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.

December 31, 2017

Platitudes and Altitudes

2017 was an outstanding year for me and cycling in Wales. In my last issue for 2017 I'll be highlighting a selection of events outside the obvious that characterised and helped shape this unique year.

I cycled 122 individual days and covered almost 8,000 miles, so it's pretty easy to highlight some of the wonderful rides I made. Yet, little things like writing for a different website, or breaking my camera, and even trying out new tyres had surprising effects on my year and shaped the way I rode.

Some of the contributing factors were planned and some were shockingly unplanned. Sometimes just getting off the bike and walking made the ride unique. So I hope you enjoy reading about these little details which had a big impact on my year in 2017.

Featured Platitudes

A Camera for a Cyclist
In November I fell off my bike and broke my "good" camera. Now I've resorted to using a smartphone for documenting my rides. Read about the features I'm interested in along with some of the cameras I'm considering for a replacement in my ridiculously detailed article; "A Camera for a Cyclist".

Bike & Hike
Despite my love for seeing the world by cycle, there are many interesting places to see that one can only reach on foot, ie. the top of mountains! Read about four exciting adventures I had in 2017 using this latest approach to cycling and exploring this fabulous little country in; "Bike & Hike".

Ride w/GPS: Ride Reports
Ride with GPS introduced a new feature this past spring which threw me for a loop. Suddenly they were offering a very attractive blog component to their website - one that put this blog to shame! Take a look at some of the best cycling reports on the Internet; "Ride w/GPS: Ride Reports".

Writing About the Past
I've no shortage of content. My main problem is taking the time to write. I ride so much and take so many photos that my material collects faster than I can properly report about it. Check out my thoughts on 2017 as well as what plans I have for the future in; "Writing About the Past".

2017 Yearly Totals
I didn't reach my goals for 2017, but a close inspection of my numbers yields some interesting and rather surprising results. You can sort through all the gory details in the "Charts" section of my blog or skip to my yearly review in; "2017 Yearly Totals".

Thanks Wales for being so lovely and thank you, dear reader, for stopping by...
seeya down the road.

Cheers! ~ cm

November 02, 2017

A Modest Life

From the complex comes the simple. Within chaos, calm floats. It doesn't take a great mind to observe the world around us, however; cutting through the nonsense and the useless aspects of life to form a clear perspective takes plain thinking. At least that's what Einstein suggested. Good advice sells for $1.3 million.

Rain locked. Day seven.

Autumn finally hit us with a week of typically British weather - cold and rainy. I can't complain really because overall, the weather has been spectacular this year. In fact, many places in the UK have recorded their driest summer ever. So... with that said, I have to emphasise that I've had a great year of cycling.

And I did get out of the house this week, but whilst riding down from Manmoel I slipped on some loose gravel and down I went. I didn't notice til I go home that I had broken my camera. So while I'm taking a break (pun intended) from photography, I'll use this opportunity to focus writing about some of the wonderful rides I've had this past summer and fall.

Lastly, as part of my ongoing project to retrieve reports from my archive, I've got two special rides from 2013 for your review. I hope you enjoy!

Featured Rides

Hay-on-Wye & Hereford
Back in June of this year I made my longest single-day ride: 135 miles, 19 hours, with over 8,000 ft. elevation gain. It might sound presumptuous, but for me it was epic. Its' taken me a while to organize the images and process the day. It all seems like a dream now. Read about my eight part trip-of-a-lifetime to Herefordshire.

To the Top of Manmoel!
Manmoel has been on my radar as part of my "Bike & Hike" series for well over a year now. Last week I finally made the big push to climb the hill/mountain (1,489 ft.) and I couldn't have asked for a better Autumn day. The weather was spectacular and everything just fell into place (pun intended) for an "almost" perfect day. Read about my adventure and then checkout the gallery of images.

Grosmont & Garway
The rain poured down so we changed plans. We did not climb the Gospel Pass as intended, but we did have an interesting ride through Grosmont and onto Garway where we explored St. Michael's Church. It was my second trip there and you can see a collection of photos from our ride last month as well as read about our trip back in 2012.

Out From the Archives...

Lovely Day For It...
I hadn't been in Wales but a few years when I discovered Fochriw and it quickly became one of my favourite spots to visit. It's so close and yet so desolate. I think I captured it pretty well back in 2013.
Carreg Tegernacus
Sometimes ya just get lucky. No one had told me about this place... I just went exploring! Join me again as I relive one of the most wonderful discoveries I've made whilst cycling in Wales

Coming next issue...

Will I reach my 2017 goals?
Take a look with me over some of my numbers as the year nears its end.

What am I planning for 2018?
Take a peek into my noodle and see what I'm thinkin', if you dare!?!?

October 14, 2017

Out from the Archives

Hey gang!... whilst sitting out the cold autumn rain this week, I've been busy digging through the back issues of Bike Wales. So in this post I'm focusing on some of special ride reports from my first year in Wales - 2012.

Dark clouds and sun provide dramatic lighting across the Lonely Shepherd and Llangattock Escarpment.

2012 was a special year for not only did I begin exploring Wales in earnest, but I met some lovely people with whom to cycle. It was also the year I first met the Kingfishers and began joining them every Tuesday for crazy, wonderful adventures. Today, I've got several flashbacks to some of those memorable early days.

Lastly, I've got part three of my 2017 "Bike & Hike" trilogy. I'm hoping to further develop this aspect of my cycling adventures during the coming year, so these three little trips served as practice sessions.

Reliving the memories...

Looking for Clydach Gorge...
Read about my failed first attempt to meet the Sustrans Volunteer group way up the mountain above Brynmawr. Little did I know that this adventure would turn out to be a life changing day. Also of note; this was my first trip into the gorge!

Talybont Adventure
in 2012, I met this crazy South African guy and we immediately hit it off. Read about our intense day wandering over the moors above Trefil. I really put my new Dawes bike to the test too!

Maybe Maerdy, Maybe Not...
I was fortunate to join these lovely folks on ride over the mountain at Maerdy. The climb was incredible and the scenery stunning. Look back with me at one of my first group rides in Wales.

Land of Discovery... Llandovery
My first overnight trip with the Kingfishers was a hoot and quickly became an adventure of a lifetime. I am so fortunate to have met these crazy, wonderful fellas. It was three days of miles and smiles.

Featured Report

The Lonely Shepherd
The third adventure of my "Bike & Hike" series proves to be the best yet. Check out the Kingfishers along some of the gorgeous landscapes from the Llangattock Escarpment.

I'll be continuing my work in the archive over the next few months, so this will provide a continuing feature for my posts. Plus, I've got some rides from the Summer of 2017 that will be coming out soon - so be sure to check back!. As always, thanks for stopping by.
Cheers! - cm

October 08, 2017

Music Videos Playlist

When not on my bike, chances are that you'll find me sitting here in front of this darn computer... along with some tunes crankin'. My post today is just a quickie - I'm going to offer up three artists that have been spinning on my playlist for the past couple of weeks.

The new and the very old - a lovely autumn day riding past Raglan Castle with the Kingfishers.

I'm sure many folks of my generation will agree that music has gotten pretty dull over the last couple of decades. Despite the morass of completely forgettable pop dirges littering the airwaves; I try to find new music. The first group is fairly new with just having released their second album. It's great stuff. The second artist has been around for a few years; however, I completely missed her until last month and she totally rocks. The last artist I've been listening to for a while and just deserve to be shared. I hope you enjoy!

Sounds in my head while my feet go round...

Wolf Alice
Ya gotta love these kids. They have a wonderful attitude and it's great to see someone not overtly interested in "celebrity". Give 'em a listen from this fantastic show show in Paris. The filming and music recording is excellent too.
St. Vincent
This girl rocks. Her songwriting is rich and complex whilst her musicianship is amazing. Every female who would like to play guitar should watch this chick. She's simply incredible. Pour yourself a vodka and put on yer headphones.
Brian Jonestown Massacre
These guys have been around for 20 years. There's tons of video out to watch. Despite having what many people consider an out-dated sound - I really dig 'em. The link I have here is from one of the better recorded shows in 2016.

Latest images burning my retinas...

14 Locks, Newport, & Sirhowy Parc
Oh yeah... I put a few new images up in my Gallery this week. I have loads to process with images going back to 2009 to work on... YIKES! Well, this is a start...

Now the sun has come out on a glorious autumn day so with a song in my head, I'm off to ride Lady Purple down to 14 Locks. As always, thanks for stopping by.
Cheers! - cm

September 30, 2017

Read, Write, Remember

Fall has arrived and along with it - rain. I had planned a long ride for today, but not wanting to fight the weather, I have called it off. I'll save it for another day. Postponing rides always leaves me in a sort of down mood. There's plenty of other things I can do... (things I need to do). So I guess this should be documented as I would a cycling trip... just different type of journey.

Cycling home last week I saw the first fall colour...

It's 7:00 am. I've come downstairs, made a cup of coffee, turned the computer on and here I sit. Melanie is sleeping soundly upstairs and all is quiet on a cold and rainy Saturday morning in this little part of little Wales.

I spent the better part of yesterday reading about other people's adventures on the website "Crazy Guy on a Bike" (CGOAB) and today I am longing to be on the road. So to focus on what I'm thinking and feeling; I will write about what I've been reading.

CGOAB is a very straight-forward website for people to keep an online journal of their cycling adventures... and it's massive. First of all; the number of entries is daunting and secondly, the length of some of the trips are phenomenal. I'm talking "sell your house and everything you own and travel around the world" types of cycling trips. I find it hugely addictive reading and dangerously compelling.

So I'm dedicating this issue of my blog to the many folks out there cycling the world, regardless of the weather - making their life an adventure. Cheers to all the world-traveling cyclists! May your journeys be safe and your adventures rewarding.

Reading About Riding

Life is like a box of chocolates
These folks were my first BIG read on CGOAB and I was instantly hooked. It's quite a unique adventure to take your family on a year-long cycle tour and these brave folks set an amazing example. Their journey is fascinating and wonderful. Though it ended a few years ago, it is well worth the read.
Death, Life & the Rural American Gas Station
I can honestly say that I've read hundreds of journals on CGOAB, but the writing and photography on this one is some of the best. I love their jovial attitudes and their reckless abandon never ceases to be just plain fun! It's laugh out loud reading and the chapter titles are classic. I envy these people deeply.
ABC: Anchorage to Baja California
I have never met Curtis and Jenny Shaw in person, but I was instantly drawn into their journey. Often people set out with very strong "goals" for their cycling trips, but C&J seem so laid back... I guess I kinda got a little crush on them straight from the start. I've been reading about their adventures for over a year now (and I love the photography).
America ByCycle
Ya gotta check out these cool kids. They had some great marketing ideas and a super strong brand for cycle touring. Unfortunately, I don't know what happened to them or what they're doing now, but back in the day when they made their website - they were on it!. Be sure to watch the videos.
Racpat RTW
As is the case, reading about one cycle tour leads to another. Curtis and Jenny met Patrick and Rachel while on the road in Central America and included a link to their journal. Hang on to your hats folks... this one is a doozy! Yep, they're two and a half years into a trip around the world.

In Closing:
I know I've given you plenty to look through. I hope you find some journals of interest. And as a final footnote; here's a bonus link for Curtis & Jenny's second leg to their massive tour: DEF: Down Even Further-Mexico & Central America. As always, thanks for stopping by.

Relevant Links:

Coming Next Issue:
  • Music Video Playlists

September 23, 2017

Getting to the Core

2017 has been a great year of cycling. The downside is that I haven't written much about it and now I've a huge amount of material to publish. So I'm dedicating the next few months to update my back catalog of adventures. As you can see too, I've begun sharing external links of websites I find of particular interest. It just seems to make sense.

I'm returning to my core purpose for creating this diatribe by reintroducing the section entitled oddly enough; "Rides". (Found in the navbar above...) To start with, I've got two great trips for you to read about: "The Punchbowl" and "Pontypool Folly". I'll be updating this section regularly so be sure to check back.

Lady Purple
Also of note is Melanie's 30 year old mountain bike; the poor thing has sat around partially disassembled, tyres deflated, and un-loved for nearly a year. But she's back! I started fiddling with her last week and I must say she's riding better than ever. Check out my write up in the latest "Gear" section.

Mike's Imagination
I read quite a few cycle blogs and I try to support them as much as I can. Mike's Imagination is one of my favourites. His lifestyle and outlook is admirable, his writing is great, and his photography is brilliant. I hate him deeply (hate=envy). His latest post is short and to the point. Damn him! Fish On!
(photo credit; MHayes © 2017)

The Radavist
I've included a link to The Radavist; a website that captures the spirit of West Coast cycling with great content including wacky travel stories and unique product reviews. I just like poking around, looking at their work, and enjoying the mental grove. It's a cool mashup of bikepacking trends meet the '70s! Dig it.

Without Bounds
Lastly, I've thrown in a video for you to watch; Without Bounds. It's some fairly radical outsider stuff not suited for everyone, but it talks to the gypsy in me deeply. I am of that ilk and were I not married and living comfortably in Wales... this is where you might find me.

I hope you've enjoyed your visit and thanks for stopping by.
Cheers! - cm

September 16, 2017

Time Management

What happened to the summer of 2017? It's the middle of September and the shops are starting to put things out for Christmas. Urgh.

If you've wondered why I haven't posted lately, well.. I've been struggling a bit with writing. However, I haven't been completely remiss, so I thought I'd show some of the reports I created for Ride with GPS. I've included three external links showcasing their newest feature along with my photos and diatribe. Next you'll find a link to a fellow blogger that also reviews gear and such. He's a pretty interesting fella - so be sure to poke around his website. And lastly, I've included a link to one of the Portlandia series; something fun to watch.

Daffodils & Disasters
I quickly became motivated to write having been selected as a weekly "Rollout Winner" for Ride with GPS. There is something intriguing about the layout that inspired me to revisit some of my favourite rides.

Legendary Neath Explore
Tim John and I had a wonderful day out exploring the two canals that parallel the Neath River. Discovering the history of Wales never disappoints along with great weather cannot be beat!

Ride to the Sun
Dean Piper organized this amazing ride and little needs to be said; just check out the photos. Joined by Vimal and Gwyn, the four of us left Pontypool at 3 am for a surprisingly quiet and beautiful equinox.

Tom's Bike Trip
I began reading this guys blog a few years ago and I still think it's one of the best. His review of the top touring bikes is I found of special interest and quite thorough - indicative of all his writing.

The bikes not cutting it.
If you haven't seen Carrie Brownstein's and Fred Armisen's wickedly funny Portlandia; I suggest you get to it. I cannot get enough of their stuff... it's so on target it makes my head spin.

Coming soon..
I plan to introduce a new section just for reporting on my rides - so be sure to check back later.

Thanks again for stopping by - cm

June 19, 2017

Content Mangement

I've been pretty busy for the past couple of months. I've kicked up my longer rides trying to go a bit further north and west. Surprisingly enough, I got a call from Parkinson's UK to venture out the Vale of Glamorgan. You can see the results of that trip to Ogmore by the Sea as well as my last Sustrans ride below. I've rounded up some of the details from several other recent adventures along with my take on "humble-bragging" in my 100 Mile Club. Finally, I've thrown in a link to a retro bike from Pashley I quite fancy.

Parkinson's UK & the NGS
I was asked by Parkinson's UK to lead a group ride to promote their relationship with the National Garden Scheme. You can see some of the fun we had visiting seven unique gardens in my Special Event Gallery.

Cordell Country Heritage Ride
I've moved on from volunteering for Sustrans, but you can read about my last lead ride from May of this year. It just happens to be one of my favourites too! See the gang and fabulous weather we shared in this Welsh Heritage Special Event.

2017 100 Mile Club
Many may laugh at the extent of which I track my cycling... but cycling is what I do AND I also enjoy a good spreadsheet. You can view the dirty details in one subcategory of which I am particularly proud.

Fochriw Highlands & Taf Valley
I continue to write reports on my adventures for Ride with GPS. Take a look at the stylish layout offered by RwGPS stylish in my latest installment covering a unique route along the Gelligaer Common as well as a tasty section of the Taff Trail.

Pashley Retro Racer
I've been "eye-ballin'" this beauty for a while. One day maybe I'll have one for myself. Meanwhile, I thought I'd share the love.

I hope you've enjoyed your visit and thanks for stopping by.

Cheers! - cm

June 15, 2017

Exploring Bike Wales & More

I've taken a slightly different approach to this latest post in order to showcase some of the additional features of which you may not be familiar.

Melanie and I took off this week for a day to explore Caerphilly Castle. It had been on my bucket list for over five years and I was thrilled to finally go there. The weather was outstanding and chasing my queen about the darkened castle was a hoot!

To be quite honest; I'm addicted to spreadsheets. Many of you know the extent of which I document my rides... but in fact, you may be quite surprised at the ridiculous amount of data I attempt to track. Slip over and check out some of the new data sets I've added to the morass!

Okay, I admit it. I love a good bit of bike porn as much as anyone. And when it's my bike performing the visual stimulation, well... enough said. If you're interested in viewing some of my latest "portraits", why not head over to the Gear section of my blog and have a gander?

Ride With GPS
If you know me; you know I love RwGPS. Now they've introduced a new feature that I'm absolutely hooked on. Check out some of the latest reports from like-minded cyclists - cycling all over the world. Do it now.

Sexy Bike Alert!
I ran across this little beauty last month and thought you might want to give her a look. She's quite an unusual build in these heady days of carbon-fibre toy bikes. Masi and California have come up with a great blend of modern and retro for the gravel lover in all of us.

I hope you enjoyed exploring a bit... why not add a comment and tell me what you thought?

Seeya down the road. Cheers! ~ cm

June 14, 2017

It's good to chat...

The day started rather chilly and grey, but by noon the sun was out and it turned into a glorious summer day. And it's not often that all the Kingfishers are out together! Overall a fabulous day.

Ivor, Eric, John, Phil, Brian, & Graham

Heading into Caerleon along the Usk at high tide.