including Nicole Khalife, left, cycle across the
boardwalk during the Rocket Electrics Foodie Tour on
Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Austin, Texas. The
group, led by Leslie Luciano, biked between four
different restaurants and bars.
Texas — These cyclists don’t choke down PowerBars or
Gatorade. They’re not interested in going fast or
finishing first. And Spandex shorts? Forget it.
they prefer a slow-moving roll, fueled by bacon ravioli,
glazed Brussels sprouts and trendy cocktails. As for
appropriate gear, a dress and high-heeled boots will do
was a little bit scared, because I’m not the most
coordinated person," said Nicole Khalife of New York,
who, along with her friend Mary Kenney of Chicago, signed
up for a foodie bike tour during a March trip to Austin.
a quick instructional on how to use the candy-colored
Pedego electric bikes (press the red button to turn it on;
twist the throttle to get an electric boost; pedal if you’d
rather use your own muscle), and a few minutes of practice
behind Rocket Electrics bike shop, Khalife rolled down the
all, six cyclists followed tour guide Leslie Luciano on
the mostly flat and easy ride to four bars and restaurants
around the city. Two others dropped out after one took a
spill and hurt her knee early in the excursion.
stick to trails and high-comfort roads," Luciano
announced as the group crossed the river at the First
Street Bridge, then stopped in front of the Bonneville, a
sleek bistro tucked behind a row of trees on West Cesar
riders parked out front, then settled in at a table
reserved for them. They nibbled salt cod fritters, ravioli
filled with creamy bacon and two kinds of thin-crust
pizza. Forty-five minutes later, they pushed off again,
heading east down the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike
Trail at Lady Bird Lake.
trade secret is restaurants," Luciano said. She
wouldn’t reveal them all, but said she works from a list
of about 15 eateries, all locally sourced and organic,
choosing destinations based on the cyclists’ food
allergies and preferences. "There’s never a tour
that’s exactly the same. We figure it out as we
start at 4 p.m. to take advantage of happy hour prices.
But there’s an ulterior motive, too: Show customers that
electric bikes offer a healthy and easy way to get around
the city. Riders can get as much exercise as they want,
but a small electric motor takes the work out of hills.
That makes riding in Austin a breeze, especially during
hot summer months.
can talk all you want about electric bikes, but until you
get on one …," Luciano said.
pitch may have encouraged at least one member of this
group to spend more time on a bicycle. "It’s kind
of given me motivation to get in shape," said
Clarissa Lafirst, of Ocala, Fla.
and Julie Vaden scheduled a tour so they could stay active
during a trip to Austin for a small book fair. "I
love food, and I just thought the exercise was a
bonus," Vaden said. "I like adventure."
group paused periodically to snap pictures or learn a
little about the city’s history from Luciano. Then they
pointed their handlebars toward hip and highly rated
Launderette on Holly Street, where diners gawked a little
as the cyclists lined up their red, blue, orange and
yellow cruisers in front of the patio.
is only our second stop," Luciano warned as the
bikers sampled house-made potato chips, roasted
cauliflower, okra and something called soft egg toast,
made with asparagus, truffle vinaigrette and focaccia.
love it," said Ruth Watton of Atlanta. "It’s
the best of both worlds."
met her daughter, Jennifer Watton of Vancouver, in Austin
after Jennifer landed a job interview in Texas. "I
like that you still get exercise when you ride it and a
little boost on the hills," Jennifer Watton said.
the cyclists headed to Whisler’s, a picturesque old
stone building on East Sixth Street, where they settled in
at a picnic table under the stars. A waiter dropped off
orders of crusty grilled bread and peanut sauce, pickled
cabbage and some of the fieriest beef panang curry in
led Luciano to unveil her final trick: a cooling stop at
Gelateria Gemelli, where the menu features exotic flavors
of gelato, including olive oil, Earl Grey and pineapple
mint, and coffee.
energy bar or sports drink can compete with that.