The Williamson County Sun
March 21, 2012
Vol. 134 No. 50
Country road cruisin’
WilCo group explores the lay of the land on two wheels
By Amira Jensen
Cars lined up in an Andice parking lot, spandex and colorful jerseys emerging and arms stretching up into the daylight. On a Saturday morning, 12 members of the Cyclopaths group greeted each other and prepared for a weekend joyride.
The cyclists didn’t have to roll down any windows to enjoy the beautiful spring weather. Bikes of different colors and sizes were taken off car rooftops, dragged out of truck beds and, in some cases, magically appeared from backseats of small sedans. Once their wheels were down, the cyclists began to smear in sun block on the toned arms and legs to prepare for a more intimate experience with their scenery.
“We expect to be out for four hours, so we load up.” Dylan Cornelius said as his tandem bike partner, Lori Brown, stuffed energy gels and bars into their bag attached to the front of their Santana Arriva tow-seater. The Austinites have been cycling for more than 20 years but recently go their tandem bike fitted for two at Mellow Johnny’s. Saturday morning was their first time to test it out with the Cyclopaths group on Williamson County roads.
Club provides forum, rides and fellowship
“I’ve wanted to ride with these guys for a while now,” Mr. Cornelius said. “They’re really well organized and they communicate well.”
Although the couple generally rides with cycling groups closer to home, the Cyclopaths website and Yahoo group enabled them to come out that morning and find them without any trouble, they said.
Wearing a purple Sugoi jersey, Ms. Brown gave up on stuffing the bag with their snacks and resorted to filling the back jersey pockets of her tandem partner’s. She would be spending their ride in the rear seat, meaning Mr. Cornelius got the honors and responsibility of riding in the more energy-demanding front seat.
“I’m slower than he is, but on the tandem, he can’t leave me,” Ms. Brown said. “And we can talk all the time, it’s great.”
The riders checked the time on their bike computers, and at 9 a.m. the sound of shoes clicking into pedals punctuated the beginning of their ride. The riders rolled out onto FM 970 and headed toward Florence.
The group overtook the county roads, livening their serenity with conversation and laughter. A rider occasionally yelled the warning, “Car back!” and the cyclists lined up to let a rumbling vehicle pass by.
“I like the camaraderie,” Phil Durham said.
Mr. Durham came out that morning to ride with “a really good bunch of guys and girls,” he said. He began mountain biking when he lived in Colorado Springs, but made the switch to road cycling about 12 years ago.
Upper inset photo caption: Above, Lori Brown and Dylan Cornelius get ready for a Cyclopaths group ride Saturday. Their ride is a bright purple tandem bicycle.
“I got tired of flying over my handlebars on my mountain bike,” Mr. Durham said.
Instead, Mr. Durham cruised down the roads on his Trek Madone roadbike. Although the group members may not have been going as fast as when Mr. Durham competes in road cycling races, their brisk speed was not the average for an amateur cyclist.
“The key thing is we try to have rides where there’s no drop, where someone’s always helping a rider out if they might fall behind,” Peter Nagel said. “That’s really the main purpose and what really separates it from people just showing up and riding.”
Mr. Nagel helps coordinate the Cyclopaths weekend rides and updates the website with maps, locations, and ride times. The loose-knit group does not have any officers or meetings but provides an opportunity for local cyclists to get in a group ride as well as invite others to join their own.
Mr. Nagel joined the group four years ago when he moved from north Austin to Georgetown. Riding with the Cyclopaths has helped Mr. Nagel explore the county roads around his new home, which he finds safer to ride on that the routes he rode in the city. And with other cyclists around him, he doesn’t have to worry about getting lost.
Bottom inset photo caption: Below, cyclist Jim Abreu traverses a cattle grate with ease on county road 232 during the Cyclopaths group ride.
“As you’ll find in rural Williamson County, not all intersections have a street sign,” Mr. Nagel said. “That’s the nice thing about this group. There have been times where I was the only person with the map and the cur sheet. If you don’t have a cue sheet, there’s going to be somebody with one and so you don’t really have to fret about getting lost or falling behind.”
The cyclists spread as the ride progressed, giving each member a better chance to view farm oddities to the side as they passed: rusty equipment, skeptical cows, a broken-down El Camino now serving as a lawn ornament.
The group approached its first light of the ride at mile nine, crossed over and stopped in downtown Florence for a water break and a game plan. The cyclists had the option of taking a shorter 35-mile route back to Andice or exploring more of the area on a 48-mile route.
After brief discussion, the riders saddled up once more and rode down College Street until they reached the stop sign at Tomlinson Street. A few goodbyes and “Have a good ride” were shared, and six cyclists took off to the right for a shorter Saturday stint. The tandem duo, with plenty of energy gels as insurance, turned left with four other cyclists for 30 more miles of scenic exercise on open roads.