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Top mind hacks to keep you happy up hills

If you are out on a bike, sooner or later, you’re going to encounter a hill no matter what type of cycling you do. For some of us, climbing is an exciting part of the ride. For others, not so much. If you fall into the second category, cycling journalist Hannah Reynolds is here to help! Here’s 5 easy mental strategies that will help you learn how to love hills…

Photo by Alessandro Gallo

Breathe out…
Focusing on your breathing is an easy way to relax your body as well as making sure your muscles are getting the oxygen they need to power up the slope. When we start breathing shallowly and fast it sends signals to our brain that our body is under stress and in difficulty. Our shoulders tense up and our heart rate accelerates. You may think you are breathing faster because you need more air, but you may also be breathing faster because your mind is fearful or panicked by the climb ahead and is responding to your emotions.

Break the cycle by consciously slowing down your breathing rate and breathing more deeply. This will calm and relax both your body and your brain. Focusing on exhaling hard will help your next breath go fully to the bottom of your lungs. Concentrating on pushing the air out of your lungs also works to distract you from any negative thoughts about your climbing ability and discomfort you feel. Practice deep breathing exercises off the bike, yoga classes or meditation apps so that you are ready for your next big hill.

Photo by Ludovic Franco

The traditional climbing face of a racer is somewhere between a snarl and a gurn, its ugly, it speaks of suffering, but something as simple as smiling can help you climb better. The action of turning the corners of your mouth up in a smile helps to relax the muscles of your jaw and neck which also sends messages to your brain that you are calm, relaxed and in control – exactly how you want to feel whilst climbing up a hill. Research has even shown smiling is all you need to do to be happy. The added benefit of this technique is that everyone around you will you think you are super human as you smile your way up the climbs, barely registering any discomfort.

Photo by Lighttrapper Photography

Ride with others…
Skedaddle guides know that sometimes a bit of company can make all the difference and that hills appear easier when we aren’t on our own. Research published in 2008 agrees with us! Researchers looked at how our perception of a gradient changes when we are on our own compared with being with friends. They discovered that participants estimated the gradient of a hill as being less when they looked at it with a friend. If you find hills challenging don’t tackle them alone, buddy up with another rider and it will make the experience feel easier.

Photo by Lighttrapper Photography

Chunk it up…
As with any big task reducing a climb down to smaller sections can make it feel more manageable. For instance, pick a point further up the road, such as a tree, and focus on riding to that point. When you get there do something new, may be take a sip of water or ride out the saddle for five pedal strokes, then pick your next target. On long mountain climbs you may need to chunk it up in different ways. As well as setting yourself small goals for the sections that you can see you can also break down the climb by kilometre markers, every marker you pass have a couple of sweets (Skedaddlers love the  happy world of Haribo) or a sip or two of your water. Not only does this help you tackle the climb mentally it also ensures that you have the energy to get to the top!

Photo by Lighttrapper Photography

I love hills…
Hate hills? Rubbish at climbing? Too slow? If this what you are thinking as you approach a climb it’s time to change your tune. Talking negatively to ourselves can make us feel fearful, our body tenses up and we start to breathe more rapidly. We expect the climb to be difficult and we start expecting failure. Instead turn it on its head, “I love climbing”, “this is making me stronger” “I am feeling good”. It might not sound much but it works!

If you hate climbs, and tell yourself that repeatedly, you also start to avoid them and make excuses not to do them. You know the number one way to get better at climbing hills? Yes, it is climbing hills. Tell yourself you love climbs, seek them out on your rides, smile as you approach them and take a deep breath. Before long you really will love climbing.

Ready to take on the hills now ? Check out our full range of cycling holidays in UK, Europe and worldwide (hills vary, ask our team for ascent information).

Meet the Team!

Our team in the office is a passionate bunch and alongside efficiently organising our extensive range of cycling holidays for you, they enjoy escaping for fun on their bikes too.

Read on to discover more about some of the amazing folk that help make the wheels turn here at Skedaddle…

Name: Adam Walker
Job Title: Head of Sales and Customer Experience

1. Your history at Skedaddle…
Although you may not guess from my youthful looks I have been at Skedaddle for 11 years. I have looked after every type of cycling we do at one time or another and now my main focus is making sure the experience we provide our customers is top notch! I have been lucky enough to try quite a few of our trips both close to home and far flung but I always enjoy going to visit our teams in Sardinia and the south of Spain because they know the best sites and places to eat and drink.

2. What is your bucket list cycling destination?
I have always wanted to go to Japan but never got the chance when it was in our range a couple of years ago so I am really excited that we are offering it again in 2018. Being a bit of a glutton I also have my eye on our new trips in Piemonte as the food and wine are supposed to be incredible.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Getting up hills are as much about practice as fitness or strength. Get out on your bike as much as possible before your trip so you get used to looking ahead and deciding how you are going to tackle each climb, either sprinting up short sharp ones or selecting a lower gear and spinning your legs up longer hills.

4. If your ride was a movie, what would be your soundtrack?
I like the quiet hum of tyres on tarmac! But if I need firing up a bit, something like Legend Has It by Run the Jewels is a go to.

Team Leisure and Family

Name: Kay Cliffe
Job Title: European Leisure Cycling Product Manager

1. Your history at Skedaddle…
I’ve been with Skedaddle for 6 and a half years. Starting as a complete novice, having only really ridden my bike as a kid, and in and around town, coming into the world of cycling mad Skedaddle was certainly an eye opener! Since then I had a chance to experience Holland, Croatia, Denmark, Spain, UK, Azores and also Slovenia from the saddle. There’s really nothing better than waking up in a morning knowing a new destination awaits your wheels!

2. What is your bucket list cycling destination?
South America – specifically Colombia, but I don’t think I’d manage the 50 odd mile climb. So since I’m more suited to gobbling up plates of pasta, Pisa to Florence please!

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Get up early. You’ll see everything in a new light. Whether that’s the light from the sunrise across some misty landscape, or seeing a city before it awakes, either way, you’ll get to see what the masses don’t.

4. If your ride was a movie, what would be your soundtrack?
Tina Turner – Proud Mary!

Name: Ruth Long
Job Title: European Leisure Cycling Travel Consultant

1. Your history at Skedaddle…
I’ve been here a month and a half now and have previously loved the Sardinia Island Flavours trip!

2. What is your bucket list cycling destination?
Slovenia – Capital to Coast. I’d love to explore this lesser-visited country – to explore the capital Ljubljana and then cycle west, stopping for coffee in Italy, and on to Piran where I’d treat myself to an outdoor spa treatment at the Salt pans.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Always pack your swimming costume in your hand luggage – if your luggage gets lost and you have no clothes, at least you can swim.

4. If your ride was a movie, what would be your soundtrack?
Chic and Nile Rogers live from Glastonbury 2017 – legendary!

Name: Alison Marsh
Job Title: UK Leisure Cycling Product Manager

1. Your history at Skedaddle…
Having a background in travel and tourism and a great outdoor enthusiast, I joined the Skedaddle team in 2010 specialising in UK Leisure cycling holidays and have never looked back! I absolutely love the variety that working for Skedaddle provides and literally going that extra mile to make sure that everyone has a fantastic holiday.  If I had to pick my favourite trip, then it would have to be the Coast and Castles route from Newcastle to Edinburgh. Stunning coastal landscapes and masses of ancient castles and pretty villages. Totally biased of course as I live in Northumberland.

2. What is your bucket list cycling destination?
Got to be the new Romans, Reivers and Ancient Castles trip that we’ve introduced for 2018. It’s a wonderful, varied trip that covers 290 miles combining the Hadrian’s Cycleway and Coast and Castles routes.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
There’s no shame in walking (especially up that cheeky climb).

4. If your ride was a movie, what would be your soundtrack?
The Chain – Fleetwood Mac.

Name: Lizzie White
Job Title: Family Cycling Product Manager

1. Your history at Skedaddle…
I’ve been at Skedaddle over 12 years and have joined trips in Asia, Africa and South America with many fantastic memories! Always love discovering somewhere new, whether it’s a hidden gem close to home or a new adventure further afield.

2. What is your bucket list cycling destination?
I’ve always wanted to try out our Asturian Coastal Ride, great scenery, culture and a refreshing glass of local cider waiting at the end of each day.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Always carry a spare inner tube.

4. If your ride was a movie, what would be your soundtrack?
Tamacun by Rodrigo y Gabriela!

Team Road

Name: David Hall
Job Title: Road Cycling Product Manager

1. Your history at Skedaddle…
I’ve been at Skedaddle product managing since 2004 and during my time here I’ve guided in excess of 120 trips in over 40 destinations. Too many highlights to mention but I’m at my happiest when I’m on my bike looking down from the summit of some mountain we’ve climbed – always amazes me how quickly you forget about the struggle once you reach the top!

2. What is your bucket list cycling destination?
I don’t have a bucket list but of course I’m looking forward to trying out all the new trips we have on offers this year, especially some of the Hidden Gems because they’re basically a compilation of the favourite off-the-beaten-track roads of the Skedaddle guiding team – you just know they’ll be taking us to some special places.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Once in a while deactivate Strava, switch off your Garmin and forget about numbers and competing with people you’ve never heard of. Do it like we did when we were kids and ride for the sheer joy of it.

4. If your ride was a movie, what would be your soundtrack?
Black Betty by Ram Jam.

Name: Kerry Ashberry
Job Title: Road Cycling Travel Consultant

1. Your history at Skedaddle...
Joined after seeing the Skedaddle van out on the road!  Sent in my cv and voila!  I was actually in Tarifa boarding the ferry for Tangier when I got the good news. 5 years later here I am liasing with our man in Tarifa, Dan the man!

2. What is your bucket list cycling destination?
I would love to ride Ventoux one day – may as well pedal all the way through France to get to it, so… St Malo to Nice!

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
There ain’t nowhere in the world you can’t explore by bike!

4. If your ride was a movie, what would be your soundtrack?
Tour de France by Kraftwerk.

Name: Jacky Drummond
Job Title: Road Cycling Sales Coordinator

1. Your history at Skedaddle...
I’ve been a part of the road team here at Skedaddle for 2 years and I’ve been off riding my bike on the North Wales UK weekend (the weather was cracking!!) and the Italian Puglia tour. I’m now getting muddy with the odd Mountain Biking trip too and I’ve had a great time in Ullswater, and I guess this was one of my best memories, I just couldn’t stop smiling! Another favourite memory and also the one thing I look forward to each year is ‘Guides Week’ – getting together with the full team in a fun environment. Bike riding, lots of laughter and a few cheeky drinks. 😉

2. What is your bucket list cycling destination?
My bucket list trip is the Italian Dolomites, of course this needs no explanation! The challenge of the epic Zoncalan and the Dolomites peaks are a huge draw.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Keep an open mind and enjoy the full experience. From the social aspect of a group trip, through to the cycling and the enjoyment of the different cultures and destinations, soak it all up!

4. If your ride was a movie, what would be your soundtrack?
I could ride my bike and belt out Aerosmiths Crazy all day long!

Team Long-haul and MTB

Name: Andrew Straw
Job Title: Co-founder and Cycling Adventures Product Manager

1. Your history at Skedaddle…
Been here forever and looking forward to my knees surviving till I’m 80!

2. What is your bucket list cycling destination?
Japan – loved developing this one and can’t wait to share some sushi and cycling with some Skedaddlers.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Always check opening times of the café before you set off on a ride…especially in Winter. After washing your cycling kit at the hotel sink wrap it in a towel and ring it out to get rid of the excess water. This works best with someone else’s fluffy towel.

4. If your ride was a movie, what would be your soundtrack?
Fleet Foxes and Keaton Henson if feeling mellow, Christine and the Queens if in France, Jon Grant and Foo Fighters if I need to get a wriggle on and anything that does NOT include Bicycle Race by Queen.

Name: Matt Cain
Job Title: Mountain Biking Product Manager

1. Your history at Skedaddle…
At Skedaddle 5 years now, primarily looking after our Mountain Biking and long-haul Cycling Adventures. I also do a significant amount of guiding, which I enjoy immensely. I’ve ridden most of our UK tours as well as a good selection of our European destinations. Every trip is different and it’s the people that create the lasting memories, both colleagues and customers.

2. What is your bucket list cycling destination?
Anywhere that I’ve not been before, so right now my next new destination is a bespoke trip through the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. I’ve not travelled in Africa so our new Swaziland trip is also very much on the list.

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Just do it! You hear a lot of mentions of being so ‘lucky’ to be able to have great travel experiences, but in reality we make our own luck. If a trip looks good to you then go for it, whether you are a solo traveller, a relative newcomer to cycling or after a big challenge you’ll have a great time!

4. If your ride was a movie, what would be your soundtrack?
I love the soundtrack of cycling; tyres on dirt, heavy breathing, wind in the trees! But if I had to choose then some good old fashioned guitars and drums rock: Foo fighters, Green Day!

Name: Mark Oliver
Job Title: Travel Consultant

1. Your history at Skedaddle…
I joined Skedaddle/Meet the People team earlier this year in February. I had previously guided on a Way of the Roses trip a few years back for Skedaddle. I’ve also spent 5 years cycle guiding across the UK and Europe. I very much look forward to sampling any of the many holidays on offer – specifically Road cycling as this is where I feel most at home.

2. What is your bucket list cycling destination?
Cycling in the Azores looks and sounds pretty amazing – idyllic scenery, fantastic climbs and great roads. Heaven!

3. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t ever underestimate your fellow cyclists (especially some of the old boys out there). You can always learn from each other. Plus… “Nobody ever died of tired legs!”

4. If your ride was a movie, what would be your soundtrack?
Riders on the Storm by the Doors. Or maybe Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin.

10 breathtaking sights best admired from the saddle

We’re pretty proud to say we’re the largest independent cycling holiday provider in the UK and we think our extensive range (over 252 trips and counting) certainly does this fact justice!

Having sourced some exiting new two wheeled trips for the New Year, we wanted to share some of the sights we’re most excited for you to see from the saddle in 2018…

1. Slovenia: Lake Bled
Welcome to a natural wonderland blessed with unspoilt lakes and fairytale gorges! One of the absolute highlights of Slovenia is the small but perfectly formed Lake Bled, a picture perfect destination that really is a joy to experience from a bike.

Apart from being surrounded by the breath taking Julian Alps and fairytale medieval castle right on the shores of the lake, what makes this place so special is the tiny island at its centre, which is home to a lovely church that you can visit. Legend has it that the three rings of a bell in the church on the island are all it takes to achieve your wildest dreams, time to make a wish…

2. The Azores: Sao Miguel
Sao Miguel is the biggest island in the Portuguese Azores archipelago, a chain of islands situated some 900 miles from mainland. This coastal wonder boasts some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable, including volcanic craters, emerald lagoons and a dramatic coastline.

Our road cycling specialist was so blown away by the island’s amazing scenery that he felt like he had stepped onto the set of Jurassic Park! With an amazing road network and some challenging climbs to thrill along the way – this is an incredibly exciting road cycling destination promising something a little bit different.

Photo by Joby Session

3. Africa: Swaziland
Head into the heart if this undiscovered wild kingdom! Swaziland is one of the only few monarchies in Africa and its fascinating traditional culture is deeply engrained in everything you will encounter. People here are also renowned for being overwhelmingly friendly and welcoming, so you’ll feel at home right away.

By far one of the biggest lures to this country, has to be the chance to take in some of the largest mammals on the globe though.  If spotting giraffe from the saddle wasn’t on your bucket list before…we bet it will be now!

4. Italy: Umbria
This often overlooked part of Italy features some of the most beautiful medieval villages in the country and comes served with the gorgeous green valleys and traditional Italian culture, on the side.

Whilst the so-called city of peace Assisi may be the main attraction for most to the region, our routes enable you to also soak up the lesser visited Spoleto, a visually stunning town situated right on the foothill of the Apennine Mountains. Spying the arches and dramatic fortress from your bike is certainly a sight to savour.

Photo by Valerio Mei (Shutterstock)

5. Japan: Mount Fuji
Japan needs no introduction and our two new holidays here aim to show cyclists some of our favourite places which we gurantee will thrill adventure seekers! On our inspiring city-to-city journey from Tokyo to Kyoto, the iconic Mt Fuji will be a stunning back-drop to your rides – this snow capped beauty is a cracking sight to soak up, and after a day in the saddle, famous soothing hot baths is just what the doctor ordered!

6. Italy: Stelvio Pass
For road cyclists seeking grand Tour inspired challenges, the Stelvio is an absolute must. Just one look at photos of the dramatic Alpine scenery will make you want to take on the challenge for yourself and join us right away. With 48 legendary hairpin bends, this is a regular haunt of the Giro D’Italia race, and it’s not hard to see why…

Photo by Lighttrapper Photography

7. France: Champagne
Famous for it’s wine production, Champagne is a region that radiates with class and appeals to the senses. But most importantly, the terrain and climate that makes great wine here also makes for great cycling giving us some fantastic views and an enjoyable days in the saddle!

You can cycle through the famous regions like Champagne, Burgundy and Bordeaux on our brand new long-distance tour from Belgium to France – our latest addition to the Iconic Journeys range!

8. Italy: Lake Garda
The shores of the lake provide a beautiful backdrop for a gentle and relaxing cycling holiday! With so many idyllic natural vistas, it really is little wonder the region is one of Italy’s biggest tourist attractions.

Whether gliding by scented vineyards, orchards, tiny charming towns or towering mountains, the glistening Lake Garda is never far from your sights, a view the whole family can enjoy on our relaxing Lake Garda Explorer holiday.

Photo by Lighttrapper Photography

9. Peru: Lago Titicaca
Prepare yourself for some mind-blowing technical descents! This exotic biking destination is not for the faint hearted and offers up a great array of technical riding that is arguable amongst the best in the world.

One of the most amazing discoveries you will make on the trip is the unique floating reed islands of Lake Titicaca – home of the Uros tribe who pre-date even the Incan civilization!

Photo by Elisa Locci (Shutterstock)

10. Holland: Zaanse Schans
With barely a bump in sight, Holland is the dream destination to whet your wheels. For your chance to learn about this extraordinary country that lives and prospers below sea level, the iconic windmills in Zaanse Schans give a great insight, alongside providing a picture perfect backdrop for cyclists. Combine this with a stay on board a barge for the duration of your trip and you’ll enjoy an authentic insight into Dutch way of life.

Photo by Jeni Foto (Shutterstock)

Feeling inspired? 2018 dates and prices are now live on our website! Check out the full Skedaddle range to find out where your wheels will take you next…