Introduction

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

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Danger Ranger...


Could this be another beautiful day relaxing in the garden?

That's right! 
But what is the purpose of all this literature...?

It means one thing...
I am now an official Volunteer Ranger with Sustrans!



I rode down to Cardiff yesterday and met with the folks of Sustrans. Starting on April 5th, I will be working in the staff office on Thursday afternoons to assist in a variety of volunteer communiques. I also will be given a route to monitor;

"There are several key tasks for rangers, most to be carried out monthly, others less frequently. These include checking the signing on the Network, reporting missing signs and sometimes putting up temporary ones, plus checking the whole of your route in the spring. You will also keep an eye on the vegetation and cut back overhanging branches and brambles, monitor and report potholes and other hazards and help look after sculptures and mileposts."

You can read more about volunteering with Sustrans here.



Along with the exciting news of becoming a ranger, I rode over 50 miles yesterday. I got on the Taff Trail (NCN 8) at Quaker's Yard and followed that all the way to Cardiff Bay (29 miles). I was surprised to find that the ride only took about 2 1/2 hours. So I had lunch in Bute Park and then pedaled around town until my meeting (10 miles). It was another beautiful spring day with the temperature well into the 20's. The roads were surprisingly empty in town so I had no difficulty wandering around Cardiff Castle, Millennium Centre, Mermaid Quay, and more.

Look how festive those boys look kicking just about a ball beside that 2,000 year-old stone circle and is that a 600 year old castle in the background? Jeez...

A view from the other side...




After the meeting, I rode the train back as far as Crosskeys where I then hopped on NCN 47 in Sirhowy Country Park and rode home (11 miles). Cheers, cm

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Magnificent Spring...

Honestly, I am not feeling my best today. I had loose plans of riding with my "Tres Amigos", but the details were never formalised - so I'm happy to relax at home, recap, re-coup, sit in the sun and fiddle with this blog. (and so here I sit...)


It is absolutely gorgeous such as we are having nothing short of a magnificent Spring this year... (my first in Wales actually). The Met Office is treating us very well with plans to serve daily temperatures of 20c all week.

Following my intense adventure last Tuesday, 20 March; "Looking for Clydach Gorge", I took a couple of days off. I did however, get back on the saddle for a bit of exploring on Friday, 23 March titled; "Bedlinog Meander", which I followed up yesterday with my "Primary Ride" down along the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal to 14 Locks then back up through Sirhowy Country Park. (see maps below...)





I want to take a moment to point out my other partners in publishing crime... Picassa and MapMyRide. I use both extensively to accompany and/or distract from my diatribe. if you are unfamiliar with either product, I suggest you click on the images below and start explorin'!



and now for some photos...




From a sleepy-misty morning the day exploded into brilliance.





... and I cannot help but wonder about this sign... thankfully, I'm almost home.


cheers for now... I'm off to Cardiff tomoz!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Looking for Clydach Gorge...

Yesterday was quite a day. I set out thinking I'd have a fairly straight forward ride toward Abergavenny to meet with the folks of Sustrans, but that turned out to be rather naive, to put it mildly.

Following a backbreaking climb from Tredegar to Brynmawr, I rode east along the cliffs of NCN 46 for about 2 miles to suddenly find Clydach gorge closed due to construction and renovations. Urgh. (see photo below...)


Not to be deterred, I cycled back to the entrance and tried a different approach over the top toward LLanally Hill. 30 minutes later I knew that there was no turning back. The narrow road turned to unpaved trail then to dirt path and finally to what can be best described as a "goat track". (see photos below...)


I found myself at the top of a mountain without GPS service and no where to go but down... down a very steep mountain. (see photos below...) I continued on with only a vague notion of where I was heading when suddenly from around a blind curve another cyclist popped up and asked; "where ya headed, mate?" And with that surprising encounter I was lead down the mountain into Abergavenny. Despite having a great little adventure, I unfortunately did not meet up with the group from Sustrans... until next time.



Once into town I came across a group of gentlemen relaxing on a bench by the park along the Usk river. As it turned out, they had ridden their vintage touring bikes up from Cwmcarn. Weird?!? So after a brief introduction, explanation, and the general "how-do-ya-do's", they offered to lead me back down the valley... and away we went. What a wonderful surprise. (More about these fellas tk...)




Meanwhile here are a few more shots from around Clydach Gorge.






and here's the gratuitous "bike shot"...




On Monday I rode an easy route through Sirhowy Country Park and along the Monmouth & Brecon Canal as a warm up for the longer ride I had planned for Tuesday. Needless to say, the little ride shown below did NOT prepare me for 63 miles and over 2300 feet of climbs that were to pass under my wheels.



Sunday, 18 March 2012

Oakdale to Caerphilly to 14 Locks Loop

I finally rode on the Taff Trail (NCN 8) from Quakers Yard to Nantgarw. I then cut east on NCN 4 into Caerphilly and on to Risca & 14 Locks. It's a fairly easy ride with the only small climbs coming along the country lanes between Bedwas and Rogerstone.



 And I took some photos along the way...








Thursday, 15 March 2012

Oakdale to Tredegar to Merthyr Tydfyl Loop

A wonderful ride way up into "cowboy country" and just touching the Brecon Beacons National Park... and finally getting some serious mileage under me arse. I must admit though, it took me over 8 hours to complete this trip (including a flat tire at Dowalis...). That's a whoppin' 6 miles an hour! But I will claim some braggin' rights over the 1847 ft. climbs! I was completely wiped out at the end.













A remarkable day.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Oakdale to Merthyr Tydfil Loop

I cycled this part of of the National Cycle Network last week (Starting on NCN 47 just south of Blackwood to Quakers Yard & then north on NCN 8). I started out in the cold rain but then the sun came out, and then it got foggy and damp, but then it was sunny and humid as I finished... "Welcome to the Valleys", as I've been told.



This is a great ride with a wide assortment of interesting things to see. The viaduct at Maesycwmmer is perhaps the most notable. (And yup... the bike path runs right across the top!) I'm going on a longer trip tomorrow; the tail leg of which will be this path. I'll be sure to get some photos to post and update.

Note: Merthyr Tydfil: Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Also: The Wheel o Drams is an impressive sculpture on the eastern side of the Maesycwmmer Viaduct.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Oakdale to 14 Locks to Sirhowy Park Loop

One of the most surprising geographic elements I have found in the UK has been the canals. Who woulda thunkit? (Not this ignorant hayseed... ) And of course many of these canals now have bike paths that follow along where horses once trod making for some of the most scenic and relaxing rides.

NEW! Photos added from yesterdays ride:










This path runs 5 1/2 miles south from Cwmcarn to 14 Locks. after a short break and snack, I then turn around and ride 4 miles back up the way I came to the village of Crosskeys where I cut over onto the Sustran Cycle Path #47. I then ride approximately 4 1/2 miles through Sirhowy Country Park. Except for a short connection at Crosskeys; it is completely car free, flat, and an easy-peasy ride.

Also of note: Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal and www.CycleStreets.net (and excellent smartphone app!). Check it out.

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