Spent a few days riding in Houston---

So I hit Ant Hills, Memorial, and Jack Brooks park before the storm hit down there and tackied everything up. A few things struck me-

—Houston folks are DEAD SERIOUS about bike/trail etiquette. I must have heard “RIDER!!” 2000 times at Memorial. (Not knocking it, its just not something that happens in Austin), that being said, not a single person asked me if I was ok when I stopped to tighten a BB bolt, something that happens on Austin trails to the point of irritation. Interesting difference.

—The trails had almost zero elevation change, but were somehow still fun. It was rootfest at Ant Hills and Memorial of course, and the sand was a heart breaker in a few places, but it was still a lot of fun. Ant Hills in particular was varied and entertaining, though I wonder how long before that flat “out and back” would get boring.

—West End Cycles is still the coolest bike shop I’ve ever hung out in. Blaine in particular is really entertaining to talk to. They were my shop of choice when I lived down there, and even though that was ten years ago, it felt like walking into my neighbors house when I dropped by Thursday. I would dare to say that just about every shop in Austin could learn some STRONG lessons about customer service from them. (Customer service does not equal “free shit”, it’s all about engaging with the folks that come in the door.)

—Htown has made huge strides in becoming a better city to ride in. There are green belts and connectors everywhere. I was over at my Alma Mater, Cougar High (University of Houston) and there were bike racks everywhere, routes to get in and out of AO posted, and there is a bike friendly light rail line going in that drops you right at the door.

—Htown has equal (or better??) beer and coffee than ATX. This will be controversial, I know, but I find it to be true. Karbach, and St Arnolds, are two of the better known beers, but I hit a few places with kegs of stuff I had never heard of and I was shocked to find it was local. Katz roasts a fine coffee bean. I’m on the fence about whether over all Houston or Austin is better on this front, and in general I refrain from comparisons like this, so I’ll just say, good options abound.  

—IF I were banished back to the Bayou City, I would likely revert back to road riding, but there is enough fun MTB stuff that a ride or two a week would keep me going.

interested in others thoughts about the place…

Dave @mellowdave