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. 

Best Stops Along Greenville's Swamp Rabbit Trail

Whether you’re a tourist in town for a few days or a local looking for a great way to spend the day outside, a day on the Swamp Rabbit Trail is the way to go. Greenville, SC, known for it’s cycling-friendly community, is home to one of the country’s top rail-to-trail paths: The Swamp Rabbit Trail.

This paved 22-mile trail opened in 2009 and connects the cities of Greenville and Travelers Rest. Trailgoers are exposed to a multitude of sights along the way from stunning forestry to curious critters to local art installations. Numerous restaurants, breweries, boutiques and picnic areas are also positioned mer feet away and make for ideal pit-stops. Have we convinced you yet? Great! Check out our breakdown of stops to make along the Swamp Rabbit Trail.

Coffee Stops

It doesn’t matter if they’re first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon, coffee breaks are meant to be enjoyed at any point of the day.

Food Stops

The food scenes in both Greenville and Travelers Rest are to die for. Fortunately, many delicious eateries sit on or in close proximity to the trail.

PHOTO CREDIT: Dave edwards

PHOTO CREDIT: Dave edwards

Scenic Stops

As you make your way down the trail, be sure to stop and take in the stunning scenery. Don’t be surprised if a few curious critters grace you with their presence.

  • Furman Lake

  • Medusa Tree a.k.a “Root Tree”

  • The Children’s Garden at Linky Stone Park

  • Reedy River

  • Cleveland Park

Drink Stops

You can’t go wrong with a few cold brew - or cocktail - stops along the way.

Retail Stops

You won’t find these shops anywhere else, so pop-in and see if you find any hidden treasures.

PHOTO CREDIT: Dave edwards

PHOTO CREDIT: Dave edwards

Art Stops

Enjoy a variety of art installations, positioned along the trail, by local artists brought in to create a compelling public art collection.

  • “The Runner” statue

  • Danny Kyzer’s trail benches

  • Steel mesh rabbit and beaver statues

  • “The Tortoise has a Spare” wall mural

It doesn’t matter which end you start at. Enjoy any of these stops as you make your way up or down the trail. If you have any suggestions for stops along The Swamp Rabbit Trail that we didn’t mention, share with us in the comments section below!