Austin - in pictures
Winter is miserable in the UK. Four months in and you’re digging jumps that look like they’ll never actually run it’s so damn wet. When you ride it’s for a couple hours a week in a rammed indoor skatepark, where you spend half that time battling to drop in and the other half remembering how to ride your bike.
So over the past three years I’ve been getting the hell out to sunnier lands for a couple of weeks to keep my sanity, and what better a winter BMX location than Austin, Texas.
The city is home to the famous 9th St trails, infamous Eastside trails and a bunch of skateparks and street spots to ride, during winter, in weather we in the UK are lucky to get in summer. I found out Austin is also a great city to eat, party and swim outdoors, so she was more than happy to come along.
Here’s a few photos and stories from my first time in this exciting city.
This was the first spot I went to and a fair introduction to the people in Austin. Find the lines and you can rip this bowl, which the skaters did frequently.
The first guy who spoke to me for a while and even shared his food was a skater. I don’t think a skater has ever gone up to me and chatted in the UK. I later met this BMX guy named Richard, who the next day took me to this park on the south side of town named Maple Davis (one of the spots Dugan rips in his Bad Idea edit). On the drive over he was passing over his vaporiser, and didn’t drop me off till he wrote a big list of bars he said I had to check out. People in Austin are super nice.
One late morning I heard Chase Hawk had just been there. Damn... I also wish this photo was of Chase! One last House story - chilling on the deck when some guy wheelies past on a 26’ wheel cruiser. Apparently he’s wheelied around the whole skatepark before, twice. No fucks given.
There aren’t many trails spots where you roll in down a pavement, and where you see sky scrapers from the jumps. One time, chilling after a session with the locals, one of the locals told this shredder kid to go get some fruit, and five minutes later he came back with a backpack full to hand out. Turns out there’s a store where kids get free fruit, and he still looked young enough to make it work.
I was a little gutted that big line you see in videos of Chase Hawk wasn’t there, but to be fair the spot was literally under water at least once last year. The locals are also handy with a shovel so there’ll be a bunch of new lines soon.
While we were over there was a college basketball game - Texas Longhorns against West Virginia. As someone who’s never been to an American sporting event, here’s a small list of observations: 1. I’d have thought this was a big league MBA game or something, the crowd was sick. 2. You won’t find a more expensive place to buy beer. 3. You won’t be bored at a game, even if you aren’t that into the sport; half the time people are out their seats, cheerleaders are on the court as much as the players and a load of other random shit happens too. 4. Cheerleaders kill it. During one performance they were being thrown 20 foot up. No idea how they got up there. A one-of-a-kind experience for sure. Will after to check out American football or baseball next time.
5 hip ditch
This was some ride from town! To be honest the main reason I wanted to go here was to ride this quarter you see in edits, but I later was told it had been washed away after a storm. I was a bit gutted about that, since I can’t ride flatbanks, but I tried anyway and the neighbourhood kids were stoked so it was all good.
Hundred meters or so from the hips is another sweet spot with a bank and a wallride. It’s actually just further along the same ditch, which we realised when the kid in the blue rims showed us out. Our route there was a little more interesting!
Riding all day everyday and everywhere is exhausting. Luckily Austin has a bunch of swimming spots for those sunny days. Some are further out along the Greenbelt but the main spot is Barton Springs just west of the city. There’s also a boat rental place right by it, which is a sweet way to spend an hour or two seeing some turtles and the city from a different view point.
This place is phenomenal. With locals including Clint Reynolds and Nutter these jumps were always gonna be wild. First run I rolled in too slow and fell off on the first jump, in front of everyone, haha. The only way to ride these is to yank back and not push forward, else your wrists won’t like you. It’s enough entertainment just seeing the locals ride! I heard some wild Tom Dugan stories too (there's no beef in-case you were wondering).
Best thing to do after riding and chills at the trails is to cruise along 6th St with a bike lock. There are so many bars here, and as the ‘music capital of the world’ you aren’t gonna miss out on live music. After spending some time in Austin you actually get immune to live music, but we could hear this band rocking hard from the street so we checked it out. It was a dingy bar full of bikers and the amps were cranked. The guitarist was killing it too. When the band finished we left and dropped by another bar pulling pints for $2.50. Rainey St and Red River are also worth checking out. You’re in for a good time going out in Austin.
I woke up real excited; I was over my initial fear of Eastside and a big trails session was planned for the afternoon and evening. In the morning we got a smoothie then headed over to Salt and Time for pancakes and coffee. When we headed back outside after eating it started raining, but since there hadn’t been rain in weeks I figured it would do the trails good and do the watering for us. We went into town to check some stuff out before riding east. The rain kept falling and with it were my hopes for a big final day session. We were first at the trails and it was the first time I’d seen the trails tarped. It wasn’t looking good. After fixing a puncture a local showed and it stopped raining. It was starting to look promising and we had a little session on the quarter before getting down to some digging. Through the day more people arrived and a big spade session was underway. I hoped it would lead to a ride but I guess when it rains on a blue moon you make the most of it and get work done. We left before dark and had some drinks before heading back.
I was gutted the day didn’t go as planned and that I hadn’t made the most of the sessions earlier in the week. A dodgy knee, my bad luck with injuries the previous times I’d been in America and not wanting to blow my knee out again before a Barcelona trip in a week’s time had really blown my confidence. On the plus I was going home in one piece and we’d made a load of new friends. I already can’t wait to be back on that roll-in!