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.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Wonderful, Beautiful...

January is but a distant memory. Summer is here in its full glory and it is nothing short of fabulous. I honestly don't think I've seen a better summer since moving to Wales. I've had some great rides, so I've lots to share this issue. Let's get to it!

It's a slow climb up to Shirenewton, but the views are exceptional...

Basking in a glorious summer...

I've been cycling like I've never seen the sun and taking time to write about it has been surprisingly difficult. However, I needed a few days off so I scrawled out some notes about a ride I made over not one, but two popular mountain passes in my attempt to do what the big boys do: "Twin Peaks; The Bwlch and Rhigos".

I've been slowly chipping away at a few goals that I set myself last year. I achieved one of those BIG goals last week by completing my longest ride to date; 250k in a single day. Woohoo! Read about the details of my really long day; "A Record Ride".

While I'm talking about "epics", I finally completed editing the third and final part to my "Grosmont & Skinfrith Epic pt.3". It's been a long and tedious process which has taught me a lot about riding, writing, and maybe doing too much? You can also catch up with the previous posts here: Grosmont & Skenfrith Epic Part 1 and Part 2.

But not all of my rides this past month have been about big climbs, setting records, or being "epic" (which I'm beginning to over-use, btw...). I made a very special trip that captures the essence of why I love cycling through the Welsh landscape in: Llangorse Lake. Closing out my features this month I have two new sets of images in my Gallery to share; Man Engine and Shirenewton to Usk.

Big things are happening for cyclists in cities across the globe. So I've chosen to focus a bit on urban cycling in this issue's In the News section. Firstly, I've a link to a fellow blogger and cyclist from Cardiff who writes great stuff and just happens to be very active in the local planning scene. Then I present an article in Wired that covers a broader aspect of urban cycling with its massive analysis of riding bicycles in very big cities.

I end this issue with a re-post of an archived report from 2015 when I first discovered the Newport Wetlands. And lastly of course, I've another sexy bicycle for you to gaze upon.

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

Twin Peaks:
The Bwlch & Rhigos

MY RIDES - Not just one mountain pass, but two in a row! I've climbed each of these routes seperately, so I thought it would be interesting to give 'em a go back-to-back. Check out my adventure: Twin Peaks: The Bwlch & Rhigos

A Record Ride

MY RIDES - At the beginning of the year I set myself a number of goals for 2018. I don't like to place a lot of importance on distances, but I've had an odd notion floating around my head of cycling 150 miles in a single day. I achieved that milestone on July 5th this year. Check out: A Record Ride.

Grosmont & Skenfrith Epic pt.3

MY RIDES - It's been a long hard slog behind the computer, but I finally finished writing, editing, re-editing, and writing some more about the last stage of my epic ride from April. Check out: Grosmont & Skenfrith Epic pt.3.

Llangorse Lake

MY RIDES - People have occupied Llangorse Lake for thousands of years. There aren't many natural lakes, so as Wales largest; it has a unique character that you can feel. I just love going there. Check out my ride: Llangorse Lake.

Man Engine

GALLERY - Ocassionally I volunteer as an Ambassador to Wales which often offers access to some unique and very engaging events. Man Engine was more than just an entertaining experience... it was friggin' brilliant! Check out: Man Engine.

Shirenewton to Usk

GALLERY - I've got a selection of images from this "new-to-me" route I discovered whilst training for my "Record Ride". I love this short route and now I've officially added it to my local favourites. Check out: Shirenewton to Usk.

In the News

Cities: Cardiff by Bike
It's interesting to watch how different cities address the ever-growing concerns with cycling differently. From New York to Seatle, from London to Amsterdam, they've all got unique infrastructures to manage. This fella is quite active with those efforts in Cardiff and his blog reflects those efforts with great writing and photography.

Wired: The 20 Most Bike-Friendly Cities
on the Planet

Having lived in New York City during the 1990's, I know the full extent of how unfriendly a big city can be. Much has changed through out the world with regards to cycling since then and these twenty cites seem to be getting it right.

Out From the Archive

Gallery: Newport Wetlands
2015 - I ran across these images whilst digging through my photo archive and I had forgotten all about them. Check out my first trip to this lovely nature reserve along the Gwent Levels in Newport during the summer of 2015.

Sexy Bike Alert!

Jamis: Aurora
I'm particularly biased toward this bike because my wife just bought one. As an entry level touring bike this is a dying breed. The spec, however; is spot on with a 9-speed Shimano Sora groupset, triple crank, bar-end shifters, 700 x 32c tyres, and even metal mudguards painted to match the frame colour. Check it out the old school sexy at: Evans Cycle.

>> Coming next issue; August 31st 2018

  • My Rides: Tredegar & Bassaleg
  • My Rides: Rhymney Meadows & Michaelston
  • My Rides: Chepstow to Newport
  • Archive/My Rides: 2014 - September - Penpont Campout (Maps!)
  • Archive/Gallery: 2014 - Sepember - Lady Windsor & Route 881
  • VIDEO: The Vaga Brothers
  • Charts: How I reached my goal.

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