These stickers are everywhere in Texas: Live a Great Story. What awesome advice! So, this is my Austin story. I think it was pretty great.
Last week, I headed to Austin, Texas, for the second time this year. The first time was the wet, chilly week in January when US Cyclocross Nationals were held, cancelled, reinstated and finally held. Despite the insanity that happened that week, Austin somehow became one of my favorite places I’d ever visited. Maybe it was the awesome family—Susan, Rick and Piper—who took me into their home (and subsequently have named their spare room Molly’s Room) and were just the best hosts a girl could ask for. Maybe it was the other awesome people I met. Maybe it was all of the neon signage. Maybe it was the fact that it was warmer than Canada. Maybe it was the tacos, tortilla chips and margaritas. Maybe it was the coffee shops and all-day breakfast spots. It almost certainly was the beer. Either way, I felt immediately at home in a way that I rarely do when touring around. I love most places I visit—or at least find something that I can love—but for whatever reason, Austin really got its hooks in me.
So I was so happy to be going back, this time for an ISSN Sports Nutrition Conference. Of course, I couldn’t just stay inside. As soon as the plane touched down and I got my rental car, I returned immediately to the scene of the crime: that is, the site of Nationals, Zilker Park.
Yep, still good. Pro traveler tip? If you re-visit somewhere and you’re not super familiar with it and are feeling a little ‘off,’ heading to some place you’ve been is a great way to immediately feel a bit more calm. In cities where I don’t know anything—and this is a sad secret—I often don’t seek out the coolest, hole-in-the-wall restaurant at first. I find a Chipotle or a Panera Bread. Because seeing a familiar menu and setting makes me feel more at home. It sounds goofy, but when you travel as much as I do, it helps to have things like that.
Anyway, post-run and Instagram-posting, I was lucky that one of the rad people I met last trip spotted it and immediately invited me to dinner, at Clark’s Oyster Bar, where her boyfriend is the chef. Talk about an amazing kickoff to being in Austin! The food was amazing, and if you’re looking for a date spot, this is the one.
I assumed because I was there for a conference, I wouldn’t have any fun. I was way wrong, as Caroline and then my host family insisted that I go to The Driveway, the 35-week long crit series in Austin. The fields fill up weekly, tons of people bring families out, there’s food, there’s beer, and just genuinely fun, good people. Got to catch up with some old friends, make some new ones, and drink some of this, which I also highly recommend:
You’d think I’d be tapped out on adventures at that point, halfway in. But no. Caroline belongs to Pure Austin, a gym with its own lake for open water swimming in the back of the building. So, I headed there on a lunch break on Friday after spending the morning hearing the fat versus carb debate.
Good lunch spot, right? I forgot that I am actually slightly terrified of open water swimming—embarrassing for a triathlete, which is already embarrassing in and of itself—but once Caroline got there, I was fine. I just need a swim buddy, and she was an awesome one!
(You can’t see my face but I assure you, it’s stoked.)
I had a bit of time later Friday, and I had spotted some SUPers along the Barton Springs Creek and Lady Bird Lake on runs the days before, and I’ve never SUPed before. So I decided to embrace the spirit of moderate adventure and rent one so I could hang out with turtles and SUP around.
An airport overnight stay later and I was back in Canada, but Austin is high on my places-to-visit-again list!