Heading west into Wales and the birthplace of the Bluestones found at Stonehenge. Making use of old railway lines inc Hengoed Viaduct & NCN47; a mix of forest track and wind turbine service roads. Compliments Plains, Trains & no more Automobiles 200 the following day.
WHEN:10/07/2021 - 11/07/2021 04:00 - 07:52
WHERE:BP - Cost Cutter [Almondsbury]
Almondsbury, BS32 4HY
Event review summary:
Extensive route notes and a variety of files will be distributed to entrants via email a week or two before the event. In the mean time use the interactive map for an overview of what lies ahead (subject to change); toggle the elevation & grade on/off by clicking the key. *Please note plugin's 'grade' is experimental so take it with a pinch of salt, especially where rocky outcrops may be present.
A bare bones event to compliment Plains, Trains & no more Automobiles 200 the following day. Ride to Craig Rhos-y-felin in the Preseli Hills for a Neolithic BBQ. How did they get the Bluestones to Salisbury Plain? Lugged them over land, floated them round the coast, or was it the glaciers?
Having crossed the Severn Bridge into Wales make your way to Usk following NCN42 with a superb drop down to the valley floor. Back lanes to Pontypool and the old road as you climb up for the first stop at ‘Breakfast in Bread’ – open early for you; then over to Crumlin. On to the spectacular Hengoed Viaduct; sold for £1 once the tracks were ripped up. Follow this old railway for a while then various cycle routes to first the Taff Valley, second the Cynon. Into the hills and follow NCN47 arching north above the Rhondda Valleys through forest and open hill tops on tracks and wind farm service roads before descending to the Neath Valley. Over to the Tawe. Remote hill tops to the Amman Valley. Into Carmarthan on rural lanes and out on more to the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and Craig Rhos-y-felin for an al fresco BBQ (by the bluestones outcrop subject to landowner confirmation).
Now you are all ‘beefed’ up it is time to return. You will be thankful that you have put almost 2/3rds of the climbing behind you at this point! Head back to Carmarthen, bit of A40 here but there is an adjacent cyclepath should you wish to use depending on time of day; it is the suggested route. Enjoy the respite of ‘flat’ roads up the Towy Valley for a good 30km before climbing up to Usk reservior and over to Trecastle. The next 70km to Usk is all ‘downhill’ and easily navigable late in the evening with tired legs. Up once more then downhill to Chepstow and the bridge. Finally that last hill of the ride, small in comparison to what is behind you, will feel like a mountain!
Larger tyres advisable. Check your brake pads have plenty of life left.
Postal finish – grab a receipt from the 24hr garage/ATM. Or if you want to make a weekend of it and see where some of the Bluestone’s ended up then hand your card into me at the start of Plains, Trains & no more Automobiles 200 start 08:00 on Sunday.
No parking/toilets at the start! Hortham Lane close by has no restrictions. There are several hotels between the finish of this and the start of the 200 if you go for the double.
Cloth badge for all finishers of the GWR AAA SR series completed this AUK season.
Cover image reproduced by kind permission of © Tim Daw; author of sarsen.org