This is my love letter to Wales. I am fascinated with it's rich history and rugged landscape. Within 50 miles I can travel over 5000 years. The Bronze and Iron Ages, the Middle Ages, and the not so distant Industrial Revolution all huddle beside each other amongst the verdant Southeast Valleys. This is where I ride and this is why I write.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

To the Top of Manmoel

Following a few miserable days rain-locked in the house, the weather broke and I got my act together to make another ride in my "Bike & Hike" series... this time to the top of Manmoel.

Looming under distant clouds...

Once I landed on the notion of "Bike & Hike", I knew that Manmoel would be on my list of goals. It's just six miles up the road behind Oakdale and is quite desolate and spectacular.

First stop along the way, however; is Pen y Fan Pond. It was about 10:30 in the morning and loads of folks were out, walking dogs, pushing strollers, and enjoying the lovely fall day.

This is perhaps the best time of the day to be cycling; for the kids have all been dropped at school, the commuters have made it to their destinations, and those of us left... are just chillin'.

I had been wanting to see some fall colour, but was worried that all the wind and rain might have brought down most of the leaves. Boy, was I pleased to be wrong. I couldn't have asked for a better day.

Manmoel peeking out above the ridge to the left...

I stopped at the base of the hill to change shoes and stash my bike behind some hedges. I then strapped on a small back-pack and headed up!

The Ebbw Valley runs south to my left and to my right; the Sirhowy Valley.

And then I'm walking back down the hill the long way. Gotta scoot over some fences and wade across a few gullies... well worth it all.

Report Card
Ride Name: Top of Manmoel!
Start Date: Wed. Nov 01, 2017
Starts in: Oakdale, Wales, GB
Departed: 10:57 AM
Distance: 26.3 mi / 42.3 km
Elevation: + 1634 / - 1634 ft
Max Grade: 19.9%
Total Duration: 05:10:49
Moving Time: 02:47:06
Stopped Time: 02:23:43
Max. Speed: 30.7 mph
Avg. Speed: 9.5 mph / 15.2 km/h
Weather: SUN!
Temperature: 14°c / 57°f
Unfortunately, a second notable incident occurred after I was on the road again to Tredegar... I fell! Riding down a rough bit of partially-paved road, I skidded on some loose gravel and lost control. Down I went!

Everything came off the bike; panniers, water bottles, tyre pump, Garmin, and yours truly. Thankfully, there is no traffic along this section because my shit was thrown everywhere-helter-skelter. But more importantly, I only banged up my right knee and scraped some knuckles.

I hate falling. It scares me to death and pisses me off to boot. Thoughts rush through my head as I'm going down (always in slow-motion); "You've fucked up now, boy!" and "Don't put your arm down... you'll break your shoulder!"

After a few moments hobbling about, cussing and rubbing various parts of my body, I regained a faint sense of composure and continued on... feeling my age, humbled yet, relieved. It could have been much worse.

It's a pretty easy ride overall. Getting to up to the Common takes a bit of a push, but there's plenty of reason to pause. Once at the top I just cruise north along the ridge from Manmoel to Tredegar and then turn back south to coast downhill for 12 miles to home. We're so very lucky to have this just on our back door.

NOTE: Be sure to check out my full set of photographs... [ Top of Manmoel Gallery ]

First question; "How did they get the car up here?" Second question; "Why?" I don't understand the fascination with setting cars alight, but they do it here in Wales with surprising regularity. I don't think it's meant as an anti-car statement... but, I'll take it as such!

cheers! - cm

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