Well I did say the other half and I were going to do a big ride today and so we did. It never quite rides the same as the picture in your mind or the ride profile on the plan. Well today’s ride surpassed both. It was harder, higher and certainly more satisfying than I ever thought possible. In total we climbed 5300ft in 42 miles taking in two mountains. In fact we climbed and descended each mountain twice! The profile has a certain symmetry that looks very pleasing to the eye. Also known as a leg killer!
The day started out at Hirwaun again, which is a pretty good starting point for riding around the valleys of South Wales and the Brecon Beacons. You dont get much preparation coming out of Hirwaun before you start the ascent of Rhigos Mountain. A long slow climb to begin with followed by a couple of hairpin bends and a cranking up of the gradient. The landscape changes into a partly wooded but mainly moorland aspect on the top. A quick drinks break and a chance to admire the scenery.
Pushing on we descended down the Rhigos towards Treorchy. Always the fun bit, we flew down the mountain although Sue sped off faster than me (as usual!). The view was stunning although I was gripping the handlebars and concentrating on not falling off such was our speed 🙂 Cycling through the town and the bottom of the descent it was almost immediately into the next climb up The Bwlch.
A tough climb panned out in front of us but we soon settled into rhythmic peddling action. Head down and tail up. The area around The Bwlch really is stunning and was a really pleasant backdrop to our climb. Onwards and upwards we climbed until the top of the mountain opened out into a short ridge section allowing us to catch our breath momentarily before plunging down on another descent. Zooming down, Sue soon disappeared from my view and I was pleased just to keep my balance and enjoy the surroundings. Again, we soon levelled out and although originally we were going to have a food stop at the bottom we decided to turn the bikes around and head straight back up again. Ouch…..
The 3rd climb of the day was methodical and hard but really stunning visually. Several switchbacks and relentless climbing gave the impression of riding somewhere in Italy or Switzerland. Fabulous. We did have a little target in our heads for the end of this particular climb as we knew there would be a food van just before the descent over the other side 🙂
A quick stop for some photo opportunities on the top section of The Bwlch was too good to pass up
Just after this we stopped at the food van for a coffee and ice cream before our 3rd descent of the day back down off The Bwlch. The twisting nature of the road ensured we had great views all the way down and an opportunity to test the brakes! Finally we flattened out into Treorchy and had chance for a very short flat section before once more ascending up our 4th climb of the day. In all honesty this was the hardest of the day as tired legs and twanging hamstrings reminded us of the effort we had put in already today.
Luckily at the top of The Rhigos there was another food van and so we paused for a quick drink and another photo session 🙂
And one of me
And so to the last section, another descent…freewheeling all the way with minimal effort. At the bottom, a short couple of miles took us back to Hirwaun and the end of the ride. We were tired but really buoyed by the magnificent ride we had just completed. Not just the effort involved and the sense of achievement but also because it was a really lovely ride with stunning scenery. It will be hard to top this ride but by teh time we set off for home, we were already discussing the next challenge!