UPDATE: The opening of Ride Hill Country Galleria has been delayed a week. Demos are now scheduled for April 23 and 24; the grand opening is scheduled for April 25.
A second location of RIDE Indoor Cycling is opening in Austin.
RIDE opened its first Austin location three years ago at 117 Lavaca Street. I stopped by at the time to check it out, and left feeling like I’d ridden a bicycle through a nightclub. Think of it as a spin class with flashing lights, loud music and an exuberant instructor.
The new studio, which offers high intensity indoor cycling classes set to music, will open at the Hill Country Galleria on April 18. Classes last 45 minutes, and students use Schwinn AC performance bikes.
To welcome the community, the gym will offer four free classes between April 15 and April 17. Registration for the free sessions opens at 5 p.m. April 10 at http://www.ride-indoorcycling.com.
RIDE also operates a Houston location, and will open another studio in The Woodlands in June.
Add this one – and it’s a good one – to the free fun files.
Starting April 11, the Hyatt Regency Austin will offer a free one-hour yoga class the second Monday of each month.
The Vinyasa flow classes come with three more perks – free parking, great views of the city skyline from the hotel’s 17th floor and a coupon for a complimentary draft beer at the hotel’s Marker 10 bar.
Austin yogi Ferny Barcelo, from Six Elephants Yoga, will lead the “Pints & Poses” yoga series. Zuzu Perkal, from Blackbird Fitness, will assist. Guests are encouraged to bring their own mats.
“This series will provide a great way for locals to take part in some of the city’s best yoga, enjoy the best local beers, and take in the stunning Austin skyline views from our Foothills Ballroom,” hotel general manager Michael Murphy said in a press release.
The hotel is located at 208 Barton Springs Road. Class starts at 6:30 p.m. Participants will receive validated parking in the hotel’s garage.
For more information, call (512) 477-1234 or go here.
The Longhorn Run on Saturday should lure herds of orange-clad runners to the streets.
The new 5K and 10K routes wind through the historic Forty Acres and near the Texas Capitol and incorporate plenty of University of Texas traditions. The Longhorn Band, along with Big Bertha (the band’s trampoline-sized drum) and Smokey the Cannon will serenade athletes. Spirit groups and service organizations will participate, too.
The 10K starts at 8 a.m. and the 5K starts at 8:15 a.m. Both races begin and finish on campus, just west of the Littlefield Fountain, with post-race entertainment to follow on the steps of the UT Tower.
The race is organized by students, for students, but anyone can enter. Awards will be given for the top three male and female finishers in each race, in each of three categories — students, open, and UT staff and faculty. Prizes include backpacks, Nike footwear, Nike sunglasses and gift cards.
Proceeds benefit the UT Student Government Student Excellence Fund and Recreational Sports Excellent Fund. Entry fee is $30 for the 5K and $35 for the 10K. To register, go here.
Strollers and dogs are allowed, but asked to stay at the back of the pack.
Midway up the giant hill near the end of the Willow City Loop, my quads whimpered and I wished, ever so briefly, that I was flopped on a hammock somewhere instead of pedaling up a twisting Hill Country road.
Then I turned and looked down into the valley, where so many bluebonnets clustered together that I thought I was looking at a stream of blue water.
Thousands of tourists head to Willow City northeast of Fredericksburg each spring, where they spend about 30 minutes motoring along the 21-mile route, admiring wildflowers. That’s fine, but I prefer to take the tour on two wheels. You see the flowers up close, and you get some great exercise along the way.
If you start in Willow City proper (town consists of a bar called Harry’s, a couple of houses, a historic school, a few goats, a single intersection and a scrappy looking white dog that marches around greeting everyone), you can park on the side of the road and ride the loop by itself. Hardier souls can tack on more mileage by heading south and east after they’ve finished the official loop.
If you’re biking, ride the loop in clockwise direction, heading west first until you reach State Highway 16. Turn right on Highway 16 and head north along this busy two-lane highway. (This is my least favorite part.) Keep your eyes open – you’ll get a quick glimpse of Enchanted Rock to the left just before you start the big downhill glide. At the bottom, you’ll see a green highway sign directing you to the Willow City Loop on the right.
Pay attention to the signs. The land along the road is private, and vehicles aren’t supposed to stop along the right-of-way. (They do anyway.)
You’ll cross lots of cattle guards and a few small creeks, weave alongside some craggy boulders, and spy fields of Indian paintbrushes, bluebonnets and wild white poppies. We also spotted a llama, a dozen or so wild turkeys and plenty of prickly cacti.
Most of the car traffic takes the loop from the opposite direction, which is good. You’ll see cars coming at you. Most of the loop rolls along, with small ups and downs. But about 3 miles from the finish, an imposing ridge rises in front of you. Take a big gulp of air and prepare to mash your pedals.
We call it the hill that keeps on giving. The first part is steepest, with a break followed by another moderately steep stretch. Even when you think you’re done, the gradual incline continues all the way to Willow City.
If you’re still feeling strong, ride on. This year we tacked on some easy flat miles, spinning past green fields of crops before turning back and loading up our bikes. Other years we’ve started at the LBJ Ranch, turning the excursion into a 65-mile ride.
Whatever you do, go now. The wildflowers will make you swoon, but they’ll be gone by May.