Valentine's Day: Cycling Gifts to a Cyclist's Heart

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Are you looking for the perfect gift to get the cyclist you love for Valentine’s Day? We’ve got you covered! Check out our gift guide that will surely win over the heart of that special cyclist in your life.

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Weekend Getaway a The Swamp Rabbit Inn

Take the cyclist in your life on a trip to Greenville, SC for a cycling vacation and stay at the most bike-friendly inns around. With two locations situated along the famous 22-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail, The Swamp Rabbit Inn and Properties are perfect for in-town or out-of-town cyclists eager for a cycling centered getaway.

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DeFeet Sublimation 6” Love Letter Socks - $19.99

These unisex DeFeet Love Letter socks are a limited edition design that is only available for a limited time. Gift the cyclist you love these before they’re gone!

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Dinner at Restaurant 17 at Hotel Domestique

You can never go wrong with a nice dinner. If you’e aiming to impress the cyclist you love with an evening out for Valentine’s Day, take them to Restaurant 17 at Hotel Domestique owned by none other than George Hincapie himself.

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“I Love Cycling Thiiis Much” Coffee Mug - $16+

As we all know, cyclists love their coffee. Give your cycling love a gift with a personal touch with this “I Love Cycling Thiiis Much” mug. You choose the face, skin color, hair color, and the language you want the message in.

Cycology “All You Need” T-shirt ( Men’s / Women’s ) - $22.95

Just as the song goes—well, almost—all you need is a bike! Show your love of bikes with this “All You Need” t-shirt from Cycology. Styles, colors, and sizes vary.

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Paul Smith Men’s Gold Racing Bike Cufflinks - $125

If you’re looking for something more on the fancy side, these Paul Smith cufflinks are perfect for when dress codes don’t allow jerseys and tights. The cufflinks in the form of racing bikes have a polished gold finish and Paul Smith signature embossed T-bar fastenings.

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Wanderlust Bicycle Necklace - $240

You can never go wrong with jewelry. Handmade in the UK, this Wanderlust Bicycle Necklace is made from sterling silver, plated with 22ct Gold, with Ruby and Diamond.

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Bike Chain Frame - $36-38

Give the gift of memory this Valentine’s Day with a picture of you and the one you love fitted in to this Bike Chain Frame. These metal frames are handmade in Oregon from recycled bike parts. Measurements are 4x6 frame: 6.5" H x 4.5" W 5x7 frame: 7.5" H x 5.5" W.

However you spend it, we hope you enjoy your Valentine’s Day with those you love!

Beneficial Stretches for Cyclists

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Stretch it out before you cycle out. Just as you would for any other workout or physical activity, you should always stretch beforehand to avoid muscle injury. Your muscles need to warm up before you put them through any strenuous activity like cycling. It’s also important to stretch afterwards. This helps reduce the chances of next day sore muscles that can last for days—nobody wants that!

Feel free to perform any number of stretches you’re familiar with, however, we recommend these targeted stretches for cyclists:

1.) Lying Leg Over Stretch—helps to relieve tightness in thighs

  • Lie on your back with both arms stretched out to the sides—palms up.

  • Bend your right leg. Bring your left hand across to grip your right knee and bring it across your body.

  • Push your right knee as far to the ground as you can with your left hand.

  • Repeat with left leg and right hand.

2.) Kneeling Quad Stretch—helps to stretch hips, quads, and lower back

  • Begin half-kneeling on the ground; right leg bent out in front of you and left leg extended behind you.

  • Push your hips forward and arch your back slightly.

  • You can do any of the following with your hand:

    • Interlace your fingers together and push out in front of you.

    • Interlace your fingers and stretch up over your head.

    • Rest both hands on your knee.

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3.) Pigeon Pose—helps to open hips

  • Sit with your right leg bent in front of you and your left leg extended behind you.

  • Square your hips to the front.

  • Bend forward, and either extend both arms out in front of you—stretching as far as you can go—or rest both forearms on the floor in front of you.

  • You can also walk your arms back to position them slightly behind you—elbows bent and hands facing the front—and arch your back.

  • Repeat with left leg bent in front of you and your right leg extended behind you.

4.) Calf Raises—helps to relieve tension and tightness in calves

  • Position your feet shoulder width apart.

  • Place your hands either against a wall or sturdy object.

  • Raise up on to your tiptoes. Hold for a few seconds, then lower back down.

  • Repeat 15-25 times per set.

Obviously, cycling asks a lot from the muscles situated in the lower-half of the body. Any stretches that target your calves, thighs and gluts will benefit you greatly. Now don’t forget those upper-body areas that are put to work as well. Be sure to stretch out your shoulders, triceps, and biceps. So the next time you go to clip-in for a ride, pause to make sure you’ve taken the time to stretch it out before you cycle out!

Solo-Cyclists: What to Know Before Your First Group Ride

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For anyone accustomed to solo activities, the idea of jumping in on group ones can be a bit daunting. The uncertainty of the routine, the rules, the people … it can be a lot to take in. Solo-cyclists—who are used to riding their own routes and to their own routines—might feel the same way about their first group ride. If this is you, don’t fret! Here’s what solo-cyclists should know before their first group ride.

Pacing Yourself is Key

It’s not a race. Don’t feel like you need to show off by remaining in the lead longer than you’re able. If you’re starting to struggle—even if it’s only been less than a minute—peel off and position yourself at the back. If you feel the front is not your cup of tea, allow riders peeling off from the front to position themselves in front of you in the pace line. Jump back in at some point if you feel like trying again, but remember: it’s your first group ride. Work your way up to maintaing that lead position instead of burning out trying to maintain it on your first try.

Plan Ahead of Time

It never hurts to do your research or reach out with questions. Many local groups have websites or social media accounts where they post information, updates, and contact options. Inquire about anything from the planned route to the ride schedule to the type of ride it is. If you let them know it’s your first time, they may even provide some insight on how to navigate their groups’ system. This could also easily help determine which groups you might be better suited for than others.

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Understand Group Ride Positioning

If you’re in a group ride that has riders riding in a single line, make sure you’ve practiced how to hold a line. This means you know how to ride parallel with the road. In group rides that have riders in two lines, make sure you are always riding side by side with the rider next to you. Your handlebars should align with theirs and you should never attempt to half-wheel them. It’s annoying and unsafe. This practice ensures that you and every other rider in the group has enough room to move, and can easily communicate with one another.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Always stay attentive for the sake of you and your group. Riders at the front can clearly see what’s up ahead and should signal any obstacles to the rest of the group. Riders at the back are the first to sense what is coming at them from behind and should communicate such to the group ahead. Environmental factors outside the group are not the only things to be mindful of. Pay attention to what’s happening within the group, so you can react properly. If a gap forms within the pace line, fill it. If the rider in front of you quickly steers around a pothole, you’ll know to do so too. If the front rider in your line is peeling off to come to the back, either pull through or give them space to get in front of you.

Knowing a few of the rules to group riding will not only help to relieve anxiety, but also help keep you and your fellow group riders safe. Don’t worry about being the newbie. Be proud of yourself for getting out there and challenging yourself to a change of pace. Happy riding!

Swamp Rabbit Inn Travelers Rest Hits the Big Time

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Swamp Rabbit Inn and Properties has hit the big time folks! The Swamp Rabbit Inn location in Travelers Rest was used as part of a movie set this past summer and is now officially listed as a filming location on IMDb (Internet Movie Database). Ethos Movies - a motion picture production company located in Greer, South Carolina - was scouting locations for it’s upcoming film Operation Resist when it came across the Swamp Rabbit Inn in Traveler’s Rest. Swamp Rabbit Inn and Properties happily welcomed the studio and film crew with open arms, and we’re all very eager for the release of Operation Resist.

Founder James Moran started Ethos Movies back in 1995-1996 as a student project with forty-five cast volunteers, fifteen crew members, a few hundred dollars and a super VHS camera. It has since grown into a privately owned motion picture production company that strives to produce feature films, commercial productions, educational productions, and historical documentaries that both inform and educate audiences.

See below for the film summary from Ethos’ website and the first mini trailer:

During the reign of the Nazis, a Jewish girl named Miriam survives a home invasion by fascist soldiers. Miriam finds allies among a secret branch of the Resistance, and together, they work fearlessly on a courageous escape plan. This intense family-friendly action movie pays tribute to the courageous resistance community who risked their lives during the Holocaust era to protect the lives of the innocent.

You will find The Swamp Rabbit Inn Travelers Rest listed on the Supporters page of Ethos’ website here. The world premiere of Operation Resist is set for April 19, 2019 in Washington D.C. Subscribe here for updates on when and how to see the film. We can’t wait!

7 Exceptional Cycling Vacations to Take in 2019

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With the new year finally here, the time to start planning those upcoming vacations is now. With your new cycling gear and bikes ready to be put to use, there’s no better time than now to start organizing the best cycling vacation ever.

Feel free to do the research and organize one yourself, but we highly recommend checking out the following exceptional cycling vacations put on by first-rate bike tour companies:

1.) AndaluciaTrek Travel

If Spain is on your bucket list than Andalucia is where you need to go. Trek Travel offers one heck of a cycling trip that places you amongst limestone peaks, vast rolling hills and historic sites. Along with daily rides, you’ll enjoy stops at local wineries, an authentic flamenco performance, a walking tour of the city Ronda and much more. This trip is 6 days and 5 nights, and is recommended for riders who ride on a weekly basis. Non-riders are welcome.

2.) Czech Republic, Germany, and AustriaVBT

Eager to explore a new county? Why not make it three? Head to Central Europe for a cycling trip of a lifetime put on by VBT. Explore castle towns, forrest terrains and idyllic villages on two wheels in Czech Republic, Germany and Austria. Ride from country to country and experience everything from Bavarian beer gardens, riverside picnics, and rich historic scenery. This trip is ideal for beginner cyclists with daily rides averaging anywhere from 15 - 45 miles. Two packages are offered with this trip, either 7 days, or 10 days with additional stays in Prague and Vienna.

3.) Budapest & TokajButterfield & Robinson

If you’re interested in a private cycling tour - your selected group along with a customized itinerary fit to your interests - Butterfield & Robinson’s trip to Budapest & Tokaj is sure to fit the bill. Enjoy the best of both worlds. Eye-catching architecture and the blue depths of the Danube in the city of Budapest to local vineyards and quaint villages in the countryside of Tokaj. This trip is perfect for riders who ride at least once a week, and is for 6 days and 5 nights.

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4.) Tuscany Luxury — Trek Travel

Trek Travel offers a few trips to Tuscany - all incredible - but if you’re looking to really treat yourself than we recommend their Tuscany Luxury trip. Ride and reside in style in divine Tuscany with luxury accommodations and top-of-the-line cuisine. On top of riding through idyllic Tuscan landscapes, enjoy the hospitality of the Mascheroni Stianti family at their private Castello di Volpaia estate, meals at Michelin-starred restaurants, private cooking classes, wine tastings, and much more. This trip is 6 days and 5 nights, and is recommended for riders who ride on a weekly basis. Non-riders are welcome.

5.) Banff to JasperBackroads

An epic journey awaits you in the Canadian Rockies on Backroads’ bike tour from Banff to Jasper. This trip is perfect for those looking for unparalleled mountain scenery and crystal blue waters. Ride through Icefields Parkway, encounter magnificent wildlife, enjoy private tours of museums and historic sites, wine tastings, kayaking, and more. Riders ranging from easygoing to avid levels are welcome to sign up for this trip lasting 6 days and 5 nights.

6.) Croatia — VBT

7 - 10 days riding along the coasts of The Dalmatian Islands. It doesn’t get much better than that! VBT offers a spectacular cycling vacation that provides guests with breathtaking views and an authentic look into Croatian life. Dine with locals in their homes, learn key phrases from a Croatian language lesson, take part in a cooking demonstration, and enjoy exquisite Croatian wine. Riders can expect rides through rolling terrain and over challenging hills. This trip is ideal for eager beginners to experienced riders with daily rides averaging anywhere from 13 - 35 miles. Two packages are offered with this trip, either 7 days, or 10 days with additional stays in Dubrovnik and Split.

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7.) California Wine Country Long Weekend — Trek Travel

If you only have the time for a short getaway, we recommend Trek Travel’s California Wine Country Long Weekend trip. Escape to Sonoma for a few days for scenic back roads, sunshine and lots of wine. Ride through Sonoma County’s three big three appellations: Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valley. Rest-up in luxurious countryside accommodations and savor local cuisines and wine aplenty. This trip is 4 days and 3 nights, and is recommended for riders looking for recreational riding. Non-riders are welcome.

Pedal your way around the world this year. Travel with family and friends, or perhaps go solo and meet new people along the way. If you have any cycling vacation suggestions, we’d love to hear about them in the comments section below. Happy traveling!

5 Important Health Benefits to Cycling

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Are you looking to change your life in a seemingly minimal way, but with major health benefits? Have you considered cycling? If you already live an active lifestyle and are looking to change up your current routine, cycling could be the activity for you. Even if you’re just beginning to look for ways to ease into an active lifestyle, cycling is something that can easily be incorporated into your day-to-day. There are many health benefits to cycling and today, we’re highlighting the five we feel scream "reason enough” for you to jump on the cycling bandwagon.

Low-impact Exercise for All Ages

It doesn’t matter what age you are, high-impact exercises can affect anyone at any time with risk of injury. Maybe you’ve been a runner all your life or you’ve just begun taking dance classes; next thing you know, you’ve developed arthritis in your joints or you have a stress fracture in your foot. Low-impact exercises—like cycling—are great, because they take away the weight bearing down on your joints and muscles. Cycling can still give you that heart-pounding high, while allowing you to push as little or as much as you need to.

Mood-improving Workout

Studies have shown for years that physical activity helps to relieve stress, anxiety, depression, and simply improve overall mental health. You know the feeling…when you've pushed yourself to the point of exertion only to feel—moments later— an overall sense of elation. Do you want to experience that everyday? Jump on a bicycle. Even cycling for a mere 30 minutes can greatly improve your subjective mood. 

Easy to Incorporate into Daily Life

No one is saying you have to cycle like a pro to reap the health benefits of one. You don’t have to sign up for cycling races or follow the same trails your neighborhood cycling club does if you don’t want to. Maybe you’re in a position where you can cycle to work. Not only is that a great way to ensure cycling becomes a part of your daily routine, think of how much you’ll be saving on gas and parking—score! Work isn’t the only reason you leave the house, right? Run errands by bike. You’d be surprised how much a installed bike rack can support. If sitting in the school carpool line is of little interest to you, cycle with your kids to and from school. Find ways to incorporate cycling into your life that suit your lifestyle.

Boost Brain Power

Just as cycling can improve your subjective mood, it can also improve your cognitive capabilities. A study from the University of Illinois showed that walking or cycling regularly can improve memory, attention, and problem solving skills. “While we know that [cycling] can have positive effects on cardiovascular disease and diabetes, we have found it can bring about improvements in cognition, brain function, and brain structure,” said lead researcher, Dr. Art Kramer.

Keep Diseases at Bay

Sadly, cycling isn’t a curer of disease, however, it can most certainly help protect you from developing serious ones. Cycling is a great aerobic activity for controlling or reducing weight to protect you from obesity. Cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, cardiac arrest, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease can be prevented by cycling daily. With cycling being a low-impact activity, chances of bone injuries and arthritis are greatly reduced. 

Don’t wait. Make the change to incorporate cycling into your daily routine today. Please share in the comments section below other health benefits to cycling.