Reid, the road conditions became too much and we started to try and call for an Uber every 5 miles or so. By the time we found were able to get one, we were about six miles outside of Hillsboro and at mile 65 for the day. 

So we’re sitting on the side of the road waiting for Reid’s Uber and Angga mentions to him, “Yeah, Wacker’s and my ideas are usually pretty dumb. Like we’ll get through them, but they just aren’t smart.” I literally laughed out loud. Somehow we make it through them, homie. The plan we developed from there was for Reid to meet us in Hillsboro, grab some lunch, and figure out what he would do for the rest of the day once we regained thinking power. However, when we arrived to lunch at Schlotzsky’s and checked our phones, we found out that Reid had convinced his Uber driver to take him all the way back to Austin. He said his past week of sickness was coming back and he didn’t feel good at all. We may have pushed him too far, but Reid, you should try again with us soon! We’ll take it a little bit easier, I promise ;). 

Angga, Cash, and I continued on after lunch and we had to go find the route again. Angga hadn’t planned for us to go through Hillsboro or to stop and get lunch (he said we would have found lunch ad hoc somewhere, but didn’t consult us on this decision beforehand) so we had to head east before heading south again. Some choice routing put us on some gravel roads, which I had to give Angga shit about since he still hadn’t let go of the time I routed us on some gravel roads on our first bikecamping trip to Lake Tawakoni in 2017. The roads became paved again when were back on the official route and pointed in the right direction to Waco. The miles passed with time and a slight headwind as the sun started to set. We turned our lights on and cruised the last few miles through Downtown Waco and straight to Chick-Fil-A for a large recovery dinner. After resupplying on snacks and grabbing a few other items for the night at the grocery store, we grabbed a Lyft to our halfway point AirBnb since we didn’t want to share the road in the dark with notorious Texas drivers. 

We took our time starting up for Day 2 and we were able to eat breakfast and have some coffee. We rolled out of our small cabin with a waving Texas flag and the fog was out again, but this morning it was more humid than cold. The route for Day 2 included about 20 to 30 miles of Interstate 35 frontage road. We had ridden a little bit of the frontage road the day before, but were able to find some better alternative routes for most of the ride. There was no way around it for Day 2 so our quiet foggy backroad was soon overtaken by endless highway noise. I never realized how many man made hills there were on interstate frontage roads, but we climbed and descended one at least every two or three miles. They weren’t too tall, but just steep enough to make you have to work for it. Cash and I decided to crank our own music to drown out the noise. We had been battling a decent headwind all day, so once we made our turn towards Leander off of I-35, we got a little bit of help from the wind and a lot from a huge descent. The cars buzzed past us quickly, but we knew were getting closer to civilization as we started to see other bicyclists riding the route. Suburban shopping centers started to pop up and we took a quick break to overorder a large amount of Italian food from Mandola’s in Cedar Park. The environment around us started getting denser as apartment buildings came into view and we officially entered Austin city limits. We stopped to see Reid’s new house in north Austin.  He was indeed as sick as a dog again, but said he would meet us at The Meteor Cafe on South Congress when we arrived. The final stretch took us through UT’s campus to Congress Street and straight through the heart of Downtown Austin. The neon lights of South Congress Street came into view and The Meteor was just at the top of one last uphill battle.

It was a very special moment when we arrived, as all of our friends showed up to greet us at the same time. Shoutouts to Aristya, Reid, Carena, Robin, Emily, Emi, Scotty, and Walter! The trip ended up being 218 miles over two days with about 7,500 feet of climbing. Angga and Cash rode the next day to complete the last few miles of their Festive 500. Reid may never do another long distance ride again, but we’ll see how he feels in a few months. 

#MoveBetter #oui

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s