Getting Ripped on the Road
7 breathtaking trips that will leave you fit
Don’t tackle that resolution alone. These trips will teach you skills, lead you up summits, and leave you plenty of time to relax.
The hardest thing about training for a triathlon is the tedium. Mix it up with one of Brevet’s new five-day training camps in the Swiss Alps, based in the small towns of Les Diablerets and Lausanne. Coaches offer tips on training, recovery, and technical skills like descending switchbacks on daily 25-to-50-mile hauls up some of the same steep, green-pastured cols that the pros ride in the Tour de Romandie. After that, guests jump off the bike for a run on soft trails through pine forests and a swim in an outdoor pool with views of snow-dusted peaks. The camps are offered all summer, but sign up now for the one that begins on May 14, which culminates in an Ironman-worthy test piece: the Cyclotour du Léman, a 112-mile loop around Lake Geneva, where riders practice their peloton skills while taking in the spectacular, steep-peaked scenery. From $1,900.
Think of Rancho la Puerta, an hour southeast of San Diego, as a data-driven relaxation retreat. For years, stressed-out Californians have come to the 3,000-acre property to hike the desert, learn yoga and mindfulness, get deep-tissue massages, and linger over mostly vegetarian meals sourced from the six-acre organic garden. Last April, Rancho la Puerta added a wellness program in conjunction with San Diego’s Lifewellness Institute. Stop at the facility before you cross the border, and a team of doctors will conduct a five-hour barrage of exams, from eye and ear screening to flexibility testing to a cardiometabolic stress test. Then La Puerta’s nutrition and fitness experts will use the data to devise a custom-tailored healthy-living plan. From $6,950 per person per week, including screening.
Jaco, Costa Rica
Stand-up paddleboarding has become the fastest-growing ocean sport in decades because it’s both incredibly fun and a serious workout, requiring a combination of balance, core strength, and arm power. There’s no better place to learn the basics than in the warm Pacific waters in Jaco, where seven-time Costa Rican national surf champion Alvaro Solano Delgado runs his Vista Guapa Surf Camp. Delgado offers basic surf lessons, but for the past five years he has also taught guests the art of open-ocean SUPing. Novices learn on small waves in flat, protected bays, while more advanced paddlers seek out head-high swells and get tips from visiting pros like Dave Kalama and Brennan Rose. Between sessions, campers do group core workouts and yoga, go hiking in Manuel Antonio National Park, or take part in Vista Guapa’s mountain-bike clinics. Of course, it’s also perfectly acceptable to pass out in a hammock at one of the camp’s TV-free bungalows before the whole group pilgrimages to a local restaurant for slabs of fresh tuna, rice and beans, and cold Imperials. From $1,700.
Gran Canaria, Spain
The Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago off Africa’s northwest coast, are warm year-round and have steep hills, some 6,000 feet of vertical relief, and a buffet of smooth pavement with epic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Which is to say, it’s the perfect place for a life-list winter cycling trip. Go with Massachusetts-based outfitter Ciclismo Classico, which recently debuted a Gran Canaria trip that hits the most scenic—and most demanding—roads on the island. Riders pedal more than 3,000 vertical feet to volcanic peaks and cover up to 40 miles per day, including steep, twisty descents from pine forests to the beach. In the evening, you’ll recover at spots like Parador de Cruz de Tejeda, a 43-room hotel with views of the mountains and the sea. $4,195 per person.
Travelers Rest, South Carolina
There’s a reason George Hincapie chose to open Hotel Domestique, his new cyclist-focused retreat, in the foothills of South Carolina: hundreds of miles of low-traffic mountain roads are accessible year-round, and winter brings cool days in the fifties. Guests have access to a bike valet, an on-site shop with a mechanic, and a high-end fleet of BMC rental bikes, each with a GPS loaded with Hincapie’s favorite routes. The former pro coaches monthly five-day, four-night climbing camps ($5,000). The hotel itself is more Tuscan villa than Southern plantation, with 13 sleek rooms, a patio overlooking a vineyard, and a farm-to-table restaurant with meals like rabbit with porcini mushrooms. From $279.
In the past decade, this southern Arizona city of 520,000 has become one of the nation’s premier training hubs for endurance athletes, who flock here for the 70-degree winter days and easy access to high-altitude hikes and rides in the Tucson and Santa Catalina mountain ranges. What’s more, Tucson hosts a thriving cottage industry of fitness-minded hotels and training centers. Our pick: the Omni Tucson National Resort (from $169), which has casitas with bike storage and kitchens, a sports complex with tennis courts, sand volleyball, and yoga classes, plus the Santa Catalinas out the back door. Cyclists: take to the Loop, a growing web of 100-plus miles of paved trails through the city and desert and build to the famous 28-mile climb up 9,157-foot Mount Lemmon. Trail runners, head to Saguaro National Park and the Garwood Loop. Want a training partner? Go to Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists for a ride in Catalina State Park or Southern Arizona Roadrunners for a run in Sabino Canyon. Then refuel at Proper, which dishes up organic fare ranging from healthy stuff like chickpea sandwiches to awesome guilty pleasures like pork-belly sliders.
Want a high-tech approach to fitness? Consider the Vitality Center at Vail Mountain Lodge. In 2013, the slopeside property partnered with the University of Colorado at Denver’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center to offer the kind of diagnostic blood testing currently used by pro cyclists, the Denver Broncos, and the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. After a two-hour assessment by a doctor, including performance tests like VO2 max and lactate threshold, guests meet with Vitality Center trainers, who prescribe individualized training and nutrition plans. That’s likely to include time at the property’s 20-foot-tall indoor climbing wall, in the yoga studio, or in the powder in Vail’s legendary back bowls, which are conveniently located right out the back door. From $509, plus $1,500 for performance and blood test.