Nancy Barnidge loved to ride her Masi road bicycle on Austin's Veloway, safely circling the paved, three-mile loop with her husband outside the threat of cars and motorized traffic.
Her beloved $1,200 bicycle fit her small frame like a glove, and she'd been riding it on the Veloway regularly for some 15 years to stay in shape.
Then one day, someone lifted it off its vehicle rack in the busy Veloway parking lot while she was stretching a few feet away.
"It was stolen right off the back of my car," Barnidge said.
An experienced rider who has hung onto the same bike for 17 years, Barnridge was shocked to find out that replacing it wasn't as easy as a quick trip to the bike store—even in Austin, where bike shops are in nearly every neighborhood.
After searching Austin, she finally found one that fit her in Waco.
"There were just no bikes for me anywhere," she said.
High demand by furloughed workers and out-of-school kids, coupled with pandemic-related manufacturing and shipping delays, have major bike companies warning that new bikes won't begin showing back up in the U.S until next spring.
The resulting boom and shortage in the bicycle world—across the nation and across the world—has made headlines throughout the summer, but is felt particularly hard in Austin, where bike culture was huge long before the pandemic forced people into fresh air with new hobbies and low gas funds.
The shortage is landing hard on Austin bike shops, some of whom report historically low inventories—mainly in moderately priced bicycles—as a result of the delays.
At The Peddler Bike Shops in Austin and Cedar Park, inventory trickles in sometimes, thanks to proactive efforts early in the season, but it sells quickly—particularly for the consumer-level bikes, said shop manager Christa French.
High-end bikes over $4,000 stay in the shop a little longer, she said.
"We're all handling it mostly through pre-orders for the customers right now," French said.
The situation is similar at Mellow Johnny's downtown, where a sales manager told Austonia that high-end bikes are still in stock, but consumer-level bikes are way down.
Hybrid bikes, or "commuter bikes," are often the choice of newer riders and those who use it as their main mode of transportation, because they can handle roads as well as trails. They're down to 10% of their normal stock at Mellow Johnny's, he said.
"For the main vendors, I have less than 20 bikes remaining, and we're typically a store that keeps hundreds," said shop owner Frank Prior.
East Side Pedal Pushers saw an immediate drop in bike tires and tubes right after the pandemic started, which several riders—including Barnidge—say are still hard to find.
"Those were really popular when people were pulling them out of their garages to get serviced," said Lee Greshman, who has owned his shop for 17 years.
At Pedal Pushers, which repairs all types of bikes and specializes in Jamis and Surly sales, inventory on new bikes is down to four total in the store. He's looking for a new shipment around November.
But even though inventory is low, Gresham said, the shop will survive the downturn.
"I'm not worried," he said. "We're doing enough repairs that we've still got revenue."
At Bike Farm, higher end inventory and cheap bikes are still in stock but the mid-priced road bikes and mountain bikes—around the $500 to $700 range—get sold nearly as quickly as they come in, said Jake Lavender, a salesperson at the shop.
The shop got in 12 of them Saturday morning. They sold out within two hours after the store posted them on its Instagram.
"Trying to get your size, your budget and the style that you want, all three of those are hard to do right now," Lavender said. "So if anybody sees anything close to what they want, they grab it. A lot of these people have been waiting months on a reasonably priced bike."
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Austin FC couldn't find the stamina to fight off a 2-0 loss against LAFC for their inaugural match on Saturday.
The match, which saw No. 21 Austin FC go head-to-head with No. 2 LAFC in Los Angeles, was broadcast nationally on FOX and FOX Deportes.
Salute the support. 👏
It's only the beginning for @AustinFC. pic.twitter.com/TduorqYr2y
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) April 18, 2021
Eleven players took the stage as Austin FC players for the first time, with five starters making their MLS debut. "Ringleader" Alex Ring took the captain's armband and wore it well. The defensive midfielder could be seen leading his teammates through their first ever match, but it wasn't enough to stage an Austin takeover in LA.
In the signature style of Head Coach Josh Wolff, the team played with quickness and intensity, nearly connecting on several fast breaks. It was harder for them to stay in front, however, something that Wolff credits with quick decision making and a tough LAFC defense.
"We have a quick attacking team, but I think when you make quick attacks and it fizzles it's just about some decision making," Wolff said. "Are we in position to finish attacks? If not, can we reestablish our attack and get stuff better?"
The club was given some generous breaks from No. 2 LAFC, who had one or both of their star DPs out for the half. While forward Diego Rossi is out for the entire match due to a hamstring injury, Carlos Vela was accidentally pulled too soon on what turned out to be a miscommunication.
"He gave us the sign that he needed to come off," LAFC Head Coach Bob Bradley said on broadcast. "I can't say more than maybe it's my fault."
LA pulled some dramatics and slowly gained more possession throughout the half, but ATXFC's defense wasn't initially as shaky as it seemed in preseason. Jhohan Romana has pulled his weight in getting the ball out of goal, and a 34-year old Matt Besler held his own in center back.
As the second half commenced, however, it became clear that LAFC had the advantage over Austin's first major league team.
Goalkeeper Brad Stuver had his work cut out for him, fending off 24 shot attempts, 11 of which were on goal. He didn't have much time to prepare, either: in the first 30 seconds of play, Stuver had already made a save to keep the match 0-0.
LAFC finally connected in the 61st minute of play as Corey Baird shot one into the bottom right corner. The team capitalized off their momentum and put one past Stuver a second time, drawing roars of approval from the LAFC crowd.
While some last-minute attempts from Jon Gallagher and others were made, Austin FC didn't have the endurance to bring a tie. After seven additional minutes of stoppage time, the club lost their first match 2-0.
While the scoreboard tells one story, Wolff said that the team did well considering the skill of LAFC and the pressure of their club debut.
"We've got to be realistic," Wolff said. "This is the first time this organization has been in front of TV with an opportunity to show itself and I think there were some promising moments. And we're going to maximize those and continue to try to develop those, but there's lots to build on."
The team may have lost, but it still won the support of thousands of Verde fans, dozens of which made it to watch their team's first match. When Stuver and the team made it to bthe stadium, Los Verdes fans were already there to show support, and Stuver said his wife saw the same back in Austin.
"The moment that we pulled into the stadium, we saw Black and Verde fans cheering us on as we got to the stadium," Stuver said. "During warm up, you can just look around and see different groups sitting in different sections of the stadium and it's just truly amazing to see the support in our first game. We know that we want to give the fans everything, because this we play for the city and we play for them."