So I don't know why exactly, but I got the itch to go for a short bike ride.
|Where else but up to the highlands above Fochriw...|
It's only 12 miles above our place, but from the look of it you could be 100 miles from the nearest bit of civilization. The clouds come in fast and low and the wind whips up from the valley with a roar. You want drama?... this is drama.
|Looking down on the little village...|
I was getting soaked, bracing myself against the growing wind... completely exposed. It was not relaxed cycling 1500 feet high up in the barren plains...
|Signs of the hard winter last year...|
The wind began hitting me hard broad-side, blowing me off the road. I was down on the bottom of the drop bars, keeping as low profile as possible... and still I could not let go long enough to change gears. I pulled over and yikes!... this was as far as some other creature had made it. Keep movin'... keep movin'.
|The wind was blowing hard and the rain was lashing!...|
I struggled to capture the intensity with just a fiddly little smartphone... a few minutes later there was simply no way that I could even take the darn thing outta my jacket.
|That's a storm comin' up the valley...|
This is the last shot I took before the weather became really intense. The road narrows to a single lane just over the hill and it snakes along a series of saddlebacks with deep valleys on either side. There is nothing but scrub brush, road, and sky for four long, arduous miles.
Water was running down my face and under my glasses. I had my helmet tilted hard to the side in an effort to protect my right ear from the pelting rain. Water was running down my back - inside my jacket. My gloves were soaked. My feet were soaked. My arse was a saggin'. I was pedaling steadily into the fury at a whopping six miles an hour. It was hard, wet, work... It was fabulous.
|Over the top and on the other side...|
And then... suddenly I dropped around a small curve to the other side of a ridge and not so surprisingly, the weather was rather pleasant. There was hardly any wind and no rain. The sun was actually poking through the clouds. Welcome to the Valleys of Southeast Wales. You can see the lake at Parc Taf Bargoed in the shot above. There's a visitor center, a small cafe, toilets, and shelter... if ya need it. I just rode on past and headed home.
About the route: Leaving Oakdale, I went up NCN Route 468 from Hengoed to Bargoed where I crossed over onto NCN Route 469 and followed the valley up to Fochriw. It's above Fochriw where the fun begins...
So that's it for now. Stay tuned for more stories of happy cycling adventures in Wales.
|Parting shot: Fochriw Highlands spring 2012|