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Winter indoor cycling fun: We love our cycling classes!

We all love riding our bikes on sunny days or while we are away on an active vacation somewhere sunny. But what are we to do to get our cycling fix during the winter months? The idea of sitting on a stationary bike can be a bit boring, right? And sweating alone in a room on a stationary bike for an hour is hardly an appealing thought.

The solution? Group indoor cycling classes! This indoor style of cycling fitness is loaded with benefits and is rarely ever boring. This is how we’re keeping fit this winter so that we’re ready for our next cycling adventure!

Here are 6 Reasons we love indoor cycling classes

1. Cardio Health Benefits & Reduced Risk of Injury
You’ll build your heart health by getting it pumping through those intense drills. You’ll get even more benefit from the class if you have some wearable tech such as a wrist fitness device to keep track of your heart rate throughout the class. And by keeping your riding muscles toned and active throughout the winter, you’ll reduce your overall injury risk when you get back on the bike in the spring. In itself, indoor cycling is also lower impact than other comparable high cardio activities such as running on a treadmill. So, staying fit by indoor cycling is a great workout while being fairly easy on the knees and joints.

2. All that Great Music
Most instructors arrive at the class with epic workout playlists to keep you inspired throughout the workout. Sometimes you hear a fun beat you haven’t heard in ages. And when you’re rocking along and spinning those wheels to upbeat 80s covers and other fun beats, the workout’s intensity feels a little less daunting.

3. The Team Spirit
The workout is intense but others going through exactly the same challenge in that moment will be all around you. So, you can work through it together and cheer each other on! If you have a good instructor, the instructor will likely be keeping you positive and smiling as well! Before and after class is also a great opportunity to meet new people and socialize.

4. Lean Legs
You’ll have lean legs all year around, even when the weather doesn’t allow you to get on your outdoor bicycle. However, indoor cycling classes are usually also a full body workout. Good instructors will take you through numerous drills that are great for your abs and core as well! So, you’ll leave most classes having worked your legs, arms, core and buttocks (all those hover drills!).

5. Stronger Mental Endurance
High intensity indoor cycling classes help you learn to deal with difficulty. Some avid cyclists will even admit to being challenged in indoor cycling classes. The classes are filled with challenging drills such as intense resistance intervals that emulate hill climbs. However, as these are done as intense, short drills, they are often even harder than most actual outdoor climbs. So, to get through these challenging drills requires a mix of will-power, an optimistic mindset and self-discipline. All of this will strengthen your mental endurance that can be applied to any challenges you may face in other areas of life.

6. That Euphoric Feeling After Class
Some exercises leave people feeling purely euphoric and energized. High energy indoor cycling is certainly one of them! You may be sweating buckets but you’ll be smiling…and that high is better than any drug! You’ll feel awesome the rest of the day and experience having more energy.


Bonus: Indoor cycling means you’ll be used to riding all year so you won’t have to deal with the sore butt again when spring rolls around!

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Image Courtesy: www.localfitness.com.au, Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-
Share Alike 3.0 Unported | Wikimedia Commons

 

5 Ways to Experience Dubrovnik Like a Local

What better way to get to know a destination than as a local?
Next time you’re in Dubrovnik, here are a few ways you can get off the tourist trail to authentically meet more of the locals.

Dubrovnik Old City

1. Enjoy the Local Outdoor Markets

Gundulic Square has a thriving morning market filled with fruits, vegetables, flowers, crafts and more. This is not a tourist’s market. This is very much a local’s market. And who knows, in this friendly setting, you may even make friends with a few locals who can tell you even more about their city.

2. People Watch at Luza Square

Luza Square is the local meeting spot for locals and tourists alike. The square is bustling with people day and night as historic Sponza Palace, St Blaise Church, and city Bell Tower are all central to the square. Find a bench to sit on or a patch of a wall to lean against, and you’ll blend right in with the local scene as you let the streets scenes pass you by. People-watching truly seems to be a favorite local pastime here as well.

3. Hike Mount Srd & Picnic Overlooking Dubrovnik

Rather than piling into a high priced touristy restaurant, why not pack a picnic lunch by stocking up on fruits and cheeses at the local market and head out for a picnic lunch. There are a number of small supermarkets around the main square where you can pick up any other items you may need to round out your meal. You can take your picnic with you to the top of Mount Srd. At 413 meters above the city, it offers the most spectacular panorama view over Dubrovnik. The hike to the top takes about 90 minutes so you’ll have earned your picnic lunch by the time you get to the top. To get back down, you can opt to take the newly restored communist-era cable car, for small fee.

4. Embrace the Coastal Life in a Kayak

Many Croatians living on the coast maintain an active outdoor lifestyle that includes regularly kayaking out to the local islands. A typical kayak trip out to Lokrum Island involves paddling past cliff caves as well as Dubrovnik’s stunning city walls.

5. Spend a Day at the Beach

If you’d rather just laze around in the sun, Banje Beach is where Dubrovnik’s beach culture lives. It’s a bit like Sydney’s Bondi Beach, minus the surfing. So this is where you’ll find as many locals as you will tourists bathing in the Adriatic’s sparkling waters or bask in the Dalmatian sun. This beach is located right next to the old town, so it’s very central, and there’s also a bar and restaurant directly at the beach.

Cuban Cuisine, A Beginner’s Guide

Cuba cuisine guide pic

While Cuba’s restaurant scene is improving, no trip to Cuba is a gourmet tour. Formerly, all restaurants were owned and run by the state. However, slowly, private restaurants are beginning to emerge.

It is definitely worth trying some excellent home-style cooking at one of the country’s few family-run restaurants, called paladares. In Havana, some of the paladares are so sophisticated that they could actually compete with a top international establishment’s cuisine.

Outside of Havana, chefs have to work with a substantially limited range of ingredients and the cuisine has very little foreign influence so meals in Cuba can sometimes be rather bland. Be prepared that the staples of all Cuban meals are rice and beans – sometimes combined together to make congri and sometimes cooked separately and served as white rice and black bean soup (potaje). Cubans eat these staples every single day.

On the menu, you’ll notice that fish, chicken and pork are the most common meat options, with rice, beans and plantain also featuring quite heavily.

Vegetarians beware… Fresh vegetables are limited in Cuba and in Cuban cuisine. However, fresh cabbage, tomatoes or cucumbers will usually accompany your meal. Vegetarianism is a relatively new concept in this part of the world, and vegetarian cuisine is therefore rather basic. Gluten-free and dairy-free products are also very limited.

If you will be traveling around the country for a few days, pack plenty of snacks to avoid overloading on biscuits. Granola bars and protein bars are not available in Cuba. So, pack these from home.

Desserts are quite common in Cuba, with popular choices being ice cream (of varying flavors), sponge cakes, flan (a caramel custard), and marmalade and cheese.

Coffee lovers will delight while in Cuba as Cubans absolutely love their coffee, thought it is quite strong. It is typically served at the end of each meal, espresso style. Local beers are also quite good, particularly Cristal or Bucanero, and beware that imported brands are available but at a premium price. However, a trip to Cuba should include at least a sip of its most famous local alcoholic beverage, rum. National cocktails include the Mojito, made with white rum, sugar, lime juice, ice and a sprig of mint. The Cuba Libre and the Daiquiri are other popular options.

Bottled mineral water and soft drinks are readily available. Fruit juices and batidos, fruit drinks blended with milk and ice, are commonly available. However, avoid drinking local water or local drinks blended with ice.

Vegetarian restaurant options in Havana:

Al Medina
El Bambu
La Lluvia de Oro
El Rapido
La Dominica

The Packing Expert’s Guide to Packing for an Adventure Travel Tour

Packer extraordinaire, Trish Sare (Owner of BikeHike Adventures) is always on the go and knows the art of packing efficiently. In fact, she has refined the art of packing effectively for an international trip down to a very precise science.

Here’s the short little video tutorial she recently filmed for you to show you how to pack like a pro for your next trip!  This video shows you how to make the most of your carry on luggage as well as packed luggage. You’ll save a load of  time when preparing for your next international trip. As you’ll see in this video, Trish keeps many of the essentials ready in advance so that she won’t forget them!

Some of the brands Trish loves most?
Eagle Creek! Specifically, Eagle Creek cube packs! Trish says they’ve changed her travel life. She’s their #1 fan!
And her other must-have item: Hummingbird memory foam travel pillow. She can’t live without it (and often uses it on and off the plane)!

Five in-flight carry-on packing essentials: 
1. Hand cream. It’s always dry on the plane!
2. Ear plugs & earphones. You never know if there will be someone noisy around you, when you want to relax or sleep, and planes rarely provide earphones for free anymore (even when/if they offer free in-flight movies)!
3. Blanket or long wrap. Planes are notoriously cold, and rarely provide blankets anymore.
4. Travel Pillow. It will make your long flight so much more comfortable.
5. Blind fold / eye mask. It makes getting to sleep on a bright flight so much easier.

To learn more about how to pack for your next trip, watch this highly informative tutorial. It’s truly an expert packing guide for international travel!

The guide reviews are in: What you love most about our guides

We love our guides. So, we’re thrilled to hear that you do too! Here are a few guide review highlights from our notebook at the office. We love hearing from our travellers, and this post is a mere sampling of the great reviews we’ve been hearing from you lately. We just couldn’t keep these to ourselves!

PERU

Our Peru trip has always been such a hit with our travellers lately. And our guide there, Miguel, is a large reason for this. We absolutely adore Miguel, but you don’t have to listen to us. Here’s what one of our recent travellers had to say about Miguel.

bikehike_adventures_review

“Miguel was an outstanding guide, very passionate about his country and his role with BikeHike. He was extremely considerate regarding the clients, always helpful and accommodating. He took great length to explain all aspects of the trip, history, local lore, etc…he was by FAR the best guide (and I listened to others with other companies). Excellent demeanor, pleasant, unflappable, can’t say enough. High personal and professional integrity, fun-loving and understood the individual clients.”

GALAPAGOS / ECUADOR

We cannot stop singing the praises of our Ecuador (mainland) and Galapagos guide, Jorgen…and apparently neither can you. Nearly all of the our messages from travellers sound like this one that recently landed in our inbox.

Galapagos-BikeHike-Adventures

“Jorgen. What a guy. That guy is just so nice, personable…and knowledgeable! He is also a master of logistics, I have to say.  We would not have been able to accomplish nearly as much on our trip had it not been for his expert knowledge of the islands and the people there… man does that guy have connections. He moved us around the islands seemingly effortlessly (but I know it was really that he just makes it look easy!). Thank you BikeHike for having such a super Galapagos guide!”

VIETNAM

Virtually every picture we have of our Vietnam guide is a smiley one. And, little surprise, our travellers are usually in the same photo frame beaming with joy too. Here’s a snippet from a recent traveller raving about our star Vietnam guide, Hoa. He is really the key ingredient that makes our Vietnam trips special.

“We just finished our trip but I had to write to you right away to tell you how much we enjoyed having Hoa as our guide. Hoa is fantastic.  He was so good at anticipating our every need. He is so good at reading people that he knew what we were thinking and needing before we even told him! Top that with the fact that he is a fun, upbeat guy. He also taught us so much about his culture and Vietnam’s people, places, and history  Outstanding trip and guide.”

SLOVENIA

Slovenia may be off of some people’s Europe radar, but this destination is truly a rising star and provides the European charm you’re seeking without the massive tourist crowds. And, as with all BikeHike destinations, we have a guide there who is incredibly focused on providing the best experience there possible. Here’s what a traveller wrote to us earlier this summer.

“The guides made our trip… I felt they really went above and beyond… The guides welcomed us both with open arms and really made this trip special… Jure’s passion for Slovenia is 2nd to none…”