TRAVELERS REST, S.C. – If you weren’t able to make it to Paris this summer for the Tour de France, you can get a sample of that event’s majesty (at a king’s ransom price) at the Tour de Cliffs this fall with Tour de France legend George Hincapie, a Greenville, South Carolina, resident.
The Oct. 11-16 ride is six days and five nights open to just 20 riders, featuring a stay at Hincapie’s luxury Hotel Domestique here, and guided by Richard Dunn, former U.S. National Cycling Team member and Hendersonville resident, who is the cycling coach for all seven of The Cliffs communities.
Charner Creecy, senior communications manager for The Cliffs, said the inaugural ride came about as the brainchild of Hincapie, Dunn, and Matt Ort, The Cliffs’ director of health, fitness and recreation.
“George has always been very fond of the area and opened his hotel here because he said the riding reminded him of the roads on the Tour de France,” Creecy said. “At first we thought it would be a closed member event (as the Cliffs has had in the past), but then they thought it would be a wonderful way to create awareness for the market of cyclists in the area.
In true luxury style, the nearly $5,500 per person price tag includes all accommodations, transport of luggage and bikes, wine dinners, leisure time, cocktail receptions, and a sunset dinner cruise on the Life’s Too Good Boat on Lake Keowee. The ride also will hit the mountains of WNC and Upstate and lake regions of South Carolina right about the peak of what is forecast to be a spectacular fall color season.
The intimate group will spend the first night at the “cyclist-friendly” Hotel Domestique, which is nestled in mountains nearby Highway 25 and Highway 11. On Day 2, Hincapie will join the riders on the first leg of the trip, about a 49-mile ride to Asheville’s The Cliffs of Walnut Cove. The second night, the group will stay at the equally luxurious Grove Park Inn in North Asheville, then ride down to Lake Keowee and stay at the Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards rental homes for Days 3 and 4.
While Hincapie will bow out after the first day, Dunn will lead the group for the entire trip. Day 4 will be a “leisure day,” Creecy said, where riders can enjoy the lake, kayak, hike, play golf or have a spa day. On Day 5, the riders will head to the Cliffs at Mountain Park on Highway 11 and spend the last night at Hotel Domestique again.
The trip will cover 150 miles, but Creecy said it is open to all levels of riders. There will be a SAG (support and gear) van following the riders, and a shuttle back to the hotel for those who feel they can’t complete the day’s ride. The first day from Travelers Rest to Asheville has the most climbing — 4,045 feet of elevation gain.
“It’s a whole experience between wine, food, cycling. From what we’ve compared it to, it’s a pretty solid rate, especially with the luxury accommodations,” Creecy said.
“We are marketing the ride to all levels, but it’s a challenging ride like in the Tour de France, where they open up a stage ride the day before the race happens for people to experience. It’s for riders who enjoy that kind of riding, as well as fine food and wine and that luxury atmosphere,” said Dunn, a four-time member of the U.S. National Cycling team who has raced and coached around the world.
“It’s also great for couples — for one who would like to ride and one who would want to do other activities while the spouse is riding. Cycling is a big component now of wellness, and The Cliffs is dedicated to providing things like this for their members.”
Dunn said The Cliffs has had private, member-only, one-day rides with Hincapie in the past, but the cyclist is so well-known — he competed 17 times in the Tour de France, the most prestigious bicycling race in the world, and held the yellow jersey on several occasions — that more people have requested a ride with him
“A lot of people are really big fans of George. I’ve known him for over 20 years. He’s always very friendly, approachable, and people like that about an athlete,” Dunn said. “To be able to ride side by side with an athlete of his caliber, and get some pointers, it’s really very special.”
Want to ride with George Hincapie?
For more information on the inaugural Tour de Cliffs, call 864-516-1684, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://tourdecliffs.com/.