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.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Llangynidr Commons

Part 1 of 2; Oakdale to Brecon
Distance: 32.2 miles

I began this day trip with a ride heading north toward Brecon. Its roughly 32 miles up through the Brecon Beacon Mountains from our home in Oakdale. We're really fortunate to live so close to this spectacular national park. If you visit Wales and plan to do some cycling, you simply must cycle up through Llangynidr Commons. I've climbed quite a few mountains in the Brecon Beacons including the Gospel Pass and to be honest, I think this is one of the best.

The route starts just off of NCN 46 along the Heads of the Valleys on the B4560 from Beaufort to Llangynidr. I suggest riding out from Beaufort because not only is it easier, but more dramatic.

It's a slow ride at first. The climb is steady and subtle.

But then quite suddenly you reach the top and the valleys just unfold beneath you. In the far distance you can see Talybont-on-Usk, Brecon, Llangorse Lake... while the Brecon Beacons loom up along your right.

Then the ride down to Llangynidr is not one for the faint of heart. It was quite easy for me to reach speeds over 40 mph during the three miles of steep descent and some of the switchbacks are "hairpin turns" which require very long and hard breaking. Needless to say, I didn't get many photos...

Halfway... looking down.

... and looking back.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Looking for Moleman II

I caught some type of chest infection in early June of this year which laid me up for a couple of weeks. The weather had been exceptionally nice and I was worried that I was going to miss some lovely days cycling. But once I had recovered, I started training again on this little route up behind our village.

The road is rather rough in places and it has a steady climb of about five miles.

So this is my short training ride; all of six miles... up to Manmoel and back.
And look at the views!

Then to round off the ride, I generally continue back down the mountain to Blackwood and up the other side of the valley to Hollybush just to tack on another seven miles. It's nothing difficult, but makes for a great start if you've been out of the saddle for a while. There's hardly any traffic and well... it's rather nice, I think.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Rhymney Meadows

As Fall approaches on this chilly August morning, I cannot help but reflect back over the wonderful Spring and Summer we've had this year.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

St. Michael's Surprise

As usual, the Tuesday ride with the Kingfishers began with the question all around; "where do you guys wanna go?" As usual, we all shrugged our shoulders and collectively said; "I dunno... where do you wanna go?". Thankfully, Clever John had notions of visiting yet another church of historical significance north of Raglan.

So out came the map and loads of scouring, pecking, and finger pointing. And then after a bit of wild gesticulating, we decided upon a route of which we were vaguely familiar. We counted lefts and we counted rights, and then we four set off. Four wobbly old men, rambling out of Usk, on a crusade to find St. Michael's Church in the village of (can you say this?) Llanvihangel-Ystern Llewern.

Okay... so the doors were locked and there wasn't much of a story once we reached the village. What was the significance of this little church, John? I dunno. I guess I'll have to look this one up later. But when I looked closer at the map I saw a strange dotted line moving along just below where we were standing.

Wait... what? I've heard of this. And it's where? Holy cow! It's right here!... just behind the church!

Yup... its a ditch. But not any ditch... it's a very old ditch... It's Offa's Dike, no less.

And that's what I love about cycling with these crazy old men in Wales. We always stumble across some sort of wonderful history. 

You can just barely see the ditch in this photo...
it's the dark horizontal line running just beneath the trees.

Just look at the sky. We had one short rain shower where we huddled together under a bus shelter for about 45 minutes (should have a taken a photo!!!) and then voila... more beautiful blue sky.

A fabulous day.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Gelligaer Adventure

At the time of our decision to climb up to Gelligaer Common I was concerned that it would be too much for some in the Green Ladies group, but after a brief discussion they all seemed enthusiastic and wanted to give it a go.

So off we went. And it does have some hills to climb, most notably riding up through the Fochriw Moors.

Looking back toward Fochriw.

In one short mile as you climb across the moors and up along the mountain side everything changes in scale. The view down Darren Valley is stunning.

The road across the moors.

Once up on Gelligroes Common you have views into both Darren and Taf Bargoed Valleys. Traffic is generally non-existent with one or two cars at most, but for some reason on this day it was surprisingly busy. We even saw an Asda "Free Bus". URGH!!!

Heading across the ridge.

But the real fun came just a few minutes after reaching the top. And it came on quick and hard. Before we could get our jackets on it was thundering with SLEET. I kid you not. It started sleeting. (profanities flew as fast as the wind whipped...) I snapped this one quick photo and that was it for the day.

Get yer jackets on!!!

We cut the trip short by not heading down into Parc Taf Bargoed and over to Hengoed. Instead, we shot straight across the ridge (raining!, raining!, raining!), through the wooded farms and down into Gelligaer. Then a fast cruise down the rather steep and busy B4254 to the Pengam Train Station.

ROUTE COLOUR KEY:  Traffic-free  Shared Use  Quiet Road  Steep Hill

And that was it for the day! Whew! Super-intense, dramatic, gorgeous, and very, very wet. See ya soon Green Ladies.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Second Saturday - August 2014

We had fabulous weather, a beautiful day... and a wonderful ride. It was simply one of those rides where ya just keep on it... "wanna stop and take a break?... no, no... let's keep going!" There is so much to see and such changes... it really is one of those rides where ya get it all.

Ya gotta love Wales. I could take photos, but I have already. This was about the ride. The Ride.

Here's the route. It's one of the best and we'll do it again soon.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Second Saturday Ride 
August 09, 2014

Wanna join me for a ride? Why not skip town and go some place new... and I'd love to have you come along. I'll be heading up to Abergavenny on Saturday, August 09, 2014. The ride will start and end at the Cwmbran Train Station. Start Time: 09:30 am.

This is a fabulous little route that runs up NCN Route 492 to Brynmawr then across NCN Route 46 through Clydach Gorge and heads back down NCN Route 49 along the Monmouth & Brecon Canal. I thought I'd head into Abergavenny for lunch and then get on the canal path for a leisurely ride back.

The total distance is just under 40 miles, but depending on whether I go into Brynmawr or Abergavenny - it could be shorter or longer. The beginning of the ride is a mild incline along an old railway line where you pass Blynavaon and Big Pit. Once in Brynmawr there are several short connectors on some quite lanes, but it's essentially traffic-free the entire trip and gorgeous. The ride back will be along the tow path that follows the Monmouth & Brecon Canal which is absolutely flat.

If the travel time seems long, it's because on the return trip the canal path winds back and forth like a snake. (I think you travel as much east and west as you do south!). Plus I'm taking into account stopping for some great photos. I'll be heading over the top of Clydach Gorge and then around and down through it... which is simply stunning. Bring your camera!

Send me an email if you wanna come along by clicking; I WANNA RIDE! I'll keep a close watch on the weather and if it looks threatening the day before (Friday, August 8th), I'll probably reschedule.

Select "View Full Route" to see an enlarged version of this route.

ROUTE COLOUR KEY:  Traffic-free  Shared Use  Quiet Road  Steep Hill

Clydach Gorge Loop
Location: Cwmbran to Abergavenny
Distance: 39.6 mi. (round-trip)
Skill Level: Advanced
Approx. Time: 5 - 6 hrs.
Elevation Gain: +2187 ft. / -2187 ft.
Max. Grade: 9.7%
Avg. Grade: 0.1%

Sunday, 9 March 2014

A Word About February 2014

It was wet. In fact, February 2014 was the wettest month ever recorded in the entire history of recorded weather in all of the UK. Got that? We had more rain ever recorded in a single month.

photo credit: bbc news

It was horrible. It was cold and windy and it rained and rained and rained. Thousands of homes were flooded and the coasts of Wales, Cornwall, and Devon were battered. Quite simply, it was like nothing ever seen in the UK.

photo credit: Met Office

Read and see more at:
And along with the horrible weather, I caught a cold with a relentless cough that kept me inside for most of the month. So between the two, my cycling was pretty much non-existent during February 2014.

But on a much more positive note... March is looking F A B U L O U S ! ! ! I've been out cycling a few times this month and yesterday was the nicest day we've had this year.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Horrible, Terrible, Inexcusable!

I am without excuse for not posting sooner... and now I've talked it up?!? I've sent people to my website without providing current or more importantly, relevant content... Horrible, terrible, inexcusable.

So... if you are reading this because of my flappy mouth, well... here are a few quick links to direct you to those very things I've yapped on about... URGH!!!

Of course, you should take some time to explore... just poke around... because, well... I want you to!

cheers! ~cm