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.

New Challenge

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.

Route Planning

We thought about starting this new challenge on Tuesday once the bank holiday was over. But Amy was keen to start right away so we looked at a local route.

We pored over Google maps and a South East Wales Sustrans map to get some inspiration. We settled on doing 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.

When the going gets tough…

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. That would have taken us down to Cardiff on the Taff Trail; a lovely traffic free route with no hills. 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 route was an absolute beast of a climb. Route 47 is challenging.

Amy finally at the top

What goes up must come down

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. From there we followed the river all the way through the stunning Rhondda Valley. After a quick pit stop in Porth for a bit of energy, we pedalled the last four miles home.

Muddy but happy

The bikes, and us were caked in mud by the time we finished. But we felt pretty triumphant at what we’d just done. If we paid attention to the elevation before we set off then we probably wouldn’t have done it. Sometimes, just getting on and doing it is the best way forward (and upward).

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