Introduction

WELCOME! I've been cycling through the Southeast Valleys of Wales since 2010 and I can't say (or show) enough about the place. I just love it. So if you've got the interest and would like to spend some time... sit back and let me show you some of the fabulous places I've discovered.

Monday, 19 June 2017

BLOGGING 
Content Mangement


I've been pretty busy for the past couple of months. I've kicked up my longer rides trying to go a bit further north and west. Surprisingly enough, I got a call from Parkinson's UK to venture out the Vale of Glamorgan. You can see the results of that trip to Ogmore by the Sea as well as my last Sustrans ride below. I've rounded up some of the details from several other recent adventures along with my take on "humble-bragging" in my !00 Mile Club. Finally, I've thrown in a link to a retro bike from Pashley I quite fancy.
Thanks again for stopping by.




Parkinson's UK and the NGS
I was asked by Parkinson's UK to lead a group ride to promote their relationship with the National Garden Scheme. You can see some of the fun we had visiting seven unique gardens in my Special Event Gallery.

[ Read about the Parkinson's UK & the NGS Cycle Tour ]



Cordell Country Heritage Ride
I've moved on from volunteering for Sustrans, but you can read about my last lead ride from May of this year. It just happens to be one of my favourites too! See the gang and fabulous weather we shared in this Special Event.

[ Read about the Cordell Country Heritage Ride ]



2017 100 Mile Club
Many may laugh at the extent of which I track my cycling... but cycling is what I do AND I also enjoy a good spreadsheet. You can view the dirty details in one subcategory of which I am particularly proud.

[ View the 2017 100 Mile Club ]



Fochriw Highlands & Taf Valley Report
I continue to write reports on my adventures for Ride with GPS. Take a look at the stylish layout offered by RwGPS stylish in my latest installment covering a unique route along the Gelligaer Common as well as a tasty section of the Taff Trail.

[ View the Fochriw Highlands & Taf Valley Report ]



Pashley Retro Racer
I've been "eye-ballin'" this beauty for a while. One day maybe I'll have one for myself. Meanwhile, I thought I'd share the love.

[ View the Pashley Retro Racer ]



Wednesday, 14 June 2017

DAY TOUR 
It's good to chat...


The day started rather chilly and grey, but by noon the sun was out and it turned into a glorious summer day. And it's not often that all the Kingfishers are out together! Overall a fabulous day.

Ivor, Eric, John, Phil, Brian, & Graham






Heading into Caerleon along the Usk at high tide.


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

GROUP EVENT 
Parkinson's UK & The National Garden Scheme Cycle Tour



It's come about quickly, but we've got a lovely cycle tour planned for Sunday 28 May.

Lesley Jenkins and her husband Mike (not pictured), welcomed me at their
lovely garden during the pre-ride planning day.

I made the ride last Sunday to learn the route and find all the destinations. I can testify that it's F A B U L O U S ! I've written out the agenda along with some additional details in the Events section of the blog. [ Read more about this event... ]

If you've got the time and inclination, come on out. It's gonna be a blast!



IMPORTANT LINKS

☞  Read how Parkinson's UK and the National Garden Scheme are working together, click here.

☞  To find a garden within the National Garden Scheme near you, click here.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

BLOGGING 
Zen Master



"... some things are better than others, that is, they have more quality, but when you try to say what the quality is, apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof! There's nothing to talk about. But if you can't say what Quality is, how do you know what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn't exist at all. But for all practical purposes it really does exist." - Robert M. Pirsig

I first read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" in my early twenties while failing miserably in architecture school. The book completely fucked with my head and put another high velocity kick into my already spinning confusion about what the hell I was doing with my life. And I loved it.

I know enough philosophy to get me in trouble. That is, I've read quite a bit... took some courses in college covering the classical Greek thinkers, read a bit of existential crap and other European hoohaa, and then I was raised as a confused Presbyterian in a little Southern redneck town. So, I know as much as anyone and everyone.

Persig died today. And though I haven't read the book in years, I can honestly say that I carry it with me in my thoughts every day. To say that the book had a profound impact on me is to put it mildly. I've returned to the damn thing several times; especially while dealing with the knuckleheads in grad school. Its critical analysis on life has been a tool I employ to this day. (Case in point; "What the fuck do the Brits mean when they say 'proper'?")

So I'm saddened by this news. But perhaps some folks unfamiliar with the novel will pick up this philosophical-tome and they too will receive a great deal of comfort from the rational thinking on an irrational world. It's fucking quality.

- Rasputin Crankshaw

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

BLOGGING 
Ride Reports


I'm not planning to turn this blog into a portal, but I've been busy with some other things of late that I thought you might find of interest. Check out the links below and let me know what you think.



Ride with GPS
They've a powerful new feature that I've found completely engaging; Ride Reports. It's a pretty straight-forward component that allows the user to create magazine-style articles to elaborate upon their rides. Check out some of the great stories from all over the world.

[ View RwGPS Ride Reports ]



Portland Design Works
Recently, I won some cool swag from this company so I am without a doubt - completely biased. But you should check out their gear too because they've some great stuff... I particularly fancy the metal fenders/mudguards.

[ View Portland Design Works ]



Cool New Swag!
Check out my cool new swag in closer detail in my gear section. I'm loving the "Owl Bottle Cages" as well as the "Fenderbot", but what really rings my bell... is my lovely new brass bell! Plus... don't forget the great new jersey and cap from RwGPS.

[ View Cool New Swag ]



Sexy Bike Alert!
I can't recall how I came across this beauty... surprisingly, it's not offered for sale in the UK. It pushes the boundaries for what I normally appreciate in a bike in all the wrong ways. But I dig it.

[ View Sexy Raleigh Bike ]



More Charts!
I've been playing yet again with Googlesheets to create some new graphics to supplement my riding details. This week I've got two new charts showing a comparison of my mileage between 2016 & 2017. Check out the cool interactive features which allow you to mouseover elements to view specific details!

[ View 2016 vs. 2017 Charts ]


cheers! cm

Saturday, 22 April 2017

BLOGGING 
Earth Day 2017


I was just a boy of 10 and I clearly remember all the excitement of the very first Earth Day in 1970. I'm going for a ride today and think about what I can do...



There are some surprising statistics in this short animation... the most shocking to me is that the world's population has doubled? Wow! I did not know that. How soon before it doubles again? Urgh... I'm going for a ride before I spend countless hours searching the Internet.

and on that happy note... cheers!, cm

Sunday, 16 April 2017

BLOGGING 
Exploring Bike Wales & More...


I've taken a slightly different approach to this latest post in order to showcase some of the additional features of which you may not be familiar.



Gallery
Melanie and I took off this week for a day to explore Caerphilly Castle. It had been on my bucket list for over five years and I was thrilled to finally go there. The weather was outstanding and chasing my queen about the darkened castle was a hoot!

[ View Caerphilly Castle Gallery ]

Charts
To be quite honest; I'm addicted to spreadsheets. Many of you know the extent of which I document my rides... but in fact, you may be quite surprised at the ridiculous amount of data I attempt to track. Slip over and check out some of the new data sets I've added to the morass!

[ View 100 Mile Club ]

Gear
Okay, I admit it. I love a good bit of bike porn as much as anyone. And when it's my bike performing the visual stimulation, well... enough said. If you're interested in viewing some of my latest "portraits", why not head over to the Gear section of my blog and have a gander?

[ View Latest Bike Porn ]

Ride With GPS
If you know me; you know I love RwGPS. Now they've introduced a new feature that I'm absolutely hooked on. Check out some of the latest reports from like-minded cyclists - cycling all over the world. Do it now. If you're not familiar with their website; [ check 'em out ]

[ View Featured Reports ]

Sexy Bike Alert!
I ran across this little beauty last month and thought you might want to give her a look. She's quite an unusual build in these heady days of carbon-fibre toy bikes. Masi and California have come up with a great blend of modern and retro for the gravel lover in all of us.

[ View Sexy Masi Adventure Bike ]



I hope you enjoyed exploring a bit... why not add a comment and tell me what you thought? Seeya next time. Cheers! muse

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

GROUP EVENT 
Winding House Ride



Going to the Winding House in New Tredegar to see the thing in operation was really impressive. The weather was fantastic. It was wonderful to see everyone and we shared a lovely ride up through Rhymney Valley. Ya can't beat that!






But the Winding House is all about the machine... on a MASSIVE scale. And you really have to see the thing running to appreciate the magnitude behind this force of engineering. It is humbling to reflect upon how its basic operation was central to the extraction of men and coal.


It's quite unnerving to see something this massive spinning - in an enclosed space... and you are so near to it. Crazy!


And yet, we can walk away and relax... have a coffee or tea with cake. (So unlike what the miners had!) I wonder what they would think if they saw us today? Sitting back and contemplating their lives... their struggle and hardship... was it all for this? I feel quite fat and lazy and extraordinarily fortunate, yet I hope to show my appreciation and understanding. I truly admire the people that lived and worked here.



























Today, I was not in a hole in the ground. I was not digging coal. I was out in the sunshine, with my friends, having a bit of vacation, riding my bike like a crazy loon. I didn't have to come home to wash coal dust off in a dirty metal tub in the kitchen and go to bed early only get up to do it all again.

I am clean and the day is bright and I can look back and remember this day... this day was unique and I am very, very fortunate. Yes, I am a lucky boy, indeed. Thank you everyone.

Winding House Ride Part 1



Winding House Ride Part 2



Thursday, 16 March 2017

DAY TOUR 
Mad Explore & Discovery Day


The weather was glorious, the ride; an adventure.


I set out to cycle up to and around Langors Lake. On the way, I was going to explore a road that encircles Blaen-y-Cwm Reservoir just above Brymawr. That was at least my plan.


The scenery was enticing and though the road was unpaved, it was certainly passable. The views did not disappoint. The road, however; diminished quickly...




... and my plans for reaching Langors Lake fell away as I gave up the road and began a two-hour slog across the moors to escape the mire.




I followed "goat paths" when I could... but most of my time was spent dragging the bike sideways over the tall grass dodging the wet. And despite my best efforts to avoid the mud, I was covered in muck up to my knees.


It was physically exhausting. Sweat poured from my face and I could only go a hundred feet or so before having to stop to regain my breath. But the views...


And then suddenly, over the top of a small hill I spotted a vague sense of civilisation... and relief knowing that I might escape my mis-adventure.




Who were these people? What lives did they live? Way up here in the middle of nowhere... who knows of them now?






I stopped to reflect... I was completely overwhelmed with what I had just been through. Had I not given up the road to trail blazing, I would have never found this hidden treasure.


Then I was down... out from the moors, and never has a paved road been more appreciated.

(... pause for a moment...)



Because as I got back to cycling; new and different vistas began to unfold.


How can so much diversity be found in such a small place... over such short distances?







...and then there is this; Clydach Gorge.


This photo epitomises my claim; "Wales is like living in a model railroad". Note: There's a cycle path down there too... running along the old rail line. Hmmm?

But first let me finish this road ahead... what looms before me now?




The air was warm with a slight breeze. The road was well-paved, perfectly flat, and beyond traffic of any sort. So sometimes ya just gotta shut up and let the photos do the talking...


















If you saw my post on Facebook, the road ended and became a wide footpath that snaked around the side of the mountain. I went as far as I could ride and stopped...






... to have my lunch overlooking the Usk Valley and the village of Llangattock.


Then I turned around and headed back as I came, thinking; the road deserved one more look, one more ride on this amazing day.







"You lookin' at me?"



I then needed to make a decision on how to cycle home. Riding to Langors Lake was completely out of the equation... I had spent too much time hiking across the moors. But I could go down through the valley to Llanfoist where I could get onto the Monmouth & Brecon Canal? I had a few hours of daylight left... AND I had my new dynamo hub light. 'Nuff said.


Then I was back through Brynmawr, into the woods, down the crooked path, and along the other side of the valley... into Clydach Gorge!




















And just as quickly, I was then heading down the cycle path toward Llanfoist...








... and the Monmouth & Brecon Canal.










Dusk was setting in. I had been out on my bike for over eight hours at this point and I still had over 20 miles to cycle home...




... and just like the light, I was fading fast. I fired off a few more snapshots as I wobbled down the tow path, but soon it was dark and my head was down as I rode the final miles home.




Thank you Wales.




POSTSCRIPT: It had been an enormous day. It had been exhilarating and exhausting. But there is even more... yes. I've created a gallery of nearly 100 images (edited down from over 300...) that shows the full extent of my photography on this day. If you've further interest, here's the link;



Thanks for stopping by... cheers, cm