My first year in Wales was quite simply - stunning. I discovered some of the most beautiful countryside whilst cycling over this little bit of South East Wales. (view my gallery here). On the weather front, it's been a record year for rain often making the rides long and wet. But despite it all, I climbed on the saddle on 111 days and pedaled over 5000 miles (I think that deserves some braggin' rights...). Read below for just a few of the highlights...
|Lookin' back... an lookin' good.|
I started off in January buying a new touring bike; a Dawes Ultra Galaxy. I finally made the upgrade to 700cc rims, 27-speed, areo "brifters", (including that crazy STI), and big fat cantilever brakes. (In fact, my '78 Trek has been packed in it's shipping box since July 2011, along with its' tiny brakes, and down-tube friction shifters...). The new Dawes is a serious tourer and classic without question.
In March I joined Sustrans as a volunteer ranger. I began working with Tim John in Cardiff on an assortment of projects ranging from managing event booths, trail maintenance, leading group rides, and even helping in the office on marketing materials and website updates. I took several training courses; became an Active Travel Champion, and beginning in January of 2013 I will be the Group Coordinator for the Caerphilly District of Sustrans. (Read more about Sustrans here.)
While wandering down the mountain into Abergavenny on a cold late-April morning, somewhat lost (as is the case often enough), I ran into a group of eclectic cyclists that quite simply - adopted me. The Kingfishers have since lead me about every Tuesday on a wide variety of "historical tours" to educate this American hayseed to all things Welsh. And if you've been keeping up with my blog, you know that their tours through the Wye Valley have been nothing short of brilliant. (ex; Land of Discovery... Llandovery)
|Brian, John, Graham, and Ivor.|
And then there is the crazy man; Will Rossouw who has single-handedly shown me more cycling trails than I ever new existed - plus a better way to get anywhere in Wales (see below). Or read this; Talybont Adventure or Maybe Maerdy, Maybe Not. He and his wife Joanne are quite a charming couple and it's been a pleasure to get to know them through cycling.
So... there's not much more to add. It's been a fabulous year... just check out my previous diatribes! I am a lucky boy, indeed. Braggin' rights sit here.
|John Wilson of the Kingfishers|
|Hey butty... watch the road!|
|Will Rossouw; "Magellan of Wales"|
|"I don't need no stinkin' road."|
|Tim John; Volunteer Coordinator Extraordinaire, Sustrans Cymru|
|A rare sight... and proof that Tim does leave the office.|
And now for your viewing pleasure...
|Are ya sure ya wanna ride yer bikes, boys?|
|How ya like them cookie bars?|
|Is anyone paying attention to anything?|
|Tim workin' his magic!|
|Will workin' his magic.|
|Of course, Joanne has her own special powers.|
|A lovely day to remember...|
Thank you everyone for making 2012 such a joy. Cheers, cm.
In memory of Holly. A very special girl.