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 on a bicycle! 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, cm

Friday, October 2, 2015

Explorer Day 2015

Including: Tredegar House, the Transporter Bridge, and Newport Wetlands
Distance: 20.8 miles
Travel Time: All day event
Ride Level: Beginner

Quite simply, this was a fantastic ride. The weather was gorgeous, the route was lovely, and the folks that came along were happy and excited to be out on their bicycles for such a wonderful autumn day.

The focus of the event was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of National Trust’s Neptune Coastal Campaign on a guided 20 mile charity cycle ride between Tredegar House and Newport Wetlands National Nature reserve.

photo by: Kevin Dupe

The group of 30+ cyclists began arriving around 9:30 eager to depart for the ride through the Gwent Levels. The day was divided into three parts beginning with a ride from Tredegar House to the Newport Wetlands. Then at the Wetlands Center, we joined in some organized activities, such as walks and nature watches. We even had time for a bit of lunch in their cafe.

Following a few relaxing hours at the Wetlands, we mounted our trusty steeds and rode back to Tredegar House following our previous route. Back at Tredegar House we were welcomed by a glorious afternoon in the gardens along with a lovely catered picnic including live acoustic music.

The ride itself was flat and easy going. We followed NCN Route 4 from Tredegar House to the Newport Wetlands where we entered onto the Wetlands cycle path that runs along the estuary to the visitor center. A special highlight of the ride too; was a historical presentation by the volunteers of the Newport Transporter Bridge while crossing the River Usk.

photo by: Kevin Dupe

A rest at Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve was a welcome break where we stretched our legs and enjoyed refreshments at the RSPB Visitor Centre cafe.

Volunteers on hand with telescopes and binoculars showed us some of the amazing array of birds and wildlife of this wonderful site.

ROUTE COLOUR KEY:  Traffic-free  Shared Use  Quiet Road  Steep Hill

Explorer Day Ride
Location: Tredegar House to Newport Wetlands
Distance: 20.8 mi. (round-trip)
Skill Level: Beginner
Approx. Time: 4 - 5 hrs.
Elevation Gain: +164 ft. / -167 ft.
Max. Grade: 3.1%
Avg. Grade: 0.0%

Check out the great video shot by Alexander Allen:

Once we returned to Tredegar House, we were greeted with a catered picnic and LIVE music making for a perfect ending to a truly unique day of cycling in South-east Wales.

Just look at those smiling faces!

photo by: Kevin Dupe

Seeya next year gang!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Newport Wetlands

Colloquial title: "Shut up and show us the damn pictures".

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Carolina Summer

I miss the sun. I miss the bright shining summer-days-on-end when it's just non-stop heat... glaring, blank relentless heat baking everything. When the heat from yesterday seems to add to the heat of today and the humidity is thick and sticky you can taste. Warm air you can feel on your forearms and neck as you walk through the yard. Wet and green and mixed with the smell of cut grass and dirt, pine needles and fresh soapy laundry hanging on the line...everything all together, all at once, all over you in a thick summer soup.

I miss seeing the heat radiating off the empty black tar country roads and the faint stench of a dead animal off somewhere to the side... where? No matter, it makes you look for it. Way outside of town, late on a Saturday afternoon folks have stopped doing much of anything... maybe sitting on the front porch, having a lemonade. The occasional car passes. A hand held out the window waving. Horses gather under the single shade tree out in the middle of the field. The tall grass needs a good bush-hog. Wonder when the last time they used that ole tobacco barn... the rusted-red tin roof bent and warped like boulders from the heavens have fallen on it. Once the water gets in, she's a goner.

The rank, acrid smell of standing water from a dark bog along the bottom of a shadowy hollow, down by the single-lane bridge, just over a spooky creek. You can see catfish two feet long weaving back and forth through the deep spots. Must be twenty of 'em down there now. And suddenly the rush of cool air before you bounce back up the other side, heading out of the shade, back into the glaring sun with thick pines a hundred feet tall on both sides of the road. Racing fast, windows down, wind roaring. Rusty with worn tires, bad shocks, rattles like Hell, but damn she’s a classic!

And then late in the day... as the air is cooling slightly, coming across the top of a wide ridge the sun sits in a yellow haze just over the tree tops and off in the distance, across a rutted field dogs are barking, a screen door slams and you can hear kids laughing. A mother hollers something inaudible.

Bright southern summer sun in your eyes… there's no place like it.
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