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, 6 October 2018

Quality of the Light

Autumn is here in all her dying glory. Wales of course, is draped in rain, but not without colour. Join me as I look back at some of my memorable rides from late summer and autumn of 2018.

Like Conrad's Heart of Darkness, set in Wales...

Distracted by procrastination...

Once again I am sat inside, avoiding the rain, wracking my head and heart to justify not riding. I should be out. What's a little rain, eh? However, I am looking at photos and scribbling little bits of diatribe. it's a perfect day for working on my blog.

I've put together four new features from my late summer and autumn adventures for you to check out. Plus, I've thrown in a new gallery of images to look over. I've even included a couple of older stories I dug out from underneath the bike shed.

To keep you well-informed and balance my biased opnions, I've got a couple of links to two of my favourite blogs. And of course, I've tossed in another sexy bike for you to gaze upon. I hope you enjoy this late issue and as always - thanks for stopping by.

Seeya down the road. Cheers! - cm

NCN Route 47 & Resolven Epic

MY RIDES - This one is for the record book. Not the longest, not the hardest, but simply one of the most interesting rides I've made. It's a long read, but I hope you will enjoy it: NCN Route 47 & Resolven Epic.

Hirwaun & Brecon Loop

MY RIDES - Some folks stay inside on a rainy days, but I just had the notion to get out on my bike regardless of the weather. Check out my ride becasue as it turned out, the weather made the ride that much better! Hirwaun & Brecon Loop

Castell Nos & Aberdare

MY RIDES - It was a dark and gloomy day as I made my way up the Rhondda Fach to Maerdy. Fortunately, the rain held off and I had a lovely and quiet ride through the valleys: Castell Nos & Aberdare.

Gospel Pass Epic pt.2

MY RIDES - The excitement builds and the stunning vistas unfold as I finally climb the legendary Gospel Pass in Part 2. So sit back and let me show you the way in the second installment from my epic ride: Gospel Pass Epic pt.2.

Usk Castle

GALLERY - The weather was looking dire once we reached Usk, so instead of cycling further on, John and I decided to play it safe and wander through the castle. Join us as we explore the terribly interesting and ecclectic Usk Castle.

In the News

Cycling About
Eurobike 2018 Coverage: Bicycle Touring, Bikepacking and Adventure Gallery - Alex is at his best once again. Here's the link to his excellent roundup of the Eurobike 2018 show. If you haven't visited his site, get a move on! This guy knows his stuff.

Pannier Journal - Here's another one of the sites I visit regularly. It seems that everyone is getting on board with writing ride journals and this is one of the best. Grab a cup of joe, sit back, and enjoy a long read.

Out From the Archive

Llangynidr Commons & Sugarloaf Classic
MY RIDES / 2017: Somehow I missed posting this ride last year, but I've got it now, so all is good. I'm quite proud of this one... it's a tough one, but full of wonderful Welsh scenery from the heart of the Brecon Beacons and the Vale of Usk.

Carreg Tegernacus
MY RIDES / 2013: I found this route on just a whim. When I set out on the morning I hadn't planned on riding up the high ridge above New Tredegar and Fochriw, but as it turned out, what I discovered once on top was nothing shy of cool.

Sexy Bike Alert!

Co-Motion Americano
Perhaps the premier touring bike manufacturer in the US, Co-motion is well-known for their high-end spec. For 2019 they've raised the bar even further. Yes, they're pricey, but with the options of either a Rohloff or a Pinion gear system, these bikes are worth checking out.

Friday, 31 August 2018

@ the moment...

It's the middle of August - blackberry season, time to bale hay. Rain has reappeared with typical British frequency, the temperature has dropped, and I'm sat inside. Our brilliant long-hot summer is suddenly moving behind us.

Summer oats under a late afternoon sky...

Heavy thinking...

August always puts me in a contemplative mood. Perhaps this stems from my "back to school days" of youth and the combined feelings of starting something new mixed with the melancholy of something else coming to an end. So this is where I am today; excited about fall, yet looking back over an outstanding summer of bicycle adventures.

I start off this issue recounting my wonderful summer with a short(ish) ride through several valleys both near and dear to my heart in; "Rhymney Meadows & Michaelston". I follow this with two further afield by exploring the rich diversity of the Brecon Beacons National Park in; "Gospel Pass Epic pt.1", and then I ventured east to England for my "Forest of Dean Epic".

Sometimes I just stumble across a great shot, but mostly I just shoot like a madman. Often too, I find that I have a large number of images from a single area that wouldn't make for a full ride report. And that, dear readers; is what I've got for you in three new galleries this month: "Chepstow to Caldicot", "Llantony Priory", and "Taff Trail to Brecon Recce, pt. 2".

In the News this month I've found some entertaining video of the Vaga Brothers exploring Wales followed by some rather sobering personal revelations about my goals. Plus, I've restored two great ride reports from 2014 and lastly of course, I've found another sexy bike for you to ponder.

So sit back and join me with a series of images and stories from the summer of 2018.

Seeya down the road. Cheers! - cm

Rhymney Meadows
& Michaelston

MY RIDES - I don't have to cycle far to experience the beauty of Wales. Check out my modest little ride through the Rhymney, Ebbw, and Sirhowy valleys that surround where we live: Rhymney Meadows & Michaelston

Gospel Pass Epic pt.1

MY RIDES - What started as a simple ride to Hay-on-Wye grew into something much, much bigger. Take a look at the first entry of my three-part feature on cycling the highest road in Wales. Check out my: Gospel Pass Epic pt.1.

Forest of Dean Epic

MY RIDES - I wish I had shot more photos from this trip, but the images I have only whets my appetite to return. It was a wonderful day and a pretty amazing ride which relects the fabulous summer we had during 2018. So why not check out my ride: Forest of Dean Epic.

Chepstow to Caldicot

GALLERY - NCN Route 4 from Chepstow to Caldicot is just a nine mile section out of the massive 432 mile route that crosses all of the UK. I finally compiled a few images to showcase why I like this one. Check out: Chepstow to Caldicot.

Llantony Priory

GALLERY - It's terribly easy to miss because you can't see it from the road, but if you're climbing the Gospel Pass - you simply must take the time to visit Llantony Priory. Check out my full gallery of images from: Llantony Priory.

Taff Trail to Brecon Recce pt.2

GALLERY - Whilst doing some preliminry research for my Taff Trail Project, I happened to capture a few images I thought worthy a small gallery. Check out: Taff Trail to Brecon Recce pt.2.

In the News

The Vaga Brothers: What is Wales?
YOU TUBE - It's light-hearted, yet in-depth. These fellas do a great job exploring our little part of the world. Plus, they take the time to produce seven episodes giving time to castles, coal, and culture. It's loads of fun, so check 'em out!

About Goals
CHARTS - My goals for 2018 have been quite a learning experience. This year I set out to achieve some pretty big goals and whilst I've still a few months left, I'm taking the time to reflect on what I've learned so far.

Out From the Archive

Penpont Campout
MY RIDES / 2014: Somehow I had lost this post, but I came across a collection of the images whilst digging around through my archive. Now I've rebuilt the report (with additional photos added from a later ride) to recount one of my all-time favourite campouts and a truely magical place to visit.

Lady Windsor & Route 881
MY RIDES / 2014: I discovered this route just by chance and it holds a special charm for it was my very first ride across this isolated section of NCN Route 47. It's not the easiest ride, but it's incredibly rewarding as it takes you high above the Cynon and Rhnodda Fach valleys.

Sexy Bike Alert!

Kona Sutra
The 2019 Kona Sutra has most everything a cycle tourist could want with a touring bike - right off the peg. Disc brakes and through-axles are here to stay, so if I'm going to continue looking at bikes, I've got to get with the program... but damn, I miss the curved front fork. Check out this sexy new bike. What are your thoughts?

>> Coming next issue; September 30th 2018

  • MY RIDES - Hirwaun & Brecon
  • MY RIDES - Castle Nos & More
  • GALLERY - M&B Canal
  • GALLERY - Usk Castle

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.