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 3000 years. The Bronze and Iron Ages, the Middle Ages, and the not so distant Industrial Revolution all huddle beside each other amongst these verdant valleys. This is where I ride and this is why I write.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Nantymoel & Bassaleg Super 8

This route includes the famous southern climb up the Bwlch. However; getting to the start at Nantymoel is so long and full of diverse scenery that's it's an adventure in its own right. I decided to take my time and just enjoy the day.

Halfway up and looking back down "Hellfire Pass"...

It was an arduous day. I went out primarily for a training ride, but so much of this route is so damn gorgeous I ended up spending much longer than I had planned.

The elevation profile above highlights two distinct climbs and despite the dramatic views provided on these summits, it's getting to them that's the most interesting part.

The ride is pretty straight-forward from Oakdale through Llantrisant. Once you leave Thomastown, however; NCN Route 4 begins to show its real personality.

The first climb of the day snakes its up a very narrow lane under a canopy of trees to surprisingly open up on a high ridge along the Ogwr Fach valley.

Get yer gravel on! It's quite rough as you cross some private farm land. It's not a very long section, but it sure is fun. (Note: be sure to close the gates!)

At the far end of the last paddock(s), you re-enter onto pavement and move down closer to the river's edge and yeah, it's pretty fabulous. Can you say; "zero traffic"?

There are just a couple of farms along the route... some kinda driveway, eh?

This just rolls along for approximately 4 miles. Stunning.

Thomastown to Blackmill: up the hill through the woods and over the fields...

Once at Blackmill there's an excellent cycle path up through Nantymoel (NCN Route 883). It's a re-purposed rail line so it's super easy. You can basically just sit back and enjoy the views. Oddly enough though, I didn't take any photos of this part? I'll have to go back!

It gets quite lovely as you begin the climb outside of Nantymoel. This is the famous "Bwlch" or Hellfire Pass. It is the second highest public road mountain pass in Wales and well known by all the serious cyclists.

Stopping to look around is something I cannot help but do for this part of Wales is often referred to as "Little Switzerland".

It's quite common to see loads of cyclists climbing this route in great spinning pelotons of sweat. I don't know where they were today... perhaps a bit too cold and windy? (See: Britain’s Mont Ventoux)

A good idea, but I definitely need to go back to re-shoot this image.

Nearing the summit and looking southwest you can see the Bristol Channel sparkling at Port Talbot nearly 15 miles away (as a crow flies).

I should mention too, that it's rather windy as you climb... as shown by the trees lining the edge of the roadway. I was so blown about that I had to get off my bike to take a few snaps.

And it was cold too... my Garmin registered 2°c (35°f).

The detailed segment for the Bwlch.

Mountains cut by glacial erosion during the last Ice Age...

Just look at the wind turbines in the clouds.

Reaching the summit of "The Blwch" (1,476 feet), looking over the northern side toward the village of Cwmparc and Treorchy further on.

It's a crazy fast ride down the other side. And no... I didn't get any shots of that for obvious reasons!

Can you spot my bike? Everything looses scale up here.

Report Card
Ride Name: Barrys Island Blast
Start Date: Sat. Apr. 12, 2018
Starts in: Oakdale, Wales, GB
Departed: 8:40 AM
Distance: 82.1 / 132.1 km
Elevation: + 4557 / - 4553 ft
Max Grade: 9.4%
Total Duration: 09:24:28
Moving Time: 07:05:43
Stopped Time: 02:18:45
Max. Speed: 31.8 mph
Avg. Speed: 11.6 mph
Weather: cloudy
Temperature: 10°c / 50°f

To summarise this ride I should first point out that this was only the second solitaire I've made this year when it didn't rain. It was fabulous to be dry for the entire day.

Secondly, this trip deserves to be made when the weather is nice; ie. the sun is shining. Cardiff is a fabulous capital with a lovely skyline, enchanting city park, and many, many interesting places to showcase. Penarth has a wonderful beach front and pier - which I missed completely and deserves more attention. Then my photos fail to capture the quirkiness, the vintage feel, and the overall romantic side to Barry Island.

Despite the cold temperatures and blowing wind - the ride was just so damn pretty that I felt compelled to take a few photos. I'll go back later this spring/summer for a more detailed outline of the route.

Thanks as always for visiting...

Cheers! - cm

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Gallery: 2016 Cymmer & Cwm-parc
If you'd like to see a few more photos of the area in general,
check out my gallery from 2016.

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