/The Beast – up the valleys

The Beast – up the valleys

In an effort to re-motivate ourselves after the recent round-Wales adventure, I (stupidly) suggested that riding 100 miles a week would be a good way to get going again. It might sound like a lot but some cyclists (err not us) do that in a day. Doing it over 7 days means that cycling becomes a regular part of our lives again, and is a decent enough mileage to have fitness benefits.

Despite suggesting that we start this new challenge on Tuesday once the bank holiday was over, Amy was keen to start asap, right away, today. Ok then, let’s pick a route.

After poring over Google maps and a South East Wales Sustrans map, we decided on a north west loop out of Pontypridd on Route 47 and back down on Route 881. Neither trail was that familiar to us, but both promised long stretches of traffic free trails. What we didn’t realise from our little two dimensional map was that Route 47 just went up, up and up for 10 miles. You know you’ve climbed quite a way when you’re level with bloody windmills.

I checked Strava and we were only 6.5 miles into our 24 mile loop. Ugh. It was tough. The weather closed in and treated us to grey skies and a cloak of drizzle just for added atmosphere. I was daydreaming about a 24-mile ride in the opposite direction which would have taken us down to Cardiff on the Taff Trail; a lovely traffic free route with no hills to speak of. Definitely not mountains. Are we nearly there yet?

We rode through the Llanwonno Forestry and the terrain kept tricking us into thinking we would round a corner and go downhill. There were plenty of mini downhills but round the next corner was another up….this was an absolute beast of a climb. Route 47 I have huge respect for you.

Amy finally at the top

What goes up must come down, and after a bone shaking exit from the forest we hit the speedy A-road tarmac down into Maerdy. A 36mph exhilarating descent made up for the pure slog of the previous 12 miles. A sharp left at the bottom of the hill took us onto Route 881 and followed the river all the way through the stunning Rhondda Valley. A quick pit stop was needed in Porth for a bit of energy before the last 4 miles home.

The bikes, and us were caked in mud but we finished feeling pretty triumphant at what we’d just done. If we paid attention to the elevation before we set off then we’d probably have chosen another route…but sometimes just doing it is the best way forward (and upward).

Two women. One dog. One campervan. Lots of adventures.