Bike Month kicks off Friday!

May is Bike Month, and activities include group rides, free breakfast and a blessing of the bikes. Photo by Valentino Mauricio for the Austin American-Statesman
May is Bike Month, and activities include group rides, free breakfast and a blessing of the bikes. Photo by Valentino Mauricio for the Austin American-Statesman

Bike Month begins tomorrow, and the calendar is packed. (Free breakfast! A blessing of the bikes! Group rides and parties!)

For a full schedule, go here.

Highlights?

Picture 56

  • The Rally for Respect kicks things off at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Texas State Capitol. Please Be Kind to Cyclists, CapMetro, Austin Police and more unveil a fleet of buses bearing banners that remind people about the Safe Passing ordinance and encourage cyclists to be VIP – visible, in the moment and predictable.
  • Bike to University of Texas Day is Friday.
  • Bike to Eat Week, when cyclists get a 10 percent discount at restaurants including Contigo, East Side Pies, Hyde Park Bar and Grill, Juiceland, Tacodeli and more, is set for May 1-7. Details here.
  • Black Girls Do Bike will host a celebration of cycling at 1 p.m. Saturday at the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center, 1165 Angelina Street.
  • Blessing of the Bikes is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. Sunday at University United Methodist Church, 2409 Guadalupe.
  • Bike to School Day is May 6.
  • St. David’s Episcopal Church, 304 E. Seventh Street, will host a free pop-up commuter breakfast for cyclists on May 8.
  • Black Girls Do Bike will lead a 10-mile CycloFemme Ride along the Brushy Creek Regional Trail, starting at 11 a.m. May 10 at Brushy Creek Lake Park, followed by a picnic. For details email bgdbaustin@gmail.com.
  • Bike to Work Day is May 15. Free breakfast stations will be up and running from 7-9:30 a.m. for cyclists, and a political pedal will start from City Hall at 4:45 p.m. A Bike Home from Work party is set for 5-7 p.m. at Cheer Up Charlie’s, 900 Red River Street.
  • Yellow Bike Project will mark its birthday with a group ride and party at 7:30 p.m. May 16. For more information go here.
  • Please Be Kind to Cyclists will host its Ride of Silence on May 20.

BOARDLife grand opening party set for May 8

BOARDLife, 1100 S. Lamar Boulevard, will hold a grand opening party on May 8.
BOARDLife, 1100 S. Lamar Boulevard, will hold a grand opening party on May 8.

Central Texas is a mecca for the cool skateboarding lifestyle.

BOARDLife, a Colorado-based boutique that sells longboards, accessories, apparel and related stuff, has opened its first Texas shop right here in Austin. The shop is located at 1100 S. Lamar Boulevard, in the new Lamar Union development anchored by the Alamo Drafthouse.

Despite the name, it’s not all about skateboarding. The shop sells stand up paddleboard and cruiser bike gear, too.

A grand opening party is scheduled for Friday, May 8, with free breakfast tacos at 10 a.m. and free cocktails and snacks at 5 p.m. Sales specials and a demonstration of custom longboard building are also planned during the day.

Michael Pisarcik and John Klutznick founded BOARDLife in Denver in 2011.

PurpleStride Austin 5K run/walk raises money to fight pancreatic cancer

PurpleStride Austin takes place this Saturday.
PurpleStride Austin takes place this Saturday.

Cancer sucks.

This Saturday, you can raise money to fight pancreatic cancer, which has the lowest relative survival rate of any major cancer, at PurpleStride Austin.

The 5K run/walk raises money for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

You can register onsite at the Shops at the Arbor Trail, 4301 West William Cannon Drive, starting at 7 a.m. The 5K run/walk starts at 8:30 a.m. The route is stroller and wheelchair friendly.

To register go here.

Austin’s Derek Yorek led Boston Marathon for first mile and a half

Derek Yorek, who starts work next week at Jack & Adam's Bike Shop in Austin, led this year's Boston Marathon for 5 and a half minutes. Photo courtesy Universal Sports Network.
Derek Yorek, who starts work next week at Jack & Adam’s Bike Shop in Austin, led this year’s Boston Marathon for 5 and a half minutes. Photo courtesy Universal Sports Network.

An Austin man knows how it feels to lead the pack at the Boston Marathon.

Derek Yorek, a 31-year-old former professional triathlete who starts work at Jack & Adam’s Bike Shop next week, led the first 5 and a half minutes of Monday’s 26.2-mile race. He rubbed shoulders with last year’s winner, American Meb Keflezighi, and this year’s victor, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia.

“It was amazing – a little intimidating, but I’ve never been particularly scared in a race,” Yorek said Friday by phone from Galveston, where he’s watching friends compete in the Ironman 70.3 triathlon. “I’ve never been a timid person. That was amazing, everything I wanted it to be.”

The first mile flew by in 4:38. Yorek says he could have led for longer, but he didn’t want to interfere with the lead pack’s race so he got out of the way.

Then things got progressively worse. “I was pretty much done by Mile 8,” Yorek says. He saw his mother and sister at Mile 14, and they gave him the boost he needed to get to the finish. “The weather was miserable, the wind was miserable. It was absolutely the worst.”

Yorek says he was “totally out of shape” going into the marathon. He’d been injured and unable to train hard, then crashed his bicycle during a race at The Driveway in Austin three weeks before the event. The road rash was still peeling from his legs when he lined up at the start.

He qualified for Boston with a 2:30:59, which put him in the first wave with the elites. Before getting injured, he had hoped to run around 2:22. (Desisa, the winner, finished in 2:09:17.)

That didn’t happen, but he still logged an incredible experience and accomplished his two main goals – to lead for a short stretch so his two daughters, ages 5 and 2, could see him on television, and to finish.

He crossed the finish line on Boylston Street in 3:04:57, more than 30 minutes slower than his personal best time.

Since “Runner’s World” wrote an article about what he did, Yorek says he’s gotten negative feedback from some people who think he didn’t respect the race or that he’s teaching his children the wrong values.

“I never was really trying to stir the pot,” he says. “I just wanted the girls to see Daddy on TV.”

It was Yorek‘s first Boston Marathon; he says it’ll be his last.

“I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I ever wanted to accomplish – I wanted to lead a little while, get out front, feel that, see what that was like, have friends and family to see me, then finish the race.”

Yorek grew up in Fort Worth and ran track and cross country at Adams State University in Colorado. From 2007 until 2011 he lived in Austin, where he worked at RunTex and raced for Jack & Adam’s Bike Shop. He lived in Fort Worth recently, but is in the process of moving to Austin.

Catching up with marathon runner and cancer survivor Iram Leon

Iram Leon, who has brain cancer, finished the Boston Marathon in just over 3 hours 10 minutes.
Iram Leon, who has brain cancer, finished the Boston Marathon in just over 3 hours 10 minutes.

II caught up with the amazing, fleet-footed Iram Leon this morning.

The Austin athlete, who won the Beaumont Marathon two years ago while pushing his daughter in a stroller, just

Iram Leon trains with Al's Ship of Fools running group in Austin.
Iram Leon trains with Al’s Ship of Fools running group in Austin.

returned from Boston, where he finished the country’s most prestigious 26.2-miler in just over 3 hours 10 minutes on a cold, windy, rainy day.

Did I mention Leon has brain cancer?

I loved hearing about his race. Leon always races without a shirt, but admits he got a little cold this time. With temperatures in the 40s and dropping as the race went on, he had to warm up with broth and blankets for an hour in the medical tent at the finish line.

He missed qualifying for next year’s race by just 37 seconds.

That may have been because he slowed to kiss a random bystander at the bottom of Heartbreak Hill at Mile 20. “No way I was going to get my heart broken if I got kissed right before going up Heartbreak Hill,” he says, shrugging.

Leon says Boston is like no other marathon. People line the streets the entire way, encouraging the runners. “You get cheered more in one mile of Boston than the entirety of any other marathon,” he says. “There are

A friend made this sign for Iram when he ran the Boston Marathon.
A friend made this sign for Iram Leon when he ran the Boston Marathon.

no lonely spots in Boston.”

Healthwise, Leon, 34, says he’s doing as well as can be expected, for now. He was diagnosed in 2010 with astrocytoma, a type of tumor entwined in the memory and language hub of his brain. Statistically, he is unlikely to see his 40th birthday. At his most recent checkup in March doctors told him the tumor is stable. His next MRI will take place in June.

For now, though, he’s embracing life. A single father, he and his 8-year-old daughter Kiana are fixtures at races around town. He trains with the running group Al’s Ship of Fools and ESPN is working on a short story about him that should air this summer.

New Ultra 520K Texas endurance event to take place in Marble Falls this September

Mario Gonzales, Rick Kent and Steve Brown, shown here above Lake Marble Falls, are teaming up to present the Ultra 520K Texas in September.
Mario Gonzales, Rick Kent and Steve Brown, shown here above Lake Marble Falls, are teaming up to present the Ultra 520K Texas in September.

When a long-distance open-water swim, a full marathon (or two), and an all-day bike race through the Texas Hill Country (or three) just aren’t enough, it’s time to register for the Ultra 520K Texas.

Organizers announced details this week of the grueling new individual endurance event, scheduled to take place in Marble Falls Sept. 25-27. The race will feature three day-long stages covering a total of 520 kilometers, or 323 miles.

Stage One is a 10K out and back swim in Lake Marble Falls, followed by a 90-mile bike loop to Llano, Burnet and back. Stage Two is a 172-mile bike loop south and southwest of Marble Falls, plotted out by Fred Boethling, race director of the Race Across America. Stage Three is a hilly, out and back double marathon.

Overall finish time will be based on the combined times from all three stages.

Participation is by invitation only, with a maximum of 35 athletes. Applicants must have finished an Iron distance event in the previous 18 months – in less than 14 hours and 30 minutes.

Apply on line here. Entry fee is $1,800.

Marble Falls, by the way, is turning into a mecca for endurance events. The RAAM Challenge, a long-distance bike race hosted by the folks who put on Race Across America, just wrapped a few weeks ago. The Hill Country Marathon takes place there each fall, and this weekend the city hosts the HITS Triathlon Series.

Marble Falls is about an hour northwest of Austin on Highway 71.

Austin photographer and former endurance athlete Rick Kent is teaming with Steve Brown, race director of Ultra 520K Canada and race director Mario Gonzales to put on the new event.

“I’m very excited to have Kent and his organization in Texas become the first Ultra 520K outside Canada,” Brown said in a press release. “We anticipate a long and mutually beneficial relationship for Ultra 520K.”

Testing out a pair of Hoka One One running shoes

I'm test driving a pair of Hoka One One Challenger ATR running shoes. PAM LEBLANC/Austin American-Statesman
I’m test driving a pair of Hoka One One Challenger ATR running shoes. PAM LEBLANC/Austin American-Statesman

I took my new Hoka One One Challenger ATR’s for a test run this morning.

They’re an all-terrain version of those thick-soled shoes you’ve probably seen everywhere – and maybe snickered at – lately.

Six or seven years ago, everyone raved about minimalist, thin-soled shoes. Some brave souls even ran barefoot. The experts talked about how cushioned shoes kept us from properly feeling the ground, and didn’t allow the natural muscles in our feet to develop and teach us a good gait.

But some folks didn’t properly ease into those wispy shoes, and found themselves nursing injuries. They don’t work for everyone.

Suddenly the pendulum swung the other direction. Super cushy shoes with soles as thick as layer cakes swept into shoe stores, looking like high-rises next to their skinnier siblings.

At first, I rolled my eyes. They looked almost dangerous, like you could fall off them and wreck an ankle. But lots of folks swore by them.

Finally, I’m trying a pair.

I headed out in the fog and mist this morning for a 8-miler on a combination of roads, sidewalks, grass, gravel and dirt.

My first impression? Roomy in the toebox (good), but I felt like they tipped my feet slightly inward (not so good). I certainly didn’t feel like I was walking around on platforms, which surprised me. They felt snug and cozy in the upper. And for all that sole, these shoes are deceptively light.

Or, as the manufacturer says, “independent rubber pods provide stability on uneven terrain for the runner who values versatility.”

I’m pretty sure I’m going to like them best for trail running – when I ran down a steep hill, they felt grippy and stable, even though the ground was slightly wet and tacky.

The pink, lime green and black pair I test drove sell for $130.

Share a beer with pro triathlete Kelly Williamson at Hops & Grain Brewery

Kelly Williamson, shown here winning the 2014 3M Half Marathon, will share training and course tips at Hops & Grains Brewery. File photo by Andy Sharp for the Austin American-Statesman
Kelly Williamson, shown here winning the 2014 3M Half Marathon, will share training and course tips at Hops & Grain Brewery. File photo by Andy Sharp for the Austin American-Statesman

Beer and triathlons just go together, don’t they?

Austin pro triathlete Kelly Williamson will share a pint – along with some training tips and course advice – during a question and answer session from 5-7 p.m. April 30 at Hops & Grain Brewery, 507 Calles Street.

Williamson has been a pro triathlete since 2006. File photo by Ricardo Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman
Williamson has been a pro triathlete since 2006. File photo by Ricardo Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman

Williamson won last year’s Ironman Texas, which is set for May 16 this year in The Woodlands, near Houston.

She has competed as a professional triathlete since 2002 and is the first to admit that she enjoys a cold beer and a juicy burger after run. That’s why Hops & Grain signed on as one of her sponsors.

Hops & Grain founder and former triathlete Josh Hare will moderate the session, which is free and open to the public. Triathletes of all skill levels are invited to come learn more about the sport.

Because learning more about Ironman Texas goes well with a pint of beer, don’t you think?

For more information go here or call 512-914-2467.

Distance runner Amy Hastings Cragg to visit Luke’s Locker next week

Amy Hastings Cragg will visit Luke's Locker April 28. Photo by John Barnhart.
Amy Hastings Cragg will visit Luke’s Locker April 28. Photo by John Barnhart.

Distance runner Amy Hastings Cragg will pop by Luke’s Locker next week to mingle and talk shop with local athletes.

Hastings had a tough time at the Boston Marathon on Monday, where conditions were wet and chilly. She fell off the back of the lead pack in the middle of the race and did not finish. It was her first experience at Boston.

She’ll be at the Austin running store from 6-7:30 p.m. April 28. The event is free and open to the public.

Despite her Boston showing, she’s one of the fastest women in the country.

At her debut marathon in 2011, she placed second with a time of 2:27:03. That same year, she was runner up at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, where she ran the 5,000 meters in 15:14:31. She’s the 2012 American champion in the 10,000 meters and finished 11th at the event at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

She won the national 10K road title at the Peachtree Road Race last year, then capped that accomplishment by tying her personal record and placing fifth at the Chicago Marathon.

Wildflower Run set for Saturday in Fredericksburg

The Wildflower Run takes place Saturday in Fredericksburg.
The Wildflower Run takes place Saturday in Fredericksburg.

If you haven’t checked out the wildflowers this season, do it now. Better yet, run past fields of color during the Fredericksburg Wildflower Run/Walk this Saturday.

The 21st annual event, which is chip timed, includes a 5K and 10K, plus a children’s fun run for ages 12 and younger. The race features a new route this year that begins and ends downtown at Marktplatz.

This year’s race is dedicated to the memory of Larry Dyer, who served on the Wildflower Run committee until he died last fall. The event benefits the Fredericksburg Academic Boosters, an organization that recognizes and encourages student academic achievement.

Fitness pros from the Wellness Center will lead a stretch and pre-race warm-up at 8 a.m. near the race starting line. The run begins at 8:30 a.m., and the walk begins at 8:35 a.m. The children’s fun run, a 200-yard dash, begins at 10 a.m.

All run and walk registrants get T-shirts, and the first 200 registrants get a jar of wildflower jelly from Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods of Fredericksburg.

Entry fee is $25 for adults (and $1 per child) on race day at Marktplatz. For more information call the Wellness Center at 830-997-1355.