Welcome friends. This humble blog is about the simple observations I discover whilst cycling through lovely Wales.
I hope to offer you dear reader, cheerful reflections upon the days and miles I pedal, along with encouragement to get out and explore by bicycle yourself! Perhaps too, if I attempt a bit of amusing anecdotes along the way, I may invoke your readership as well. Thanks for stopping by... cheers, muse

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Five x 100

Hello dear readers! My apologies for not writing sooner, but fear not... you're not forgotten! I have been quite busy riding since my last post, so here's a quick update.

My 55 for 55 Event was exhausting and demanding and all-consuming and completely awesome, but I didn't stop there. No, no, no! In fact, I rode another 1,800 miles during May and June. So what I've put together today is a short compilation of five rides that I think deserve some special recognition because they were ALL over 100 miles each. WooHoo!

Chepstow & Monmouth Loop
Date: 15 May 2016
Distance: 105 miles
After riding 3,025 miles over 55 days I wasn't a faster rider, but I was a stronger rider. My endurance had vastly improved. This first long distance ride is one that I made a couple of times last year so I knew it well AND it's one that I really enjoy. Highlights include racing down the mountain from Chepstow to Tintern Abbey and then the lovely ride up the Wye Valley following the river into Monmouth.

Symonds Yat Explore
Date: 26 May 2016
Distance: 113 miles
I was really clocking up the miles in May and feeling rather confident so I made my first "explore" ride. I had been as far north as Biblins Bridge along the Peregrine Path, but Symonds Yat had been on my list for a few years. And let me say... it did not disappoint! Stunning. The real start of my ride was began as just a straight shot out of Usk along NCN Route 423 to Monmouth, but I then through town, the NCN Route becomes the Peregrine Path and follows along the Wye River. It's a great route for riders of any skill level and when you reach Symonds Yat you are rewarded with not only the most charming riverside community, but also lovely B&B's, pubs, restaurants, camping, and even an adorable little ferry crossing.

Gospel Pass Big Ride
Date: 31 May 2016
Distance: 102 miles
The Kingfishers had been talking about making this ride for a few years - and with a little coaxing we all met up in Abergavenny for a fantastic day out on the bikes. The weather was perfect. We started early. And we took our time heading up the long slog along Hay Bluff. We dropped down into Hay-on-Wye for lunch, then toodled our way back through Llangorse Lake, Crickhowell, and closing the loop back in Abergavenny. It was simply a fabulous day and Graham at 83 years of age made it without missing a beat! Quite an astounding achievement.

Massive Neath Explore
Date: 5 June 2016
Distance: 101 miles
This turned into one of the biggest explorer rides I have ever made. I got lost. I got turned round and went the wrong way - several times... and I discovered one of the most scenic views I have seen in Wales. The climbs were brutal, unending and desolate. At times I was pushing my bike along single-tracks through deep woods and asking for directions from crazed mountain bikers. I found myself wandering through huge wind turbine farms along dusty gravel roads with nothing visible on my Garmin but green forests. It was exhausting and exhilarating and perhaps one of the best rides I have ever made. Highlights include climbing Rhigos Mountain and discovering the view over Cwmparc.

NOTE: The ride was divided into two galleries: the first one is of images taken on my way to Neath; the second is of those taken on my way home.

Nightride to Swansea
Date: 18 June 2016
Distance: 106 miles
I went into this ride event without any idea what to expect. Described as an un-official and un-organised, riders were told to show up in Cardiff for a night ride to Swansea. Well, I had been wanting to make a night ride and this one turned out to be well worth the wait. Approximately 300 riders of all skill levels riding bikes of all shapes showed up for this truly unique non-event. We didn't have a leader, we didn't have a distinct route, and we all just sort of wandered our way through the morning to end up at a tiny little pub in Mumbles. I loved it. I highly recommend it and I'll probably want to do it again next year!

On a final note... I've been redesigning some of the components for the blog (can you tell?) as well as incorporating new features from Ride With GPS (shown above). Select "Show All" in the lower-right-corner window to see what's cool! To see the numbers for ALL my rides in table format view: 2016 Monthly Details.

Cheers! ~ cm

Sunday, 1 May 2016

55 FOR 55 EVENT 
Smiles Not Miles

Quite simply, I was stunned. Your enthusiastic support caught me completely off-guard. I had no idea that I would receive such encouragement. And in a word, it was fabulous! Thank you everyone. Your efforts - from kind words, cheering emails, joining along for a ride, and of course, your very generous donations - all made my efforts a wonderfully fun adventure. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Brian, Dean, C'est moi, Ivor, and John in Usk.

Christine inside the Green Flute in Usk.

Fay et moi outside the Green Flute.

(You know who) and Jo outside Fanny's Rest Stop Cafe in Newport.

Eric at Gypsies Tump

John and Ivor at Gypsies Tump

Jean, Kurt, Sian, et moi in Sirhowy Country Parc

Knucklehead #1, John, Graham, Phil, and Brian back at the Tump...

Margaret and me along the Newport Riverfront.

The lovely (& handsome) walking group I met up at Llandegfedd Reservoir.
(so sorry I didn't get all your names!)

Squinty, Barnaby, and Tim in Caerleon

Ya boy, Adrian, and Dean in Caerleon again.

Yo!, Margaret, and Jan at the Tump.

Phil, Chris, and his mates looking bit very much like cycling DEVO... 

Bill, Rose, and Sparky in Newport.

Phil, (knucklehead #1), and Dean at Tredegar House.

Me and Eric in Caerleon

Myself and crazy Graham along the M&B canal.

And with Gwyn in Waunfawr Parc, Crosskeys.

With Jean and Chris in Sirhowy Parc

Bill and myself at the WWI Memorial in Newport

Myself, Tony, and Margaret in Sirhowy Parc.

Tim and myself at Tredegar House reception.

With Fay at Tredegar House reception.

Kate, myself, and Tony again at Tredegar House...

and with Bethan from Parkinson's UK at Tredegar House.

You know who, Bethan, Fay, Margaret, Tony, Jan, Paul, Gareth, and Chris.

With Christine again outside the Green Flute

Leaving the Green Flute in Usk one last time...

Brian, myself, Ivor, Dai, and john

55 miles every day for 55 consecutive days
3,025 total miles; 01 March to 24 April, 2016.

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And that's about it for now. It's been a week since I completed my little cycle adventure. I think I've got everyone here with the exception of Kerry (my apologies). I've got loads more photos and stories to tell, so stay tuned. Thank you everyone for all your wonderful support and encouragement.

Cheers! - cm

Sunday, 3 April 2016

55 FOR 55 EVENT - DAY 19 
Breaking Down the Route - Part 2

Today's ride simply flew by. The weather was fine; cloudy but not too cold and my mind was elsewhere. Before I quite realized it, I was on the last leg home.

SATURDAY, 19 MARCH - Let's now continue the description of my route...

Section 2
Starting/Ending Points: Usk to Newport
Distance: 15.5 miles
Travel Time: 1 hour 30 mins.

Usk to Caerleon: I head out of the car park turning right onto Maryport Street and continue out of town going past the old prison. This first section is also NCN Route 42. It's lovely and flat and perfect for warming up after having sat for a few minutes in the cafe. The road snakes along side of the River Usk for a couple of miles and then veers left as it heads up into some slightly rolling hills of Llanllowell and past the quaint Greyhound Inn.

It's nice to slow down a bit at times to catch the details. You can see more in 20 miles on a bicycle than you can in a thousand miles by car.

Further on at the fork in the road the cycle route continues straight toward Wentwood, but I turn right and drop down the fast little hill, ducking under the A449 and cruising into Llantrisant.

From here it's an easy cruise past the turn off to Newbridge on Usk, down the "Llantrisant Mile", and up over "Gypsies Tump". Then it's a short glide looking out across the Usk before going back under the A449.

It's a short slow climb followed by another longer slower climb, but then I turn yet again under the A449, drop down a speedy little hill and as the road narrows, I cruise easily alongside the Celtic Manor Golf Course. At this point I've now cycled 28 miles... my halfway point for the day!

Next I head across the golf course by the driving range using the little white suspension bridge over to Usk Road. I turn left and head up into Caerleon.

Caerleon to Newport: Unfortunately dear readers, I haven't any photos of Caerleon because of all the turns, but I'll get to work on that. (And to be honest, it's an interesting notion to look back over the route and realize what I have and haven't photographed.)

Essentially, I snake my way around through the village to join NCN Route 88 by the Roman Amphitheatre and Barracks. It's a lovely traffic-free route that follows along the Usk all the way to the Riverfront in Newport where it joins NCN Route 47.

It's amazing to see all that Newport is developing along this section. The housing and shopping areas are coming together nicely. And it's a great urban panorama to cycle through.

I usually stop at the WWI memorial (just past the A48) to have my lunch looking out toward the Transporter Bridge. This is where NCN Route 47 ends at the junction of NCN Route 4. After a quick bite to eat, I'll scoot down the dual-use pavement a short piece to pop into Fanny's Rest Stop Cafe for a quick hello.

I know it took a while to get this one posted... I'll try to get the next one up sooner "Section 3; Newport to Oakdale".

cheers! ~ cm

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