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.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Ride With GPS, or not.

(The Guardian photo by Melanie Copleston)

This was my second attempt using the online mapping service Ride With GPS. I'm liking the online GUI quite a bit. The map embeds well within the frame of my blog and I love the included elevation scale (Note to MapMyRide!). The catch is that I'm NOT using it with a GPS unit OR a smartphone app! In fact it's a big surprise that the program doesn't yet offer a smartphone app. So it's important to know that I've mapped my ride after the fact. [ To read more about my mapping investigations click here. ]

A Good Winter Ride

It was a cold and bright morning when we left out of Cwmbran up into "cowboy country" heading toward Brynmawr. We had ice at places to avoid. We were hit by sleet, snow, and blustery head winds. The weather was such that I didn't even take out my camera... which is kinda disappointing because it was such a beautifully extreme day. Welcome to Wales in the Winter.

The route(s): I left Oakdale early in the dark morning and headed down the mountain to Newbridge and Cwmcarn where I got on the tow path that runs south along the Monmouth & Brecon Canal (NCN 47) to 14 Locks. There I met John Wilson where we slipped around back lanes to Cwmbran and got onto route NCN 492 and headed north.

NCN 492 is a fabulous converted coal railroad line that snakes slowly up the high western slopes of the Blynavon Valley. Just above the old steel town of Blynavon and "Big Pit" National Coal Museum we joined NCN 46 and turned west along the Heads of the Valleys through beautiful and desolate "cowboy country".

It's just a short ride into the town of Brynmawr and following a short stop for lunch, we then turned south onto Route NCN 465 and headed back down the Ebbw Valley.

("The Guardian" photo by Melanie Copleston)

Route 465 is still under development and consists mostly of interconnected narrow roads though small villages and short paved paths through an assortment of parks that line the Ebbw River.

Passing through Abertillery you can find this surprising oddity... a disused banked cycle track. (aerial view from Google shown below.) Further down, the path becomes newly paved and widened heading into tiny little Six Bells where you can see the magnificent "Gaurdian" (shown above). You simply must stop to read the names of the men and boys that died and reflect upon the 1960 colliery disaster... (read more here).

View Larger Map

I'll be going back for photos and diggin' for more info. cuz it's cool as shit! You'll never guess what it is and I would imagine most would ride past it without much notice, but it's an outdoor cycle track.

Kendon Hill, aka; "Big Mean Bastard"

And at the end, after much coaxing from Dai Parry; I climbed Kendon Hill... a first for me. It's a 420 foot ascent over 1.2 miles with a 15% average grade.

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