Best way to get to ACL? By bicycle, of course!

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Two lighted lots will be available for bike parking at this year’s ACL Fest. Alberto Martinez/Statesman Staff

The best way to travel to and from ACL Fest? Bicycle, of course.

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Remember to bring a bike lock to park your bike at ACL.

Two giant, lighted areas have been set aside for bike parking – one on the southeast side of the festival, off of Barton Springs Road, and the other on the northwest side of the park, near Stratford Drive. Bring your own lock and remember that bikes will be removed the Monday after the festival each weekend.

Folks from Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop folks will be on hand offering advice and selling locks, lights, tubes and other emergency gear.

The most bike friendly routes to the park are via the Butler hike and bike trail on either the north or south side of Lady Bird Lake.

That’s not the only bike parking, though. For the first time this year, Spinlister, an online site that fosters peer-to-peer bike rentals, is hosting free valet bike parking across the street from Uncle Billy’s Bar and Restaurant, 1603 Barton Springs Road. Cyclists attending the fest can drop off their bike and Spinlister will park and guard it in a secure, fenced lot. They’ll even have a separate indoor garage where they’ll park high-dollar bikes and bikes that have been listed on Spinlister.

Don’t have a bike of your own? B-cycle, the city’s bike share system, is offering special deals during ACL Fest. Customers can buy 24-hour access to the bikes for $8 or a special ACL 3-Day B-cycle access pass for $19.99 at All passes include unlimited 30-minute trips. If you keep a B-cycle undocked for more than 30 minutes, you’ll be charged an additional fee of $4 for each half-hour.

To make those check-ins easy, B-cycle will offer a special B-cycle valet at the Zilker Park B-station near the south festival entrance on Barton Springs Road. Customers can pick up a B-cycle from any of the 44 stations around Austin and check it in at the B-cycle valet. Locations and B-cycle availability can be found in real time with the free “B-cycle” app mobile app for iPhone and Android. The B-cycle valet will operate from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day of ACL Fest.


Upscale gym Spark opens in downtown Austin

Spark, an upscale fitness center, has opened near Cesar Chavez and Lamar Boulevard.

A new upscale fitness club with everything from a tricked-out spinning room to its own full-service bar has opened in downtown Austin.

Spark Fitness Club, at 111 Sandra Muraida Way, features a spinning room with high-end Body Bikes and a lighting and sound system. It also has private parking for members, eucalyptus steam rooms and an onsite coffee, smoothie and full-service bar called “Black Dog Bar.” (The bar hasn’t quite opened yet, but is set to open its doors in October.)

The 14,000-square-foot facility is located next to the new Luxury Gables Park Tower building and Luke’s Locker, near Lamar Boulevard and Lady Bird Lake. It offers specialized groups called Team Weight Loss, Team Performance and Team Elite, plus an array of fitness classes.


Owner Dan Yudin co-founded what is now Pure Austin in 2000. He sold his interest in that gym in 2007.

“With Spark I wanted to create an upscale and inspirational environment where people could accomplish their fitness goals that also included a social setting that makes Spark more than a gym,” Yudin said in a press release. “It is a downtown destination.”

The press release even noted that Brad Womack from the reality show “The Bachelor” has even dropped by for a visit. Seriously.

‘Will run for pie’ at Hill Country Marathon on Oct. 19

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A runner wakes his way along the course of the 2013 Hill Country Marathon. Hill Country Marathon

Pie, at the finish line?

That’s bound to lure lots of runners to this year’s Hill Country Marathon, set for Oct. 19 in Marble Falls. Besides pie, expect a rolling course with some challenging climbs.

I heard lots of good reports after last year’s inaugural Hill Country Marathon, which attracted about 500 runners. Organizers say they expect to double participation at this year’s event, which includes a half marathon, 10K and Kids K.

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This year’s race is set for Oct. 19. Hill Country Marathon


The marathon follows an out-and-back course on paved roads, starting and finishing at Marble Falls High School Mustang Stadium. (Trivia: Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano attended Marble Falls High School.)

The course is USA Track & Field certified and a Boston Marathon qualifier.Besides the race, the event includes live music and food from local restaurants – including that coveted slice of pie from Blue Bonnet Cafe for runners. A kids’ mile race is set for 6 p.m. Saturday, just after packet pickup.

Registration is $100 for the marathon, $80 for the half marathon and $60 for the 10K. (Prices increase Oct. 12.) To register, go here.



A portion of proceeds from the marathon will benefit Team Red, White and Blue, a non-profit organization that works to connect veterans to their community through social and physical activity. For more information go here.

Check out a course preview video here.

Should Big Bend National Park allow mountain biking?

Updates to note that this would not be the first mountain bike trail in the NPS and replaces map.


Mountain biking at Big Bend National Park? Maybe.

The U.S. National Parks System is considering building a new trail at the West Texas park. (Nearby Big Bend Ranch State Park already has some mountain biking trails, and they’re spectacular.)

Mountain biking is allowed at Big Bend Ranch State Park. Now National Park Service officials are considering building a mountain bike trail at Big Bend National Park. Photo by Chris LeBlanc
Mountain biking is allowed at Big Bend Ranch State Park. Now National Park Service officials are considering building a mountain bike trail at Big Bend National Park. Photo by Chris LeBlanc

The unsurfaced 10-mile trail, if approved, would start near Panther Junction. It would be 2 to 3 feet wide in most places and follow natural landscape contours.

Plans also call for a parking area near the trailhead for 20 cars, and a small picnic area.

Trail construction would require removal of some vegetation and minor grading. Native materials including rock and soil would be used to control erosion. Trail construction would take about a year.

If you want to weigh in on the decision, comment on one of three options on the National Park Service website. Commenting closes at midnight today.

Here are the options:

• Option A is no change, i.e., the NPS would not construct a new trail.

• Option B is construction of a 10-mile trail that allows bicycle and hiking traffic. If built, this would be the first off-road bicycle trail in the NPS system.

• Option C is construction of a 10-mile trail that allows only foot traffic.

Learn more about the new trail and submit comments at (Descriptions of the trail options begin on page 19.)


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Vintage bike show set for Sunday

1990s sun cycles with all new components and custom paint job.
A 1990s sun cycle with all new components and a custom paint job. Contributed by bike show.

Want to cuddle with your cruiser? Toast your touring bike? High-five your fixie?

Bike show flier-page-001You’ll be in like company at the Sixth Annual South Austin Custom & Vintage Bicycle Show, set for 2-6 p.m. Sunday at Independence Brewery, 3913 Todd Lane No. 607.

The free, family friendly event showcases antique or custom built bi-, tri-, uni-, small and tall cycles.Beer will be sold, as will $5 raffle tickets for prizes from sponsors Ancient Ink, Birds Barbershop, B.M.F. Customs, Frankenbike, Independence Brewery and Metalwork Austin. You can also buy a $10 raffle ticket for a chance to win a custom bicycle built by Chris Hunt. Local vendors will sell stuff, too.

The show will take place outdoors; bring lawn chairs and shade. And if you love your bike, bring it too and talk shop with other cyclists.

Other Lovers, Charlie Hurton and Stoic’s Descent will perform live music.

Robyn Metcalfe finishes endurance race in Madagascar

Robyn Metcalfe finished RacingthePlanet's Madagascar 2014 endurance race on Sept. 6.
Robyn Metcalfe finished RacingthePlanet’s Madagascar 2014 endurance race on Sept. 6. FAMILY PHOTO

You think your latest long run seemed long, hot and dry? A visiting lecturer at the University of Texas just spent a week racing across Madagascar.

Robyn Metcalfe, who teaches in the School of Human Ecology in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas ran through rain forests, along cliffs, through deserts and over savannas during RacingthePlanet’s Madagascar 2014 race earlier this month.

By finishing the race in 55 hours and 7 minutes, Metcalfe completed the 4 Deserts series of footraces put on by RacingthePlanet.

She also placed first in her age group and cut 15 hours off her previous race time. Officially, she placed 145th out of 189 athletes who crossed the finish line. (Several dozen others withdrew before finishing.)

A lifelong runner, Metcalfe and her husband Bob, a fellow at the University of Texas’s Cockrell School of Engineering, have two children.

During the race, competitors pass 30 checkpoints spread over 250 kilometers. They carry all their gear in a backpack. About 80 percent of the athletes are male.

Metcalfe, 66, is director of The Food Lab at UT, which explores the future of our food system. The lab’s projects include the “Food Challenge Prize,” a book, and “The Miracle of Feeding Cities,” a documentary film. She is also the author of “Meat, Commerce and the City: The London Food Market, 1800-1855.”