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cycling the Newent loop

The Newent Loop is a 45km cycle route, starting and ending in Newent (funny that).

We discovered its existence when we spotted a few signs on a previous ride, so for last weekend's Sunday evening ride, we went and rode the full loop in an anticlockwise direction.  The big car park in the town centre has a large map on the side of the toilet building, but the entire route is very well signposted - we didn't need to stop and check directions at all.  There's also a signposted shortcut that splits the route into two smaller loops.

The roads were quiet... continue reading »

Wiggle Cotswold sportive

As I drove over to Moreton-in-Marsh, the rain got heavier and heavier... to the point where I was almost considering turning round and going home.  I usually avoid cycling in the rain, and it was looking very much like my first sportive was going to be Type 2 Fun.

Luckily by the time I arrived the weather had upgraded to 'light drizzle'.  I optimistically stuffed my waterproof into a jersey pocket, where it stayed for at least 20 minutes before I caved in and put it on.

At the food stop I stuffed myself with flapjack and banana, refilled my water and... continue reading »

April

Where did April go?  It seems to have been one of those months where I feel I haven't done anything interesting, but I have been busy generally doing stuff.

Isn't it great having light evenings again?  And nice weather at weekends for long dog walks with pub lunches.  I'm not quite so keen on the yellow fields, as they tend to signify the start of sneezing season - I'm a couple of weeks into this year's pile of antihistamines, with the worst incident so far being on a National Express coach last weekend.  Bit random.

At some point during my usual winter... continue reading »

why can't I hibernate?

It's nearly December, which means it's time for a everyone to have a good old moan about dark evenings, and cold/rainy/grey weather.  Bleurgh.

But apparently humans aren't allowed to hibernate, so we're busy as usual.  Perhaps too busy actually - my evenings are currently pretty full (tennis, pilates, kettlebells, canoe club pub night, plus occasional trips out to the theatre and the snowdome...) as well as going out at the weekend.  And lots of dog walks, which I've been doing at lunchtime to make sure I get some daylight.

Anyway, I've been feeling somewhat frazzled for the last couple of weeks.  Not... continue reading »

Cold Aston

Last Sunday's bike ride was an early one, due to other commitments later in the day.  An overcast and slightly humid morning for another Cotswolds ride - our third from the guidebook.

We started by the pub in Cold Aston and rode down the wonderfully named Bangup Lane.  I'm not used to starting a ride by going downhill, so that was a bit weird!

The bridleways are all 'named' ones, with diamonds on the OS map.  However the names on the map (Diamond Way, Macmillan Way) didn't seem to feature on signposts - and the Sabrina Way we saw signed isn't called... continue reading »

Bredon Hill

Another Sunday bike ride from the Cotswolds MTB book - Bredon Hill.  This route is sort of a figure of eight, going up and down twice.

We started in Kemerton and headed up.  Some amount of walking occurred, because hills suck (also I've not fixed my dodgy gears yet).  Having taken a slight wrong turning at a junction we eventually detoured back to the correct route, and our first descent - a rooty rocky path down to some fields and eventually the road.  I stopped at one point because my bike seemed very rattly to find that the rear wheel had... continue reading »

off road cycling at the Cotswold Water Park

Last Sunday we once again loaded the car up with bikes for another ride in the early Autumn sunshine.  We went to the Cotswold Water Park to do the first route in this book.  I've done this ride (or something about 90% similar) before, but not for a couple of years.

Cycling around the water park is very different to riding in the Forest of Dean because it's almost entirely flat - Strava claims 10m of elevation over 18km...

The scenery is quite different too.  Less forest, more lakes (now there's a surprise!)

It's not difficult riding, although certain places were rather muddy! ... continue reading »

lots of biking

Both of my bikes have actually been getting some use over the last month or so, which makes a nice change as I'd got lazy about my cycling again.

Following an incident with some broken glass, my road bike is now running brand new tyres.  I've been breaking these in (and reminding myself why I love road cycling) with some shorter rides, including popping into Gloucester to watch the Tour of Britain come through. My new workplace is definitely in cycling distance (and, unlike the previous place, doesn't involve running the gauntlet of lorries at 50mph) so I've done that once... continue reading »

More forest biking

Dry autumn days are possibly my favourite time to go for wanderings on my mountain bike.  Last weekend I headed into the Forest of Dean (as usual), but decided to make an effort to find some bits I've not previously explored.

I dug out my trusty Cycling Guides map, and decided on the "Forest Adventurer" Blakeney loop, starting from Mallards Pike.  Plus whatever extra bits I felt like adding on afterwards, which turned out to be a slightly scenic route to Cinderford (one detour intentional, another not so much), then along the road through the town, and back to the start... continue reading »

Whites Level at Afan

It's been several years since I last went mountain biking at Afan, which is a bit silly because when I do go I really enjoy it.

Yesterday morning I met up with some friends at a rather damp Glyncorrwg.  As we got ready, I watched a serious of brightly coloured dots slowly weaving their way up the hillside, and soon it was our turn.  Climbs at Afan are an absolute pig, but at least all the up is at the start so you get it out of the way!  No shame in having to get off and push, either...

Once we eventually... continue reading »

Snowdonia

Another bank holiday, another camping trip.  This time in Snowdonia, staying at Dolgam near Capel Curig.

Saturday started with some mountain biking at Coed y Brenin.  Firstly the green Yr Afon trail (at 5 year old pace!) then after lunch a much more exciting mix of MinorTaur (blue) and Cyflym Coch (red).

To cool down after that we went wild swimming in the Llugwy, just below the siphon-tastic mess that is Pont Cyfyng.  Yuck. Others did actually swim, but I splashed around waist deep because it was rather cold.

On Sunday I turned down more mountain biking on grounds that the Penmacho trail... continue reading »

Arlingham

Might as well admit it - I've turned into a proper cyclist.  Road bike, lycra, jerseys with pockets on the back.. the full whack (well, nearly - still haven't braved clipless pedals).  I've also developed an even greater hatred of potholes, and occasional strange desires to try and ride up steep hills.

Not that this is a bad thing, of course.  It's doing wonders for my general fitness, and unlike all my other hobbies I don't need to rely on other people, or drive for hours to get to a starting point.  Out the front door and on the bike :) ... continue reading »

busy easter

Four day weekend + good weather = no excuse for staying inside doing nothing productive (ie wasting hours on the internet)

So:

one session of cardio tennis 40km bike ride shopping (yawn) walk on Painswick Beacon walk on Haresfield Beacon many laps of CIWW (no capsizing!) 45km bike ride (complete with steep hill) a bit of gardening one tennis lesson

More than enough to justify a large takeaway pizza, several creme eggs and a bag of mini eggs... probably.

lower Monnow cycling

Sunny Sunday afternoons are made for cycling.  Even better if it's following up a roast dinner with my parents! I went for a reasonably short (26k) bike ride up the Monnow.  Quiet lanes there, b-roads back, and two border crossings.

It would possibly have made life easier if I'd remembered that the lanes turn into narrow pothole filled not-very-road-bike-friendly terrain.  Which at one point turned into a huge road closed barrier!  But some people walking down told me it would be fine, as long as I was happy lifting my bike over a ditch/fence/barrier at the other end - and a... continue reading »

Chosen Hill

More Sunday cycling, and another local hill.

This time Chosen Hill, though no lovely views from the summit as everywhere was in a cloud.

No ridiculous mud this time - there's a road going up to the top (where there's also a church), but it's really bloody steep so once again I failed to actually ride all the way.

Sandhurst Hill

A small part of my car decided to break on Friday.  The window motor - with the window stuck wide open, of course.  All fixed now, but it meant my weekend plans were restricted to "somewhere local" rather than kayaking in Wales :(

So I cycled up my nearest hill.

Well, mostly.  What actually happened is that I happily cycled the 13km of roads and solid tracks, and carried the bike through the remaining 2km of thick mud.

Apparently I did not learn anything from the last time I thought cycling some hilltop bridleway in November was a good idea.  But nevermind -... continue reading »

forest cycling

I bought a new map recently - the Cycling Guides map of 'leisure routes' in the Forest of Dean.  Featuring the family trail (which is signposted anyway) but also two other routes with full directions, as well as highlighting lots of other bike friendly shortcuts, links and general forest tracks.  Oh, and various pubs, car parks and museums.

Apparently it's tearproof and waterproof, but without feeling at all plasticy.  I haven't had to test this out yet, as the weather has been lovely! (and let's be honest, I'm unlikely to be out on the bike if it's raining and manky)

Last Sunday... continue reading »

Leckhampton sunset

Been a while since I've been out on my bike - I actually had to dust it!

18km evening ride around Birdlip/Leckhampton, being the slow one in a group of keen bikers with much better bikes than mine.  And whilst I didn't fall off the bike at any point, the chain did - but only once.  Oh, and the spring bit on my front brakes (twice)... stupid thing!

Bit windy on the top of the hill, but I think the views make up for that - certainly beats staying at home and watching crap on TV.

Llanwrthwl

Last weekend I got a little bit more Wye ticked off. Nearly there now - just got to get from Llangurig up to the source.  I reckon two more days of effort and I'll be done!

Filling in the gap between vaguely Rhayader and Newbridge - I took the bike to Llanwrthwl and did a little figure of eight.  Up to the Elan confluence, then all the way down to where I'd ended my previous ride, and back.  All on NCN8, so a slightly different route in places to the WVW footpath.

Not a huge amount to say about this one really. ... continue reading »

Builth Wells and beyond

Moving house has eaten up far more of my weekends/spare time than I'd have liked.  But spring has appeared and things have settled down, so a gloriously warm sunny Sunday seemed like the perfect opportunity to carry on hacking away at the Wye.

So off I went to Builth Wells - armed with a bike, a map, and the NCN8 guidebook.  (not that I used the last two, hurrah for well signed routes).

Plans were fairly fluid, depending on time and how knackering I found the hilly cycling - either get to Newbridge on Wye (13km), or to Llanwrthwl (23km).  And then... continue reading »

Builth to Erwood

Just because the map says 'bridleway' does not necessarily mean 'this will be a nice route to cycle rather than walk'.

I should probably learn this lesson, and do more google maps spying when planning stuff (in fairness, I had done some...).  Especially when the bridleway in question is on top of a small Welsh hill where it's been raining on and off for a few days...

Builth Wells to Erwood, along the Wye Valley Walk. Starts off on country roads and tracks (including some steep bits which I walked). Then you get further up the hill, and the path heads off... continue reading »

Y Wal at Afan

Here's a GPS trace of most of "Y Wal" at Afan.  There's a bit missing because at that point I took my coat off (with gps logger in the pocket) and shoved it into the depths of my backpack where it couldn't lock on to the satellites. oops.  I realised this mistake, and moved it to somewhere more sensible at the next stopping point!

Anyway, yes. Red mountain biking - probably not my normal choice for a weekend's activity, but this was a bit of a uni reunion type thing, involving many keen bikers.  Plus a few of us with somewhat... continue reading »

two lots of cycling, a walk, and some overpriced Pimm's

The final weekend of July (a five weekend month!) was a busy one, even by my standards.

On Friday evening I headed over to see the parents, who provided food and a lift into town so I could see the mighty Goldie Lookin' Chain playing the festival.  Which was generally rather entertaining.  I was less amused at the cost of a small cup of Pimm's from the bar mind you...

On Saturday I ticked off a bit more of the Wye.  Monmouth to Symonds Yat (and back again), on my bike via the Peregrine Path.  A really nice cycle route actually -... continue reading »

Bredwardine by bike

June = end of the holiday year at work.  As usual, I've ended up with a couple more days left than I can carry over, so decided to put them to good use.

Walking the Wye is all very well, but it's slow progress.  I found a nice chunk that happens to be bridleway, and last Wednesday took the bike for a day out.

Credenhill to Bredwardine, 30km in total.  Some road, some farm track, and then on the way back, several fields full of sheep and sheep poo (at this point attempting to follow the "Three Rivers Ride", apparently).

To be honest,... continue reading »

Exploring Hartpury

Things to do on a dull Sunday afternoon, having already wimped out of going kayaking on grounds of there being massive amounts of water in the rivers (and wanting a lie in) - take the bike out for a first ride of the year! (yes, I realise it's February, shush)

A small consultation with CycleStreets later, I decided to head for Hartpury.  5 and a half miles of NCN 45, conveniently avoiding any main roads.

Half a mile in I realised a slight flaw in my 'relaxed Sunday afternoon' plan.  Strong, gusty and quite annoying winds.  But turning back and giving up... continue reading »

Hello 2010

Bye bye 2009.

The last few days of which were spent faffing about in South Wales.  A little bit of surfing, a lot of food and drink, and a day of mountain biking.

We did most of the Penhydd trail at Afan - 12km rather than 17, as one bit was closed.  Quite fun, although far too much uphill (I hate cycling uphill, so walked the bike...) and a couple of fairly terrifying descents.  That can be explained by the 'red' grading of it :p 
I chose to ignore the warning signs ("Red Route - is this for you?" answer -... continue reading »

Punctures are evil

It's been one of those rare weekends where I haven't had anything planned to do.  So as it was reasonable weather yesterday, I thought I'd go for a nice bike ride.

Bit bored of the towpath close to home now (obviously it's rather flat, and generally has lots of people walking along it to avoid/scare the crap out of), so I thought I'd take the bike into the Forest and do something a bit more interesting :)

First step - a trip to Halfords to buy a bike carrier for my car - something I've been meaning to do for the last... continue reading »

bank holiday biking

Rather than unnecessarily removing plastic from my boat scraping down empty rivers this weekend, I decided to go out on my bike instead.

Now, one my main justifications for buying a bike was so I can cycle to work, which is about 4.5 miles.  So far, I haven't managed this - a few short rides around in the evenings, but nothing significant.

I conveniently live right next to the canal, which has a towpath forming part of one of the proper national cycle routes (41?), so that seemed like a good idea. It also has mileposts, meaning I can be lazy and... continue reading »

spending lots

March can easily be summed up in one word: expensive.

As if buying a kayak wasn't bad enough, I've also been spending not insignficant amounts on things like deposits for holidays (French Alps in June, woo!), a shorty cag, car MOT, etc etc.

And when I popped into Halfords to get a bulb for the car, I managed to come out with a bike.  Oops.

The bike does not have a name, and is a greeny colour, which this photo does not show very well.

Fitting it in my car was a right pain in the arse - first off, 'quick release' wheels is... continue reading »

Christmas, New Year, etc

Ahh, it's 2009.  Apparently this is something new and exciting, just because the number's changed.  Right.

Let's sum up the last two weeks in handy bullet point form.

Christmas Eve.  An exciting 'night out' in Monmouth to catch up with school friends.
There was a queue for spoons.  Let's write that again, because it's that ridiculous:  a queue to get into wetherspoons.  yes.  madness. Christmas Day.  Family stuff, and lots of food. Boxing Day.  Got bored and dyed my hair.  With henna, so it's an interesting shade of fiery orange.  Or ginger, if you prefer. Saturday.  Delivered a fridge to Ironbridge, and prodded Jem's cats/guinea pigs This... continue reading »