Spin those bicycle wheels this spring

Spring is a favorite time of year for bicycling. As the weather warms up, the wildflowers and trees burst forth in an explosion of color, lifting your spirits as you increase your heart rate.

Cycling the Highland LakesFrom amateur to professional, cyclists find Highland Lakes roadways to be some of the best bicycling available anywhere, says Greg Barbutti, and he should know.

Barbutti is the route marshall for the Hill Country Ride for AIDS, an annual fundraising event that leads almost 1,000 riders along the back roads of eastern Burnet and western Williamson counties each April.

“The nice thing about the Hill Country is the incredible varied terrain,” Barbutti says. “You can choose your own route, whether it’s hard or easy.”

To plot their routes, cycling enthusiasts often turn to modern technology. From short neighborhood jaunts to 50-mile treks, you can design a route for your own strengths via computer (www.bikely.com) or smartphone (Map My Ride).

While many professional cyclists train on Hill Country roads, amateur riders should not be afraid of the topsy-turvy topography.

“The hills provide more interesting terrain,” Barbutti says. “They create amazing views and vistas — that’s your reward for all the hard work.”

The key to conquering the contours is to stay focused and don’t become stressed.

“Relax and drop into a lower gear,” Barbutti says. “And don’t worry about where the top is.” In fact, when you’re taking a big hill, look down, not up. Watch your front tire and the ride to the top will be much easier and feel much shorter, he suggests.

Themed rides are popular. Cyclists can pedal from vineyard to vineyard in the Lake Buchanan or Spicewood areas or take a history tour from the Burnet to Llano county courthouses.

Those looking for shorter routes can careen around the courthouse squares and neighborhoods in Burnet or Llano or plan a short jaunt on any number of county roads.

Mountain bikers have several options as well. In addition to wilderness trails in state parks, Reveille Peak Ranch near Burnet offers options from beginner to advanced.

The ranch is at 105 CR 114. For more, call (512) 755-4417 or visit http://rprtexas.com.

Open to the public on weekends, the ranch maintains almost 60 miles of trails for riders and runners.

There is even an obstacle course for the more adventuresome.

“I enjoy it because it’s a good way to see the outdoors,” says ranch owner Vol Montgomery about his interest in mountain biking. “It’s an easy way to get some exercise.”

Reveille Peak hosts a variety of races and competitions throughout the year. You can check the schedule on the website.

Anyone of any fitness level can find a suitable route in the Highland Lakes.

“You don’t have to be an expert to get out and enjoy your bike in the Highland Lakes,” Barbutti says “You don’t have to have the perfect bike, and you don’t have to have the perfect gear. Just go out and enjoy. ”