Driveway is the Right Way to Spend Thursday Nights.
Words by Ben Haguewood Photos by Ashley Haguewood
From professional to amateur, young to old, athlete to spectator, Austin’s Driveway Series bicycle race has something for everyone.
If you live in east Austin, you see bicyclists galore, but you may have noticed something a little different about Thursday evenings. Around 4:00 or 4:30, groups of cyclists begin pedaling east: past the happy-hour patios, past the long lines of slowly progressing commuters, and on past Highway 183. Some riders wear matching cycling kits covered in sponsor logos while others wear vintage cycling gear; however, many are just in jean shorts. Nearly all of them though have deep tans—ankle to thigh and wrist to bicep—from hours of time on the road in the relentless Texas sun. The destination though, like the tan, is the same: the Driveway Austin race track.
“Each race is exciting for its own reason, with the colorfully outfitted riders whizzing by in a blur all the while before the sprint finish on the final lap.”
Most days of the week, the track is used for car races, but on Thursday nights a series of criterium bicycle races begin at 5:00PM and end around sundown. The criterium race is a great ride to keep experienced cyclists tuned-up or to build new skills in amateurs. It requires sprinting speed, stamina, and strategy, but the race isn’t just for riders. “Criterium races make for an exciting spectator event because you get an up-close view of the race activity,” notes east Austin resident and occasional racer David Gordan.
Each ride is timed, with the majority of the riders staying together until the final five laps when riders begin to look for their opening to break away. Riders who go too early risk gassing out, and the group catches up to them. However, if they wait too long, the window of opportunity closes. Some racers go it alone, while other teams strategize to give one rider a shot at glory. The rules are simple, but the strategy is complex, and most regular attendees are happy to offer an explanation to the first time attendee if you’re willing to ask one of the many cyclists socializing in the genial setting.
The series of races begins with a 30-minute contest for women’s category 3, 4, and 5 riders—a USA cycling designation. Seven more races throughout the evening include a junior’s race, a kid’s lap, masters (age 40+), and a men’s and women’s category 1, 2, and 3 pro race.
Each race is exciting for its own reason, with the colorfully outfitted riders whizzing by in a blur all the while before the sprint finish on the final lap. It’s a great social gathering that is both family and pet friendly, with sponsors hosting tables and booths, food and drink carts, and mobile bicycle repair shops.
Did You Know? Refreshments are provided by local brewers and distillers, so bring $5 cash. Check out drivewayseries.com for race times and categories. If you’re interested in riding in a race, you can also register on their website.
Native Knowledge: The website also has directions for those arriving by car and by bicycle. FYI: They’re different, so use their directions not your smartphone.
8400 Delwau Lane