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, 30 June 2018

Lovely, Spectacular...

This year started out cold and wet and completely miserable, but now it's turned into one of the most spectacular summers I've witnessed in Wales. I'm having some fantastic rides... and YES!, I'm getting into it!

Peeking across Pontsticill Reservoir on a late May afternoon

Struggling with time...

It's Tuesday; I should be out cycling with the Kingfishers today, but it's raining and I'm a few days behind getting this post together. I'm feeling rather reflective as well, so it's a good time to write.

I'm starting off this issue with three big features. First, I have a report on a wonderful ride I made to Ogmore-by-the-Sea at the end of last month. Next, I've got the second half of my super-intense ride to Grosmont & Skinfrith castles back in April. I then follow that with my first instalment on the Taff Trail; Brecon to Pontsticill. And just to cap off my features this month, I put together the full set of images from Ogmore Castle in my Gallery.

I've got a couple of quick links to a pair of cyclists I think worthy of a read, followed by a review on the latest tech from Campagnola. Let the the opnions fly! Lastly, I've pulled one of my favourite routes out from the archive and yes, I found another sexy bike for you to check out.

I hope you enjoy this issue. Thanks as always for stopping by. Cheers! - cm

RIDE w/ GPS - I have been dreaming of this trip for several years. I took advantage of some spectacular weather on the late May Bank holiday to have a great cycling adventure along the Vale of Glamorgan. Check out my full-blown report at Ride with GPS: Ogmore-by-the-Sea Odyssey.

Grosmont & Skenfrith Epic pt.2

MY RIDES - This ride has turned into a massive project for me and yet, I've still more to do! I should have the final part completed next month. Meanwhile, here's Part Two of my epic ride: Grosmont & Skenfrith Epic pt.2.

Brecon to Pontsticill

MY RIDES - It's been a tough 'ole slog to get this thing put together... and this is just the first part! I've been working on this for nealy six months, but I feel that now I've got a sold working model. Take a look at my first version of this route descriptioon and tell me what you think. Taff Trail - Brecon to Pontsticill

Cardiff Bay

GALLERY - Sometimes ya just run across something exceptional. So it was on this lovely June day as I was passing through Cardiff on a training ride. I found that I had to slow down to shoot a few snaps. Whaddya thunk?: Cardiff Bay.

Ogmore Castle

GALLERY - I put the full set of images I shot whilst wandering about the castle on my Ogmore-by-the-Sea Odyssey. Plus, I've added a new sub-section to my Gallery just for castles! Check out: Ogmore Castle.

In the News

Mpora: Nigel Sylvester
I don't normally read much about BMX bikes. However, I stumbled across this guy and I just dig his whole approach. In fact, I've never heard of a "professional cyclist" who is not competing in some form? Check out some great videos showcasing Nigel's philosphy along with some pretty sick bike moves. How does he do it? I dunno, but it is awesome!

Jonas Deichmann: Living a meanigful life...
I just discovered this cat a few days ago and if you're interested in long distance cycling, you need to check this guy out. He takes solo rides to an entirely different level. Currently, he holds the world record for cycling across Eurasia and plans to attempt a Panamerica solo record. His web site has great stories and excellent photograpy. Plus, I really dig his attitude on life.

Bikesoup: Road Disc Brakes
Debate is very hot regarding disc brakes on road bikes. Personally, I think they are "over-tech" with the exception of use on mountain bikes. This detailed article by a wheel builder sums up the issue(s) better than any I've read and I think he's spot on. Take a few minutes to give this one a gander and tell me: "what do you think?"

Out From the Archive

Cordell Country Heritage Ride
2013 - I was given the novel "Rape of the Fair Country" by my wife when I first moved to Wales and it had a profound affect on me. I created this circular route as part of my Wales Heritage Series for Sustrans back in 2013. Join me on a scenic and poignant ride through the South East Valleys.

Sexy Bike Alert!

Salsa: Marrakesh Deore Drop Bar
With the growing popularity of "gravel riding" bikes, Salsa offers a unique combination of gravel and touring componentry. I love the 9-speed Deore drive train, Cowchipper handlebars, and Brooks saddle. I think it's a great looking set up. Also they have a version with straight handle bars... pretty interesting stuff. Take a look and tell me what you think.

>> Coming next issue; 01 Aug. 2018

  • Rides: Caldicot to Oakdale
  • Rides: Llangorse Lake
  • Rides: Twin Peaks - The Bwlch & Rhigos
  • Charts: Goals; How am I doing?
  • Gear: TRP Brake Levers Review
  • Gallery: Man Engine
  • Gallery: Shirenewton to Usk

Thursday, 31 May 2018

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 Epic pt.1

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. 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