Best Vacation for Bicycle-Lovers
Whether you're a semi-professional cyclist or simply addicted to Spin class, hotels and travel companies are increasingly catering to bike lovers, offering two-wheeled excursions, fitness plans, and facilities specifically designed for gear heads. But don't think it's all pedal to the metal: These bike-centric programs offer enough extras to make going for a spin feel like a true vacation.
For the Mountain Biker
Located on Aspen Mountain, The Little Nell offers 92 high-end guest rooms with luxurious extras, like balconies and stone fireplaces. But with stellar views of the majestic Rockies at every turn, guests will want to get outdoors. Offering a fleet of Orbea road and mountain bikes, the resort also boasts a bike "menu" for cyclists of all levels to choose from in the summer and fall, including day rentals, guided tours, training, and instruction from some of Aspen's best athletes, including former professional riders. Picnic lunches can be ordered, too, and include a gourmet entrée, two sides, dessert, and a wine pairing for $75 per person. Bike rentals start at $95 a day, and include Garmin GPS units preloaded with suggested rides.
For the Spin Class Devotee
The chic 155-room BodyHoliday Le Sport resort in gorgeous St. Lucia boasts a first for the Caribbean: The ultramodern Tree House, a 1,000 square foot, glass-enclosed workout facility suspended 25 feet above ground that offers 25 LiveStrong spinning bikes and a variety of BodySpin and BodySpin Max classes for riders of all levels. Eight-foot floor-to-ceiling windows that provide breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea ensure riders take in the stunning surroundings while burning off calories. After working up a sweat, guests can unwind with a yoga or archery class on the open-air Zen Deck, situated on the Tree House's rooftop. Best of all, fitness classes are included in the resort's nightly rate, as are daily spa treatments, which makes unwinding after pedaling a true pleasure.
For the Wine Lover
Explore the North Fork of Long Island, New York and its up-and-coming wine country on this 5-hour bike tour, offered on weekends throughout the year. Providing comfortable hybrid bikes equipped with storage baskets, helmet, and water, Pour and Pedal offers a 10-16 mile journey that takes riders though the tranquil rolling hills of the North Fork, stopping at historic landmarks, farms, and vineyards such as Pelligrini's Vineyards, Pugliese Vineyards, and Bedell Cellar Winery. Excursions might include a barrel tasting or grape harvesting, depending on the season, along with a catered lunch by Love Lane Kitchen with plenty of drinks and snacks along the way. And though wine tastings are offered, the company promotes "swirling, sniffing, and spitting." A van also accompanies the ride, just in case a bicyclist overindulges. $125 includes bike rental.
For the Semi-Professional Cyclist
At the lush and secluded Rancho Valencia Resort in Rancho Santa Fe, California, serious riders can train alongside the best cyclists in the world—specifically Christian Vande Velde and George Hincapie—in an intimate setting (the group is limited to 12 hard-core cyclists) at the Performance Cycling Camp. The $10,000 price tag per rider may be hefty, but participants will have morning "strategy sessions" and daily pro-led rides through some of Southern California's most scenic landscapes, along with resort accommodations in gorgeous 950-square-foot casitas (many include personal hot tubs), and riding apparel provided by Hincapie Sportswear, not to mention breakfast, lunch, and ride snacks daily, in addition to two dinners with the pro riders. You can also learn "How to Eat Like a Cycling Pro" with Chef Bijou Thomas, who wrote the bestselling book, The Feed Zone, in a 120-minute educational seminar. Worried the 4- and 2-hour cycling sessions are going to result in tight muscles? The fee includes daily 60-minute massages at the resort's gorgeous Spa, tucked away in an olive grove. The Performance Cycling Camp is offered January 23-29, 2014.
For the City Cruiser
Portland is famous for its beer culture, sure, but it's equally famous for promoting an eco-lifestyle. So it's no surprise to see bikes and beers combined for an outstanding and affordable excursion at The Nines Hotel. Guests who book the "Bikes and Brews" package will enjoy luxe accommodations at the hotel, located in the landmark Meier & Frank Building in the heart of downtown, along with two Jamis Commuter 3 rental bikes or a tandem bike to share, and biking maps to help visitors explore the city. Need to refuel? The package includes in-room treats like two Fat Tire beers from New Belgium Brewing Company, two local microbrews, housemade chips, and roasted nuts. Gift bags are included, too (you'll score a New Belgium bike bell and bottle opener), and also get entered to win a New Belgium cruiser bike. Packages start at $269 per night.
Bonus Biking Tip: Planning a trip to Manhattan this summer? If you stay at several upscale New York City hotels—including The Hudson, The Mondrian, The James, or The Bowery Hotel—guests can bike for free on a variety of city cruisers, most outfitted with baskets. Sure beats the Citi Bike program: Late fees can accumulate fast if you forget the check-in rule (that's every 30 minutes).
Alexis Korman is a freelance wine, food, and travel writer based in New Orleans. She is also Contributing Food Editor at Wine Enthusiast Magazine and founder of a blog, City City Bang Bang. Follow her on Twitter @lexisips
Photo credits: Little Nell courtesy of The Little Nell; BodyHoliday Le Sport courtesy of BodyHoliday; Pour and Pedal courtesy of Pour and Pedal; Christian Vande Velde courtesy of Rancho Valencia Resort; Portland biking courtesy of Travel Portland
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