srini_vas (srini_vas) wrote,
srini_vas
srini_vas

Lost in Austin on a Road Bike

When my manager told me about a visit to Austin / Texas / US for a product transition from one of our offices being closed, one of the first questions that I asked was 'Is that a cycle friendly city ?' My manager immediately contacted a colleague (Andrew) from this place (who asked exactly the same question when he visited Bangalore). Andrew is kind enough to lend me his Bridgestone Road Bike on my very first visit to office for my commute, while I am in Austin.

He brought it and parked in the conference room during Lunch, and, my wait till 5 PM felt like eternity. I never used a road bike and the route that we took to reach office in a cab was very inviting. I quickly browsed through the maps (that 'quick' was a mistake, which I realized after a few hours), and took off to Hotel from office at 5 PM, while another colleague accompanying me from Bangalore took a cab and would be waiting for me in the Hotel. Then started the fun. First few KM, I rode through the familiar route (that I got familiar from the map). I soon understood the vastness of the place and roads. I found one cycle store on the way, suggested by Andrew, and bought a few accessories for my cycle in Bangalore. With that excitement, I stopped thinking about the route and just started pedaling. The distance between office and Hotel is 10 KM, my odometer was already showing 15 KM. It was just 6 PM and I knew that there would be light till 8 PM due to day light saving. So, I had plenty of time, I continued cruising.

When odometer showed around 20 KM, I thought of asking somebody for directions. But, whom ? All the roads were big & wide and highways. Hardly anyone outside a car, not even with a rolled down window :( After another few KM, I found a huge Walmart store, which, I thought was the same that we saw on our way to office in the morning.  So, happily called the hotel to give me the directions from Walmart, only to know that there are so many Walmarts nearby :), and I am supposed to tell them exit number of the high-way parallel to the service road that I was in. I was stupid enough to ignore the importance of knowing the exit number. So, asked some local cab driver for directions and took off in one direction. After doing another 10 KM, as its confirmed that I was completely lost, and all I knew about the hotel was its name and it was next to some inter-state highway (at least, I knew the number of this high-way), I started calling the hotel frantically, after every few KM, and reached the hotel area by around 9 PM by pedaling for around 35 KM.

It was not over.  It was completely dark by then. This cycle has only blinkers in the back and no head light :( With that, I circled around the hotel for another 30 minutes, and finally with the directions from a guy working in a near-by food store, I reached the Hotel at 9:30 PM, only after doing 42 KM :) The guy in the reception, whom I kept on calling, coolly says, ' Oh ! Sir, You finally made it'.

I don't know how safe it was, but, getting lost in a new city with a cool bike to pedal is fun :)
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