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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Kona Ironman Bike Stats

A common topic of debate is how much faster modern triathletes are today thanks to fancier bike equipment. Some claim that legends like Mark Allen and Dave Scott rode their round tube frames just as fast as today's pros ride their high-tech carbon, aero equipment. Comparing bike performance is a tricky business, as a host of factors make bike times very "noisy." The winds at Kona vary greatly, which can affect bike times by as much as 15 minutes or more. Tactics also affect times, as some years the contenders will all be together on the bike course with nobody pushing the pace. To try to answer the question and make sense of it all we have put together some interactive charts.

The slowtwitch kona archive provides a handy source of data on the top 10 finishers each year since the start of Kona. We chose to look at the time period from 1988 to 2014, as this represents a period when the depth of talent was solid, and the course was relatively constant. It also represents a time after the introduction of the aerobar, when professionals were already adopting bike positions similar to modern athletes. Some small course changes have occurred over these years, but the bulk of the bike course has remained the same. First up, we take a look at the average bike splits among the top 10 overall finishers. Hover over a year for more info, pictures, and links when available.
You can see that there is a clear downward trend in bike times. The linear trend shown in light blue suggests that bike times have improved by about 14 minutes, or 4.7% over the time period. However, that isn't necessarily all a result of improved bike gear. Records have been dropping in all sports, even those like running, in which equipment plays almost no role. Since running isn't impacted much by technical advancement, it gives us a great point of comparison. We can compare the trends in the Kona run and bike and see if one has been improving at a faster rate than the other.

If the fitness and talent had been the only thing improving Kona performances, we should actually expect to see cycling improve at a slower rate than running, as the nature of aerodynamic resistance limits how much time is saved by a more powerful athlete. But we actually see that cycling is improving about 1% faster than running at Kona over the time period. Another interesting thing to note is that there has not been any improvement in the top 10 average bike splits since 2006. This is not entirely surprising as the degree to which bike gear has improved since that time is not huge, and not every athlete has access to the very best gear.

Another way to slice the data is to look at the fastest bike split each year. In this case we took the fastest bike split each year among the top 10 finishers. Anyone setting a fast time and then blowing up on the run is thus excluded. Hover over a point below to see who set the fast time that year.
Again we see a clear downward trend in bike times, almost the same trend as in the top 10 analysis in fact. One interesting property of both the top bike splits and the average bike splits is the consistently slow times between 1997 and 2005. Wind, tactics, drugs, and talent are possible explanations that come to mind, but we really don't know. If you have any ideas, drop us a comment and let us know. Also interesting is that unlike the top 10 bike splits, the best bike split is still trending down since 2006, perhaps reflecting that the top cyclists in the sport are taking more care to get the best performing sponsors and setting up their bikes as slick as possible.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Combining Race-Day or Training Time with Fun for the Kids

by Kat Hunter

Warming up for the HEB Zoo Stampede
As a parent, sometimes competing in endurance sport is an exercise in guilt as well as physical stamina. While guilt is perhaps an innate characteristic of modern-day parenting—you’re worried about everything from whether her carrots are organic (not that she’ll eat them anyway) to what effect putting her in timeout is going to have on her future SAT scores—but being an athlete adds another half a dozen layers to an already very complicated task. You don’t want to bore your kids, or deny them their own recreational activities, or hear them complain, 20 years from now, that their typical childhood weekend consisted of getting up before dawn to stand on the side of the road in the rain and wave for two seconds as mom or dad trotted by.

If there’s one thing you learn from being around kids, though, it’s the value of compromise. And not necessarily one of those eat-your-broccoli-and-you-can-have-ice-cream kind of compromises. It’s more like sharing. What if you were to plan out your race schedule or training in a way that ensured the whole family got to do something they consider fun?

Weekend Getaway in Waco: 

Cameron Park Zoo Run

The HEB Zoo Stampede 5K/10K run on Saturday, Nov. 8, which starts at the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, makes for a fun and easy weekend getaway for all ages. Strollers are okay (pets are a no), and chip timing is available for an extra $5. Awards are given to the top three male and female finishers in each age group, as well as the top overall male and female finisher. Chidren under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Keep your race bib to enter the zoo and participate in the day’s special programming, which includes special talks from keepers and enrichment activities for the animals. One of the animal activities is painting, and many of the pieces are for sale—if you ever dreamed of owning the work of a Sumatran tiger or an African elephant, this is your chance.

The 52-acre zoo, located along the Brazos River, is special because it boasts a completely natural habitat for its 1,700+ animals, which represent more than 300 species. Three highlights will steal the show with a young audience: baby orangutan Batari, who is now about five months old; a new giraffe-feeding platform; and a clear acrylic tube that allows young visitors to slide through the underwater world of the river otter habitat.

While you’re in town, don’t miss the Mayborn Museum on the Baylor campus. Many of the museum’s exhibits on the natural science and cultural history of Central Texas are hands-on and kid-friendly. A favorite is the water and bubble room, where kids can blow giant-sized bubbles and even step inside one. “Aunt Blanche’s tea room” is the place to go for imaginary refreshment, and the pioneer room, where kids can sit in a wagon, don period-style clothing, and try out pioneer tools like washboards or looms, is a good way to show how good they have it with their own household chores. This Texas Highways article describes the museum’s offerings in depth.

If your schedule allows, visit the Waco Mammoth Site to see the in situ remains of six Columbian mammoths and other Ice Age animals. (Note that the site is closed on Sunday and Monday.)

Driving distance from Austin to Waco — ~1.5 hrs

State Parks Perfect for Family Vacations & Training:

Bastrop State Park

Buescher State Park
Though wildfires destroyed much of Bastrop State Park’s pine forest in 2011, the 1930s-era CCC cabins were saved by firefighters, and many trails, campsites and facilities have now reopened. Park Road 1C to neighboring Buescher State Park offers about 12 paved miles of rolling hills and solitude. Since it has very little traffic, the road is both a good place to train and to bring older children or beginners to ride. 

Driving distance from Austin to park — ~45 min

Pedernales State Park

Pedernales State Park is one of the often-overlooked gems of the Texas park system. If you like clear, moving water and a little geology, this is one of the nicest places you can spend a weekend in the Hill Country. Accessed by a short nature trail, the falls area—formed by a tilted bed of layered limestone that causes the river to drop about 50 feet over a distance of 3,000 feet—is the main attraction. Water levels change this landscape dramatically, creating deep pools and rock islands. Swimming and wading aren’t allowed at the falls, but you'll find ample entertainment in exploring the steep slopes and rushing water, navigating around obstacles, fishing the banks, and searching for Cretaceous marine fossils embedded in the rock. Swimming is allowed further downriver, where the Pedernales looks more like a typical Hill Country stream—much more shallow, crystal clear, and lined by beautiful old cypress trees.

The seven-mile Wolf Mountain Trail would make a good trail run, and the park road is a good place to bike or run on pavement. You can also head east from the entrance of the park onto Fitzhugh Road, a popular cycling route. This particular stretch of Fitzhugh, from the park to Highway 12, is the nicest to ride as it has the least traffic.

Driving distance from Austin to park — ~ 1 hour

Enchanted Rock State Park

Erock is so popular that you have to plan your visit carefully. Once the park reaches capacity, you have to wait outside the park until other visitors leave; on weekends and holidays, there’s often a long line of cars idling outside the gate.

Enchanted Rock Extreme Duathlon
The area beneath the park is characterized by a huge underground formation of pink granite, and several humps of this rock—called exfoliaton domes, their layers eroding away like layers of an onion—rise above the dry grasslands and scrubby woods at the surface. Most visitors climb the Summit Trail to the top of the Big Rock and call it a day, but there’s a lot more on offer here. You’re free to explore the other formations and trails, climb the boulders, camp in primitive sites and car-accessible areas, and even explore a wild cave. (Note: The cave is a very narrow, very dark crevice in the rock that is minimally marked. Bring a headlamp and a sense of adventure, and understand that this activity is done completely at your own risk.)

The five-mile Loop Trail is a great run; this trail is the first run segment of the Enchanted Rock Extreme Duathlon, held in March. (The last run is straight up the Summit Trail to the top.) Cycling in the Fredericksburg area is very scenic, and it’s easy to get a lot of miles in.

Driving distance from Austin to park— ~1.75 hrs

Austin Events & Weekly Series:

Driveway Series

October 16 is the final Driveway Series for 2015. If you haven’t seen this friendly, fast-paced Thursday-night criterium in East Austin, you’re missing out. Free beer and bike racing—need we say more?  Spectate or race the events for the adults, which start at 5 p.m., but let the kids show you how it’s really done in the final race of the night, the Kids’ Lap at 7:11 p.m. Most participants are 5 or 6 years old, with an average age range from 3 to 8 years. This video by Wienot Films features the stars of the show.

Can’t make it next week? Check back in the spring for the 2016 schedule.

Dirt Derby

Cyclocross can be intimidating—sticks and stones will break your bones, but man, the heckling really stings, too. We hear that the fans are a little nicer to kids, though. The Dirt Derby kicks off with a kids’ race every Thursday night through November 25. Kids under 18 are free!

HITS Circuit of the Americas Events

How cool is it to race on the same track as F1 cars? HITS Austin, held on December 14 at the Circuit of the Americas racetrack, has “a distance for everyone,” offering a Friends & Family mile, 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, and sprint duathlon (2 mi run/10 mi bike/2 mi run).

We’re looking for more ideas and tried-and-true methods for balancing family life and competition in endurance sport, especially local events and destinations. Share your stories with us on the Austin Tri-Cyclist Facebook page or send an email to

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Race Report: Women's Cat 3 State Road Race Championships

By Katie Kantzes

Marla Briley, Sammi Runnels, Katie Kantzes, Allison Atkinson, Missy Ruthven
Most of my non-cyclist friends and family don’t realize that cycling is a team sport. Typically, they ask if the course was timed, as though it were about personal bests.  Strategic terms like “attacking,” “counter-attacking,” and “bridging” are lost on them. However, if there was one race that could illustrate just what teamwork can do in cycling, it’s this year’s cat 3 state championship road race in Fort Hood.

When we toed the line at 1:10 that afternoon, ATC had four ladies ready to work. Also lined up were Alexis Hamilton (Colavita) and Kelly Barrientes (Think Finance), both of whom are phenomenal racers and who we knew would be our major competition. Alexis and Kelly both have outstanding sprints— so as a team, our plan was to make sure that the race didn’t boil down to a pack sprint. We had to make it hard early and make the other girls chase us for 66 miles in hopes of creating a break.

We went through the first three miles of downhill a bit antsy. I noticed one girl was having trouble clipping in and was swerving a bit, and told my teammate Lori to be wary and pass the word along. Shortly afterwards, around four miles in, Marla threw out a massive attack. It was perfect! Kelly took the bait and went with her, and quickly they became a small speck up the road. We expected the other girls to start chasing (clearly, we weren’t going to go after Marla), but the pack was confused and unwilling to work together.

As the miles went on and the gap increased to over two minutes, a few possible scenarios surfaced. We could let Marla and Kelly go and let them duke it out at the finish. We could continue to bait Colavita and hope that they would get nervous about the gap before we did and start to chase. Or, we could attack the remaining peloton to form another break. Missy, Lori, and I chose the final option. If we could bridge up to Marla without the rest of the field, we’d have all four of us on the podium.

I attacked with 10 miles to go to the feed zone on the first lap and got away for around six miles (thinking “HELP!!!” and hoping that I’d eventually see Marla and Kelly ahead). Lori tried to block Alexis in, but Alexis and Lacy Thomas (FRESH Racing) worked to chase me down about three miles from the feed zone. Lucky for me, Missy had caught on to them without the rest of the peloton.

Our little group pedaled steadily through the feed zone, polite as ever. Our other team members were supporting us with expert bottle handups (thanks Kat, Jack, Kent, Robert!). Soon after, we caught up to Kelly and Marla, who looked pretty cooked. Marla was cramping, and I believe Kelly was too; they soon fell off of the break. Marla had worked to wear Kelly out for an entire 33-mile lap by herself.

Everything looked good at this point—we had a four-person break, with two ATC riders and minus one of our main rivals. Missy and I managed to talk and decided that she would work on the front to keep the pace up until the final, massive hill 12 miles from the finish, where I’d try to start wearing the others down with repeated attacks.

Missy continued working hard, and we rolled through the hilly course at a fast clip until 12 miles to go. Alexis started leading cautiously up the giant KOM hill, with Missy, Lacy, and I following. About halfway up, I swung wide and gave it everything to gap the other girls. I got lucky, and no one was on my wheel. The rest of the race was simple—hold on and hammer for dear life.

I’ve never been so happy and proud to cross a finish line. Our plan had worked perfectly! We communicated clearly, and each of us used our individual talents to contribute to an incredible result. Missy took fourth, time trialing in, with Alexis second and Lacy third. Races like these make me sad that the season is over, but it bodes well for an exciting season in 2015!

Cat 3 Podium: 1st Katie Kantzes, 2nd Alexis Hamilton, 3rd Lacy Thomas, 4th Missy Ruthven, 5th Melissa Monosoff

Cat 1/2 State Championship-Eligible Podium (Lauren Stephens, UCI pro, takes first in the race) :
1st Mandy Heintz, 2nd Meredith Bunkers, 3rd Sammi Runnels

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

2014 Coleman Chevrolet Stage Race Report, Women's Open

The Coleman Chevrolet Stage Race, put on by Edge City Cycling near Texarkana—right on the border of, you guessed it, Texas and Arkansas—is far from home and late in the season, but this stage race is well worth the drive, especially for the women. The women's open payout (when the field size meets the minimum) matches that of the P12 men! Our ATC correspondents reported having unseasonably cool weather and a great time. Read on for a play-by-play of the three-day event from ATC Racing's Allison Atkinson.   

By Allison Atkinson

Katie Kantzes & Allison Atkinson pre-TT
Katie Kantzes and I were not sure if driving five hours up to Texarkana for a stage race would be worth it, especially with only 10 signed up in the women's field, four of which were from Dallas Racing. Well, the drive up actually took us eight hours, and we still aren't sure why. Even with the longer drive, we decided that WE would make the race worthwhile and showcase a little of what makes ATC Racing special. In short, we would bring the party AND the pain to Texarkana! And yes, it was totally worth it!

Road Race 1
Day one (60 mile road race) was cold (in the 60s) and drizzly. I could not believe that I was racing in arm warmers and truly felt like I could catch cold out there. Lap one was an awkward dance. Smaller field sizes resulted in combining the women 3/4's, Women Open, and Men 60+. The men took responsibility early on, setting a great tempo. The men also, however, greatly changed the dynamic of the first 30 miles. One of them would get into a break with the women, which caused a chain reaction of competitive men chasing, pulling the group up to the break. Who knows if the breaks (all of which Katie or myself were in) would've stuck had a man not been in the mix? Our Women's Open group awkwardly let the Women 3/4's and men (who only raced one lap) go ahead and sprint to finish.

We continued at a steady pace starting lap two. We ate and talked, which made me nervous. I don't like making small talk in general, much less mid-race. I became annoyed but kept my guard up while trying to eat and drink. Attacks would certainly come from Dallas Racing and the two Team Primal Racing riders from Denver. Andrea Thomas (Dallas Racing) attacked on the first sizable hill. Katie and I looked at each other. I spit out whatever I was eating and yelled "We gotta go NOW!" We took off, and I used my momentum to pull for a while on the flat. Andrea was in sight. Getting out of the saddle on the next hill, I kept the chase pace strong till Katie came around and up the hill to Andrea.

Solymar Rivera (Dallas Racing) countered, and we chased. This continued till confusion set in on a mismarked turn. I happened to drift to the back of the pack approaching the turn because I thought the sign (pointing straight) was supposed to point right. All the women went straight except for Andrea, who took the right turn hot and then attacked. I scanned the road ahead and saw everyone turning around. I decided to chase Andrea, who was already up the road quite a ways. I bridged and worked with Andrea for about five miles before we were caught. It was the efforts of the Team Primal Racing women that shut it down.

Team Primal Racing kept the pressure on in the final 10 miles with attack after attack, but nothing stood a chance of staying away without a Dallas or ATC lady in the mix. Solymar tried to get away early leading up the finish. Katie and I didn't let that happen. Approaching the base of the uphill sprint Andrea attacked early, launching Solymar, Katie, and me into a first, second, and third place finish.

Time Trial
The TT was just under five miles of rollers. Katie looked a like a fish out of water warming up on her borrowed TT bike. It was the first time she'd ridden a TT bike in her life, but, as our team's supporters suspected, it was better to force her to race it knowing she has the makings of a great time trialist (even though she was a little sketch). Our suspicions were correct! She placed second!

Andrea was first, and I was, again, third. GC was greatly affected by the TT because Solymar finished lower than expected. Now we would really have to watch Andrea, who was first in GC by a slim margin. I still had to watch Solymar because she could try and get into a break to get time on me for third GC.
Katie Kantzes on a TT bike! See more race photos at

Road Race 2
Day two (50 mile road race) felt just as cold in the morning but quickly warmed up to the 80s when the sun came out. Our goal was to get on the podium and win the Team competition, which we were already leading. We were combined again with the same faces, and this time the men raced the full distance with us.

Team Primal Racing & ATC Racing
With centerline rules in place it was hard to maneuver around, so I had to be at or toward the front to avoid being boxed in should something get up the road. The men took on a lot of the responsibility, setting a good pace early. Katie and I sat in; nothing really happened till we hit a series of stair-step climbs. I believe a 3/4 woman started trying to ride away, which caused a weird chase because the men (whose wheels I followed) didn't care and sat up.

This led to a jumble of men sitting up in the climbs, 3/4 women blowing up in pursuit, and 1/2 women trying to maintain a  good position. I looked over at Katie, who seemed annoyed or bored or both. There was a pretty long climb ahead, and it was still the first lap for us, but Katie found her way out of the tangled mess and just started climbing at her own pace. It wasn't an attack, just a quicker climbing pace that allowed her to ride away. Andrea saw this and had to work for a few moments to get around some tired climbers, but she managed to bridge up to Katie.

GC podium - Andrea Thomas 1st, Katie Kantzes 2nd, Allison Atkinson 3rd
Solymar and I looked at each other. Our GC leaders just formed a break only 15 miles or so into the race. What now? The two Team Primal riders worked their way to the front, where I sat on their wheels as they fiercely chased. The pair worked well together till we found ourselves on another long climb. One of them rode away, and I stayed with her with Solymar in tow. Solymar attacked, I chased, and the three of us stayed together till we were caught. I knew that I had to watch Solymar. I talked with the Team Primal ladies, who were upset that they had to chase completely alone. They really wanted to break away with me at five miles to go. I refused because I knew Solymar would come with us, and I didn't want to stir things up too early. I asked if they'd help me keep the pace fast at 1k to go to string things out. Eager to help, they did just that after rotating with me at a mile or so to go. I finished fourth, Solymar was third, and Andrea pulled off first with Katie second. Overall we were pleased with the day's efforts and happy that we'd reached our goals.

I felt like the small field made for a harder race. I honestly hadn't had the opportunity to race that hard or feel THAT tired in a while. Katie and I got a good feel for how to work together and discovered we make a great team! The courses (especially day two) were hillier than expected. It was a great weekend, and the best part was I GOT TO WEAR MY OFFICIAL SLURPEE HAT ON THE PODIUM! I will definitely race next year and hope to see bigger fields thenATC will bring the party and pain again to the women's field!

Friday, September 19, 2014
Texan Software Optimizing Your Bike Split

by Jack Mott

Back in June 2013, Dallas-based software company Best Bike Split quietly launched a groundbreaking new website, one that replaces the guesswork and superstition so inherent to time trialing with real data and real math. Taking inputs about the individual rider, bike, course, and weather conditions, the tool allows a user to predict finish times, optimize pacing plans, and make intelligent equipment selections. The data nerd can enter every last thing, from CdA to rolling resistance, but for the novice or less detail-oriented athlete, the software can also make intelligent guesses on many unknown minutiae. BBS has been used with great success by various local Austin professionals and top amateurs, including pro triathlete Kelly Williamson787 Racing's Steve Guzman, and ATC Racing's Kat Hunter, and the site continues to improve, offering new features regularly.

How Does It Work?

When you set up an account, you enter various personal statistics, such as your mass. You also set up a profile for each of your bikes, including the bike's mass and your aerodynamic drag on that bike.  If you don't have an estimate for your aero drag, BBS will estimate based on your height and weight and type of position. You can then upload a course you want to model from a GPS device or mapping software in .GPX format. Most popular TT and triathlon courses are likely already uploaded, and you can simply search for them and select them. From here, the magic of mathematics takes into account all your profile data, wind, corners, hills, and so on and allows you to answer pressing questions such as...

Optimal Pacing

A sample power pacing plan
Most people know that you need to go a little harder uphill and a little easier downhill to go as fast as possible for a given effort, but exactly how much to vary your power can be tricky to determine. BBS does the math for you to give you an exact answer. You can use the resulting pacing data in a number of ways: simply review it to get a high-level idea of how to vary your pace on key climbs, download the pacing plan to select GPS devices so that you have a second-by-second power goal as you race, or use BBS to output a simplified "cheat sheet" that you can memorize or tape on your top tube.

Sample Pacing Chart
Sample Cheat Sheet

Predicting Time or Power

If you have a goal time for your bike leg, like a sub hour 40k TT or 5-hour Ironman bike split, you can use the BBS goal time model to tell you what power you will have to generate on a given course to achieve it. Conversely, if you are trying to decide on a goal power for your event, you can use the regular pacing model to see what time will result at each power level.  For example, is it worth the risk to try going 20 watts harder in  your triathlon than last year? Find out exactly how much time it will save before you decide.

Optimize Equipment Selection

Yaw Angle Distribution
Challenging bike courses with lots of hills often leave athletes wondering if they should use a road bike instead of a TT bike, or light wheels instead of aero wheels. With BBS you can set up bike profiles for various options and do the math to fairly definitively decide which option is really best.  A great example of this being put to use is the Flo Cycling weight vs aero study. True aeroweenies can dig even deeper using the yaw distribution feature. This will give you data on the time you will spend at each yaw angle on course. Since the benefit of some equipment choices such as tire and wheel width depends on the yaw angle of the wind, you can use this to shave off seconds nobody else would even think about.

Optimize Your Position

The Wind Tunnel Model is an upcoming feature that will estimate your overall aerodynamic drag by analyzing your past performances. This will allow you to compare test sessions or races with different equipment or positions to see if you have managed to reduce your aero drag or rolling resistance.

How Accurate Is This?

BBS uses well-established cycling physics to make its computations. If provided with accurate input for the rider, course, and atmospheric conditions, it will produce very accurate output. Many amateurs have reported spooky accuracy even when using estimates for some inputs, such as their aero drag.  BBS also features a few case studies on their website.


BBS has free, premium, and coaching memberships available.  Premium membership unlocks unlimited bike profiles, unlimited course plan downloads, and advanced features. Coaching memberships allow you to keep profiles on all of your clients.  BBS also offers a pro-level analysis service, providing personal attention to ensure the accuracy of course and rider input, as well as increased processing power for more accurate course modeling, if necessary. Pricing plans are detailed here.

About Best Bike Split

Best Bike Split was co-founded by Ryan Cooper and Rich Harpel in June 2013 as an offshoot of their first company together, Optimized Training Labs, which uses advanced mathematics to create training plans for triathletes and runners. Ryan is a Ph.D. mathematician who specializes in optimization mathematics, while Rich’s background is in design and web development. The two met in Dallas while training for the 2006 Ironman Coeur d’Alene. Best Bike Split’s goal is to be the standard for predictive race modeling and analysis for triathletes and time-trialists racing with power meters.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Ride for Any Day of the Week
Austin Area Group Rides, updated for 2014

Some Austin group rides have been around for more than 30 years; others peter out after half a season. The ride info below has been verified as of August 31, 2014, but if in doubt, especially after daylight savings time has ended, check in with the ride organizer. This year we've included website links when available.

If you notice a ride we're missing, we'd very much appreciate your help to add it; email Kat at

Road bikes are recommended for all rides included below unless otherwise noted. "Time" is usually wheels down - it's always a good idea to show up 10 to 15 minutes early. And last but not least, these are unsanctioned rides on open roads; you're responsible for your own safety.

Click the links below to search by difficulty level or click "View By Day of Week" to see a list of rides for a particular day.

Beginner - Moderate - Hard - Insane - Women Only -
View By Day of Week

Beginner Friendly

Rothe Recovery Ride

A social ride led by elite cyclist and coach Stefan Rothe, this Monday evening option is open to anyone on a road bike. The route changes every week, going out east toward McKinney Falls and the Tuesday Nighter course, north along Shoal Creek, or south to 5th street or to Buda if time allows. Ride time is typically 1.5-2 hours max. Start time changes with the season, so email Stefan if in doubt. You can also check ride info at

StartATC downtown, 923 Barton Springs Rd.
TimeMonday, 6 p.m. until end of September
Duration1.5-2 hrs
ContactStefan Rothe,

BSS (Research Blvd.) Wednesday Beginner Road Ride

Hosted by the Bicycle Sports Shop Research Blvd location, this is a good ride for new cyclists or those wanting to ease back into the saddle. Learn about group riding on a 15-mile, 60-90 minute ride along bike lanes and neighborhood streets. The route consists of mostly flat roads, with some hills to learn about shifting and cadence. This ride is no drop and makes frequent stops. Check for current info.

StartBicycle Sports Shop, 10947 Research Blvd.
TimeWednesday, 6:30 p.m.
Distance15 mi, 60-90 mins
ContactBicycle Sports Shop, 512-345-7460

Friday Truancy Ride

This 17-18 mph ride led by Mellow Johnny’s takes you through neighborhoods and official bike routes for the most part, with minimal travel on large roadways and just a few hills and optional sprint points. This group is very social, usually hanging out for coffee and snacks before and after the ride. Check and-events/ for current info.

StartMellow Johnny’s, 400 Nueces
TimeFriday, 2:30 p.m. 
Distance30 mi, ~ 2 hrs
Routesouthwest toward airport
ContactMellow Johnny’s, 512-473-0222

BSS (Parmer Ln.) All Levels Road Ride

Hosted by the Bicycle Sports Shop Parmer location, this ride offers two options: a faster-paced 35-mile ride for intermediate-level riders, or a more relaxed 24-mile ride for beginner/intermediate riders. The route is a straight out and back on Parmer Lane, so you can turn back whenever you'd like.

StartBicycle Sport Shop, 9900 W. Parmer Ln.
TimeSaturday, 8 a.m. 
Distance35 or 24 mi
RouteParmer Ln.
ContactBicycle Sports Shop, 512-637-6890

Scout-a-Route Ride

Great for cyclists new to riding or commuting, or for those just looking for a casual spin, this ride aids participants in navigating through the city and learning safe bike commuting options. Two groups are offered: 1) riders who can average 12 mph for 15-25 miles with one or two regrouping points, and 2) riders who can average 14-16 mph for 20-30 miles, with an extended mileage option. Routes vary weekly, going through Clarksville, Rollingwood, McKinney Falls, South Austin, East Austin, and more. Scout-a-Route is no-drop and is co-hosted by MJ's and the Austin Cycling Association. Check for current info.

StartMellow Johnny’s, 400 Nueces
TimeSaturday, 9 a.m.
Distance18-25 mi, ~ 3 hrs

BSS (Lamar Blvd.) Sunday Beginner Road Ride

Hosted by the Bicycle Sports Shop Lamar location, this ride is a no-drop ride for 18+ adults (16-17 allowed with parental supervision). You must be on a hybrid or road bike; no trikes or recumbents allowed. Bring your helmet and flat repair kit. Average speed is 10-12 mph. An intermediate ride starts at the same time. Check for current info. 

Start Bicycle Sport Shop, 517 S. Lamar Blvd
Time Sunday, 8 a.m.
Duration 2+ hrs
Route varies
Contact Bicycle Sports Shop, 512-477-3472

Jack and Adam’s Sunday Ride

The J&A Sunday Ride is a popular favorite in Austin. Ride options range from “no drop” to intermediate and advanced. Rides are often led by shop employees or teams that the shop sponsors. Check the J&A blog for the month’s scheduled rides. Note that sometimes rides are canceled for area events, and the ride usually starts from the Steiner Steakhouse once a month. Routes and distances vary. (**The shop's new location is on South Lamar.**) 

StartJack & Adam’s Bicycles, 300 South Lamar, Suite L
TimeSunday, 8:30 a.m.
Durationvaries according to level, but is typically 2-3 hrs; Steiner rides are usually 1.5-2 hrs
Routevaries by week
ContactJack and Adam’s, 888-499-0863,


Nelo’s Shop Ride

Always following the same route (see map info below), this ride meets Monday and Wednesday nights between April and late September. Although it can be described as “moderate,” the ride gets progressively harder as the summer wears on. Riders regroup at Parliament. Lights required! Check for current info.

StartNelo’s Cycles, 8108 Mesa Dr. #105B
TimeMonday & Wednesday, 7 p.m. from March to end of DST
Duration14.40 mi, 50 min
RouteGarmin Map
ContactNelo's Cycles, 512-338-0505

River City Market Racing Tuesday AM Hill Ride 

This ride, led by the women’s racing team River City Market Racing, meets at 7am for coffee at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Lamar. Roll out is at 7:15am. The route varies, but always hits the hills west of town for a 25-30 mile hard workout. Though the ride isn’t “no drop,” they regroup at the top of each big hill and recover between. Men and women riders welcome.

StartThe Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Lamar
TimeTuesday, 7:15am
Duration25-30 mi, 90-105 mins
ContactJames Murff,

T&T Violet Crown Ride

Meeting at Mellow Johnny’s every Tuesday and Thursday morning and led by a member of the Violet Crown cycling club, this ride is ideal for the intermediate-level cyclist. Expect a steady tempo ride with an average pace of 16-18 mph. Experience riding in a group is a must. Check for current info.

StartMellow Johnny’s, 400 Nueces
TimeTuesday & Thursday, 7 a.m. 
Duration1.5-2 hrs
ContactAndy Austin,

Lake Travis Tuesday Nighter

Rolling out from the heart of Lakeway during Daylight Savings Time, the Lake Travis Tuesday Nighter offers a little quality suffering for the work-week. The ride, led by the Lake Travis Cycling Club, usually has a group of 10-20 riders and is moderate to hard, with an average speed somewhere around 18-22 mph. The warm-up lasts the first five miles down 620 to the turn onto Bee Cave Road, and then the peloton separates into unofficial "A" and "B" groups until the turnaround at the Knollwood Loop just before Hwy 360, where the ride regroups again. (See below for the route map.) After the ride, everyone pitches in and enjoys some brews.

Start Plains Capital Bank, 1110 S RR 620
Time Tuesday, 6 p.m.
Distance 24 mi, 1-1.5 hrs
Contact Tim Diven, or

BSS (Research Blvd.) Tuesday Intermediate & Advanced Road Ride

This 16-18 mile ride takes Spicewood Springs, averaging 14-16 mph. You  must be on a road or tri bike. A helmet and lights are required, no exceptions. Check for current info.

Start Bicycle Sports Shop, 10947 Research Blvd.
Time Tuesday, 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Distance 16-18 mi
Route Spicewood Springs
Contact Bicycle Sports Shop, 512-345-7460

KLCTVE Fusion Thursday Night Ride

This no-drop ride takes you around town: east toward Mueller, north toward Shoal Creek, and then back downtown via Tarrytown and Pease  Park, with one rest stop at the Mosaic market in Mueller. Expect some flats, short hills, and a few optional sprint points. You'll need to be comfortable with urban riding and obeying traffic laws. Bring a helmet and lights. Check for current info.

Start Mellow Johnny's, 400 Nueces
Time Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
Distance 24 miles, ~ 2 hrs
Route central/north
Contact Mellow Johnny's, 512-473-0222

Gruppo VOP Friday Ride

Gruppo VOP, formed 15 years ago, is an informal association of cyclists that welcomes all riders. The Friday ride is a 28-mile loop going from Westlake out Bee Caves Rd, down River Hills Rd, and up through Seven Oaks back to Bee Caves Road and the Bee Cave City limit sign. Some riders skip the river valley and go to the Barton Creek West entrance for a 19-mile loop. See for more info.

StartBrad Houston’s house, 1813 Holly Hill
TimeFriday, 6:30 a.m. (time varies according to season)
Duration19 or 28 mi
Routesee website
ContactBrad Houston,

The Bagel Ride

Led by the Violet Crown cycling club, this ride usually ends with a celebratory bagel and coffee. The ride starts at the Einstein Bros Bagels on Parmer/North I-35. One group completes 50-60 miles, and another travels 70-80 miles.

StartEinstein Bros Bagels, 12400 N IH35
TimeSaturday, 8:00 a.m. (time varies according to season)
Distance50-60 mi or 70-80 mi
ContactDavid Serrins,

Cycle Progression Saturday Ride

Starting on South Lamar at bike shop Cycle Progression, the group rides a casual/medium pace to San Marcos and back. The mileage is generally 60-75 miles and is led by the Cycle Progression team. Check in once the time changes, as they may move to a 9 a.m. start.

Start Cycle Progression, 2153 South Lamar
Time Saturday, 8 a.m. (time varies according to season)
Distance 60-75 miles
Route San Marcos & return
Contact Alex Arumi,

Bat City Saturday Team Ride - intermediate

Led by the Bat City Cycling team, this ride has an "A" group and "B" group. The B group averages 18-19 mph for 50-60 miles. The ride starts at Caffe Yolly on the northwest corner of Avery Ranch and Parmer. Yolly opens at 7 a.m., so there's plenty of time for a pre-ride espresso. Check Bat City's Facebook page for current info, maps, and other ride opportunities, or

StartCaffe Yolly, 14900 Avery Ranch Blvd
TimeSaturday, 8 a.m.
Distance50-60 mi

BSS (Parmer Ln.) All Levels Road Ride

Hosted by the Bicycle Sports Shop Parmer location, this ride offers two options: a faster-paced 35-mile ride for intermediate-level riders, or a more relaxed 24-mile ride for beginner/intermediate riders. The route is a straight out and back on Parmer Lane, so you can turn back whenever you'd like.

StartBicycle Sport Shop, 9900 W. Parmer Ln.
TimeSaturday, 8 a.m. 
Distance35 or 24 mi
RouteParmer Ln.
ContactBicycle Sports Shop, 512-637-6890

Middle of the Road Ride (MOTR)

On this intermediate-level, 30-40 mile ride, the front group averages 17-20 mph, and a second group averages 15-16 mph. All participants start together in a large group of 50+ people and naturally split into the intermediate and advanced groups. Routes may vary, but current website info lists the "Happy Buda route." Check for the latest details.

StartMellow Johnny’s, 400 Nueces
TimeSaturday, 8:30 a.m.
Distance35 miles, ~ 3 hrs
RouteBuda & return

Gruppo VOP Sunday Ride

Gruppo VOP, formed 14 years ago, is an informal association of cyclists that welcomes all riders. The Sunday ride, ideal as an introduction to VOP, is a 27-mile recovery ride that heads south from Westlake to South Mopac/45 and FM 1826, coming back Slaughter Lane to Mopac. It’s the most social of the VOP rides and typically ends by 9:45-9:50 a.m. See for more info.

StartBrad Houston’s house, 1813 Holly Hill
TimeSunday, 8 a.m.
Duration27 miles
Routesee website
ContactBrad Houston,

Bat City Sunday Team Ride

Led by the Bat City Cycling team, this intermediate-level ride averages a steady 18-19 mph The ride starts at Caffe Yolly on the northwest corner of Avery Ranch and Parmer. Yolly opens at 7 a.m., so there's plenty of time for a pre-ride espresso. Check Bat City's Facebook page for current info, maps, and other ride opportunities, or

StartCaffe Yolly, 14900 Avery Ranch Blvd
TimeSunday, 8 a.m.
Distance50-60 mi

BSS (Lamar Blvd.) Sunday Intermediate Road Ride

Hosted by the Bicycle Sports Shop Lamar location, this ride features a different route in south and west Austin each week. Average speed is 14-16 mph (including hills). You must be on a road or tri bike. A beginner ride starts at the same time. Check for current info.

StartBicycle Sport Shop, 517 S. Lamar Blvd
TimeSunday, 8 a.m.
Duration2-3 hrs 
ContactBicycle Sports Shop, 512-477-3472

Sunday Violet Crown Ride

Reputed to be one of the oldest group rides in Austin, this group has been meeting every Sunday morning for more than 30 years. Average pace is 17-18 mph for 50-60 miles, and there are some rest points, but if you get dropped, you’re usually on your own. The ride is well suited for an intermediate rider on a road bike accustomed to riding in groups. Check for current info.

StartMellow Johnny’s, 400 Nueces
TimeSunday, 8:00 a.m.
Duration3-4 hrs
ContactDave Henderson,

Sunday Circle C Ranch Cycling Club Ride

This ride is a more spirited version of the club’s no-drop Saturday ride (contact the club for more info). Distances and routes vary, but can range from 35-70 miles, depending on the difficulty of the terrain. The average distance is generally 45 miles, with a speed of 13-15 mph. A few riders tend to go off the front at higher speeds. Expect a pack of anywhere from 4 to 30 riders, with a mix of beginners and seasoned veterans. Inclement weather may cancel the ride. Sign on to the Yahoo Group for more info, including weekly maps. Membership encouraged but not required. **Ride time frequently changes and will probably move to 8:15 with cooler temperatures.**

StartStarbucks, 9600 Escarpment Blvd #700
TimeSunday, 7:30 a.m.
ContactFacebook Group

Jack and Adam’s Sunday Ride

The J&A Sunday Ride is a popular favorite in Austin. Ride options range from “no drop” to intermediate and advanced. Rides are often led by shop employees or teams that the shop sponsors. Check the J&A blog for the month’s scheduled rides. Note that sometimes rides are canceled for area events, and the ride usually starts from the Steiner Steakhouse once a month. Routes and distances vary. (**The shop's new location is on South Lamar.**) 

StartJack & Adam’s Bicycles, 300 South Lamar, Suite L
TimeSunday, 8:30 a.m.
Durationvaries according to level, but is typically 2-3 hrs; Steiner rides are usually 1.5-2 hrs
Routevaries by week
ContactJack and Adam’s, 888-499-0863,

ATC Barton Springs Sunday Recovery/Intermediate Ride

Led by ATC employees, this is a very small and casual group, usually between 4 and 20 cyclists. The average pace is 17 mph, and riders regroup at multiple points along the 30-mile route, which heads southeast to Stassney and Burleson. This ride is often canceled for rain or very cold weather; if in doubt, call the shop to check. Find more info at

StartATC downtown, 923 Barton Springs Rd.
TimeSunday, 9 a.m.
Distance~30 mi
ContactATC, 512-494-9252,

ATC 360 Sunday Ride

This no-drop, out-and-back ride takes Bee Caves Rd to Bee Caves Parkway, with a hilly side-trip on Cuernavaca. The group tends to be small, with an average speed around 16 mph. For more info, see

Start ATC 360, Davenport Village
TimeSunday, 9 a.m.
Distance 30 mi
Route west, click here for map
Contact ATC 360, 512-483-1273,

Division 1 Ride

A recovery ride led by the Boneshaker/Div 1 team and Division 1 staff, the Div 1 ride leaves from the bike shop on East 7th and heads out to Manor. The average pace is 17 mph, and all bikes are welcome. Attendance varies but is usually around 15-20 riders. The bike shop also doubles as coffee house - say yes to the pre-ride espresso!

Start Division 1 Bicycles, 1620 E. 7th
TimeSunday, 9 a.m.
Distance 25-30 mi
Route Manor & return
Contact Div 1 Bicycles, 512-481-1333


Gruppo VOP Monday Ride

Gruppo VOP, formed 14 years ago, is an informal association of cyclists that welcomes all riders. The Monday ride is a fast-paced, 32-mile loop that heads south from the Westlake area. Very important: Sometimes the start time and place for the Monday ride varies slightly, so for this ride, email Brad a few days in advance so that the riders know you’re joining them. See for more info.

StartBrad Houston’s house, 1813 Holly Hill
TimeMonday, 6:30 a.m. (time varies according to season)
Distance32 miles
Routesee website
ContactBrad Houston,

Gruppo VOP Wednesday Ride

Gruppo VOP, formed 14 years ago, is an informal association of cyclists that welcomes all riders. This very popular, very challenging Wednesday ride is a race-paced, 28-mile loop that goes out and back on Southwest Pkway to Barton Creek Blvd and Bee Cave Road, then through the neighborhoods in Lost Creek. You’re guaranteed to get in some hard efforts and brutal hills. Be prepared for three highly coveted sprint points.

StartBrad Houston’s house, 1813 Holly Hill
TimeWednesday, 6:30 a.m. (time varies according to season)
Distance28 mi
Routesee website
ContactBrad Houston,

Squadra Hustle

Super Squadra leads this new ride from Austinbikes every Wednesday afternoon, heading west for a steady, 2-2.5 hour ride on hard roads. They start as late as daylight allows, 4:30 p.m. currently and moving to 2:30 p.m. once the time changes. Check out the ride's Strava profile for more details:

StartAustinbikes, 1010 West Lynn
TimeWednesday, 4:30 p.m. until DST ends
Duration2-2.5 hrs
Routewest, see sample Strava profile above
ContactDave Wenger,

Pure Austin Driveway Series The Driveway Series is a criterium race, not a ride, but it happens every Thursday evening from March to October and is a great way to train. Many Austin area bike racers consider it an essential part of their weekly training plan. For event info, go to

Gruppo VOP Saturday Ride

Gruppo VOP, formed 14 years ago, is an informal association of cyclists that welcomes all riders. The Saturday ride offers ride options of 26, 45, or 52 miles. Like the Gruppo VOP Wednesday Ride, this ride often feels like a race, with multiple sprint points and a consistently high pace. The longer loops follow Wednesday’s route and then continue up Hwy 620 to River Place or Anderson Mill Road. Some riders add on Lime Creek. The short ride usually travels back along Bee Caves Rd from the intersection of Hwy 620 and Bee Caves Rd. See vop/ for more info.

StartBrad Houston’s house, 1813 Holly Hill
TimeSaturday, 7:30 a.m.
Distance26, 45, or 52 mi
Routesee website
ContactBrad Houston,

MJ 100K

If there's not a road race going on the same weekend, this cutthroat ride is popular with a fast crowd. There aren't sprint points, per se -- everyone just rides like there's one every quarter mile. The route twists through far southeast Austin's farm country, with a quick refueling stop at mile 35. You'll get left behind if you drag your feet, and the group doesn't always stop for mechanicals. Check for current info.

Start Mellow Johnny's, 400 Nueces
Time Saturday, 8 a.m.
Distance 62 miles
Route southeast
Contact Mellow Johnny's, 512-473-0222

Bat City Saturday Team Ride - hard

Led by the Bat City Cycling team, this ride has "A" and "B" groups. If it's your first time on the ride, it's recommended to stick with the B group, as this is probably the fastest team ride on the north side of town, with lots of surging and a consistently hard pace. The A group averages around 20 mph for a 65-75 mile route. The ride starts at Caffe Yolly on the northwest corner of Avery Ranch and Parmer. Yolly opens at 7 a.m., so there's plenty of time for a pre-ride espresso. Check Bat City's Facebook page for current info, maps, and other ride opportunities, or

StartCaffe Yolly, 14900 Avery Ranch Blvd
TimeSaturday, 8 a.m.
Distance65-75 mi

Insanely Hard

Heavy Metal Ride

All masochists are welcome, whether dedicated roadie, fixie rider, mountain biker, or whatever-else-on-two-wheels, on this informal Monday-night hammerfest. The group meets at the Pflugerville Pedestrian Bridge. Lights and helmets required. Beer money recommended for after.

StartPflugerville Pedestrian Bridge
TimeMonday, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday Nighter

Not for the weak of heart, this event has been tearing down farm roads in Southeast Austin at 25-30 mph for what some regulars estimate to be 25 to 30 years. However, the addition of neighborhoods and two stop signs on the course has slowed things down a bit. The ride currently completes three 9-mile laps, with an unofficial “A group” and “B group” determined by who can hang on in the first few miles. The ride is free, and there’s no marked course, no support, no prizes, no judges, and no category system, but by most accounts, it's very much a race.

VideoTuesday Nighter History
StartAlum Rock Dr and Thaxton Rd, Southeast Austin
TimeTuesday, 6 p.m. sharp during daylight savings time

ATC World Championship Saturday Ride

This ride is a classic in Austin, regularly hosting elite-level and professional triathletes and road cyclists. If you're trying to "A pack" it, most weeks the pace is very fast. The pro: no one will ever chide you for attacking or pushing the pace. The con: you will probably get dropped. The directions are simple, though, and numerous splinter groups form off the back. The ride starts with a warm-up down Barton Springs and the Mopac feeder. After the right turn onto Southwest Parkway, the pace picks up, continuing at top speed through the right turn onto Hwy 71 until the sprint point at the Bee Caves city limit sign. The group often pauses at the cleaners at Hwy 71/Bee Caves. Some people head home from there via Bee Caves for the short loop and others continue on the dam loop, with the possible addition of Lime Creek. This is one of the few group rides that welcomes tri bikes and aero bars—just be sure to stay out of them when you’re in the pack.

VideoATC Video Montage
StartATC downtown, 923 Barton Springs Rd.
TimeSaturday, 8:30 a.m.
Distance30 or 55 mi
Route30 miles, 55 miles: continues north along 620 on the dam loop 
ContactATC, 512-494-9252,

Women Only

Bikin’ Betties

A very casual, ladies-only ride, Bikin’ Betties welcomes beginning cyclists. The distance traveled is from 8 to 20 miles, always ending at a bar, restaurant, or coffee shop for post-ride refreshment. Since rides vary widely in intensity and distance, check the event details on their Facebook site.

TimeMonday 8:00 pm (departs 8:20pm)  

BSS (Lamar Blvd.) Women's Intermediate & Advanced Road Ride

Welcoming intermediate/advanced level women cyclists, this ride averages 14-16 mph, including hills, for 15-20 miles. Meet at the shop at 6:15. You must be on a road or tri bike. A helmet and lights are required, no exceptions. Check for current info.

StartBicycle Sport Shop, 517 South Lamar Blvd.
TimeTuesday, 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. 
Distance15-20 mi
ContactBicycle Sports Shop, 512-477-3472

AFWC Ladies’ Rider

Led by the Austin Flyers Women’s Cycling Club, this intermediate, women-only ride averages 15-16 mph, with varying routes. The pace and the people are friendly. Check for current info.

StartMellow Johnny’s, 400 Nueces
TimeSunday, 8 a.m.
Duration2.5-3 hrs

Rides by day of week


Rothe Recovery Ride, ATC Barton Springs
Nelo’s Shop Ride, NC
Gruppo VOP, Westlake
Heavy Metal Ride, Pflugerville Ped. Bridge
Bikin’ Betties


River City Market Racing Hill Ride, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Lamar
T&T Violet Crown Ride, MJ’s
Tuesday Nighter, SEast Austin
BSS (Lamar Blvd.) Women's Intermediate & Advanced Road Ride
BSS (Research Blvd.) Tuesday Intermediate & Advanced Road Ride
Lake Travis Tuesday Nighter, Lakeway


BSS (Research Blvd.) Wednesday Beginner Ride 
Nelo’s Shop Ride, NC
Gruppo VOP, Westlake
Squadra Hustle, Austinbikes


T&T Violet Crown Ride, MJ’s
Pure Austin Driveway Series, Driveway
KLCTVE Fusion Thursday Night Ride, MJ’s


Friday Truancy Ride, MJ’s
Gruppo VOP, Westlake


ATC World Championship Ride, ATC Barton Springs
Scout-a-Route Ride, MJ’s
BSS (Parmer) All Levels Road Ride
MJ 100K
Middle of the Road Ride, MJ’s
Gruppo VOP, Westlake
Cycle Progression Saturday Ride
Bagel Ride, Einstein Bros. Bagels
Bat City Saturday Team Ride (hard), Cafe Yolly
Bat City Saturday Team Ride (intermediate), Cafe Yolly


J&A’s Sunday Ride, J&A’s
Gruppo VOP, Westlake
Bat City Sunday Team Ride, Cafe Yolly
BSS Lamar Sunday Beginner Ride
BSS Lamar Sunday Intermediate Ride, BSS
Sunday Violet Crown Ride, MJ’s
Sunday Circle C Ranch Cycling Club Ride, Starbucks Escarpment
ATC Sunday Recovery Ride, ATC Barton Springs
ATC 360 Ride
AFWC Ladies’ Rider, MJ’s
Div 1 Ride, D1

© Copyright 2014, Kathryn Hunter