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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

    Cycling in Tokyo - A Tale of Two Rides

    Cycling in Tokyo - A Tale of Two Rides

    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.

    Cycling in Tokyo Blog Post

    Three days in Tokyo marked the end of the trip; the grand finale and the last chance to do some proper road cycling in this wonderful country. I had two full days set aside for riding so had meticulously planned my rides, and they could not of been more different! It wasn’t until half way through the second ride that I realised what the difference was, and why that ride, against the odds, was more enjoyable than the first.

    Ride No. 1 — Cycling alone in the Tokyo Mountains

    Not having Japanese maps on my Garmin meant that I was navigating old school — paper map in my pocket and town names written on my hand. As long as I followed the road signs (Tokyo is fantastically sign posted) then I would be fine. Granted, I did get lost a few times, but that was part of the fun! There was no reason to get back at a certain time or worry about getting lost; just a whole day to ride up into the mountains and around Miyagase Lake.

    Navigating Whilst Cycling in Tokyo

    Tokyo is a sprawling metropolis around 3 times the size of London, so whilst getting out to the mountains takes a fair bit of time, it really is worth it. The mountain roads leading up to the lake are smooth and challenging with plenty of decent climbs. Miyagase Lake is the perfect cycling location — the roads wind around the lake, crossing the water over two bridges before disappearing through a series of short tunnels under the mountains, finally emerging into daylight with an incredible view of the Miyagase Dam. The descent back down the mountain was breathtaking, before meandering through the Tokyo suburbs into the city. Sounds perfect, right?

    Lake Miyagase Dam Tokyo

    140km, 2,500 metres climbed and 9 hours of exploring some of the most incredible cycling I’ve experienced was an unforgettable day, but something was missing. The amazing roads, the massive climbs and the incredible views were great, but I had no one to share them with. Sitting at the top of the lake, marvelling at the view, I felt a bit sad without a friend to experience it with (and posting on Instagram doesn’t count!)

    Cycling alone can be a great break; a few hours of alone time to unplug and destress is incredibly valuable. However it really struck me during the ride just how important it is to have some mates to ride with, especially when exploring a new area. No matter how perfect the route, you need someone else to share it with! That’s why I was so glad that I had arranged ride number two in advance.

    Ride No. 2 — Rapha CC Tokyo Saturday Ride

    Riding with Rapha Cycle Club Tokyo

    Getting up at 6:30am wasn’t ideal, but I’d been looking forward to this ride for weeks, and wasn’t going to miss being led around the city by some local experts. The cafe was full when I arrived, with 2 rides going out that morning. I had booked onto the longer ride, with 12 others, all local RCCTYO members, bar myself and one other tourist.

    Our ride leaders, Hiroki and Masataka, led us out of the city centre quickly and easily, a completely different and much better route than the one I had formulated for ride one. Where it had taken me around 2.5 hours the day before, they made sure we were out of the city and in the Tama Hills in no time; embarking on one of the craziest routes I’ve ever had the pleasure to cycle!

    Urban Cycling in Japan

    Even with a functioning Garmin, this route would’ve been very hard to follow! We twisted and turned through tiny winding streets; up short sharp climbs and down long winding descents. For the locals in the group this was normal; but the “oohs”, “ahhs” and “wows” continually being uttered by the tourists as we twisted, turned and climbed showed just how amazing this ride was! Complete faith in our ride leaders was easy as they corralled the group in Japanese and in English, attacking every climb and descent with massive smiles on their faces; infecting us with their enthusiasm.

     Country Roads on Tokyo cycling route

    Whilst Lake Miyagase may have been more spectacular area to cycle; the camaraderie and local route knowledge of ride two made it a much more enjoyable day. Learning Japanese cycling customs, chatting with the local cyclists and being shown their world was an invaluable experience.

    One of the most satisfying aspects of the day was learning that cycling has a language of it’s own! Once we’d identified the usual hand signals and protocols, we fell immediately to chatting about bikes, rides, parts etc. My Japanese stretches to about 3 words, so the fact that these guys had a good grasp of English really helped. Whenever language did fail us, pointing at a cool component and giving a thumbs up always works!

    Cherry Blossom in Japan in Springtime

    So my advice is this — if you’re going on holiday or for a weekend away, and you intend to do some riding, find a group to ride with! The RCC is a great place to start if there is one in the area. You don’t have to join the club, but if you do then hiring a bike from them is really easy if you don’t want to travel with your own. In some countries (like Japan for instance) hiring a good road bike is not always easy, so joining the RCC eliminates that hassle.

    If you’re not into Rapha, or there isn’t a club where you are going, then get on google and find a local ride group. There are usually plenty, and if you drop them an email in advance, they’re normally thrilled to have you along. Exploring a new area is always best in a group, and everyone knows that local knowledge trumps Strava every time. So join a ride group, and let the experts show you around their home town!

     Dirty Wknd Active Travel Guide