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.

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.

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

    Thursday, 15 February 2018

    VOLUME 02 ISSUE 02 
    Snow


    It snowed. It rained. It snowed again. Then it was cold as bejezus and froze everything making January 2018 a particularly difficult month for cycling.

    I spent the better part of the month looking out the window and refreshing the Met Office Weather website because if nothing else... the weather is damn "changeable" in Wales.

    Needless to say, I didn't reach ANY of my goals for the month. What a way to start the year, eh? I hate chasing numbers (I really do...) but I like making them. So to appease my soul for not reaching those arbitrary numbers I set out for myself in 2017; I'm going to begin this issue with a feature showcasing what I did achieve last year.

    I follow that up with a look into an ongoing project I've given myself on the Taff Trail. It's kinda daunting, but exciting. Read my overview as I begin a four part series.

    Then to supplement all you gear heads out there, I've got a couple of articles for you to read whilst sitting around: shocking talk about the triple crank and for the tech heads, an excellent write-up on gear ratios.

    Lastly, I've found a cool bike to warm your heart this snowy winter. Be sure to check out my Sexy Bike Alert. I hope you enjoy!



    Here We Go! No... Hold on a minute, it's snowing again.

    2017 Achievements
    I took advantage of the rough weather and time off the bike during January to make a thorough assessment of my riding during 2017. At first, I beat myself up for not reaching my goals, but what I later discovered; is that I shouldn't get caught up with the numbers. Take a look and tell me what you think of my year in: "2017 Achievements".




    Taff Trail: Project Overview
    It's the most well-known walking and cycling path in South East Wales. Ask most anyone around here and they know of it... many have walked or cycled parts of it. Some may have covered the entire 55 miles. Now I've got a crazy notion along with some big ideas on documenting the entire route. Take a look at my work on: "The Taff Trail".




    Death of the 3x Crank?
    It's been around for more than 50 years, now there's rumbling in the woods about it's demise. Could this really be the end of a trusted component? Read what our resident "retro-grouch" thinks about this topic in: "Death of the 3x Crank".




    © CyclingAbout 2018. All rights reserved.
    Gear Ratios
    I've been reading this guys website for years and for good reason too; he knows his shit. It's perhaps my number one go-to source for product reviews and cycle touring information. Alee is the man. Read this excellent explanation of everything you need to know about bicycle gearing in his appropriately named feature: "Gear Ratios".




    Llangynidr Commons
    It's been a difficult couple of months to get out on the bike, but earlier this February I made a wonderful ride up to the Brecon Beacons. It's hard to believe this place is just 15 miles above our home. Check out my report at the Ride with GPS website: "Llangynidr Commons".



    Out From the Archive

    Yn Uchel Uwchben y Cymoedd; Part 1


    Back in 2016 I set out to explore the Rhondda Valleys and what a treat it turned out to be. I can't wait to go back. Relive my two day journey exploring the varied landscapes of the Rhondda Valleys.

    Yn Uchel Uwchben y Cymoedd; Part 2


    Big mountains, sprawling vistas, rolling countrysides... the hits just kept coming. Join me for Part 2 of my epic journey exploring the gorgeous Rhondda Valleys.



    Sexy Bike Alert!

    Bianchi L'Eroica - Campagnolo 10sp


    Hands-down this is my choice for the most beautiful bike of 2018. I'm old-school all the way yet this gem marries the best of both the past and the present. It rocks.



    >> Coming next issue; March 15th 2018

  • Part Two on my Taff Trail Project
  • New Reads on the Internet
  • New Gallery in Bike Wales
  • Missed Hits from 2017
  • Another Sexy Bike Alert



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