The Best Cycling Lodges

What do cyclists really want? Unbelievable trails.

Moab's Sorrel River Ranch is close to classic mountain bike rides, and the hotel itself is about as luxe as it gets.     Photo: Courtesy of Sorrel River Ranch

Even the most dedicated cyclists need to treat themselves sometimes. These destination cycling lodges offer gourmet eats and refreshing vistas, as well as intense group rides on the most punishing routes—exactly what any self-respecting bike fiend needs.

Inn at Blackberry Farm 

Walland, Tennessee
Blackberry Farm is where the big names come to party, cyclist-style. Once retirement gives them license to cut loose, former racers such as Robbie Ventura, Bobby Stuckey, and Bob Roll converge upon this bucolic 4,200-acre farmstead in the Great Smokies to pit their muscles against the mist-cloaked mountains and “recover” with gourmet cuisine. Part of the Relais & Chateaux network of food-focused inns, the Inn at Blackberry Farm recently claimed its second James Beard Award for its wine program (its first was in 2013 for Best Chef Southeast).

The inn brews its own pale ale and seasonal favorites, and menus are anything but rote: Creations are designed based on what’s foraged or ripening in the garden and cheese-making facility. All beds—from the Estate Rooms, to the cottages, to the three- and four-bedroom houses—feature plush feather mattresses and sumptuous linens to cradle weary limbs.

And weary they will be. The inn offers guided rides every day, and hard-charging roadies may join proprietor Sam Beall on his daily tour. A staff of bike mechanics is available to assemble your shipped-in bike or fit you to one of the inn’s own Treks. In spring and fall, the Tour de Smokies attracts the likes of Christian VandeVelde and George Hincapie for a three-day hammerfest though Appalachia. From $895.

The Little Nell

Aspen, Colorado
Located near the start of the Maroon Bells ride, an iconic 10-mile climb to the planet’s most photographed peaks, the Little Nell would be remiss if it didn’t facilitate that life-list experience (or the climb to Independence Pass, another feather cyclists covet for their caps). The hotel makes its fleet of road and mountain bikes available to any guest who wishes to ogle the serrated Sawatch and Elk mountains without the filter of a car window.

The hotel’s Adventure Concierge relishes any ride request and pairs cyclists with guides/coaches who’ve worked with the likes of Lance Armstrong, who trained in Aspen during his pro career. Not into pavement? The legendary Government Trail and its wildflower-strewn mountain vistas rival anything you’ll see near Crested Butte. And nobody fuels riders like the Little Nell: Picnic lunches feature locally sourced cheeses and one of the 18,5000 bottles in the hotel’s cellar.

In August 2014, Christian VandeVelde will host a cycling camp at the Little Nell to coincide with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which he won in 2012. Participants will don the Garmin team kit as they tackle Aspen’s hills. Afterward, they’ll retreat to the hotel’s plush rooms and suites, where heated marble floors and an onsite spa soothe strained muscles. From $312.

Hotel Domestique

Travelers Rest, South Carolina
Owned by Rich and George Hincapie—the domestique for the likes of Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador, and Cadel Evans—this 13-room rural hotel located 20 miles from Greenville offers some of the best riding in the East. Sure, it’s situated near challenging climbs—even seasoned pros groan at the mention of the Watershed ride—but the scenery is inspiring: Think tree-shaded byways winding among the verdant Appalachian Mountains, and auto traffic is scarce.

“In most parts of the country, like California and Colorado, the only way over the mountains is on major highways,” says Rich Hincapie. “But here, even byways and country lanes cross into and over the hills, so you’ve got endless ride options and will almost never see a car.” Guests who come for an Experience Domestique (camps offered for avid cyclists) tackle those steeps with a sprinkling of magic dust from George Hincapie himself.

The hotel’s rental fleet of carbon bikes (the BMC SLR01 is fitted with electric shifters and a preset Garmin GPS unit) compels even bike snobs to leave their steeds at home. But newbies like them too. “We make the sport accessible for people who’ve never ridden a bike,” says Hincapie, who stocks a set of flat pedals for greenhorns who don’t arrive with their own clip-in shoes. Despite the owners’ two-wheeled obsession, the hotel is devoid of bike decor. “When you get here, you just see a sleek boutique hotel,” says Hincapie. “We didn’t want to alienate customers who don’t know what a yellow jersey is.” From $375. 

Mansion Hill Inn

Madison, Wisconsin
You have to look closely before it dawns on you that this stately German Romanesque Revival mansion promotes two-wheeled transport. Owned by Trek, which purchased the property in 2008 and orchestrated its face-lift (including an expanded bar), the Mansion Hill Inn features ornate wrought-iron balconies, crystal chandeliers, and framed photos depicting bicycles of various eras.

In one, Trek’s chairman of the board and majority shareholder Richard Burke poses with a bicycle. In the guest rooms, pictures surrounding the hardwood bedsteads include bikes. Although the in-house fleet of loaner Treks has been phased out, the hotel provides comp passes to Madison’s B-cycle bike-share program so guests can dispense with the car and pedal around town instead. From $210. 

Sorrel River Ranch

Moab, Utah
Most people don’t associate Moab with luxury, but Sorrel River Ranch is the nurturing yin to slickrock’s demanding yang. The valet greets you with a glass of ice water before taking your bags and whisking you off in a golf cart to your four-star cabin or sprawling “rancho” on the banks of the Colorado River. Accommodations feature satiny pine flooring, claw-foot tubs, and panoramic views of red-rock buttes.

But you won’t linger indoors—not with Porcupine Rim, the Slickrock Trail, Amasa Back, and other mountain bike classics in your backyard. Sorrel River Ranch is located about 20 miles north of downtown Moab, but its windows overlook Porcupine Rim’s final miles, and it sits near the start of the region’s premiere road ride: a 60-mile loop connecting the snow-capped La Sal Mountains to the red sandstone cliffs of Castle Valley. Sorrel River Ranch also makes for a plush recovery session after a four-day trip on Canyonlands’ White Rim. All are offered as part of the property’s extensive menu of guided adventures. From $429. 

Viceroy

Snowmass, Colorado
Snowmass offers thrilling terrain for all types of cyclists, from roadies to cross-country mountain bikers to downhillers who favor the lift-served scene. And the Viceroy puts it all right outside your door.

It’s just 400 yards to the gondola, which accesses 50 miles of trails built by Gravity Logic, the same masterminds who turned Whistler into North America’s bike mecca. This summer, the hotel has partnered with Pros in Motion to offer guided mountain bike rides led by elite coaches who can offer advice on skills, nutrition, and training techniques. The sessions are complemented with gourmet fueling: Breakfast includes oatmeal and berries or a scrambled egg, veggie, and sweet potato breakfast burrito; lunch features the likes of a quinoa wrap stuffed with arugula, grapefruit, pecans, and dried cherries.

Should your cycling plans get rained out, the Viceroy offers a fleet of eSpinners so guests can log their workout right inside their rooms. Or you could just sleep in: The 100 percent Egyptian cotton bedding coaxes even die-hard cyclists into reaching for the snooze button. From $175. 

h2hotel

Healdsburg, California
From the wavy, grass-covered roof to the wood-plank chandeliers hanging in the on-site Spoonbar restaurant, this 36-room hotel puts design at the forefront—so it’s no surprise that its loaner bikes are hip too.

Instead of the embarrassing cruisers offered (if at all) by most lodging properties, h2hotel equips its guests with Public Bicycles. These steel-framed commuters look smart as you zip comfortably around Healdsburg. When you’re ready to venture a little farther, the hotel’s four mapped routes—ranging from 12 to 40 miles—provide vineyard tours for all levels of riders.

H2hotel also walks the walk by using sustainable features throughout the LEED Gold–certified hotel, such as reclaimed wood, bamboo flooring, and a water sculpture that uses rainfall captured from the hotel’s roof. From $299. 

Farmhouse Inn

Forestville, California
Cyclist Levi Leipheimer trains on the rolling byways surrounding this Sonoma County getaway. Although he isn’t likely to sample the wines produced from these Russian River vines, recreational riders may well crave such refreshment. “Yes, the winery circuits are very popular,” says owner Catherine Bartolomei, “but you can also ride to the redwoods and to the coast—there are just so many options.”

Die-hard roadies can tackle the Amgen circuit. Mountain bikers can head to Annadel State Park in Santa Rosa for technical singletrack appealing to intermediate and advanced riders. Throughout the year, the inn organizes guided cycling excursions led by Guy Davis and other winemakers who also happen to be avid cyclists. “These guys are kind of crazy and really knowledgeable, so they make great ride guides,” says Bartolomei.

Book an extra day for some spa time. Along with an expansion (the 18-room inn is growing to 25 rooms), the Farmhouse is about to unveil a new spa that will offer sport-specific therapies, so cyclists can indulge in post-ride recovery. From $495. 

Montage at Deer Valley, Utah

Given the Montage’s medieval-inspired decor, you might expect to see jousters rather than downhillers strolling the stone hallways and admiring the tapestries. But this sprawling mansion on the hill caters to bikers in a big way.

The exclusive bike test center for BMC, Montage maintains an enviable fleet of road, mountain, and freeride models to fit riders of all sizes—even kids. Guided rides cater both to beginners (there’s an intro to mountain biking option) and speed addicts who want to bomb down Deer Valley’s 70 miles of lift-served trails. Cross-country riders can find their bliss on the 400 miles of singletrack surrounding Park City, designated as the world’s first and only Gold-Level Ride Center by the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA).

Afterward, refuel with house-made pappardelle in black truffle Parmesan cream at Apex, the hotel’s flagship restaurant. Or wolf down a premium burger and milkshake at Burgers and Bourbon, which takes an elevated approach to diner food. You’ll have earned the splurge. From $445. 

Aava Hotel

Whistler, British Columbia
A few Whistler hotels top the Aava for luxury, but none cater to bikers better than this hip, 192-room base camp. Upon arrival, a bike valet takes your rig right off your car and secures it in the dedicated storage room. A bike-wash station restores your ride to glory after you filth it up on Whistler’s legendary bike park or the local cross-country trails. There’s also a bike stand and tool kit fitted with everything you could want. Forgot your POV? No problem: Just check out a GoPro unit and handlebar mount from the front desk.

One of the sponsors of August’s Crankworkx Mountain Bike Festival, the Aava hosts Cam Zink, Brian Lopes, and other top riders. And it’s super-close to the lifts: From the hotel’s Whistler Village address, you’re just a crank or two from the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.

But this is no dirtbag crash pad. With whimsical modern decor and a stylish (and lively!) lobby, the Aava caters more to millennials and Gen Xers than the AARP crowd. From $126 CAD. 

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