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    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!

    The 6 Best Sportives To Get You Off The Couch This Autumn

    If you’ve read a newspaper, or turned on the TV recently, you’ll know that summer is over. The worst winter on record is on the way, and we’re all going to be covered in snow for the next 6 months. Might as well pack the bike and running shoes away then, right? Wrong! Now is the time to stick two fingers up to the weather man, defy all the nay-sayers and book yourself into an event. Summer might well be over, but it’s going to be a glorious autumn, and now is the time to really push yourself!

    1. Air Ambulance Double 100 Cycle Challenge

    When: 27 September 2015
    Where: Kent Air Ambulance Trust, TN12 9QJ.
    How much: £15 - £35

    Make the most of the last of the ‘late summer’ weekends with this Kent sportive – with the added bonus that it’s all for a good cause! The routes (100m or 100km, you can decide on the day depending on how you feel) take in the North and South Downs, some tough climbs and some spectacular descents. There are 2 start points; either Redhill in Surrey or Marden in Kent, both easily accessible from London by train and car (free parking at both sites). Why not combine with a weekend away in nearby Tunbridge Wells, a beautiful and relaxing Georgian retreat. Check out our guide here – Dirty Weekend in Tunbridge Wells.

    2. Wiggle Peak District Punisher

    wiggle peak district punisher

    When: 27 September 2015
    Where: Bakewell, Peak District, DE45 1AQ
    How much: entry from £33

    Three incredible routes; short 40 miles, standard 77 miles and epic 100 miles, set in breath-taking countryside and expertly organised by the guys at Wiggle, make for an excellent days riding. As you would expect from a Peak District route – it’s hilly and tough, but there are plenty of feed stations, and views are definitely worth the climbs! Bakewell can be reached by train from Derbyshire, and there are plenty of accommodation options in the area – so why not make a weekend of it! 

     3. Mendip Madness

    When: 4 October 2015
    Where: Ston Easton Hall, BA3 4DA
    How much: £10

    The South West of England provides some of the best cycling routes in the country, and the Mendip Madness ‘Imperial 100’ is no exception! Including Cheddar Gorge, Salisbury Plain and finishing with a tough climb up Jack and Jill hill, the 50 and 100 mile routes have something for everyone. The craziest thing about the Mendip Madness is the price. For just £6 you get a fully signposted route, emergency back up and free refreshments! Make the most of the weekend and head to the lovely Roman city of Bath. Weekend guide here – Dirty Weekend in Bath.

    4. Wiggle South Downs 100

    wiggle south downs sportive 2015

    When: 18 October 2015
    Where: Chichester College, Chichester, PO19 1SB
    How much: entry from £33

    The South Downs 100 is fast becoming a staple on every cyclists calendar, and with 2,500 riders taking part last year, it’s only going from strength to strength. The South Downs are synonymous with cycling, and thanks to another great event from the Wiggle team, we can see why! Again, a choice of routes, mean that there is something for everyone, and the views from the top of Buster Hill are all the sweeter thanks to the challenging climb. Chichester is incredibly easy from London by train and car, and after the ride, why not head into Brighton for a night, or the weekend?

    5. Zappi's Gran Fondo 2015 Cycle Sportive

    zappi's gran fondo

    When: 18 October 2015
    Where: Kirtlington Park Polo Club, OX5 3JQ
    How much: £27

    We’ve often wondered what becomes of a pro cyclist when his days on the road are done. In the case of Italian ex pro Flavio Zappi, the answer is start a highly successful cycling café and club in Oxford. The city of dreaming spires is fast becoming famous for great road cycling, thanks in no small part to Zappi’s Cycling Club (twitter link). So what better way to say thank you, than to join Flavio on his ‘Grand Torno’! With 35 to 115 miles of route, full signage, chip timing and mechanical assistance, it’s clear to see that Flavio isn’t messing about! Combine the ‘Grand Forno’ with a trip to Oxford for a perfect Dirty Weekend! Full details here – Dirty Weekend in Oxford.

    6. Human Race Wildman Duathlon

    human race wildman duathlon

    When: 21 November 2015
    Where: Ash Vale, Surrey
    How much: entry from £46

    The distances aren’t the longest on this Surrey duathlon, but the gruelling terrain of Ash Ranges (a working Army training area), will definitely put you through your paces. Plus, as it’s off road and in November, it’s guaranteed to be a mud bath! Not necessarily a race for your purist road cyclist, but a hell of a lot of fun! Thanks to British Bike Hire (official sponsor), you can hire a top quality mountain bike for the day, and then just give it back all covered in mud!