Sorry for the late post! It’s really hard to blog the night before a rest day because we normally stay out late and explore the awesome city we are in! Last night was no exception. We all had a blast in Austin, TX. I think it’s actually one of my favorite places we’ve been. Here are some pictures from yesterday:

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Yesterday we decided to wake up really early and leave as soon as the sun rose so we could arrive at the host early. Then we would be able to shower and get ready for the 4th of July! We did as we intended and arrived at our host before 2pm. Riding out in the morning was really nice and I even shivered a bit because the temperature was still low! My group was Shawna, Kirsten, Simon, and Allison. Again, I didn’t get a good picture of us. Boo. I stink. Everyone decked out their bikes with american gear, some more than others. Here’s Allison’s bike with flags stuck everywhere:

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Our group missed the very first turn onto the ONE road we were supposed to ride on for 55 miles. So we added about 2 miles there. We pedaled on at a really nice pace and only had one flat towards the end of the ride. Kirsten and Shawna kept us entertained by yapping in southern accents about nonsense. It was quite hilarious and Allison and I had a good time riding behind them just listening to the show. At the last water stop, two 2011 4k alumni joined us for the last 20 miles of our ride! We always love guest riders! The alumni joined one of our riding groups and we continued on. My group got a little lost making our way through Austin towards our host, and I think we added a few extra miles there too. But luckily, we ended up back on the right track just in time to meet up with the rest of our team.

At this point we were 4 miles out from our host and were warned of a HUGE downhill with a sharp turn at the bottom. The hill was massive and unfortunately we couldn’t fly down it because of traffic and the turn at the bottom. This is a picture I got that doesn’t do it justice:

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Then we had to bike right back up a hill of the same size. I was told it was a Category 5 hill, but I think it was more than that. It was about 300ft in elevation and you can see the huge downhill and subsequent uphill in the GPS data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/534997360. The uphill was massive. I was focusing on pedaling so much that I wasn’t able to shift into the granny gear since I was turning the pedals so slowly. So I had to unclip halfway up this huge hill, cycle the pedals around to get the chain to shift, then start again from a dead stop up the hill. Not fun. But getting to the top was an awesome feeling!

We’re staying at the home of a friend of the 4k. Their house is located at the very top of hills that remind me of my stay in Berkeley last summer. It seriously looks like Southern California here. As soon as I arrived, I departed for showers with Taylor and Allison. Taylor’s dad came to visit and he took the three of us out to dinner and out on the town! We went to shower at a little cottage that he was staying in and then went to dinner at Chuy’s. This place was awesome! They had great food and great decorations:

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After dinner, we went out for beer and ice cream! The ice cream place was awesome! It reminded me of Cold Stone where they have basic flavors and mix your toppings into it. They also had sing-a-longs and threw your ice cream into the air and caught it in the cup! We walked around a little bit more and saw a bunch of kayakers and paddle boarders chilling in the Austin river! It was really slow moving and the weather was perfect for a day on the water. I was SO jealous. We made our way to the Congress Ave. Bridge. This bridge has over one million bats living underneath it and every night at sunset, they all flood out and eat all the mosquitoes and insects that bother people. We stayed and watched that and then Allison and I caught up with the rest of our team while Taylor went to spend some more time with her dad. We all had a great time out on the town and then returned to our host really late and went straight to sleep.

As I said, I really like Austin. It’s a really weird city with a lot of different things going on. It’s not like the rest of Texas and they like it that way. They’re pretty proud of their weirdness. There are stickers and tshirts and even billboards that say “Keep Austin Weird”. I had a great time and was really entertained by the city. I think Austin, TX and Santa Rosa Beach, FL (where we dipped our bikes in the Gulf of Mexico) are two of the only places we’ve gone so far that I would visit again recreationally.

That’s it for yesterday. Today I’ve already done some cool stuff, but I’m going to wait for tonight’s blog post to tell you about it! Please don’t fret if I don’t blog the night before a rest day! Some riders have told me that their parents check in on them to make sure they’re okay if they don’t see a blog post from me at the end of the day! I try to post consistently every day, but sometimes I’m not able to! Remember to comment and check back later tonight for all of today’s happenings!

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