Zenergy Pilates to host ALS fund-raiser at Oasis Brewery

Zenergy Pilates will host an outdoor mat class at the Oasis Brewery to raise money for the ALS Association. Photo courtesy Zenergy Pilates
Zenergy Pilates and Barre will host an outdoor mat class at the Oasis Brewery to raise money for the ALS Association. Photo courtesy Zenergy Pilates and Barre

 

Forget the ice bucket challenge.

Zenergy Pilates and Barre will raise money for the ALS Association with an outdoor mat class at the Oasis Brewery, 6550 Comanche Trail.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle movement, speech and breathing. About 30,000 suffer from the progressive neurodegenerative disease, which has no cure and sometimes results in complete paralysis.

The “Pilates for a Cause” class will unfold on an outdoor deck perched 450 feet above the lake on March 19. Doors open at 10:45 a.m.; class starts at 11:15 a.m.

Suggested donation is $25. Space is limited. Register in advance here.

Andrew Willis heads back to RAAM Challenge in Marble Falls

Andrew Willis, director of The Driveway Race Series, will compete at the 400-mile RAAM Challenge in Marble Falls on March 19. He's shown here at the 24 Hour World Time Trial Championships in California last year. Photo courtesy veloimages.com.
Andrew Willis, director of The Driveway Race Series, will compete at the 400-mile RAAM Challenge in Marble Falls on March 19. He’s shown here at the 24 Hour World Time Trial Championships in California last year. Photo courtesy veloimages.com.

 

Look for Andrew Willis, director of the Driveway Bike Race Series, to show off his long-distance cycling chops at the upcoming RAAM Challenge Series in Marble Falls.

Willis, 39, won the 400-mile version of the race last year, speeding over the Texas Hill Country course in an impressive 22 hours and 59 minutes, despite getting lost along the way.

Andrew Willis won the 400-mile race at the RAAM Challenge in Marble Falls in 2015. He's hoping to improve his time this year. Photo by Rick Kent
Andrew Willis won the 400-mile race at the RAAM Challenge in Marble Falls in 2015. He’s hoping to improve his time this year. Photo by Rick Kent

 

He used the race as a tuneup for an even longer race, the 860-mile Race Across the West from Oceanside, California, to Durango, Colorado. That one didn’t go so well – he had to pull out partway through.

“We weren’t prepared for the heat of the desert,” Willis said of Race Across the West. “It got up to 123 degrees. I lost 11 pounds in sweat and ended up in the hospital, where they put five bags of saline back into me overnight.”

Andrew Willis won the No Country For Old Men race last fall in Far West Texas. Photo by Holly Ammerman.
Andrew Willis won the No Country For Old Men race last fall in Far West Texas. Photo by Holly Ammerman.

 

He struggled at another long-distance race last summer, but after taking some time to heal, he finished the season strong, winning the 503-mile Tejas 500 in Glen Rose in September and the 400-mile No Country For Old Men in the Big Bend in October. Then, in November, he took fifth overall (and third in his age group) in the 24-Hour World Championship in California, pedaling 456 miles in 23 hours and 54 minutes.

“I think I’m more proud of that fifth at World’s than the other results, and it was my first time to go toe to toe with some of the bigger names from Europe,” Willis said.

Now he’s gearing up for a new season, starting with the Marble Falls race next weekend and a second attempt at Race Across the West in June. (And did we mention he’s kicking off this year’s Driveway Race Series on March 17?)

“We really didn’t know what we were doing,” Willis said of last year’s RAAM Challenge. “I believe I can return this year and complete the course in 21:00 to 21:30. I have a great crew and some great sponsors.”

Cyclists participate in the 2012 RAAM Texas Cycling Challenge.
Cyclists participate in the 2012 RAAM Texas Cycling Challenge.

 

The Marble Falls race – which offers 200- and 400-mile team or solo options – serves as a qualifier for the epic 3,000-mile Ride Across America, which starts in Oceanside, California, and finishes in Annapolis, Maryland.

And that’s something Willis says he’s been considering for 2017. An American hasn’t won the race in more than 15 years, and some in the local cycling community say Willis is the rider to bring the title back home.

Willis, a national champion who raced in Europe in the 1990s, all but quit bike racing after he took over the Driveway series, got married and had two children. He built the event into the largest weekly bike race series in the country but started losing control of his own fitness. He began racing again in 2012 and has cycled his way back into shape.

To register for the RAAM Challenge Series in Marble Falls, go here.

Georgetown Cycling Expo set for March 17

Cyclists participate in a Georgetown Women's Day Ride. Photo courtesy Sharon Reed
Cyclists participate in a Georgetown Women’s Day Ride. Photo courtesy Georgetown Women’s Cycling

Five local cycling clubs will host a gathering to encourage people to get out and ride their bikes this spring.

The Georgetown Cycling Expo is set for 5-7 p.m. Thursday, March 17, at Georgetown CycleWerx, 3010 Williams Drive.

Members of the Sun City TX Cycling Club head out for a ride. Photo courtesy Sun City TX Cycling Club
Members of the Sun City TX Cyclists head out for a ride. Photo courtesy Sun City TX Cyclists

Representatives of five local cycling groups – Georgetown Women’s Cycling, Georgetown Triathletes, Sun City TX Cyclists, Georgetown Cyclopaths and Heritage Oaks Cycling – will help participants create training plans, offer advice on how to reach fitness goals, and provide some general encouragement.

Members of the Georgetown Women's Cycling Club pause for a break during a ride. Photo courtesy Georgetown Women's Cycling Club.
Members of the Georgetown Women’s Cycling Club pause for a break during a ride. Photo courtesy Georgetown Women’s Cycling Club.

Each of the clubs hosts regular rides of all distances and paces, for cyclists of all ability levels. The clubs also offer an easy way to meet other cyclists for training rides and social activities, organizers say.

Prizes and light refreshments will be available. For more information email Sharon Reed at sreedtexas@gmail.com.

Zilker Park second in polls for best city park in US

2/10/13 Ralph Barrera/American-Statesman;The Great Lawn of Zilker Park is a haven for Austinites as several groups play mini-soccer, a smaller version of the bigger game played with small nets. The entrance to the park is free on weekends until March 8, when the city implements a $3.00 parking fee per car. (feature only)
The Great Lawn at Zilker Park is a haven for Austinites. Photo by Ralph Barrera/ American-Statesman

 

Quick, vote for Zilker Park.

USA Today and 10Best are picking the best city parks in the United States, and as of this morning, Zilker Park was second in the polls.

The newspaper and the website, which offers travel and lifestyle advice, enlisted four park and planning experts to help them pick a field of finalists for the honor. They started with nearly 60 possibilities, but narrowed the field to 20. Readers can vote for their favorite once each day until polls close at noon March 28.

To cast a ballot, go here.

The winner doesn’t get anything, other than a nod as the best city park in the country.

On Monday, Zilker Park topped the list, followed by Forest Park in St. Louis and Klyde Warren Park in Dallas. This morning, Zilker Park and Forest Park swapped positions.

That still puts us ahead of iconic parks such as Central Park in New York City, Grant Park in Chicago and Boston Common & Public Garden in Boston.

To vote, go here.

Rock stackers compete at festival in Llano this weekend

Hundreds of rock stacks rose along the banks of the Llano River during last year's Llano Earth Arts Fest. Photo courtest Llano Earth Arts Fest
Hundreds of rock stacks rose along the banks of the Llano River during last year’s Llano Earth Arts Fest. Photo courtesy Llano Earth Arts Fest

 

So many rock towers sprouted along the banks of the Llano River during last year’s inaugural Llano Earth Art Fest that for days afterward, school buses drove kids there to take a look at the artwork.

Expect even bigger things at this year’s event, set for March 11-13 at Grenwelge Park in downtown Llano, 70 miles northwest of Austin.

This year's fest is set for March 11-13 in Llano. Photo courtesy Llano Earth Arts Fest
This year’s fest is set for March 11-13 in Llano. Photo courtesy Llano Earth Arts Fest

 

What organizers last year proclaimed the Rockstacking National Championship has morphed into the Rockstacking World Championship in this, its second year. Organizers don’t know of any other rock stacking competitions anywhere on the planet, but they have fielded calls from interested rock stackers as far away as Yemen.

Binky Morgan hatched the idea for the rock-centric fest in 2015, after seeing some beautifully designed rock stacks. With rock stacking as a focus, the event grew into an entire earth art festival. She expected it to draw a few hundred attendees; it attracted 5,000.

“People are digging this,” Morgan said. “It’s taking natural elements and making art out of them.”

The rock stacking competition includes a category for juniors. Photo courtesy Llano Earth Arts Fest
The rock stacking competition includes a category for juniors. Photo courtesy Llano Earth Arts Fest

 

This year’s three-day festival runs from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Besides rock stacking, activities include live music and workshops on everything from light pollution and primitive fire starting to shamanic practices. Admission is free; entry into the competition costs $5.

Attendees will include three nationally known rock stars – Michael Grab of Colorado, Tim Anderson of Pennsylvania and David Allen of Maine. They’ll demonstrate their skills all weekend long, but the main competition will unfold Saturday, with amateurs, juniors and experts vying for honors in four categories – tallest stack, best rock balancer, best arch maker and most artistic stack.

Llano’s location at the center of the Llano Uplift, a dome-shaped formation of Precambrian rock, primarily granite, makes it perfect for the event, said Rich Houston, who is heading the competition part of the festival.

Festival admission is free. Photo courtesy Llano Earth Arts Fest
Festival admission is free. Photo courtesy Llano Earth Arts Fest

 

“We’ve got no shortage of rocks in Llano,” he said as he took a break from loading rocks into his truck and hauling them to the festival site so rock stackers wouldn’t have to look far for building materials. He also planned to create a giant rock chair to serve as a photo op for festival goers.

Rock stacking doesn’t come without controversy, however.

Weeks after last year’s event, someone toppled the still-standing stacks along the riverbanks, supposedly because they were pagan, Houston said. Otherwise, locals seemed to love it. Some even headed back to the park to restack the tumbled stones.

“I’m a liberal redneck cowboy, and barflies were coming up to me, telling me, ‘Yeah, that thing was great,'” Houston said. “We still get people who come down and stack rocks randomly.”

For more information about the festival, go here.

Rock stackers can compete for honors in tallest stack, best arch, most artistic and best balance. Photo courtesy Llano Earth Arts Fest.
Rock stackers can compete for honors in tallest stack, best arch, most artistic and best balance. Photo courtesy Llano Earth Arts Fest.

New book celebrates 100th anniversary of National Park Service through poster art

A new book features retro-looking artwork of some of the most popular national parks. Photo courtesy Anderson Design Group
A new book features retro-looking artwork of some of the most popular national parks. Photo courtesy Anderson Design Group

Remember those vintage posters advertising national parks in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s? Look at one and you can smell the musty canvas of an old tent and feel the tug of a backpack on your shoulders.

The National Parks Service will mark its 100th anniversary this August, and to celebrate, Anderson Design Group created brand-new versions of some of those old lithographs.

The coffee table book, “59 Illustrated National Parks, Celebrating 100 Years of Wilderness and Wonder,” by Joel Anderson and his son Nathan Anderson, features original illustrations reminiscent of those created in the Golden Age of Poster Art.

The illustrations are reminiscent of park posters printed in the 1920s, '30s and '40s. Photo courtesy Anderson Design Group
The illustrations are reminiscent of park posters printed in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. Photo courtesy Anderson Design Group

The artwork looks original, but it’s not. The Andersons studied the typography, style and poster-making methods used to create those original prints, but put their own stamp on them. The result will leave you yearning for marshmallows toasted over a campfire and a warm sleeping bag.

The retro-looking posters represent some of the most popular parks, from Yellowstone, created in 1872, before the National Park Service was established, to Pinacles, dedicated in 2013. In between you’ll find Acadia, Denali, the Grand Canyon, Zion and more, including two Texas gems – Guadalupe Mountains and Big Bend.

You’ll also find photos, trivia and tales about those parks and the people who protect and preserve them. (Did you know California has the most national parks, with nine? That’s more than Alaska, which comes in second with eight.)

A hardcover version of the book sells for $49.95 here. A paperback version is available for $29.95 here.

The book includes a poster of Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas. Photo by Pam LeBlanc
The book includes a poster of Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas. Photo by Pam LeBlanc

Shake Shack launches running group

Shake Shack is launching a running group that will meet the first Tuesday of every month at the South Lamar Boulevard location of its restaurant. Photo courtesy Shake Shack
Shake Shack is launching a running group that will meet the first Tuesday of every month at the South Lamar Boulevard location of its restaurant. Photo courtesy Shake Shack

 

Because fast food and running go together like burgers and fries, right?

Shake Shack, a chain restaurant known for its burgers, hot dogs, frozen custard and crinkle cut fries, announced this week the launch of a running chapter at its South Lamar Boulevard location in Austin.

Shake Shack is known for its burgers and crinkle-cut fries.
Shake Shack is known for its burgers and crinkle-cut fries.

The “community fitness club,” called Shack, Track and Field, will meet once a month for short, 3- to 5-mile group runs or bike rides. The sessions are free and open to all ages and abilities.

Let’s face it. Most folks won’t show up for the calorie burn. They’ll go in hopes of getting free food.

They’ll get a free soft drink and some unspecified Shake Shack swag. They’ll also get the chance to buy a Shack, Track and Field technical T-shirt for $25. If they wear that to the next run, they’ll get a free cone or cup of custard.

The group will meet the second Tuesday of every month, rain or shine, starting March 8. The group will meet at 7 p.m. at Shake Shack, 1100 South Lamar Boulevard, No. 2100. Runners will head to Lady Bird Lake, where they’ll do the short loop, and then return to the Shack.

For more information, go here.

Shake Shack opened on South Lamar Boulevard in May 2015.  DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Shake Shack opened on South Lamar Boulevard in May 2015. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Pitch in at It’s My Park Day this Saturday

Brian Granger, Jeb Boyt, and Bill Talbot dig a trench to place a pipe to carry runoff at Pease Park during It's My Park! Day in this Austin American-Statesman file photo by Matt Rourke.
Brian Granger, Jeb Boyt, and Bill Talbot dig a trench to place a pipe to carry runoff at Pease Park during It’s My Park! Day in this Austin American-Statesman file photo by Matt Rourke.

Want to pitch in to spruce up your neighborhood park?

Thousands of volunteers will grab rakes, shovels and bags of mulch Saturday as they man the 115 designated improvement projects that make up this year’s It’s My Park Day, organized by the Austin Parks Foundation.

Improvement projects include creek cleaning, tree pruning, trash pick-up, planting and trail cleanup at parks all over the city. Participants will do maintenance work at the disc golf course at Roy G. Guerrero Park, tidy up Mount Bonnell and spread mulch at Ramsey Park, plus a lot more.

To register for the event go here.

Elena Barrera-Waters help clear brush at Norwood Park during It's My Park! Day in this file photo by Matt Rourke/Austin American-Statesman.
Elena Barrera-Waters help clear brush at Norwood Park during It’s My Park! Day in this file photo by Matt Rourke/Austin American-Statesman.

 

“It’s My Park Day is about investing in our city – an investment in the shared spaces that improve the quality of life for residents and visitors,” said Colin Wallis, executive director of the Austin Parks Foundation.

It’s a fun day, too. I volunteered a few years ago, planting bushes and flowers in front of Deep Eddy Pool. Now every time I drop by for a swim, I feel a little surge of pride in the landscaping.

For more information, go here.

Al Bastidas stepping down as director of Please Be Kind to Cyclists

Al Bastidas places a sign encouraging awareness of cyclists' safety in this file photo by Bret Gerbe for the American-Statesman.
Al Bastidas places a sign encouraging awareness of cyclists’ safety in this file photo by Bret Gerbe for the American-Statesman.

After nearly 10 years of encouraging motorists and cyclists to safely co-exist on Austin area roads, Alvaro Bastidas is stepping down from his role as executive director of Please Be Kind to Cyclists.

City officials will present him with a Distinguished Service Award at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the council chambers at Austin City Hall, 301 West Second Street.

Al Bastidas is stepping down as executive director of Please Be Kind to Cyclists. He'll be honored for his work Thursday at City Hall.  File photo by Ashley Landis for the Austin American-Statesman
Al Bastidas is stepping down as executive director of Please Be Kind to Cyclists. He’ll be honored for his work Thursday at City Hall. File photo by Ashley Landis for the Austin American-Statesman

Bastidas, who was injured in a cycling crash in 2002, along his wife Patricia, and Scot Simmons, whose sister died when a vehicle struck her while she was cycling, started the non-profit organization in 2006. Since then, they’ve worked to raise awareness, provide educational materials and encourage harmony among all road users.

The group created an educational video in collaboration with the Texas Department of Transportation which is now used in driver education and defensive driving classes around the state. It also launched a tragedy assistance program to help families of cyclists affected by crashes. Its Cyclists VIP program reminds cyclists to stay “visible, in the moment and predictable.”

Please Be Kind spearheaded a “Rally for Safe Roads” bus wrap campaign that featured buses bearing messages reminding motorists to give bicyclists at least a 3-foot berth when they pass, and noting that it’s against the law to use hand-held devices while driving or biking.

The organization also distributed more than 25,000 of it’s popular Please Be Kind to Cyclists bumper stickers, which can be spotted on cars all over the United States.

Please Be Kind to Cyclists hired its first paid executive director, Gonzalo A. Ponce, last year. This year, the organization will formulate a strategic plan.