A Cyclist’s Paradise

For cycling enthusiasts, bicycle commuters, and families seeing the sights on two wheels or just getting outside together, the Upstate is a great place to ride a bike.

Seventeen-time Tour de France rider (and Greenville resident) George Hincapie is so convinced that it’s a cyclist’s paradise that he built the Hotel Domestique, a luxury hotel in Travelers Rest that caters to cyclists with on-site bike rentals, customized bike routes for those who wish to explore on their own, and guided rides. Every fall, the hotel hosts Hincapie’s Gran Fondo bike race, with three rides of different lengths for cyclists, but there’s fun for spectators, too, at the Family Festival, with plenty of food, drink, music, and cycling-themed fun for all.

Every spring, one of the biggest events at Spartanburg’s Spring Fling is the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System Criterium, an opportunity to see professional cyclists race in a closed-circuit, multi-lap race through downtown that draws large crowds every year.

You don’t have to be a professional cyclist—or even put on spandex—to enjoy the bike-friendly Upstate, though. With eight BCycle stations throughout Greenville and five in Spartanburg and plenty of bike lanes on city streets, you can tour the Upstate’s two biggest cities by bicycle, returning the bike to any BCycle station.

Rail trails offer longer treks on safe, paved bike paths. The  Greenville Hospital System Swamp Rabbit Trail is the longest and best-known of these in the region, running from downtown Greenville to Travelers Rest, with bike rentals at either end—from Sunrift in Travelers Rest and Reedy Rides in Greenville—and plenty to do and see along the nearly 20 miles, including the Furman University campus. Spartanburg’s Mary Black Foundation Rail Trail is just a couple of miles long, but there are a dog park and a skate park adjacent to it, and there is a BCycle station at one end. And the seven-mile Doodle Rail Trail connects the towns of Easley and Pickens, featuring two wooden bridges and an abundance of rural scenery.

For road cyclists, if the solitary experience of riding alone isn’t for you, there are several cycling clubs across the upstate who host regular group rides: the Laurens County Cycling Club, Greenville Spinners, Cyperspinners covering Pickens and Oconee, and Freewheelers of Spartanburg. Check local bike shops for group rides, too, if you live in an area that doesn’t have a club.

And there’s no shortage of trails for mountain bikers: Gateway Park in Travelers Rest offers a figure-8 pump track, trails, and a youth skills development track. Paris Mountain State Park in Greenville, Croft State Park in Spartanburg, and Sadlers Creek State Park in Anderson, and Chau Ram County Park in Westminster offer mixed-use trails for mountain bikers. Both Greenville and Spartanburg have clubs for mountain bikers, too.

Whether you’re on a road, a trail, or a bike path, being on two wheels is a great way to see the Upstate!

All photos by Garroll Purvis.

Sharon Purvis is a freelance writer and editor who makes her home with her husband in Duncan, South Carolina. You can find more of her work at SharonPurvisWrites.com.