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Martin's top winter tips for cyclists

Martin's top winter tips for cyclists

If you're like me, and by that I mean, living in the northern hemisphere and "blessed" with a long and cold continental winter, I pity you. :) The relationship between winter and cyclists is just dead from the start. No future there! So here are my tips on how to make it through winter without loosing your sanity.

1. Dream big

The Transfagarasan Highway in Transylvania, Romania. 

The Transfagarasan Highway in Transylvania, Romania. 

If you're just stuck indoors for so many months it helps to have a big and inspiring goal for the following season. This is the time for researching your dream tour, for making plans with your rider friends and start doing the arrangements. It will give you a different mind set and a new meaning to your cold, snowy and fogy days. Personally, my ginormous challenge is doing the Transcontinentall Race #5.

>>> Need inspiration? Check out our cycling tours. Road Cycling on the Transfagarasan and Mountain Biking in the Transylvanian Alps

2. Cross train

Cross fit.

Cross fit.

I always use this time of the year as an opportunity to build my cycling strength. There are plenty of tips out there of the specific exercises you could do. I go to cross fit classes two times a week and that's just an amazing workout for me. Also, think about giving trail running or skiing a chance. Even though you're not using the same "cycling muscles", it definitely helps with maintaining your endurance. Oh yeah, one great endurance workout I've been doing recently is the rower. Awesome total body workout + endurance.

3. Join a cycling camp in the South

Tenerife Island. 

Tenerife Island. 

If you have the budget and the time to get away, one thing that you could always do is, instead of waiting for the spring to come to you, for you to go where there's spring already. I'm talking about joining a cycling camp in some place where is warmer. The Pro's usually go to Mallorca, Tenerife or Southern Spain. I'm lucky enough to host a road cycling training camp in Tenerife in March so that is something I absolutely look forward to. 

4. Ride indoor

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I hate myself for giving out this tip! I think that the beauty of cycling comes from the fact that you get to be outdoors, to explore and to feel alive. Riding indoors just kills it for me. But, I have to be realistic and admit, that if there's snow and ice on the road, there's no way to ride out. So yeah, I also use this time to ride the indoor trainer or the stationary bike. Listen to your favorite podcast or audio book, read all those articles you saved months ago and maybe, just maybe, you'll feel time pass faster.

5. Ride outdoor

Even if it's just once a month, I try to find an opportunity to go out and ride. There's nothing like a REAL ride to boost the morale and get the endorphins going. If it's too snowy for the road bike I take out my mountain bike and ride on trails, through the snow.

How do you manage to go through the cold winter times? Leave your tips or thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

Why the hell should I visit Romania?

Why the hell should I visit Romania?

In case you're still asking yourself "Where is Romania?" or "Where is Transylvania?", perhaps you should read this article first: "Where is Transylvania"

Look, I know there are plenty of articles out there written by people that have already visited Romania in the past couple of years and have had an incredible, positive experience. Here are just a couple of them if you'd like to read them:

Things you didn't know about Romania by Travel Away

Here are some reasons to never ever visit Romania by Happy Traveler

9 reasons you should be afraid to visit Romania by Heart My Backpack

Lets not forget that we also have Lonely Planet recommending Transylvania (you know, that more famous region in Romania) as their 2016 region of choice. That's quite something, right?

Nevertheless, I'll still take my chance at bringing something new on this subject since people that come on our tours are more adventurous, cycling or trekking savvy and not that keen on cultural or historical aspects.

So, I'll mostly share my five reasons and one anti-reason for "Why the hell should you take a cycling or trekking holiday in Romania, in 2016?"

1. It's the nature, baby

View of the Piatra Craiului National Park in Transylvania, Romania

Most of the experiences above, mention the breathtaking nature as one of the main reasons for coming to Romania, and that's not without justification. We've been blessed with all types of land forms: the Black Sea, the Danube Delta, the Transylvanian Plateu and Hills and, of course, the Carpathian Mountains. So basically, in just 6 hours you could taking a bath in the Black Sea and then trek on top of Moldoveanu at more than 2.500 meters above sea level. This gives you plenty of options for exploration and practicing various sports on your holiday.

2. The Mountain Biking trails are awesome. And not crowded at all.

Mountain Biking trails in the high Bucegi Mountains

I actually believe that Romania is one of the least known high quality mountain biking destinations in Europe and quite possibly in the World. With a forest cover of roughly 30%, quite similar to Switzerland or Norway actually, there are endless single tracks options through the woods. Let's not forget the Alpine routes in the Carpathian Mountains. And as I mentioned at #1 you could practice MTB on all types of terrains: from the shores of the Black sea to the ridges of the Transylvanian Alps. Check out my more detailed article on the "Five of the the most beautiful off road cycling holidays areas in Romania".

3. The Road Cycling is intense

The Transfagarasan Road, Transylvania, Romania

Maybe you were actually thinking that the roads in Romania are bad, crowded and not suitable for road cycling. You wouldn't be that far from the truth. Actually I'm not encouraging you to tour Romania on a bike - although other people have done it and it's not that bad, it seems.

We have some epic climbs that are actually worth doing at least once in a lifetime. I'm mainly talking about the Transfagarasan and the Transalpina but also other nearby routes. One of our fellow cyclists and clients from Norway, has actually mentioned that climbing the Transfagarasan on a road bike was one of his childhood dreams. How about that for a new tagline: "Martin Adventures is making dreams come true". Check out my more detailed article on the "The five most difficult cycling climbs in Romania".

4. The accommodation is authentic

Inn on Balaban in Bran

I never thought that I'd put this on my list, but yes, I'm actually doing it. Most accommodations in Romania are bad and customer service sucks. I know. But, look, I'm not talking about the average places now. In the past couple of years some forward thinking B&B owners figured out they could just have decent service and that alone could take them ahead of the competition.

They managed to keep the local atmosphere and flavor, improved on the comfort level and the client service and there you have it. They are pretty successful now and others are following their lead. I can easily recommend ten great accommodations in Romania such as Inn on Balaban. You'll find them in the "The Adventure Travel e-Guide to Romania" you can opt to receive at the end of this post.

5. The community

Me with my friends and family

Me with my friends and family

Us Romanians have learned to believe that "we're a friendly and hospitable folk". This is more or less a myth. One guy, and by this I mean "a scientist", actually made a serious study on the subject and we didn't come out as friendly as other people in Europe. But here's something else that he found out. Things radically change when we're talking about small communities. Romanians tend to organize themselves in these small, trust based and niche communities.

What I'm saying is that, if you manage to make your way into these kind of niche communities, you'll be surprised by how much people are willing to give without asking anything in return. These means that, when you're planning your trip in Romania, adventurous or not, you should look for signs that the local provider (B&B, host, tour operator) has ties with the local community and they are willing to let you in.

6. (Not for) Dracula and Vampires

Bran Castle, Transylvania, Romania

You won't find any vampires here in Transylvania and for that matter...not anywhere the world. You know why? They don't exist. Grow up! :) Really now, if your only reasons for visiting Romania are the vampire stories and the castle in Bran, you'll surely be disappointed. Of course, there will be plenty of people trying to make some profits out of this story but most Dracula tours, restaurants or birth places, etc. are just a waste of your time. Believe me. If you don't, read this very long article by Livescience on The Real Dracula.

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What do you think? Do you agree with my views on this or not? Looking forward to reading your comments below.


Looking for the next UK Brand Ambassador

Looking for the next UK Brand Ambassador

Silviu writes his thoughts on the Martin Adventures community and launching the Brand Ambassador Program. Also you may read about how to enter the #MARTINADVENTURES Instagram contest and win a cycling trip in Transylvania, Romania.

Where is Transylvania?

Where is Transylvania?

Transylvania is the travel destination for 2016 according to Lonely Planet and other experts. Here are a couple of general facts about Transylvania and Romania. In case you're wondering, I did answer some of the Dracula questions. Enjoy!