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    Cycling in Tokyo - A Tale of Two Rides

    Cycling in Tokyo - A Tale of Two Rides

    This blog was originally posted in April 2016, after Dirty Wknd founders David & Emma returned from a trip to Japan.

    Cycling in a new and interesting country is a special kind of riding. The possibility of experiencing something completely new really fuels the desire to get out on the road. With adventure travel and active weekends growing in popularity, getting a ride in whilst you’re away is becoming easier, and the chance to ride in an exotic and unfamiliar location should never be missed!

    How you go about researching, planning and executing that ride, however, is just as important as where you go. If you’re on holiday and are planning just one or two days riding, then it’s even more important to get it right. Recently I travelled to Japan for a two week tour of the country, and never has the importance of good planning been more apparent.

    Read more

    A Dirty Wknd in Warwick for the Wiggle Stratford Tempest Sportive

    A Dirty Wknd in Warwick for the Wiggle Stratford Tempest Sportive

    Warwick might not be the first place you think of when booking a wknd away, but this quaint midlands town combines the perfect mix of an historical Norman setting with a vibrant and cosmopolitan nightlife. The castle is worth a visit alone (more on that below) and the surrounding countryside makes for the perfect place for a sportive, and therefore the perfect place for a Dirty Wknd!

    The Wiggle Stratford Tempest on the 16th July is fast becoming the best sportive in the midlands; starting and finishing at Warwick race course in the centre of town, it’s the perfect sportive to combine into a wknd away with loved ones and/or friends. See below for details and to enter.

    Travelling To Warwick

    Trains leave London Marylebone every hour and take roughly an hour and twenty minutes. Bike spaces are available on most trains, but it’s best to phone thetrainline.com and book your bike and train reservation at the same time. If you book an open ticket, you will still need to book a bike space before arriving at the station.

    The drive from London takes just over two hours depending on traffic, and parking in Warwick is easy with most hotels having free parking.

    Dirty Tip: We recommend taking the train. The town is wonderfully compact so you can walk everywhere, and the sportive start line is walkable from the city centre.

    Accommodation @ The Tudor House Inn

    The Tudor House Inn Warwick

    The Tudor House Inn offers comfortable and affordable rooms in an authentic Tudor houseDirectly opposite Warwick Castle, this quaint tudor house come hotel conversion is the perfect base from which to explore the town. The hotel has free parking for guests, or is only a 10 minute walk from the train station. Breakfast is included, and the hotel has free wifi throughout, so you can upload your strava data as soon as the sportive is over!

    Dirty Tip: Multiple room formats are available, so if your in a group, a pair or just on your own, you’ll find what you need here. 

    Friday Night — Dinner @ Micatto

    Miccato Italian Restaurant Dirty wknd Warwick

    Micatto Cusina Aperta, meaning open kitchen, is Warwick’s best Italian restaurant, and the perfect place to take on a few last minute carbs before the sportive. Located in the picturesque market square; the decor and vibe have an industrial feel inspired by the Soho district of New York. There isn’t a cooler spot in Warwick to relax from the week, and prepare for the next days ride.

    The menu is expansive, with all ingredients either sourced locally or imported direct from Italy, and the chefs are all Italian. All the pasta is homemade on site that day and, thanks to the ‘open kitchen’, you can watch your meal being prepared in front of you whilst enjoying a glass of Italian red. A little extra iron in your blood will help on the ride!

    Dirty Tip: The restaurant often books up, so make sure to book ahead, and let them know you’ll be travelling in that night, so might need to book a later table.

    Saturday Morning — Wiggle Stratford Tempest Sportive

    Wiggle Stratford Tempest Sportive Dirty Wknd

    Warwickshire’s roads are some of the best for cycling!With 3 routes to chose from this sportive has something for everyone; whether you’re a hardened pro or a relative beginner, the Warwickshire countryside offers quiet Roman roads, sleepy towns and beautiful scenery. That’s not to say that this sportive won’t test you; with a couple of good climbs on all routes, you’ll definitely feel it in the legs! Start times are between 8am and 9:15am and as you’re staying right by the start line, you won’t even have to get up that early!

    As with all Wiggle UKCE events the organisation is second to none. All participants benefit from mechanical and medical support, full route marking and generous feed stops. All finishers also receive a t-shirt, a medal and power bar goody bag. As the sportive finishes in the centre of Warwick, you’re only a short walk away from your hotel and the delights of exploring the town for the rest of the wknd!

    Dirty Tip: The elevation of all 3 routes is considerably less than many other sportives, so if you’re looking for a ride to increase your mileage on, this is it. At 101 miles, the epic route is the perfect opportunity for anyone thinking about riding a century with as few hills as possible. So go for it!

    Saturday Afternoon — Visit the Mill Garden

     The Mill Garden Warwick

    Obviously your first port of call will be refuelling, being the athlete that you are! After an exerting all that effort on the ride, you really need something like a burger to reward yourself for all the hard work! The Warwick Arms Hotel has a massive burger menu, and is located in the centre of town. You can’t go wrong!

    Once you’ve refuelled and deconstructed the sportive with your companions, we recommend heading to Mill Street, in the shadow of the castle and straddling the River Avon, and the famous Mill Garden; a beautiful place to while away a few hours. Sit an soak in the sun, and rest your tired legs!

    Dirty Tip: The Market Place is also a beautiful part of the town, and has a couple of great bars where you can get a drink, sit outside and watch the world go by. Head here after the gardens, you deserve it after the sportive.

    Saturday Evening — Dinner @ Tailors

    Tailors Restaurant Warwick 

    Tailor’s, also in the Market Place, is one of Warwick’s more upmarket restaurants, and the quality of the food is what brings people back again and again. Owned and run by two young local chefs, the menu is innovative and changes regularly. Service is of the highest quality, with everyone from the owners down to the wait staff helping to ensure that a friendly, local atmosphere is maintained. Saturday’s fill up quickly, so make sure to book in advance.

    Dirty Tip: After dinner head around the corner to The Globe for a cocktail to round off an epic day!

    Sunday Morning — Visit Warwick Castle

     Visit Warwick Castle Dirty Wknd Blog

    Dominating the town is Warwick Castle. Originally built in 1068, the castle in it’s current form was completed between the 12th and 14th centuries, and turned into a family home in 1608 by the Greville family, who lived there until the 70’s. Now the castle is open 7 days a week, and is one of the finest examples of it’s kind in the country. As well as the castle and grounds, visitors can view the beautifully restored interiors and watch daily medieval reenactments. Tickets start from £18 for the day, and discounts are available if you book online.

    Dirty Tip: Real history buffs, or anyone feeling particularly decadent, can actually stay in the castle! Starting at £550 per night, suites are available in the Tower. If you ever wanted to live like a Norman conquerer…

    Sunday Lunch @ The Rose & Crown

     Roast at the Rose and Crown Warwick

    The Rose and Crown is a Warwick institution having served locals and visitors alike in it’s current guise for over 10 years. Regularly named one of the UK’s top 10 pubs,  there’s nowhere else to go for a roast on a Sunday. This 17th century coaching inn treats it’s food like it’s decor; a wonderful mix of classic and contemporary styles. The Sunday roast is plentiful and very reasonable, with a choice of meats and a vegetarian option. There is a wide selection of local beers behind the bar, and the wine list is extensive. As we said before, we recommend getting the train, so you can enjoy a relaxing Sunday with a drink or two!

    Dirty Tip: After Lunch, walk off all that meat in nearby St Nicholas’ Park. You can hire boats and row down the River Avon in the shadow of the castle.

    Dirty Wknd In Warwick

    Training Tips For Winter Riding

    Training Tips For Winter Riding

    Cycling Blog Tips for Riding in Winter

    The gap between Christmas and New Year's Day is a great time to get some miles under your belt. A couple of hours solitude on the open road is just what you need after the madness, and let's be honest, boredom of the Christmas break. Shaving a few grams off your bike weight aren't going to make nearly as much difference to the upcoming season as training through the winter, so make sure you get out there. It can be dangerous, however, so please bear in mind the below tips when you’re out on the road this winter.

    Be visible

    With any luck the winter will be bright, dry and sunny; and having your bike lights with you will be the last thing on your mind. However, the dusk can draw in very fast at this time of year, and you don’t want to be caught out on road without your lights. Make sure you take them just in case. If possible also make sure that your winter kit has some high-viz. Every little helps.

    Winter Cycling Blog Overshoes

    Prepare for the worst and layer up

    It’s fairly common knowledge that the weather in the UK can change in a pedal-stroke, so don’t be caught out - make sure you layer up. It’s a lot better to be too hot and peel layers off than to be shivering on the bike wishing to high heaven you’d brought a rain jacket. Think about the little things - will I need gloves, a snood, over-shoes (the most important thing you can own). The chances are the answer is yes, and worst case you can just take them off. Think ahead. Just because it’s nice and sunny when you set off, doesn’t mean it’s going to stay like that. If the weather turns and you’re not prepared you won’t enjoy the ride!

    Ride what and where you know

    Whilst we here at Dirty Wknd are all for cycling in new places and discovering new routes, we recommend that you actually play it a bit safe at this time of year, and ride somewhere you know. With conditions and road surfaces likely to be a bit more treacherous, you don’t really want to be dealing with the unknown. If you know the route, and you know what to expect (i.e. how certain corners will change in the wet) then you’re much more likely to have a safe and enjoyable training ride.

    Keep it short 

    Unless you’re a hardened pro, used to riding though driving rain and snow, then we suggest keeping your winter training rides short. Whilst you might be able to spend a whole day in the saddle in the summer, it’s much harder, and much less fun to do so in the Winter. Once you’re muscles start to fatigue and your body temperature starts to drop it’s very difficult to keep your moral up. This is not to say it should be an easy ride, just a shorter one. Give it everything for the few hours you’re on the bike (and we do recommend 2-3 hours at a time) and then return home to the warmth. You can always go out again tomorrow.

    Group Cycling on a Winter Training Ride

    Bring a friend (or at least tell a friend)

    Ideally you will be cycling with a friend or a group (massively helps with motivation), but there will be times when you're out on your own. Letting someone know you're out riding alone is very sensible advice for the rest of the year anyway, but especially so in winter. Let a friend or partner know that you’re going out, where you’re going and roughly how long it should take. This might seem like an extreme measure but it’s best to be safe.

    Enter an early season sportive

    Challenges like the Rapha Festive 500 are great to keep you motivated over the Christmas break when you've got plenty of spare time, but it becomes much harder in January when work is back in full swing and it's blowing a gale outside. Entering an early season sportive, or even better, a winter series, is  a great way to force yourself outside. There are plenty of events in Jan and Feb to keep you on the road through the winter months. Click the link for options from Wiggle, Evans and Ordnance Survey plus more -  Winter Sportives

    It is important to get out there, but it is more important to be safe out there!

    My Thoughts On Having My Bicycle Stolen

    Bicycle Blog Post Bike Theft

    I’ve just had my bike stolen. In a time when most major cities are on high terror alert and human lives are being lost daily all over the world, I know that this by comparison is not a great tragedy, but I'm very upset about it. It is not necessarily the monetary loss, or even the hassle it brings, but more the feeling that I've lost a friend. It sounds silly I know, but we've been through a lot, my trusty Ribble and I.

    A few things went through my mind when I discovered that the bike was gone. Firstly, I assumed that I must be mistaken; I must have chained the bike to a different set of railings, or not actually arrived by bike at all. Either way, there must have been some mistake. Then the rage comes! “Some bastard has stolen my bike, if I ever catch them…” I stood on the High Street, near to where the bike was locked, scanning the horizon, expecting to see someone casually cruising around on my beloved bike. What I would’ve done had I seen the culprit I’m not sure; given chase? Made a citizen’s arrest? Of course I never found out, as the bike and the culprit were long gone. After the anger subsided, I was left feeling empty and sad, as if a part of me was missing. It would be quite extreme to compare it to losing a limb; I'm sure I would be much distraught had I lost a leg, but a sense of great loss was keenly felt. Like the realisation that the family pet is going to be put down; you know things won't be quite the same for a while. 

    Such is the bond (obsession?) between cyclists and their bikes; we favour our bicycles over many other material possessions. Ask a cyclist what they would save first from a fire (after family of course) and 90% would say their bike. It’s an unusual bond; a piece of steel/aluminium/carbon that weighs nothing, takes up a lot of space and, to the dismay of our partners and families, most of our waking thoughts! It is true that most modern bikes are expensive pieces of kit, and for most not easy to replace; however for me the emotional loss far outweighs the financial one.

    Blog Post Cycling in Scotland Isle of Skye

    It is the memories of rides attempted, journeys made and challenges completed that really tug on the heartstrings! As I walked home, far too sad for public transport, I reflected on the above; London to Paris, London to Nice, Ride London, countless triathlons and sportives Tours of the Lake and Peak Districts and one epic week long ride around Scotland. One man and his bicycle. The two of us versus whatever the day could throw at us; wind, rain (sideways in Scotland), scorching temperatures and lung-burning climbs. The memories of the pain and the exhaustion come flooding back and brought a massive smile to my face! The last 30 miles of a 112 mile ride from Inverness to Portree on the Isle of Skye being the strongest memory. It had rained all morning, from Loch Ness to the Skye road; 3 hours of driving rain, the entire Loch shrouded in mist! The Skye road from Invermoriston to the Kyle of Lochalsh was one of the most incredible 3 hours of cycling in my life. Flying down beautifully quiet roads, Munros and mountains on either side, rounding corners to find giant Lochs reflecting their surroundings in the their smooth blue waters. It really was a glorious cycle.

    Stronger in my memory however is the next 30 odd miles. After a quick coffee and a panini we rode over the bridge onto Skye, and straight into a world of pain! The road snaked up and down (but mostly up) as we followed the contours of the island over the Cuilins (a rather large mountain range) and into Portree. The exhaustion we felt was only matched by the relief of sweet rest, and the gratitude and love I felt for my bicycle! Like a willing servant it obeyed every command without protest; no creaks from the bearings, no squeak of the chain. The biggest climbs and the resulting descents were taken on with relish, spurring me on and galvanising my resolve to go faster, higher, longer. The bike became a part of me on these long rides and challenges. If the bike fails, then so do I. It never did.

    Blog Post Bike Theft Cycling Scotland Inverness

     


    I’ve never had a house broken into, but people who have often say the worst thing about burglary is having their personal space invaded, their inner sanctum disrupted. They live on a knife edge, every noise a possible intruder. Life goes on after having my bike stolen; I will buy another bike, and I will continue to ride as much as I physically can, however I’ll always feel a twinge of sadness for my poor old Ribble. Taken before it’s time!

    My advice to any cyclists out there is to make sure your bike is insured, and make sure you are very specific with the insurance company or bank about how much you are insuring it for, not just how much it is worth. Also it is absolutely imperative that you note down the frame number, and get it tagged by the police. It was something I always meant to do, but never got around to. If I had, the chances of recovering my bike would’ve doubled. I won’t make that mistake again!

    To get your bike registered click here - Bike Registration