THREE IN ONE
After weeks of rain and bad weather our task was to traverse three local mountains. The idea was to cycle over the summit of each mountain then drop down to sea level after each one, more or less! It was a Saturday 13:00 as we left Croesyceiliog to cycle along the cycle track to Pontypool, after a quick stop in Pontypool for lunch we made our way further up the track to the Varteg. From here we hopped on the rough surfaced steep road that climbs the British (Byrgwm) mountain, we have cycled up this mountain many times but only a couple of times this way. The climb is unforgiving made even worse this day, by a gale force wind blasting straight at us. After a bit of struggling we went over the summit at 480metres, the highest mountain of the day, with good views all around of the Bristol Channel, the Brecon Beacons and Carmarthen Van. The descent was spoilt a bit by the wind, but as we neared Llanhileth it stopped for the rest of the day. We rested for a while to view the ancient church of St Illtyd’s. Illtyd was known to have come to Wales in the 6th century,converted by St. Cadoc and has always been venerated in Wales. A steep decent through the urban sprawl that clings to the side of the Ebbw valley was then enjoyed before cycling on the old abandoned road to Crumlin. Here was the start of our 2nd climb of the day. The ascent to Mynydd Islwyn, is a eloquent definitive climb, it starts in an urban area and then climbs into the country side. That sunny afternoon must have been the best climb ever over this mountain and the 320metres were taken with ease, this surely is cycling at its best! The descent from here is a very narrow and steep wooded lane that drops to the bottom of the Sirhowy Valley and we were were back in the populated area of the valleys. Here we stopped at a shop to stock up with drink and after talking to some local kids about our bikes we were on our way towards Cwmcarn to take in the last climb of the day. Cwmcarn forest is a Mecca for mountain bikers, there were a lot here today on the many tracks of this large forest, it also has an excellent asphalt toll road, which is free for cyclists, that winds its way through the beautiful leafy woods before coming out on the open mountain of the Mynydd Maen ridge. This vast mountain plateau dominates this area. We left the surfaced road and climbed over to the mountain ridge, where we crossed is called Mynydd Henllys which is at 420metres. This was the most impressive mountain of the day, the view is a spectacular scrolling 3D map of this area. From here was short bit of rough stuff down to Henllys village in Cwmbran to finish our 35 mile circular ride that had taken in over a 1000 leg-aching metres of climbing.
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