After planning this ride ever since Laura and Chris moved to Cardiff, I finally got to ride it yesterday, a week before Laura and Chris move out! No more base for me in Cardiff, I’m afraid.
The Taff Trail is well surfaced (only a couple of miles that could have done with a road roller) and mostly old railway lines, so steady gradients. The signposting was good, on the whole, with only a couple of confusing bits when navigating round town centres or big road junctions. I started at just after 8am, so it was rather nice riding out of the city against a constant stream of (commuter) cyclists coming the other way. Despite having the A470 for company most of the way north, it was little in evidence other than the occasional rumble of a heavy lorry going past, and the scenery was fairly ‘rural’ and tree-lined.
Past Merthyr Tydfil and I was really into open country and the tops of the Brecon Beacons were clearly visible. I stopped for food at the Brecon Mountain Railway cafe, before a steady climb on roads and forestry roads past Pontsticill Reservoir to the top of the pass at 1454ft. The first 5ml of descent from the top (750ft+ height loss) to the Talybont Reservoir was, again, on an old railway line. The views were spectacular, and the riding was ‘exciting’. The surface was a bit rough (there were many places where drainage pipes had been placed across the track and not rolled in), and, if I’d wanted to take full advantage of the gradient, I’d probably have been better off on an a mountain bike. I’m glad I still had some coffee in my flask (and a flapjack) when I reached the dam since I still had another 20ml to do.
There was still a bit more descending on tarmac roads to do before Talybont, but after that the canal towpath was ‘flat’ and fairly good quality. However, there were large stretches that were overgrown and I was regretting wearing shorts – I would probably not do it in the height of summer next time!!
A rather steep, hair pinned descent from the towpath took me into Abergavenny, though I got most of the way to the station off-road. Trains were every 20min from Abergavenny to Cardiff, so not too much hanging about. All in all, a cracking ride – I can highly recommend it.
p.s. apologies for there being no photos – I took my camera out at the start and realised that I’d forgotten to re-charge it; I didn’t want to use my phone since that was recording the route for RideWithGPS, and I wasn’t sure the battery would cope. I suppose I’ll have to ride it again!