Tag Archives: road cycling

12 hours in… Newcastle!

Welcome to NewcastleHome of Skedaddle HQ, the city is famed for its seven iconic bridges across the River Tyne, and is a lively hub of the North East which guarantees to surprise you by how much it has to offer. There’s many reasons why we chose to call it home, and here are just a few:

In a nutshell…
Once a vital Roman fort and a part of the Hadrian’s Wall, Newcastle has a long and proud history to tell and a lot to show off today! Here you will find everything from historical architecture to a rich contemporary art scene, from vibrant nightlife to award-wining dinning.

And, of course, your trip to Newcastle is not complete without scratching your head a bit when listening to people speak around here. Geordie dialect might catch you off guard, but fear not, it will only add fun to your experience rather than be an issue. So howay and have a canny time when in Toon.

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Sights not to miss…
Once a busy dockside, today the Quayside is fast becoming one of the most celebrated parts of the North East! Situated on the banks of the River Tyne at the point where Newcastle and Gateshead meet (linked by many bridges that altogether create quite a view), the place is bursting with cultural attractions and an outstanding choice of restaurants and bars. See if you can spot Newcastle Castle overlooking the riverside!

The Quayside is also an exciting scene for contemporary art, as well as music and culture with venues including Sage GatesheadMillennium Bridge (the worlds first rotating bridge in the shape of an eye) and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art. With a free entrance, BALTIC is well worth a visit, if not for the art, than definitely for a great panoramic view on the iconic bridges from the viewing box on level 5 of this iconic building.

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Grainger Town is the historic heart of Newcastle and is another area that is well worth exploring! This is a wonderful district and is arguably one of the most beautiful city centre’s in UK.

The area includes the celebrated Grey Street that is also home to the beautiful Theatre Royal and a wide range of eclectic restaurants, shops, bars and cafes. Take a stroll along this wonderfully historic street which boasts beautiful Georgian architecture that will conveniently take you from the Quayside at one end to the Greys Monument on the other, making your way past the St Nicholas Cathedral.

Take a quick trip to Gateshead and visit the Angel of the North! Built on top of the site of a former coalmine and symbolising the transition from an industrial to an information age, this impressive piece of contemporary art won’t leave you indifferent.

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If you want to take a break from the city, head to the Tynemouth. This charming village, dominated by Tynemouth Priory and Castle, has a lot to offer! Take a relaxing walk along the Longsands and be accompanied by the views of golden sand and Northern Sea. Or walk down the steps of King Edward’s Bay, but not for the view this time (which is beautiful, by the way). Here you will find Riley’s Fish Shack, a restaurant known for it’s fresh, local and sustainable seafood. In 2017, The Guardian named it ‘the eating experience of the year’!

Honourable Mention…
Based in The Cycle Hub, overlooking the Quayside and the Millennium blinking bridge (arguably the best view in Toon) and situated on the popular C2C route, is the home of yours truly – Saddle Skedaddle. The Cycle Hub is a bike friendly café offering bike hire with a fully equipped workshop for bike services and repairs. Pop in for a lovingly crafted cuppa and some delicious homemade food as part of your day exploring the Quayside!

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Flavours of Newcastle…
Right in the heart of Grainger Town you will find Grainger Market! It’s a great stop for everything food and is well loved among locals. It has managed to keep some of its original features and historical charm, together creating a great experience for the visitors. Alongside craft stalls, mini bazaars, jewellers and florists, you can find high quality butchers, French bakeries, fruit and vegetable stands as well as street food traders and cafés – a fantastic way to experience the vibrant and varied local culture.

Hidden gems…
If you are a football fan, check out St James’ Park, home of Newcastle United and one of the biggest stadiums in English football.

A very short walk from the Stadium is the heart of the Chinese community in Newcastle – Chinatown. It is one of only 5 in England! You won’t be able to miss the beautiful arch that will lead you straight to the quirky street full of delicious places to eat and shop.

For the best pubs and music venues in town, head to Ouseburn Valley! This quarter has a very special energy to it; it is where the industrial past meets today’s culture and creativity. Here, the thriving social and cultural venues exist harmoniously alongside reminders of the area’s industrial heritage. Why not visit the quirky Cook House, a true hidden gem that food lovers will certainly appreciate!

Our team says…
‘For kids… Seven Stories and the Ouseburn Farm are a must-visit! Lots to keep the little ones smiling and entertained off the bikes.’ – Fran, Marketing Executive

‘Check out Cullercoats Bike and Kayak for an ultimate outdoors adventure! You can even do a kayaking tour up the River Tyne under the famous bridges, which is very cool!’ – Jess, Leisure Cycling Expert

‘Head to the Mog on the Tyne Cat Café for a fluffy cat cuddles and a great cup of tea.’ – Jacky, Road Cycling Expert

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Feeling inspired? Experience Newcastle yourself…
Some of our classic UK cycling holidays start or end in Newcastle. From here you can start your journey through history when cycling the Hadrian’s Cycleway, or why not take on the UK’s most popular place-to-place route riding  Coast to Coast? Alternately, our Coast and Castles route offers an another exciting cycling journey taking you from the heart of Newcastle all the way up to beautiful Edinburgh. Or, for a shorter break, we recommend our centre-based experiences at Alnmouth.

For roadies, we have an exciting option to spend a weekend cycling the North East’s finest roads in beautiful Northumberland!

Finally, for those who prefer to go off-road, our Sandstone Way trip offers a rewarding mountain biking journey across one of the most remote parts of the UK, the Northumberland countryside, a great local landscape best explore don two wheels.

A breakfast for cycling champions

Here’s our fifth instalment of a series of handy two-wheeled tips written by cycling journalist Hannah ReynoldsThis week she talks about what makes a good cycling breakfast and how it is different around the world…

Eating a good breakfast will fuel your day of cycling and help you to feel fitter and stronger.

One of the great joys of a cycling holiday is the food, particularly if you are pedalling in a different country to your home. You can relax and relish new dishes you may not have tried before and with a full day of cycling you can eat and drink without guilt!

Our mothers were right, breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, particularly when you are on a cycling trip. At home we get used to same monotonous meals every morning; porridge, cereal, toast but on a trip you will be offered a whole host of different foods for your breakfast. Different cultures also put different emphasis on breakfast, many skipping it in favour of a mid-morning snack. This can feel strange if you are used to starting the day with a large meal, but we can guarantee a light breakfast has never slowed down Italian or Spanish cyclists! Here are typical cycling breakfasts from some of the many destinations Skedaddle visits.

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What makes a good cycling breakfast?
Fluids – If you are cycling in a hot country make sure you start drinking with your breakfast as you will have become dehydrated through the night.

Carbohydrate – Slower releasing carbohydrates ensure that your energy levels stay topped up for longer. Whilst porridge is a main-stay for UK cyclists you can also try rice, beans and some fruits or vegetables.

Protein – A little bit of protein helps you to feel fuller for longer and when you are cycling day after day is important for maintaining your muscles.

Caffeine – Not essential but nearly every culture in the world has some form of caffeinated drink to help wake them up in the morning!

When in UK…
Most places you stay will offer you the ‘full English’ or ‘full Scottish’ once you are north of the border. Fry-ups have a poor reputation but a cooked breakfast doesn’t have to be a bad start to the day. Select a few items instead of ‘the works’, eggs poached or scrambled instead of fried are a great protein source, tomatoes and baked beans increase your fruit and veg intake and granary toast is a good way to get slow release carbohydrates.

Scottish accommodations might offer your smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toast, a winner as far as healthy breakfasts are concerned thanks to the healthy fats in the salmon.

When in France – Petit déjeuner…
Breakfast in France is generally very simple compared with the rest of the day’s food options with many people skipping breakfast and opting for a mid-morning pastry and coffee instead. A coffee and pain au chocolat on its own will leaving you buzzing with caffeine and sugar but could see you running out of gas mid-way up the first climb.

In many French homes breakfast will be little more than bread, jam and coffee. Hotels however will offer breads, cheeses, cold meats, jams and preserves and of course croissants. You may get a boiled egg or yoghurts and almost always there will be fresh fruit. If you go easy on the pastries but make sure you eat some of the more savoury items and fruit as well then your protein and carb needs will be taken care of until picnic time!

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When in Spain – Desayuno…
Spanish aren’t hugely keen on breakfast first thing but will eat a bit more around mid-morning. A typical food to start the day off is pan con tomate – bread rubbed with the pulp of fresh tomatoes a bit of garlic and olive oil. It is simple but the fantastic olive oil and ripe tomatoes means it is bursting with flavour, vibrant and colourful. A little bit of meat or cheese might be added to this if you need some extra substance. Tortilla, omelette with potato and onion might also be served cold.

In Spain you are also allowed to enjoy cake for breakfast with little magdalenas often served with coffee. Churros are long donuts, sprinkled in sugar while still hot and then dipped into thick, rich hot chocolate. Delicious at any time of day and a favourite street food for the night owls on their way home in the early hours of the morning.

When in Italy – Colazione…
Italy is another country famed for its cuisine who opts to take it easy at the breakfast table. With larger meals at lunch time than we are used to in the UK Italians are reputed to go to work on nothing more than a coffee and a cigarette and it may not be that far from the truth!

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Breakfast is the only time it is really acceptable to drink your coffee milky, accompany it with bread or pastries and you have a fairly typical breakfast, that would often be eaten at the counter of a bar or bakery on the way to work. If you are asking for coffee avoid saying ‘Americano’ even if you want a long black coffee, in most instances asking for this will get you a jug of filter coffee that has been left to stew. Freshly made Italian coffee is one of the perks of a trip to Italy.

When in Costa Rica – Desayuno…
Breakfasts in Costa Rica are proper meals with vegetables, rice, beans, meat and fish on the menu. Delicious fresh fruits such as bananas and pineapple are freely available and the perfect way to round of your meal. Gallo Pinto is the most common dish for breakfast, although you may get different variations the key ingredients are scrambled egg, rice mixed with beans and stir fried plantain. This is one of the healthiest and generous breakfasts you can get with a great combination of slow release carbohydrates, protein, fibre and vitamins from the fresh fruit. If you are more used to a coffee and croissant type of breakfast this larger meal may seem unusual but as the day heats up, you will feel less inclined to eat a big meal at lunchtime.

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Tackle that cheeky climb!

Climbing hills is an inevitable part of cycling, no matter what type of riding you do. If you are out there on a bike, sooner or later, you’re going to encounter a hill. For some of us, this is an exciting time. For others, well, not so much. They may only last a few minutes or can go on for hours (if you are in the Alps, for example), but they definitely won’t leave you indifferent.

Our wonderful team of guides, a powerhouse of our guided holidays, are always there to support you during that climb to the top. So there was no one better to ask for advice on conquering those cheeky climbs than our team. Here’s what they had to say…

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In anticipation…
‘Have porridge for breakfast and lots of coffee. Be prepared – know the length and elevation before you set out.’ – Dan, Operations

‘Prepare your gears before hitting the hill. Relax your shoulders, breath from your stomach.’ – Jayne, Guide

‘Have a pre-climb sweetie for a kick, yum!’ – Sam, Guide

Some techniques…
‘Try to pace yourself, slow and steady and control your breathing, bum forward on a saddle, elbows low, go at a pace that you could have a chat to someone.’ – Tony, Guide

‘SPIN, DON’T PUSH. Climb at your speed – don’t chase others. And don’t forget water!’ – Paul, Guide

‘Ride out of saddle in comfortable gear. Split into mini sections and goals. Think of a tune and sing it in your mind, it sets a rhythm and takes mind off climbs.’ – Naomi, Skedaddle Italia

It’s all in your head…
‘Talk to people, tell stories; distract yourself if struggling.’ – Helen, Guide 

‘It’s never as bad as it looks, go at your own pace.’ – Anne, Guide

‘Be conscious and positive, every challenge is achievable.’ – Diego, Guide

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Think about rewards…
‘After every good climb there is a good descent. Try playing the alphabet or suitcase game. Enjoy the view!’ – Peter, Guide

‘This climb is your friend with benefits: a wonderful view, a fitter body, and a mental health boost – so why not like it back!’ – Dave, Guide

Or… for alternative advice and motivation…
‘Fake a mechanical so you get a lift in the van. And don’t be afraid to stop and look at the view.’ – Tim, Guide

‘Pace yourself, it’s not the race…. But last one up pays the beers!’ – Preferred to stay anonymous

Ready for a ride? Check out our full range of cycling holidays in UK, Europe and worldwide (hills vary, ask our team for ascent information).

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