An afternoon of concrete and junk

AUSTIN – What we planned to do as an easy ride around Ladybird Lake, became a grand adventure only partially around the lake. The group was three: Dan, his friend Mike (or something) and me. 

We met at Monkey Nest, a local coffee shop to trade some bike parts and fuel up before a slow ride around the lake, by way of Shoal Creek. I had a breakfast taco, a can of Coke and filled my Klean Kanteen cup/bottle for later, stashing it in a faded Revelate Mountain Feed Bag

We crossed Burnet Road to the quiet residential streets of the Rosedale neighborhood, heading to Shoal Creek Boulevard. The Shoal Creek Trail picks up at 38th street, and delivers us to West Sixth Street at Henderson Street, next to REI and a community Garden. Part of the trail was damaged from flooding (central Texas is one of the most flash flood prone areas in the country) and hasn’t been repaired, so for now, there is a detour on the sidewalk of Lamar Boulevard. 

At some point, the Shoal Creek Trail will again continue all the way to the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail, which colloquially is the “the trail around the lake,” as it were. 

We get to Sixth, cut through the Whole Foods parking garage to Bowie Street, take that right near Trader Joe’s past the funky black-and-white mural on the wall, and take the right under the train trestle to the left onto the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge. 

Over the bridge, to the left … OK, this part is funny: Somewhere in the past few years I developed the habit of going left onto the decomposed granite path, which makes a 10-mile (16 km) loop around Ladybird Lake. But, Dan and “the other guy” went right, which is really going straight. We split up, and I waited, assuming they would come back. 

I realized I was operating under a reduced mental capacity, and rode to find them waiting for me. 

We rode on, taking a break at a coffee shop I never heard of, Buzzmill, riding past brand new buildings that look like old buildings in Annapolis or St. Michael’s or New Haven. 

We ventured on, back on the Butler Trail, toward east Austin. 

I have to admit, I’ve ridden around the lake and the surrounds so many times, it all blends together. Somehow we ended up at Roy G. Guerrero park, most likely going through the Country Club Creek Trail greenway and disc golf course to go around the impressively demolished bridge (now construction site). 

We rode through the park to the road that used to be an actual road, up past the abandoned trailer park (the Grove Trailer Court sign is still there) to Monopolis Bridge, back to the Doper Bike Way. While at one of the concrete pads for the abandoned site, we decided to examine a pile of junk … 

On the way back to where this ride began, we took a side trip in east Austin through a concrete ditch/creek Dan dubbed Thunder Road–after some large graffiti said he should–and singletrack in a grove of bamboo. This was all linked from the southern end of the Southern Walnut Creek Trail, which runs from Govalle Park in east Austin 7-8 miles north to somewhere around 51st Street. It is a world of mini adventures from the northern end (which will eventually connect to an east-west corridor) all the way to the southern terminus.

From here, we rode crosstown along the Third and Fourth Streets cycletracks, back to Shoal Creek and the Alandale and Rosedale neighborhoods. 

It was a fun time, and turned out to be roughly 25 miles. I’m a big fan of the local adventure as an excuse for three old bastards to go ride bikes through mud, puddles and dirt; to examine the possibilities of discarded Big Wheel parts, broken tricycles and public address speakers, all not that far from home. 

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