Friday, 10 September 2010

The Best Hangover Cure - Talybont Reservoir Hills - Easy - approx. 6 miles

The day after a good friend's wedding in Brecon Castle, I woke up with a fair to moderate hangover. A bike ride had seemed like a brilliant idea the day before.

We stayed in a lovely B&B - The Bridge Cafe - lovely rooms, fantastic organic/free-range breakfast and chickens in the garden. And, of course, bike friendly. So friendly that they told where was good to ride and even printed out a map for us.

Park in the lay-by at the north west corner of the reservoir. Travel south along the road. When you reach a car park on the left turn R onto a gravel into the woods.

So far so good - nice and easy and didn't feel too sick.

The path rises at a medium slope and becomes rocky but not challenging.

Ok. I didn't sign up for hills this morning. It is a long climb and warranted quite a major strop. It took around an hour to climb - but the views from the top were spectacular. The mountains tower over you, the tops shrouded in mist. The wooded valley seems to stretch out for eternity below and it feels as though you are the only people in the world.

Follow the path round to the L and follow it all the way back down to the road.

This down hill made the climb more than worth it! It was pure indulgence! With smooth forestry track under the wheels, cool driving rain and plenty of puddles to splash through - I was in heaven!

When you reach the road turn L and follow it all the way back to the lay-by.

You could extend this ride by turning R at the road and then joining the Taff Trail to follow the opposite side of the reservoir back to the starting point.

And I'm cured! There is no trace of the hangover just that lovely feeling of being tired and muddy and looking forward to a hot shower.

K Rating: KKKKK

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Roath Park Loop - Easy - 3 miles

The Fear

It appears I have developed a fear of roots.

A nice little mid-week ride around the beautiful Roath Park, Botanic Gardens and Roath Lake is the perfect way to unwind after a stressful day at work.

From the corner of Penylan Road and Ty Draw Road, turn L into the park and then immediately R onto the gravel path. Follow this until the path runs out, then join the road until the traffic lights. Turn R. Follow Lake Road East past the botanic gardens and Roath Lake.

It is a real shame bikes are not allowed in the gardens. The road is quiet enough though. I stopped for an ice-cream on arrival at the lake. It's a beautiful spot (in my opinion the best in Cardiff). On a good day you can watch the swans, geese and duck squabble over scraps of bread and feel the buzz of a much loved city park. Views out to the hills make you feel as though you are right on the edge of the countryside.

At the end of the lake turn L and immediately R into the 'wild gardens'.

This quiet woodland area smellt of wild garlic and the birdsong was almost deafening. I bumped over the odd root and rock - there really isn't many at all - but enough to bring back the memory of my Twrch Trail disaster. My knee starts to phantom-ache.
Follow the winding paths to the other side of the lake. Cross the road to the lake promenade.

Be careful of walkers here - of human and other varieties. I had to wait for a rabble of fluffly yellow signets to cross the path.

Cut over the grass bank to the road when you get to the gate into the botanical gardens - marked 'no cycles' - and follow Lake Road West all the way back to the roundabout. Go SO to Ninian Road. When you get to the playing fields you can get onto the path that bends round to the left and follow it back to the starting point.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Cwmcarn: Twrch Trail – Difficult – 10 Miles

Attempt No. 1 - FAIL

Rocky start. Literally and figuratively. The ride starts right from the car park with easy to follow signposting. I began by slipping and sliding my way up into the woods. Once there things got a bit easier, with lots of fun rollercoaster ups and downs, and rocks and roots to bump over (and the odd little jump). I started to enjoy myself.

A little too much. After a quick downhill my front wheel hit a rock and stopped dead. The me and the back wheel kept going.

After taking much of the skin off my elbow and growing a chicken egg under the skin on my knee, my husband picked me up and dusted me off. We admitted defeat when we realised that I had bent my handle bars round and didn't have the tools to fix it. I had a small strop about not being able to do what boys can do.

Then I saw two girls go past and decided - I will not let it beat me! Will keep you posted about Attemp No. 2.

More info on the MBWales website.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Sirhowy Valley Country Park and the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway – Moderate – 12 Miles

We parked at the Full Moon visitor centre just off the roundabout at the junction of the A467 and the A4048 (near Risca). So far so good. The visitor centre looked pretty shut up but the toilets were open.

Return to the roundabout and take the first exit. Take the first right into Newtown Industrial Estate. After the river turn right into Cobden Street. About ¾ mile later take the first right, cross the river and then fork right immediately
It took us about five minutes to get away from the houses and industrial estates. Then we began the LONG uphill slog. We rode and walked almost all the way to the top of the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway. It was quite sunny and sweat was pouring down my face.

After a descent and another climb, cross a cattle grid and turn immediately left onto a broad gravel track
After a welcome descent a rocky path took us right up to the ridge. The views are lovely. You can see the industry towns nestling on the valley floor and the spectacular hills stretching into the distance.

Follow the track for four miles, aiming for the mast. When the track splits three ways, keep to the right
Downhill rocky track – brilliant! Fast and bumpy! You might need a bit of confidence here but it makes all the uphill TOTALLY worth it. I couldn’t help whooping. Near the mast we stopped for a break and some left over Easter egg, and realised that my saddle had almost fallen off – that could have been nasty if I’d gone flying at that speed and with no proper protection on elbows or knees. Note to self - invest in elbow and knee pads.

Once onto the tarmac road, just before the golf club, take the second right signposted to Wyllie. Continue down hill and turn right, again sign posted to Wyllie
This fast road downhill was brilliant fun and easy.

When you get to Wyllie continue straight on all the way to the Sustrans route. Follow the route for five miles back to the visitor centre
The Sustrans route is easy and flat. Unfortunately there had been a land slide and the diversion was not all that easy to follow. At first we tried going off on a narrow path to the right – but it was very rocky and muddy. Good for technical practice but I got my foot entirely stuck in mud. Try again. This time we went back to diversion sign like the geniuses that we are. This directed us down into the village below. We past a handy shop and bought much needed extra supplies. Friendly people could tell we looked a little confused and told us the way – right through the village, then across a bridge and back up on to the Sustrans route. We rolled, exhausted, all the way back to the car.

I loved this ride. The hard work at the start was so worth the trouble for the reward of the long varied downhill. I want to do this one again.

K-Rating: KKK

For more information see ‘Gower, South Wales Valleys and Lower Wye’ (Mountain Bike Guide) by Nick Cotton.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Brecon (yellow) - Visiter Centre Route - 5 miles

Stepping out of the car at the Brecon National Park visitor centre the sun was shining and the only sound was birdsong.

The centre has toilets, a shop (where you can buy trail maps) and a cafe. Unfortunately we only had enough money for one coffee between the two of us and it was tiny and too strong - but the amazing views of the mountains made up for it.

Turn left out of the visitor centre car park and continue straight on to BW
The ride is marked as easy and starts right from the visitor centre. At the end of a short section of quiet road we came to a boggy track which was not very easy, but manageable and good fun if you like getting muddy! Two red kites appeared over head - the first of many.

When you get to the road turn immedietely right and right again onto another BW
After another short ride on a road we were onto another bridleway and a field full of hungry sheep. We let the farmer and his dogs do their thing before moving on. To our surprise (and a little horror) the entire flock turned to follow us. We rolled down a gentle hill and stopped to eat our sandwiches.
At the bottom of the hill we crossed a small stream (with ice-cold water!) and then rode up a small sheep-path through dense gorse bushes that prickled our legs.

Turn right onto metalled road
A couple of fairly long hills left me breathless - but my bike was stuck on the middle gear. If I had a proper bike it would have been easy.  Mine sounded like a tractor. This stretch offered magnificent views of the snow capped Brecons, reflected in the still frozen ponds.

Turn right onto BW
Doubling back on ourselves, we enjoyed an easy roll back down to the visitor centre.

On the whole this ride was easy, with beatiful views, great for relaxing.

K-Rating: kkk