Culture

Top Tri Towns of 2020: Austin, Texas

Today we're highlighting the awesomely weird Austin, Texas.

What makes a good triathlon town? It’s a little bit the training, a little bit the community, and a whole lot of je ne sais quoi.

We started our search for the best tri towns by asking you—and you delivered. We received nearly 200 nominations, with a couple of tri clubs running coordinated campaigns. And then we narrowed it down based on a few criteria: the local triathlon community, training and facilities, climate, events and access to races, and the other fun things—bike shops, coffee, good restaurants.

Then we had our panel of expert judges (meet them below) make their picks. The battle was fierce and worthy towns were eliminated, until we finalized our list here of the top five tri towns and five honorable mentions. Over the next few days we’ll be revealing the winners. We’ve already announced Madison, Clermont, and San Diego. Today we’re highlighting the awesomely weird Austin, Texas.

Related: The Complete List of Tri Town Winners

Triathlon Town: Austin, Texas

Year-round training is another huge advantage for tri town Austin—though the summers may heat up a bit, temperatures through the winter stay plenty mild. In a city with a super active population, tri teams and clubs are constantly popping up with group workouts at all the local training spots.

The famous Barton Springs swimming hole is 200m wide with water always at a crisp 68 degrees F; in North Austin, check out Quarry Lake at Pure Austin—swimmers can do a 750-meter loop around the lake with a nearby dirt trail for bricks. For a bigger body of water, try the four-mile section of Lake Austin from Walsh Landing to the Pennybacker Bridge, but be wary of boat traffic. When it comes to riding, the Veloway is a popular choice closeby, plus there are lots of bike lanes and hilly routes in Hill Country just outside of Austin proper. For a decidedly “Austin weird” experience, there’s also Tuesday night bike rides around the Circuit of the Americas 3.4-mile, 20-turn Formula 1 track. An active population also means that you can find a great 10-mile loop—even downtown—at the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, or the well-shaded Shoal Creek trail nearby.

Since no tri town is complete without fantastic food and drink options, it’s a good thing Austin’s eatery scene is well known throughout Texas for its BBQ at places like Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew or Black’s Barbecue. More than anything, though, Austin’s tri scene is about the people: “When I first moved to Austin, I had been trying to get into triathlons and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to find a tri group,” said local Molly Lewen. “You can’t go on any highway, road, side road, or trail without seeing a triathlete you know. The city is so triathlete-friendly.”

Austin triathlon town
Swimmer’s at Austin’s famous Barton Springs. Photo: Penny Backer/Aaron McCoy/Getty Images

Why Austin Is One Of The Top Triathlon Towns

That friendly Texas vibe makes triathletes feel welcome here, and the active outdoor options make training not only accessible but varied.

Population

978,000

Median Household Income

$67,462

Average Temperature

67 degrees F from November to March; 89 degrees F from April to October

Local Tri Clubs

Austin Triathlon Club, Austin T3, University of Texas Austin Tri Club, Austin Y-Tri

Notable Local Races

Life Time Tri CapTex (May), Jack’s Generic Triathlon (August)