True to its name, Empire Bikes is all about expanding the civilization of cycling. Its inventory spans everything from beach cruisers to race-ready road bikes, and its handy staff helps keep existing bicycles in tiptop shape. They also foster a sense of cycling community with weekly rides and bike-centric events that benefit charities and other causes.
A triathlete since 2004, Brandon Hament knows cycling's physical rigors and benefits firsthand. At The Cycle Annex - the indoor cycling facility Brandon has run since 2007 - his crew of instructors imbue beginners with pedal-pumping confidence at introductory sessions during which pupils first familiarize themselves with their bike before hopping on and burning calories. For cycling students of all levels, Brandon's team lead more intensive workouts such as the Ultimate 90, a combination of core and strength training that segues into an hour of riding. An abdominal workout on yoga mats follows cycling during AB 20 sessions, while interval cycling gives way to running and stretching during brick workouts. In between exercises, guests can hydrate with complementary gulps of The Cycle Annex's oxygenated, filtered water.
When Brian McInerney reflects on the humble beginnings of Wheel Fun Rentals, Inc., he points to his childhood passion for bikes. "As far back as I can remember, I had a real love affair with bicycles," he recalls. During a trip to Italy in 1987, Brian's affinity for cycling blossomed into a full-fledged obsession when he spotted locals' transporter of choice, the surrey. Inspired, he began importing the Italian four-wheelers to a rental business in the U.S. that eventually expanded into Wheel Fun Rentals, now a nationwide web of shops that also loans out bikes, electric cars and mopeds, and man-powered watercraft. Adventuresome athletes can also compete in activities such as surrey scavenger hunts and blindfold obstacle courses navigated via shouted instructions from a seeing teammate or exceptionally long rounds of trial and error.
The atmosphere is charged with energy at the Kinetic Cycling studio, where flat-screen TVs play music videos and surround-sound speakers blast upbeat tunes. Soft lights beam up from the floor, bathing the rows of students pedaling away on stationary bicycles in blue and purple. During classes, an energetic instructor sits atop a bike in front of students, guiding them through the challenging workouts while providing inspiration and motivation.
Since it first set down roots in Venice in 1995, Boardwalk Skate & Surf has equipped adrenaline junkies and tourists with surfing, skateboarding, and biking gear by top brands. Shoppers can fit themselves up with an Arbor, Penny Nickle, Sector 9, or Z-Flex skateboard with a hip design, and then match their new deck to a pair of skate shoes or sandals. The shop also has a department dedicated to rentals, giving patrons the option to take a surfboard, bicycle, or pair of inline skates out for a spin, so long as they return it before it gets homesick.