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COWBOY UP! – A week in Austin, Texas

July 30, 2010

NOTE: For whatever reason, WordPress failed to upload high rez images and for that I apologize.  I’ll figure it out and make sure the next trip report has the usual large, high quality images.

I had a lot of ground to cover in Austin that week and decided against camping.  During my rides through the mid-west and south I was intrigued by the $199.00 a week rate signs at Value Place hotels.   The internet had nothing much about these places, but from the outside they look very tidy and clean.  Less than two hundred dollars for seven days is a fantastic deal and I booked my room.  Value Place hotels are essentially short term zero frills apartments.  I checked in at the office and was given a card key for my room.  The hallway was empty of decoration and smelled slightly of industrial carpet and glue.  My room had a full bed, chair, table, dresser and TV, a full size refrigerator and a cook top stove and a microwave.  It was extremely basic but clean and perfectly suited to my needs.  I shuttled my gear from the bike to the room and enjoyed looking at a completely un-loaded motorcycle for the first time in what seemed like months.

I got back on the bike and decided to explore my immediate surroundings.  I was very surprised to find Ducati of Austin less than a block away and a very large Kawasaki/Suzuki dealer on the next block!   I remember thinking the mid-day traffic was pretty bad. Only later would I realize HOW bad Austin traffic is. I spent the rest of the day getting groceries and sundries for my stay. It is very nice to have a full size fridge again after living out of a collapsible cooler for so long.

Later that evening I rode into Austin and over to the Broken Spoke. No, not the Broken Spoke at Laconia, or Sturgis –THE ORIGINAL BROKEN SPOKE. Built in 1964 this Austin legend has played host to a who’s who of country music stars. From Hank to Willie, to Grandpa Jones and Tex Ritter. The Broken Spoke was owner James White’s version of a Texas Dance Hall/Honky Tonk. I went mid-week and found it to be packed with local folks out for a good time and a country meal. This place is not a real Texas dance hall by any means. It’s a tourist trap. But I get that. If may have been real twenty years ago but these days it’s mostly designed at separating tourists from their dollars. The food is good but not great. As is the music, the atmosphere and drink prices. I think I’ll keep looking for a real Texas dance hall.

Once again, the only Aprilia for miles around.

I walked outside the next morning to find an old Nighthawk parked next to my Futura.

I rode into Austin through absolutely horrible traffic. I’m talking about 22 out of 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year type traffic. I had no idea that I would find 93 north into Boston type traffic in the wide open spaces of Texas. It was insane. My first stop was S. Congress Avenue in Austin. This strip has a bunch of funky stores and bars. I stopped into Jo’s Coffee for an iced tea and walked along Congress towards Allen’s Boots.

There is some interesting flea market window shopping. If you are inclined to take a virtual walk down Congress yourself, click here and drag the little yellow walking guy onto the avenue.

After a morning of exploring Congress Ave, I wanted some lunch. I absolutely love Stubbs BBQ rub. It’s really good stuff. So naturally, (naively) I figured this would be a great place to eat in downtown Austin. Located on 801 Red River Street in Austin, Stubbs is a tradition. What sort of tradition? Well, the beer drinking frat boy tradition, not the BBQ kind. It’s an awful place. The food is an afterthought and the staff uninterested. I’ve torn the shit out of this place in my 2009 Best Of review and thought that to be an appropriate rant. Only to find today (almost a year later) that as I type this and look at the pictures I am actually getting angry again about HOW BAD it is.

Stubbs sucks. Stubbs really, really, sucks. Stubbs really, really, really, really, frigging sucks. Think I’m grinding an axe? Do a Google search and see. Stubbs haters are legion.

Expensive, small portions of chewy, badly prepared BBQ, the sides suck, and the beer was awful……Don’t get me started.

No one behind the bar, no servers, no staff. Just frustrated customers.

Jamie’s Spanish Village is across the street.

What did I like in Austin? Well, the Whip In is an excellent place. It’s a liquor store, it’s a cigar store, it sells groceries, and you can buy south Asian food (think Indian) and South Austin food (um… not sure what that is). Check out the menu here to see what I mean. They have a fantastic selection of wine and beer and cigars. It’s also sort of a lounge and hangout place that defies being put into a single category. It’s just cool. Check it out if you are in town. .

After lunch and a fine cigar I rode back over to Congress Street to the Continental Club to catch some live music.

This is the middle of the afternoon. TONS of people having a good time.

Catching a Texas Longhorns game at Doc’s Motor Works on Congress. This is a great place to meet people and have a cold beer.

My trip journal is a bit vague as to how I spent the rest of this day. I guess I had dinner somewhere and called it a night.

The next morning I got back on the Futura and headed south to New Braunfels. The ride down was essentially a straight slab interstate shot on I-35 south. My destination was AF1 Racing. AF1 is considered by many to be THE final word on Aprilia in the US and today I had a service and dyno appointment for the Futura.

Downtown New Braunfels

Arriving at AF1 Racing.

The new RSV4 superbike.

The AF1 showroom. See that black Caponord in the picture? That very bike now resides in my brother’s garage in Delaware.

My sweet RSV4 – ahhh, Vespa loaner for the day.

Typical Micah/AF1 modification – huge Brembo caliper with braided stainless lines.

LUNCH! I love German food. New Braunfels

Friesenhaus is an absolutely fantastic German restaurant

After lunch I rode over to Gruene, Texas. Gruene, is home to a genuine authentic Texas dance hall – Gruene Hall

NEXT: Three hours in the dyno room, The Derailers at Gruene Hall, The Wurstfest and more.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Dave permalink
    August 2, 2010 7:43 am

    Great post! I haven’t been to Austin in a long time. We took a day trip there when visiting my sister in Houston back in the late ’90s.

    I was surprised to see what looked like a genuine Irish post office on one street, so we stopped in for a look. It was a place called Fado, which is one of a chain of pub/restaurants, but if I remember correctly this was the first one and the storefronts were actually brought over from Ireland.

    I hear Austin’s a great place to live, but if the traffic is anything like Boston, no thanks!


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