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, 3 February 2019

Beginning Again

It's the middle of January. It's cold and wet and miserable outside - typical Welsh weather. As I sit inside working on this blog, I pause to gaze across our rainy back garden and think; come on sunshine! I'm ready to ride.

A new day for a new year...

Hello 2019!
Many people don't care for January. The days are shorter and it seems dark all the time; generally a downer after the excitement of the holiday season. In addition to the seasonal drama, I've been battling the flu for the past three weeks, so I'm just fed up with all this nonsense. Come on sunshine.

Looking back over the long hot summer of 2018; I couldn't have asked for better weather. Record heat along with below average rainfall made for spectacular cycling here in Wales. Additionally, the fall turned out to be warm and dry and full of colour.

I'm starting this year's first issue with a quick look back at four little rides that should have been in my Novemeber issue of 2018. If you noticed; I didn't write a November issue, so here we have it!

I've taken a harsh critique in my Year in Review section and come away with some positive ideas for 2019. Hopefully, I will use these lessons to model my future adventures for that perfect ride again.

I hope you enjoy this new issue and as always - thanks for stopping by.

Seeya down the road. Cheers! - cm

Monmouth & Chepstow Fall Classic

MY RIDES - During 2018 this ride became my "got-to" route for cycling 100 miles. I enjoy it so much that I cycled it 10 times during the year. However, my last ride from late October was truely special. Check out my: Monmouth and Chepstow Fall Classic.

Llangattock Escarpment & Fall Colours

MY RIDES - Here's another ride that fell into my newest favorite route group. Again, I was lucky to have cycled this on such a gorgeous day.

Carradoc's Bridge & Valley Ride

MY RIDES - Sometimes ya just gotta go with the flow. Check out this report from when I ran into a a group of fellas who invited me to join them for a ride over Bedlinog Commons. Read; Carradoc's Bridge & Valley Ride

Magor & Wentwood Rewind

MY RIDES - Sometimes a day out on your bike just surprises you. We didn't really know where were going, but much to our delite, this short, but sweet ride turned into one of the year's best. Check out my report; Magor & Wentowood Rewind.

Year in Review
A look back at the achievements, the missed goals, and my thoughts on a spectacular year of cycling in Wales.

2018 Achievements
What I did. A bunch of numbers on a page without any stories or photographs, which ironically represents the core focus of my riding last year.

2018 Afterthoughts
What I think about it. Bigger numbers on a different page followed by reflection and well deserved self-recrimination. Essentially, a cold slap in the face.

2018 RIDE OF THE YEAR - Ogmore-by-the-Sea Odyssey
If there is a perfect ride; this is it. I set off early. I took my time. I explored new areas. I shot loads of photos and I had a great time. What more could anyone ask? Originally posted to Ride with GPS, check out my ride of the year; Ogmore-by-the-Sea Odyssey. Plus I've now added a seperate gallery just for Ogmore Castle. I want more of this for 2019.

2019 Goals
What I want to do. By focusing on what I find to be the most important aspects of cycling and using that to kick start 2019. I was naive in my thinking last year. We'll see if I've learned.
On the Web

Cycling About
YouTube: I fell off a cliff - Yup, he's been in two issues in row now, but Alex continues to surprise me with his adventures. This story is amazing. The video is captivating. This is precisely why he's one of a kind and why I admire him. Sit back and enjoy.

Mike's Imagination
WEBSITE: Big Fat Dummy Fenders - Not only a great photographer and writer, Mike shows us that he's also a very talented wood worker. His latest creation transforms an already awesome fat bike into a beach classic of which cyclists and surfers around the world would dream.

Out From the Archive

The Winding House
MY RIDES / 2017: At one time I had a section in my blog designated just for events. Now that I've stopped organising group rides that section is no longer relevant. However, I thought it worthwhile to re-post this group ride because it was a great one.

Barry Island II
GALLERY / 2017: I made a couple of trips to Barry Island last year. It's quite a unique ride heading out through Cardiff and Penarth. For some unknown reason I didn't write a report for the ride, but I did get a few photos worth noting, so I built a little gallery. I hope you enjoy.

Sexy Bike Alert!

2019 Steel Roundup
There is absolutely no need for this article. I wrote it just because I wanted to. I look at bikes all the time and watch how they are evolving. I ask myself; "what would I buy today, if I were in the market?" These 24 bikes are where I'd start. Take a look and tell me what you think.

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