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.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

VOLUME 02 ISSUE 05 
The Happy Cyclist


Spring finally arrived and the weather has been glorious! Everything seemed to bloom overnight. It's fantastic. I've been out riding and taking pictures and I've had some great cycling adventures.

Spring blossoms along the Taff Trail near Nantgarw


Note: This issue is terribly late and I should have posted this two weeks ago. My apologies. Instead, I'm sitting here in front of the computer - tired to the bone, just sort of staring blankly at the screen. I've just come off three long days of riding and I need some time to recover - both physically and mentally. It feels pretty good actually.



Something to Look Forward To...

So to start this issue, my lead feature covers a trip I made up over The Bwlch in late April. It's one of my favourite longer rides "out west" and covers some amazing scenery. I follow that report with the first installment about my second big Spring excursion: Grosmont & Skenfrith Epic (pt.1). I had yet another day of fantastic weather and I cycled my longest ride year-to-date. The next three features for this month take you to my Gallery section where I've been busy editing photos. First I've got a selection of images from or my Taff Trail project; Brecon Recce. Then I've got some photos I finally edited from a trip I made last year to Caldicot Castle. And then lastly, I've got a small group of Random Finds I uncovered whilst poking through my massive collection of image folders.

Mr. Crankshaw has cast his usual dispersions toward new cycling technology with a little rant about the latest Campagnolo groupset. While I did some basic tyre & wheel work for you to gander. I found two more rides from 2014 to update in the "Out from the Archives" and of course, I found another lovely bicycle to gaze upon.

I hope you enjoy this issue! cheers - cm
The Bwlch


RIDE w/ GPS - Parts of this ride might look familiar if you read my report "Nantymoel & Bassaleg Super 8" from this past February. This time, however; I took advantage of the wonderful spring day by climbing the long way over the Blwch. Check out my full-blown report at Ride with GPS: The Bwlch.

Grosmont & Skenfrith


MY RIDES - This ride kicked my butt. Not only was it the longest I've made this year, but more significantly; it had the most climbing! Take a look at part 1 of my epic ride through some of the hidden parts of Wales. Grosmont & Skenfrith Epic (pt.1).

Brecon Recce


GALLERY - Yes, it's true. I finally made a trip to Brecon for my Taff Trail project. Here are a few pics from that day. I'm pretty excited too because the project is starting to come together. Check out a small preview: Brecon Recce. Meanwhile, I plan to have the first chapter ready for the June issue!

Caldicot Castle


GALLERY - Last year I made a trip to Caldicot just to visit this exceptional castle, then proceeded to forget about posting my shots. Whilst digging through my squirell's nest of backup folders, I found 'em! It's a great find for a great day out. Check out: Caldicot Castle.

Random Finds


GALLERY - Editing phtos is a full-time job for the kidd. Despite his best efforts, he loses track sometimes. I found these amoungst the "squirels nest" of folders he has piled about. Let me know what you think: Random Finds.



In the News & Gear Updates

Campagnolo 12-Speed Group Set
Okay. I admit that I'm a "retro-grouch". And I concede that I really don't give a shit about racing or racing bikes. But Jeezus! Is there really any need for a 12-speed groupset or more importantly, is there any real value at £3,000? Check out this review from Cyclist Magazine and tell me what you think?!?!

New Tyres & Old Rim
After nearly 8k, I finally put a new set of tyres on my trusty steed. The Schwalbe Duranos were excellent and I rode a full year on them (almost 8k miles). Yet, I am excited and curious to see how these new Continental Gatorskins compare. Plus, I had a little incident with a split rim... see photos!



Out From the Archive

St. Michael's Surprise
2014 - I'm still digging up rides from my early days in Wales. Check out this lovely little ride I made with the Kingfishers back in August of 2014.

Gelligaer Adventure
2014 - And I've got another one from August of 2014. This time I was out with the "Green Ladies"; a local cycling group back when Sustrans had a hub in Caerphilly.




Sexy Bike Alert!

Breadwinner: Continental
Steel lugged frame? Check. Down-tube shifters? Check. Rim brakes? Check. Non-aero brake cabling? Check. Steel fork with rake? Double-check! What kind of freaky bike is this? It can't be new. Oh but it is, my friend.



>> Coming next issue; June 15th 2018

  • My Rides: Grosmont & Skenfrith Epic (pt.2)
  • My Rides: Ogmore-by-the-Sea Odyssey
  • Charts: Goals; How am I doing?
  • Charts: Getting to the Core?
  • Gear: New/Old Camera

  • Sunday, 15 April 2018

    VOLUME 02 ISSUE 04 
    The Lonely Cyclist


    It's Saturday, the 14th of April. The temperature is hovering at 7° and it's pouring down rain. It's hard for me to remember warm sunny days at this point. Winter just won't let go of little Wales this year.

    A cold Spring in Sirhowy Parc


    I wrote last month about the "Never-ending Winter" thinking that by now we'd be back to normal temperatures. Then I rode up to Manmoel a few weeks ago and the temperature was 2°. It's the coldest I've ever seen at Easter. The day was bleak and grey, the wind was howling across the mountains and it felt like the deepest of winter.



    Forgotten Spring

    I scrambled to write about my second only dry day-trip this year in; "Barry's Island Blast". I then went back and pulled some shocking content from last year to compare. Check out "Daffodils & Disasters" to see what I'm talking about! "The Big Rebuild" offers some insight into the mechanical effects our relentless winter has had on my bike (and it ain't pretty). I've then thrown in a couple of galleries to further highlight the seasonal differences: "Beast from the East" is just a few snapshots from around our house. Whilst "Lower M&B Canal" is a set of photos I shot in June of 2017 along the Monmouth & Brecon Canal between Cwmcarn and Newport.

    I hope you enjoy! cheers - cm
    Barry's Island Blast


    MY RIDES - Weather be damned; I was going for a ride. It was the middle of April and I felt as if I had hardly cycled this year. Join me on a rather somber day across the Vale of Glamorgan as I head down to the beach: "Barry's Island Blast".

    Daffodils & Disasters


    MY RIDES - As part of my continued effort to post everything from 2017, I've now added a ride which I had written for Ride with GPS last year as part of their new Ride Reports program. Read about one of my favourite local excursions in: "Daffodils & Disasters".

    The Big Rebuild


    GEAR - I've been cycling through all sorts of conditions: sand, mud, rain, ice, and snow - essentially grinding my components down over the past few months. I knew that I needed to replace the entire drive train. The rain finally slacked off and I was able to get the bike up on the stand for a day. Check out the fun: "The Big Rebuild".

    Beast from the East


    GALLERY - HAH! My wife is hardly a beast! But when the news stations named the winter storm "Beast from the East", she just wanted to go out and play. Check out some images from around Oakdale during our "blizzard": "Beast from the East".

    Lower M&B Canal


    GALLERY - I've been busy taking advantage of the time trapped indoors to retreive rides and photos from 2017. Its crazy to look back at all the lovely warm weather we had last year this time... crazy AND frustrating. Check out the sun from April 2017: "Lower M&B Canal".



    In the News

    Video: Lael Wilcox
    Check out this gal. She is rockin' the long-distance cycling world. Her numbers are simply astounding... her acheivements crazy impressive and growing. Check out her website too: Website: Lael's Globe of Adventure
    Sustrans' Big Pedal 2018
    Each year Sustrans goes to schools throughout the UK to motivate kids to cycle or ride their scooters. It's a fun and competitive program where they track the number of movers and the number of times they move! Read about this super-cool program and get yer kids moving!
    Bespoked 2018 Preview
    I'm pretty certain that I'll never own a bespoke bicycle, but I sure do like lookin' at'em. Road.cc has a good sneak-preview of the upcoming show with some highlights of the custom builds. The Hallett Cycles 650b Adventure bike is just dreamy.


    Sexy Bike Alert!

    Steel Vintage Bikes
    Not just one lovely steel frame bicycle... but an entire website of new and vintage steel bikes from which to pine over. This could be the best bike website ever!


    Coming Next issue

  • Routes: Will I ever get back to my Taff Trail project?
  • Gear: New Old Camera review
  • Cool Stuff: Man Engine

  • Thursday, 15 March 2018

    VOLUME 02 ISSUE 03 
    Firewood


    As I sit here on this dark Friday evening on the last day of February; my eyes shift from the computer screen to the window and back. It's currently -4c c (24° f) outside and it's snowing, again. I can hear the wind blasting the sides of our house and I've built a roaring fire in the hearth. I've not been on my bike for a week straight and it doesn't look as if I will be any time soon.

    Here in the UK they're calling it the "Beast from the East". The Portuguese weather stations however took a less "Hollywood" approach and simply named the storm; "Emma". Whichever you choose, it's going down in the record books. Headlines in the paper say this could be the worst snowfall in 30 years. Some say this could be the worst winter in 30 years.

    Looking down Central Avenue in Oakdale just before the Blizzard of 2018

    Thursday, 01 March 2018 - St. David's Day; When my wife came downstairs this morning, I immediately told her that the BBC had modified the weather report yet again. Now we have a red warning (a first under the new colour system). They are actually calling for blizzard conditions over the next two days. Without missing a beat, she responded; "I want to got out in it." And that my friends is why I love the girl.



    Never-ending Winter

    We've been to the Coop. We sat in the coffee shop and watched the wind blow our neighbours about the village square, nursing lattes and joking about how bad weather gets people out of doors. I'm thinking; "today would be a good day to have a fat bike." But actually, it's a very good day to write.

    I've got five short features for your online reading entertainment this month. I'm starting off with an important event that needs revisiting and a charity dear to my heart. I follow that with four more bits including: details on the inner workings of Bike Wales, a glorious ride I made during a brief respite from the Siberian blast, a small gallery of new images, and a missing report from 2017.

    I finish this issue with a bit of cycling related news to send you flying off in other wild directions. I hope you enjoy.
    Remembering 55 for 55


    I want to go back to 2016 and reflect a moment. In March of that year, I began one of my biggest ride challenges and a personal milestone. Join me as I look back on the ride and most importantly - the people that made this event so unique. Read: "Remembering 55 for 55".

    Nantymoel & Bassaleg


    I've been out on 21 rides so far this year; however, I've only written about one. Well, not every outing merits a complete write up, but my ride over the Bwlch is a classic route amoungst the Welsh cycling community and was a wonderful ride over a scenic icon. Check out: "Nantymoel & Bassaleg".

    Jan & Feb: Asst. Images


    Just like every ride may not be worthy of a report, I may only take one or two photographs during a ride. This leads to random photos floating about without much of a story. You can see a quick round up of these images in my lastest gallery: "Jan & Feb: Asst. Images".

    Brecon & Beyond


    I promised to keep working on the ride reports which I failed to write up during 2017. Here's a favourite of mine from February of last year. The weather has certainly been different this year! Check out: "Brecon & Beyond".

    Never-ending Redesign


    I've got a short piece about my blog redesign. It's visually subtle, but requires a great deal of detail work on the backend. You may have noticed that I dig that kinda thing. You can read about all the mundane details of my efforts in; "Never-ending Redesign".



    In The News

    Path Less Pedaled
    Ya gotta love this guy... His approach to cycling is nothing short of charming, plus his reviews are spot on. He's got a great YouTube channel as well. Go on. Check it out and get lost in the World of Russ for a few hours. You'll be glad you did and with 20,000 subscribers, he's clearly doing something right! Path Less Pedaled / YouTube Channel & Pathless Pedaled website
    Bicycle Times Magazine
    Okay, I admit that I found this site from reading Path Less Pedaled, but it's a blatent indorsement of them both. There's so much exuberance on the Internet about cycling these days, it's nice to find a site that seems down-to-earth and rational. It's a well thought out read. And they seem damn friendly too.

    Pannier
    First off, this website is a visual delight. The overall design and photography are simply stunning. Plus, this month they've got a video on a trip through Wales! That's reason enough to check'em out. Give your lust for cycling a good visual rub. Then come to Wales!

    Bike Scheme for Cardiff
    Cardiff tried having a bike rental scheme a few years back and it failed miserably. We'll see how it flys this go'round. It's a trend I'm not so sure of, but if it can lead to improved cycle lanes in town then I'm all for it. I hope it's a flying success.

    Sexy Bike Alert: 2018 Fuji Touring
    Most people wouldn't describe a touring bike as sexy, but I'm that kinda dude. Bar-end shifters, rim brakes, and triple-cranks rock my world. I'll not make any apologies. 40 years ago a Fuji America was hands-down my dream touring bike. Just go check it out. (and see: an original Fuji America)

    UPDATE: Part Two on my Taff Trail Project: ON HOLD DUE TO WEATHER



    Coming next Issue
    • Will I get to ride my bike this month?
    • Will I write Part Two on my Taff Trail Project?
    • Will I have a new Ride with GPS Report?
    • Will I be forced into another month of reviewing my archive?
    • Will Wales ever see Spring again?



    Bike Wales is published once a month - on or about the 15th. I generally write on personal topics - on or about cycling, as well as outside features I've discovered during my wanders across the Interweb. Drop me a note and tell me know what you think.

    Thanks for stopping by... Seeya down the road. Cheers! cm