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Enjoy the outdoors this autumn

Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons, with fields, parks and gardens full of crisp colourful leaves and lawns doused with dew. Now is not the time to stay inside for days on end with the heating cranked up high. Embrace the autumnal freshness and get some exercise, or have some fun in the fresh air. The great outdoors is the best medicine for everyone and best of all its completely free! There really is nothing better than stepping outside to clear your head and to get some fresh country air. We encourage you all to embrace the autumn weather; here are 6 activities you can enjoy in the countryside…

  1. Walking 

Walking is a simple form of exercise but often overlooked! It is one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. One brisk walk a day keeps the doctor away, as the saying goes. You do not have to walk for hours on end: even a brisk 10-minute daily walk has a lot of health benefits. So grab your favourite reliable walking boots, a warm jacket and take time to appreciate your stunning natural environment.

  1. Cycling

Cycling is one of the best ways to take in scenery and nature. This fast-paced activity is sure to draw you in, having the wind in your hair and enjoying the peace and tranquillity that the countryside offers – you will never want to return! Find a path, trail or track and you are guaranteed to stumble upon a beautiful cycling route. All you need is a bike to enjoy the fun, and with so many places you can hire a bike from for the day, no one needs to miss out!

  1. Foraging

There are plenty of berries, seeds and nuts to go round at this time of the year. They will be easy to spot in hedgerows and woodland, and you might find that local parks and your own garden provide foraging hotspots. All you need is something to collect your bounty in. Be mindful and make sure you leave plenty behind for wildlife, so only pick from an area with a plentiful supply. October is great for damsons, walnuts, hazelnuts and, if you are near the sea, it’s also the perfect time for collecting mussels.

  1. Bird Watching

As mentioned above, berries, fruit and seeds are readily available in autumn. It is a time when you will see birds preparing for the cold winter that lies ahead; flocks of birds are also very common sightings at this time of the year. So, it’s the perfect time to grab your binoculars and head outside. As well as bird watching, you’ll also have the opportunity to spot some other wildlife!

  1. Horse Riding

To quote Winston Churchill, ‘no hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle’ and this is the time of year for blissful long canters through soft fields and gentle trots along idyllic bridle paths. No more pestering horse-flies, cough-inducing dust and hard-baked ground, just crisp air, a riot of coppery colours and that gorgeous autumn glow. Notwithstanding the small matter of wet mud (much easier to brush off once dry!) autumn is arguably the ultimate season for equine pastimes.

6 Yoga and Mindfulness

Finally, take some time for yourself this autumn. Roll out your yoga mat in the garden or in a park and move mindfully in the fresh air. It is best to layer up, then, as you get moving you can start to remove some layers as you get warmer. If yoga is not your thing you can still take a mat, towel or blanket outside, sit down and practice meditation or mindful breathing. You might even have time to do this before work whilst the mornings are still light.  

Stay warm and dry this autumn with the Nikwax Sweatproofing range, which cleans and conditions all next-to-skin clothing (think synthetic and woollen base layers), with no loss of performance. BaseWash® and Wool Wash gently clean, remove embedded odours and prevent the build-up of odour-causing bacteria whilst also accelerating the ability of the fabric to dry – to help regulate body temperature when sweating. For maximum enjoyment in the great outdoors, reach for the Nikwax!

 

 

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Interview with cycling world record breaker – Markus Stitz

Markus Stitz hit the headlines in 2016 when he became the first person to cycle Around the World on a single speed bike (a bike with just one fixed gear). He peddled 34,097 kilometres in total, covering 26 different countries. But he says those aren’t the most important figures to him, “I guess the most interesting stat was the total 342,000 metres I climbed. That shows how hard the route was. This was my most significant achievement.” That’s the equivalent of 38 times up Mount Everest!

Markus has been cycling seriously since 2009. First on a mountain bike, then road then back to the mountain bike. And when he moved to Scotland he really got into the long-distance stuff. Launching Bikepacking Scotland and becoming a qualified MTB Leader.

He has just completed a 650km route in Scotland in a slightly different style, “Most recently I have been getting into gravel routes. My focus is always changing but this is a nice mixture of dirt tracks and then back to road.

“I wouldn’t describe myself as a racer. I like long distance. I use my fitness to be able to get to places I haven’t been before.”

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So, Markus, what made you want to be a part of the #DoMoreWithNikwax challenge?
“I think this campaign is really interesting and I came to it at the right time. After I had completed my Round the World trip I spent quite a lot of time at my desk developing Bikepacking Scotland. I am really feeling the urge to get back on my bike and get some big miles done. I want some adventures!

“I am also pretty passionate about Scotland. So having a challenge that includes Fort William and Ben Nevis is pretty tempting! It is inspiring me.”

The Nikwax campaign focuses on the outdoor industry’s environmental credentials. How important is this to you?
“A lot of the work I am doing at the moment is to inspire more people to use their bikes, full stop. I think the UK is a pretty car-dependent country. The more I can do to get people out of their cars and onto a bike exploring the country is a really good thing. I want to inspire people to use different modes of transport. I am very keen on not leaving footprints wherever I go. And I think this should be the same principle for any company in the outdoor industry.”

You’re going to be cycling up to 15 hours a day. How fit and ready are you feeling?
“I am pretty confident I can handle the distance. I am getting the bike up to speed at the moment. I have done the distance in the past. Two weekends ago I took the single speed bike out and covered 240km in a day and that bike is not really suitable for that! So with the right bike – which I am building up at the moment – I should be fine. The most important thing when it comes to distance is the mental side of things. Being in the right mindset. I am looking forward to long days in the saddle again – it’s going to be a challenge, but it is supposed to be.”

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Nikwax is all about protecting our gear so it lasts. How do you look after your gear?
“I am trying my best! It’s no coincidence but I have just reproofed my waterproofs with Nikwax! I recently went on a road trip in Scotland so I had to have my waterproofs ready! I am reliant on kit that does the job. It has to be rugged and functional over long distances. Waterproofing is important if you live in Scotland – we get the odd bit of rain! Your kit needs to work, there’s no room for error.”

What are you most looking forward to learning about?
Nikwax Hydrophobic Down is very interesting to me. I used a down sleeping bag and jacket on my Round the World adventure because down is a lovely warm material that’s also super lightweight. These are key criteria for bikepacking. But the only issue was I had to be really careful not to get it wet! So to be able to try out Hydrophobic Down will be really interesting.”

Where are your favourite places to ride in Scotland?
“Honestly my favourite place at the moment is Glen Feshie in the Cairngorms. It is an interesting region for bikepacking. The guy who owns the estate is keen on rewilding so the landscape is fascinating. There is one of the toughest sections there because I had to cross three rivers in water up to my waist. It’s very tricky in cycling shoes! But the land is equally fascinating and challenging at the same time.

“Another great location is Sandwood Bay in the north west of Scotland. It’s a stunning beach and bay with plenty of opportunities to pitch your tent. You’re far away from the road so the only people there are people who have had to make an effort to get there. It’s the best place for a micro adventure.”

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What are your top tips for bike packing?
“You need to have waterproof kit that also keeps you warm. The other most important factor for bikepacking is to find stuff with the lowest pack size imaginable. Weight is important but as soon as you throw a packet of biscuits into your pack you’ve negated the weight! So it’s about size. Bikepacking is a pretty good testing ground for your kit.”

Markus Stitz is a keen photographer and film maker and will be tracking his journey through his social media feeds. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and his You Tube channel.

https://twitter.com/reizkultur

https://www.facebook.com/fearlessandunique/

https://www.instagram.com/reizkultur/

https://www.youtube.com/user/reizkultur

#DoMoreWithNikwax

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Throw away your hibernation coat and get out for spring adventures.

Spring has officially sprung and we know that the days will slowly be getting warmer and more pleasant for us to get outside and step up our activity levels.

Fancy a run?

We are just weeks away from the London Marathon and many of us will be increasing training plans in order to be fit and ready for the test of endurance that lies ahead.

Even if you are not participating in as heavy duty an event as the Marathon, you may find you want to increase your daily runs to build-up fitness levels now that the days are longer and more enjoyable.

Spring is one of the best times to take your activities up a notch – the weather is not as hot as in summer, so you can push yourself further without feeling wiped out in the heat.

Perhaps trail running is your preferred choice – feeling invigorated as you make your way across a range of natural landscapes – normally in mountainous terrain, well away from urban environments. This activity is increasing with participants on a yearly basis, with people acknowledging the stress relief when being out in such a relaxing natural environment – as well as the less physical impact on your body compared to running on pavements.

If running is your chosen sport then you are open to many simple options with regards the gear that you wear. The key element will be running shoes – you don’t want anything that will rub against your feet and cause blisters! Aside from this, you just need comfortable base layers that will stay breathable and regulate your body temperature, so that you do not overheat and feel sweaty, nor do you feel too cold.

If you are training for the Marathon then find some good tips HERE! If trail running races are your thing then you can find a list of events HERE.

Perhaps a countryside treasure hunt suits you?

If running is a little too energetic why not try Geocaching! If you love taking a walk in the countryside but want something a bit different, then Geocaching is like treasure hunting. This pastime can get the entire family out and about to enjoy the spring weather and see what they will locate at all different destinations!

Key equipment will be a method of transport (Geocaches are out in the countryside!) and a GPS receiver, in order to log coordinates to take you to your destination. Once there you should be able to hunt and locate a Geocache box – feel free to add to the contents and also log your name!

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Otherwise, all you really need are comfortable walking shoes and some layers – rain can strike at any time, as can beautiful warming sunshine. As you won’t necessarily know what the terrain is like until you get there, you want to be ready in advance so you can just have fun on your hunt. Therefore, make sure your breathable outdoor footwear is cleaned and prepped in advance, just in case you reach wet or boggy ground. If footwear is dirty then you are more likely to find water being absorbed, meaning you get cold and wet feet. Having a lightweight waterproof jacket with you is also a good idea – keep any showers at bay, yet something you can pack away in a rucksack if you are feeling warm.

Want to give the kids a different outdoor adventure? Then read up on Geocaching HERE

Power to the pedal

Dedicated bike enthusiasts will get out on the hills no matter the weather and will happy endure the mud, water and ice that winter can bring. During spring, the environment can be more forgiving if you want to get those two wheels hitting the ground, without coming home cold, muddy and wet!

Make sure your bike is ready – tyres pumped, chain oiled and everything working in tiptop condition. Then get your clothing ready – once you get going you warm up a treat, but you need good technical layers, because your ride can start off cool or even damp depending on the weather.

If you have not cycled much over winter then increase your level of cycling slowly, otherwise you can risk causing injuries to your knees because the muscles may not be as used to the motion as they were.

You could start your spring cycling on local normal road routes, before building up to prettier off-road natural locations. There is so much choice out there to be had!

To find cycle routes to suit you then look HERE.

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Your key aftercare kit for all spring activities!
Whatever you choose to do, there will be a Nikwax aftercare product to suit your needs. Don’t ever let the weather stand in your way. We love the natural environment and we want you to get the most out of your outdoors experience.

Base Layer Care
BaseWash: thoroughly cleans away any contaminants on your gear, keeping them feeling as good as the day you bought them. 

BaseFresh: a technical conditioner that you can use to deodorise your running gear – it will keep them smelling fresh even whilst you are using them! Bacteria build-up is reduced, whilst the items will spread sweat and dry quickly, so you are always comfortable when running.

Wet Weather Gear Care
Tech Wash: the high performance cleaner, which removes dirt and contaminants which may be inhibiting the durable water repellency (DWR). It cleans and revives the water repellency and breathability. 

TX.Direct: the waterproofer for wet weather gear. After time the DWR needs replenishing and TX. Direct will coat all fibres of the garment with a flexible water repellent treatment. Water can bead up and run off your gear, that than be absorbed into the fabric and making you damp.

Footwear Aftercare
Footwear Cleaning Gel: for use on all waterproof outdoors / sports footwear. It efficiently cleans away all dirt, which may be masking the water repellency. For newer footwear it will also revive the DWR, helping to prevent ‘wetting out’. 

Fabric & Leather Proof: used for all combination footwear, this will provide a water repellent treatment, which develops on air drying, to ensure your feet stay dry and comfortable.
Waterproofing Wax for Leather: perfect for smooth leather footwear, it can be applied to wet or dry leather providing water repellency, whilst maintaining the leather’s breathability and suppleness without over-softening.

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A Cycling Icon

Winner of three World Enduro Champion titles and recently crowned Pinkbike’s Female Athlete of the Year, Tracy Moseley is a cycling icon for many an aspiring mountain biker, and also a coach at her local cycling club.  We grabbed five minutes with her: 

How did you first get into racing and what inspired you?
I grew up on a farm and always had a bike. When my older brother got a mountain bike and started going to local races, it was a natural progression for me to follow him.

How did your initial training schedule look compared to now?
I was pretty lazy as a kid and just rode my bike for fun and for weekend races. Now it’s a lot different: I spend five or six days a week on my bike, putting a lot of hours in over winter to get fit for the summer race season.

What’s your favourite part about cycle racing?
I love the travelling aspect: visiting new places; meeting people and the chance to ride in some of the most beautiful locations.

How do you have a successful start to finish race?
Enduro racing requires me to be out for multiple hours on race days. So I need to be self-sufficient, therefore having a pack is vital to survive 3-5 hours on the bike. Carrying water with quick, easy access is a big thing and having the flexibility to carry different size bladders is a great advantage. Space is also important to carry your pump, tools, tubes, spare clothing if the weather gets bad and even a first aid kit, as you never know if you or someone else might need it. It’s pretty vital that you’ve got everything you need to survive and I think that’s a big part of me surviving three years of the world enduro series. I pretty much have everything with me in my Osprey Raven 10.

Why should anyone get into cycling?
Cycling is a great way to stay healthy, keep fit and experience some amazing places that you would never see by car or foot. It gives you freedom and is such a satisfying way to make a journey. The racing scene is a lot of fun, it can challenge you in many ways and is a place where you can make life-long friends.

In your view, what’s a good starting point for young people interested in cycling or cycle racing?
Find a local cycling club, it’s a good social environment and there you’ll find people to ride with, coaches to help improve your riding and who’ll suggest the best local races.  When you’re young it’s important to try as many different cycling disciplines as possible to gain a wide skill base.  Watch a race first too, just to see if you really fancy giving it a go.

Tell us about your youth programme and why you’re keen to inspire younger children?
I’ve always enjoyed encouraging children to get on their bikes and take their riding one step further by racing so, for the last five years, I’ve been coaching at my local cycling club, Malvern Cycle Sport. I love seeing the children grow into amazing bike racers.  For example, recently Evie Richards, became the Cyclocross U23 World Champion at just 18. I love being able to put something back into the sport that has given me so much. At the moment it’s just a grassroots program, but maybe in time it will grow.

Tracy Moseley is sponsored by Osprey Packs.  For more information on Osprey’s cycling range click here:  www.ospreyeurope.co.uk

Tweedlove 2015

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Put Pedal to the Test with Tech Wash & Polar Proof!

Nick Mitchell is this month’s Guest Blogger. A cycle tour guide and author of cycling books, he has ridden over 25,000 miles across Britain and from Munich to Sheffield and Sheffield to Norway! He is preparing for a cycle tour – The Road to Vienna – and if you wish to join this, or a tour from Lands End to John O’Groats with Nick, then check out the website: www.pedal-nation.co.uk

I work as a cycle tour guide and having been invited to review Nikwax Tech Wash and Nikwax Polar Proof, I decided that there was only one garment in desperate need of waterproofing and that was my battered and worn orange Patagonia fleece. I’ve owned it for around 4 years and it’s been used on some eventful long-distance cycle tours, as well as being been drenched with perspiration, faded by the sun, used as a pillow, and washed and dried hundreds of times to such extent that its position in my wardrobe lies somewhere between essential cycling kit and potential gardening wear.

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I wasn’t expecting miracles from the Nikwax products but hoped that they would add some longevity to the life of the fleece: perhaps another few months on tour, whilst adding some badly needed protection from the inevitable rain showers that are part of the daily life of a cycle tour guide. I carefully read the instructions on both the Nikwax products and then proceeded to wash the fleece, firstly with Nikwax Tech Wash and then re-washing with Nikwax Polar Proof. Having been thoroughly washed and then reproofed the fleece was now dried out. It certainly smelt very fresh and had a slight sheen to the surface, which wasn’t there pre-treatment with Nikwax Polar Proof. It was now ready for testing in the field as I was supporting an elite cyclist undertaking Lands End to John O’Groats, in a sportive style time frame of 10 days. We were departing in early May and undoubtedly we would have a little if not a lot of rain.

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My prediction proved correct, rain was a constant companion from the first roll of the wheels until the very last; almost from the minute we set off we faced a range of difficult conditions, the most notable, a cloudburst over Marazion in Cornwall on the first day of the tour. As I sat in the support van after this initial rain lashing I could see droplets of water sitting on the top of the fabric rather than being absorbed, a new experience as pre treatment with Nikwax Polar Proof the rain drops soaked straight into the fabric. During the next 10 days numerous other showers tested the reproofing and it was apparent that the fleece was now resistant to rain showers for far longer than before treatment with Nikwax Polar Proof. I was now able to stand out in a rain shower wearing my fleece and confident that I wouldn’t be getting soaking wet, reproofing with Nikwax Polar Proof meant that the rain droplets weren’t immediately absorbed and it had given a new lease of life to a tried and trusted fleece; another season in the sun (or showers) beckoned.

Blog_2_Nikwax Tours Loch Ness