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    You CAN be good at Climbing — Top Tips for New Cyclists

    You CAN be good at Climbing — Top Tips for New Cyclists

    Climbing: you either love it or you hate it! Sadly, for most cyclists, the latter seems to be the norm. The thought of going out for a hilly ride brings many out in a bout of ‘oh gosh, doesn’t the weather look like it’s about to turn?’ That’s why learning to climb when you start out is the best thing you can do. 

    Climbing is difficult. It’s arguably the hardest thing you can do on a bike; whether it’s a short, sharp lung-burner, or a longer ascent that seems like it’s never going to end. It’s no wonder then that many new cyclists avoid the hilly rides in favour of a flatter, easier route. Here’s the rub: climbing, like most difficult things, makes you better! Nothing will improve your cycling ability, confidence and enjoyment more than learning to climb. The good news is that climbing is as much about technique as it is fitness, and that technique can be learnt.

    Most guides to climbing will tell you to maintain your cadence, and to ride within 65% of your max heart rate, but what does that really mean? What do you do if you don’t have an HR monitor? Whilst these things are all true, and are important to know eventually, the below tips will easily explain how to improve your climbing, quickly and efficiently.

    Do Your Research:

    There’s nothing worse than coming up to a hill unexpectedly and not being prepared. You have no idea how long it is, what the gradient is or what kind of twists and turns are in store for you. For an experienced climber this kind of ‘blind’ riding can be a real thrill, but if you’re new or relatively inexperienced, it can be really painful!

    Before you set off, have a look at the route, check the profile and make a note of where the climbs are. Use towns or roads as landmarks so you know what’s coming up, or if you’re on a guided ride then ask your ride leader to give you plenty of warning before approaching a climb so you can prepare.

    Strava Segemnt Explorer Dirty Wknd Blog

    The easiest way to research a route is on Strava — go to the ‘segments’ section and search the area you’re going to be riding. If there are any big climbs on your route, they will no doubt be marked as ‘segments’. From here you can see the profile, the length of the climb and the gradient percentage (i.e. how steep it is). The higher the percentage, the steeper the hill. Google maps also helps, just make sure to turn the ‘terrain’ button on in the menu.

    Google Maps Terrain Feature Cycling Route Planning

    Approaching the Hill:

    Fuel, water and clothing

    If you’ve done your research, you’ll know when you’re near a climb. Roughly 15 minutes away from the base is the perfect time to take on an energy bar, gel or banana. If you cram something in just before you start climbing there’s a good chance you might see it again before halfway!

    You should be taking on water often throughout the ride, but definitely before, during (if you’re able) and after a climb. Also think about what you’re wearing. Over-heating on a climb is a killer, so stop well before the climb begins and remove your jacket or gilet (unless it’s really raining).

    Peak District Switch Back - Dirty Wknd Climbing Blog

    On the Climb:

    It’s not a race!

    Some people climb fast, and others climb slowly, and it really doesn’t matter which you are in the beginning. Speed will come with more practise; to begin with you need to focus on your technique and making sure that you can pace yourself up even the longest climbs without stopping. Once you can do that, then you can think about working on your speed.

    Don’t Panic - It’s all in your head!

    Panicking, or ‘hill fever’ as it’s sometimes known, looks a bit like this: you see the hill coming towards you, your heart rate goes through the roof, you grip hold of the bars like you’re trying to rip the tape off; accelerate towards the base of the hill and hope against hope that you’re momentum will carry you up. Sound familiar? Panicking usually leads to blow out around half way, getting off (or worse falling off), and walking the rest of the way.

    Climbing is a mental game — the winner of which is able to make the climb in their head first. The trick is to calmly anticipate the hill (much easier if you’ve already done your homework), accept the fact that this might take a while, breath, and methodically make your way to the top. Panicking can only be remedied with practise, but it only takes you a few goes to get the hang of it, trust us!

    Stay in the saddle

    How to tackle climbs on a cylcing ride Blog

    The temptation at the bottom of a hill is to get out of the saddle and stand up, because it feels easier to begin with, doesn’t it? If the hill is any more than a few hundred metres long however, and you’re not Nairo Quintana, then you’re going to be finished way before you reach the summit. Not only that, you’ll be knackered for the next one!

    You should only be getting out of the saddle if you know the hill is a short, sharp one or you really really have to. If you’re defending an attack from your over zealous ride-mate, stay seated and let them go, you’ll pass them on the next one! Staying seated whilst climbing activates your glutes (the biggest muscle you have) and conserves more energy than bouncing around on the pedals. Standing up to ease tension on your lower back and glutes and to shift position to help blood flow is advised on longer climbs.

    Use your gears wisely:

    Knowing how your gears work is very important in general, but when it comes to climbing, it’s imperative. By this we mean being in the the right gear at the right time, which might sound very obvious, but it’s something that most do incorrectly. Whether it’s being in too high a gear at the beginning or going too low too early; the end result is a loss of momentum.

    Dirty Wknd Improve your climbing Blog

    The efficient and smooth transition through the gears is vital for a good climb. Our advice is to be on the small chainring (front) and one of the middle sprockets (4 or 5) at the beginning of the climb, and then work your way down through the gears, making them easier as you go up the hill. You don’t want to drop into granny gear right away, as you’ve then got nowhere to go. Again getting your gearing right will take practise, and you’ll have to try out different combinations, but once you’ve got it, climbing becomes a whole new ball game. Dare we say it, even…fun!

    Climbing IS for Everyone!

    On a recent trip to the Peak District we went out for a tour of the best climbs in the area, which inevitably brought us to Winnats Pass, a 26% hill just outside Castleton. We were descending the pass as we’d come up another hill, and weren’t we lucky about that — the descent was straight, nearly vertical and would’ve been hellish to climb. As we rounded the corner however, we were confronted by a 70 year old man on an ancient steel framed bike, just starting to climb up the pass. Immediate shame — if he can do it, why on earth can’t we!

    Granted climbing might never become your forte; you might never be able to sprint up 15% gradient hills. If you follow the above steps, however, your climbing will improve, and with it your overall fitness and cycling ability. So get out there, and aim for those hills. You’ll be a KOM or a QOM in not time!

    Dirty Wknd Online Cycling Community

    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

     

    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

    Christmas gifts for the cyclist in your life (that won’t break the bank)

    Christmas gifts for the cyclist in your life (that won’t break the bank)

    If you’ve got a cyclist in your life, you’ll know how hard they are to buy for. Bikes, components and gadgets are all highly personal to each individual cyclist, and clothes are a nightmare as the fit is often different depending on the brand. It’s a minefield; and there is nothing worse than watching your loved one pretend that the bib tights you bought them are ‘exactly the ones they wanted!’

    However that is not to say that you have to steer clear of cycling gifts altogether; stick to our gift guide and there are many things you can buy for your cyclist. If you do want to make a statement, we suggest buying a gift voucher from your local bike shop or online, and allowing them to pick their own dream present. Less romantic we agree, but it is a fact that most cyclists love to geek out on the specs, reviews and variables of their purchases. You don’t want to take that away from them!

    Quad Lock Mobile Bike Mount:

    The best smartphone case and mount system we’ve come across. Incredibly well engineered, highly practical and, unlike so many other attempts, quite attractive! The Phone case is good quality and highly protective, and the locking mechanism is well made, simple to use, and does actually work (nothing worse than your precious iPhone bouncing down the road at 20mph!) Quad lock also provide a waterproof cover for adverse weather conditions so there’s no excuse not to ride in winter! With more and more mobile friendly GPS options available, cyclists no longer have to rely on expensive devices to navigate and track their rides. If your cyclist doesn’t have an on board computer or use their phone, this might be the answer; it will open up a whole world of new possibilities. From £19.95

    Castelli Cycling Socks:

    You can never go wrong with socks! However giving your cyclist a pair of Pringle socks, whilst lovely, isn’t going to do the trick! Depending on your budget, there are a huge array to choose from. Whether you want to blow your sock budget on a nice pair of Rapha, or put a new pair of Dhb to go in their stocking, a nice pair of thermal socks can make all the difference on a winter ride! Call us traditionalists, but we love a good pair of dad socks! So why not combine both, and go for this stylish Castelli pair, with fetching pringle pattern! £15

    Topeak Joe Blow Max II Track Pump:

    Tyre pressure is one of the most important things you can easily adjust to improve your ride, and more often than that not a hand pump just isn’t going to cut it! A decent track pump is the most important piece of kit you can keep at home, and something every cyclist should own. Things to look out for when buying are the size and readability of the gauge, the length of the hose, and that the connection has both Schrader and Presta valves. At £20 the Joe Blow is a solid, well priced option, but if you want to push the boat out, go for the Axiom Annihilateair. It’s pricey (£85), but you can’t beat it for quality, and comes with a lifetime guarantee

    Blaze Laserlight and Burner light set:

    Having a good set of lights is incredibly important whether commuting or road racing. Particularly at this time of year when fog and mist can fall at anytime, and it easy to get caught by the dark on a training ride. Blaze Laserlight and Burner, created in the UK and launched and developed on Kickstarter, is pioneering a new brand of cycling light. Waterproof and USB chargeable, it is the green laser that projects the image of a bike onto the road in front of you that sets Blaze apart. The heightened presence on the road makes the cyclist safer. The rear Burner light has the same powerful LEDs as the Laserlight, with the addition of a built in sensor so the light activates as dusk draws in. It helps that they are beautifully crafted and incredibly easy to use too. £135

    Bike Fit from Personal BikeFit London:

    Cyclists love to buy new kit; whether it’s a new set of wheels, the latest on board computer, or an extra tight pair of bib shorts! We justify the expense by claiming that the reduced weight, increased aerodynamics and extra stats will make us faster/stronger/better. There is no doubt that these things make a difference, however very few riders get a proper bike fit, despite it being more beneficial than all the gizmos put together. A fitting at Personal Bikefit will take around 3 hours and will adjust every aspect of your bike to fit you; from cleat and pedal position to stem length and bar width. The result will be improved performance gains, greater comfort in the saddle and an increased enjoyment on the bike. £240

    The World of Cycling According to G:

    Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a good book, and Geraint Thomas’ new offering is arguably the best of the year. Thomas is the cyclist’s cyclist; a team man who is happy to knuckle down and do his job, and it is clearly a job that he loves! Not the team leader, Thomas gives a refreshing perspective from the peleton and life as a domestique, and a unique insight into his more well known colleagues, including Froome, Wiggo and Cav. As one of Team Sky’s original members, he has seen the team rise to it’s Tour winning heights, and he recounts the journey with humour and humility. £10

    Top 5 things to do in Bath this Christmas

    Top 5 things to do in Bath this Christmas

    Bath is the perfect city to see in a weekend; intimate, but packed full of amazing history and nightlife. The incredible North Somerset countryside also offers excellent cycling and walking routes. At only two hours from London, it’s the perfect spot for a Dirty Weekend!

    There is also something magical about the Ancient Roman city during the festive period that makes now the best time to go. From the Christmas market surrounding the Abbey, to the quaintly decorated Georgian streets; Bath at this time of year will have you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

    1. Visit Bath Christmas market

    Bath Christmas Market is the largest in southern England with over 170 wooden ‘chalet’ stalls selling all kinds of craft gifts, over 80% of which are hand made by local traders. An afternoon in the market is an afternoon well spent; with the smell of mulled wine, fresh mince pies, and the sounds of carol singers to accompany you. And if you do need a little break from shopping, pop into the Apres Ski bar (new this year), and just drink in the atmosphere. The stalls surround the Abbey and the Spa in the centre of the city, so there aren’t many more spectacular locations for a Christmas Market. More info — http://www.bathchristmasmarket.co.uk/

    2. Cycle to Cheddar Gorge

    The incredible Cheddar Gogre cycle — not as daunting as it looks!

    Cheddar Gorge is one of the South West’s most beautiful sights, and is something of a pilgrimage for cyclists. Nestled in the Mendip Hills (itself an outstanding area of natural beauty), it is Britain’s biggest gorge, boasting cliffs of 450 feet. The road that runs through the gorge is an incredible cycle; it’s hilly and challenging, but the beautiful landscape will keep you going. We recommend storing your bikes at the visitors centre and taking a walk around — there’s loads to see and do, and a nice little cafe for a spot of lunch before the ride back. It’s a 25 mile cycle south west from Bath, so doable on an active weekend away; the outstanding landscape is well worth the effort! More info — http://www.cheddargorge.co.uk/

    3. Hike the Bath Skyline walk

    Bath is a great city to hike around, with incredible hills, history and scenery right on your doorstep. It’s compact size means that as soon as you get out of the centre, you’re basically in the countryside! The Skyline walk starts just south of the city on Bathwick Hill and heads out in a 6 mile loop over stile and through meadow, offering some stunning views of the city along the way. The route takes in an iron age fort and an 18th Century castle, with plenty of wildlife along the way. It is a challenging walk, with some steep hills, but it’s definitely worth it for the views. The route ends where it began, so you can wander back into the city for a well deserved drink. More info — Bath Skyline Walk

    4. Climb at Cheddar Gorge

    We really can’t recommend Cheddar Gorge highly enough! It offers so much to the active weekender, and is so close to Bath, you really can get the best of both a relaxing city break and an extreme weekend! If you’re not a cyclist, then Cheddar Gorge is a short drive from Bath with free parking at the visitors centre. Once there, you can hike the limestone cliff path, complete with incredible views of Somerset, or book yourself onto a rock climbing excursion. There are different level classes, so complete beginners can be shown the ropes, and more experienced climbers can tackle some of the gorge’s tougher climbs . If you’re planning a Christmas trip to Bath, then aim for the 4th December: Cheddar Gorge’s festive night! Carol singers and festive food and wine; all set in the beautiful surrounds of the gorge. More info — http://www.cheddargorge.co.uk/

    5. Visit the Spa’s, old and new

    Thermae Spa rooftop pool, complete with Abbey view!

    No trip to Bath is complete without visiting the Roman and Thermae spas. One ancient; one ultra-modern, and both incredible experiences. Pick up aSpas Ancient and Modern pass and get entry into both spas, with lunch or champagne tea in the Pump Room. The Roman Baths are one of the most famous historical sites in Northern Europe, and the free audio guides make the tour incredibly interactive. You can even listen to commentary from Bill Bryson, the American best-seller, who lived in bath for a while. From the ancient history of Roman Britain, you move seamlessly onto the very 21st Century modern Thermae Spa. It is the country’s only naturally warm spa, and a great way to spend a relaxing afternoon, especially if you’ve cycled or hiked the day before. They have taken the ancient spa waters, the very same that the Romans bathed in nearly 2000 years ago, and housed it in a high-tech setting complete with modern architecture. So come to Bath, and do like the Romans do — spend an afternoon in the Minerva Bath, indulging in one of the spa treatments, or just relaxing in the roof top pool. When in Rome… http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/