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2010 HOT Rally – Austin, TX

This weekend wraps up the first annual Heart of Texas Catrike Rally and third annual ‘Bent Event.  Two big events in three short days was a big challenge for us here at Easy Street, but it’s well worth it to see everyone having so much fun.

Events got underway on Friday here at the shop. Our 20 registered Catrike rally attendees trickled or gushed in throughout the day to get their trikes checked out. Mark Egeland from Catrike put together a Catrike Speed for himself at the rally, and helped us check over some trikes. Several of the trikes had significant adjustment and fitting problems which we were able to fix. After the shop closed, Mike met up with a gang of trikers at Captain Benny’s for some social schmoozing and a happy hour.

We started early on Saturday morning with a big caravan out to the Veloway in South Austin, 15 miles south of our centrally located shop.  The Veloway is an oasis of perfectly groomed pavement, closed to all motorized vehicles. The weather had been threatening rain that morning, so we had the Veloway mostly to ourselves. We arranged our trikes for a group photo and went around together as a group.  Halfway through, the sky opened up and doused our little trike rally. It was the first time for many of our attendees to trike in the rain. One fellow in particular loved the rain, because he got to show off his practical fenders and rain gear. I made a second loop to sweep for any trikers who might have flatted or gotten lost in the woods, while everybody else stayed behind to snicker at me. By the time I returned, everybody was loading up and leaving for Easy Street. I learned later that another fellow had stayed behind to wait out the rain.  He did, and he enjoyed two hours of having the course to himself, expect for the roadrunners and deer.

We eventually regrouped at Easy Street and made our way over to Titaya’s, a local Thai restaurant in walking distance of the shop, for a savory lunch. We returned to hear a seminar on bike advocacy work from BikeTexas. Between Education, Advocacy, and Trail building, BikeTexas has been pushing hard to get new riders pedaling, guarantee our rights to the road, and create friendly facilities for recreation and transportation.

Mike then held drawings for fabulous prizes. The prizes practically outnumbered the attendees, with a total value of well over $1000. Super lightweight chain, a fancy three-speed pump, extra light rotors, anodized rims from Velocity, a Catrike frame bag set, a complete set of Schwalbe tires, a TerraCycle idler and frame bag, two EVT SafeZone mirrors, and a full set of SpinSkins tire liners were some of the prizes given away. Mike and Mark conducted home mechanic workshops on maintenance and troubleshooting of Catrikes. I wasn’t there for this part, so I’ll let somebody who was there fill in the topics and what was covered. I do understand that it was very thorough and useful.

We gathered all the trikes together and rode to Phara’s Mediterranean Cuisine restaurant. The ride there was pleasant and smooth, and Phara came out to personally greet us when we arrived. While we were seated and chatting under an outdoor tent, peals of thunder broke out and a huge downpour threatened to flood our outdoor eating area. We stayed dry, while our brave servers scuttled out under umbrellas to serve us delicious Mediterranean pitas, tabouleh, dolmas, baba ghanoush, seasoned rice, chickpea soup, grilled veggies, and savory meats. A few times it seemed as though the rain might flood into the tent, but we managed to stay dry through the whole affair, and the rain died down before we had to leave. All the trikes were ushered into the tent before the rain arrived, so they had VIP seating for the banquet. After we had stuffed ourselves thoroughly, a beautiful belly dancer came into our tent to entertain us with dancing, finger cymbals, sword tricks, and a veil dance. Several of the attendees were compelled to dance with the young lady.

It was dark when we were finally ready to leave Phara’s so everybody turned on their assortment of lights and blinkies. I was really impressed with the creativity some attendees put into their lighting displays. No two trikes were alike here, and when viewed as a group it looked like a parade of Christmas lights. Words can’t do it justice; I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Next morning several trikers met at 8:30 for a ride through historic Hyde Park, into the University of Texas campus, through the Capitol grounds and the downtown district, and onto the Town Lake trail, for a photo op at the Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial Statue on Auditorium Shores. I had to work on setting up the ‘Bent Event that morning, so no ride report is forthcoming, but hopefully somebody can chime in on the comments section.

 

When the hard-pedaling trikers had returned, the ‘Bent Event was in full swing. Food, live music, and lots and lots of bikes and trikes were arrayed for public amusement. The rain had finally quit, so folks were free to mingle, gawk, and test ride the various human powered vehicles.

 

 

We did have some very cool machines that folks had brought in for the event. Joseph Iley brought his touring trike, complete with BOB trailer and Veltop rain canopy, to show off. That rig would have been particularly popular during our underwater Veloway time trials.

 

 

Kurt Baty graced us again at our ‘Bent Event, this time with a solar tandem quadracycle. I got a chance to ride this one, and it was very fun and comfortable. Full suspension, two independent pedal-electric drivetrains, and a photovoltaic solar panel canopy. We’ve been lucky enough to check out Kurt’s creations at our past two events, and each year they become more refined and practical. I expect big things from Kurt next year.

 

“Kansas” Chuck brought in his custom built creations as well.  His machines are resourceful and imaginative, based on cast-away bike parts and misconceived designs from other manufacturers. These bikes are fun to look at and even more fun to ride, with Jackson Pollock-inspired paint jobs. These are always a hit, especially the tadpole upright trike that just begs to be ridden on two wheels.

We also had some special manufacturer’s trikes for the event. We had kid and adult models on hand from KMX and Trailmate, two manufacturers we normally don’t stock. The KMX Karts in particular were very popular with children and adults alike, and we had a video set up showcasing riders abusing the Karts in BMX parks and mountain bike trails.

We brought the Catbike Musashi and Catrike Dash in for the event. Mark Egeland from Catrike amazed us with his no-hands riding of the lowracer. I’ve tried no-hands riding on a recumbent bicycle before – it ain’t easy! No small feat, and it must owe a lot to the geometry of the bike as well as Mark’s balance. The Dash was surprisingly just as popular with adults as it was with kids. It’s less expensive than the other Catrike models, and the narrow seat often feels better to adults who are in between the Dash and the Pocket in size.

 

We couldn’t have done these events without a lot of help and support along the way. Big thanks to all of our attendees. You really made the party. It wouldn’t have been nearly so much fun without your cheerful enthusiasm and patience with the weather. Another big thanks go out to the volunteers who helped us pull everything together. Mark Egeland in particular really helped bring up the enthusiasm level at the rally, and Thad Sitton was instrumental in introducing us to the Veloway and scenic rides in Austin. Special thanks to Jane Knight for helping us put together lavish goodie bags for the attendees. Thanks to Robin Stallings and the rest of BikeTexas for demonstrating at our event. Another big thanks to all of our sponsors who made our lavish prizes possible: Big Cat HPV, Schwalbe Tires, Velocity Wheels, TerraCycle, Topeak, Efficient Velo Tools, Spin Skins. ‘Bent Rider Online gave us a free banner ad for the Catrike rally. Another thanks to Phara and our lovely belly dancer, and the performers at the ‘Bent Event: Brian Todd’s jazz group, the Faux Paws, and Laura Freeman.

 

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