After tackling some of Pisgah’s legendary single track or the Category 2 climb up Caesar’s Head, there’s nothing better than a refreshing shower and a comfortable bed. But these days, Transylvania County’s innkeepers aren’t content with providing just the basics for their bike-riding guests.
As the area’s popularity as a cycling destination has grown, the owners of local hotels, inns and vacation rentals are providing amenities and services that appeal to those with an affinity for two-wheel transportation. Thanks to its location at the entrance to Pisgah National Forest, the Hampton Inn has long served as a popular base camp for cyclists. Layton Parker, the Inn’s general manager and one of the county’s pioneers in marketing to outdoor adventurers of every stripe, goes the extra mile to make sure his two-wheeled guests are pampered
“We offer monitored bike parking in the lobby, wash stations for cycling groups and allow guests to keep their bikes in their rooms,” said Parker.
The hot breakfast available in the lobby starting at 6 a.m. makes it easy for riders to get fueled up. Parker also offers on-the-go breakfast bags for those in a hurry to mount up and ride.
Coming in late 2016, riders will have a new overnight option that sounds suspiciously like cycling nirvana. Pilot Cove, located next to The Hub and bordering Pisgah National Forest, will offer a range of accommodations options, from luxury “small house” units to campsites equipped with Wi-Fi and electricity. Other amenities to be included will be a general store, bath houses with laundry, showers and bike wash stations. Ultimately, the development will also offer a 250-person capacity amphitheater for outdoor events and concerts and a three to four mile mountain bike-specific flow trail network. “Our goal is to promote the bicycle as the primary use of transportation for guests,” said co-owner Collin O’Berry. “Our location offers ride in/ride out access to the trails in the Davidson River area of Pisgah National Forest, along with easy access to the Brevard Greenway to both Oskar Blues and downtown.”
Lori Roberts, who purchased and renovated the Sunset Motel in 2011, realized early on that her establishment would be a good fit for cyclists. And she’s been actively courting them ever since.
“Because of our layout, cyclists can park right in front of their room,” she said. “They don’t have to go down a flight of steps to get what they need. They’re looking for a place that is clean, comfortable and moderately priced. And we fit the bill.”
During the motel’s renovation, Roberts installed a custom-built bike wash. She also leaves out soaps, rags and scrub brushes, which no doubt gladdens the heart of the motel’s most fastidious guest cyclists.
Steven Dugard has seen his cycling clientele grow in his thirteen years as co-owner of Ash Grove Cabins and Camping, which is located south of Brevard. He’s also seen a shift in the guests who come to ride. “It used to be just groups of guys,” said Dugard, “Now we’re seeing more couples, families and even groups of women.” For riders who are looking for route suggestions, Dugard and co-owner Mark Henry have put together a cue sheet of five great rides in DuPont State Recreational Forest, located nearby.
“A lot of cyclists already know which trails they want to ride,” said Dugard, “But we do have folks who’ve never been to the area before and need some advice. Our cue sheet comes in really handy for them.”
Owners of vacation rental properties offer their own unique benefits to riders. Varying in size from two to five bedrooms, private cabins and homes are perfect for small groups and are often a great value. In the case of Clay Sykes, owner of Bear Ridge Cabins, renters receive something even more rare: personal expertise.
Say the magic words “spoke” or “chainring” and Sykes, an avid cyclist, is off and running. “I try to give our guests personalized recommendations that are a good fit with their skill and fitness level,” said Sykes. “I set up a series of rides for them based on their abilities and interests and then identify subsequent outings based on their feedback of the roads or trails they tried out.”
In addition to providing maps, guidebooks and bike wash stands, Sykes frequently provides repair parts and lends out bike stands. And if he’s got the time, Sykes has been known to grab his helmet and bike and take guests on impromptu rides, introducing them to routes, roads and trails they might never have known about otherwise.
“Folks like talking to someone who has a shared interest, who is knowledgeable about the area,” said Sykes. “I really enjoy making connections with people. If I didn’t know them before, I’m friends with them by the time they leave.”
That personal connection is also important to the owners of the Red House Inn. “Everyone in our family rides,” said Tracie Trusler, who has owned the popular bed and breakfast since 2007 with her husband Daniel and their daughter Emily. “It’s a real pleasure for us to be able to help cyclists enjoy themselves while they’re here.”
Daniel, an experienced mountain and road cyclist, is always willing to share his knowledge of the local trails and roads with guests. “Daniel loves to talk cycling,” said Tracie. “He’ll map out an entire day of routes for anyone who’s interested. Our guests really value that.”
Additionally, the Truslers keep a bike stand handy for cyclists who need to make a few adjustments or repairs. Daniel has also been known to come up with the odd part that’s required to make a fix.
“We want to do whatever we can to help our guests make the most of their trip,” says Tracie. “For example, we’ll provide an early breakfast for anyone who wants to hit the road or the trail at first light.” Has a local innkeeper gone out of their way to help accommodate your needs as a visiting cyclist? If so, we’d love to hear about it. Email Prentiss at firstname.lastname@example.org.