It doesn’t happen often but when I oversleep I tend to wake up starving and feeling awful. Last Wednesday I overslept by almost an hour, awoke feeling remarkably good and looked out on blazing sunshine and a blue sky. I needed no further encouragement to get out on the bike and try out my new saddle and a new local route.
There was time for just a short ride of about 5-6 miles. I cannot be sure of distances just yet because I managed to mess up the settings on my bicycle computer recently and have not yet succeeded in sorting it. The route was out of the east side of Cardiff, through St Mellons, to Marshfield and then a left turn towards the Newport Road and back along that road to my home. The hardest part of the route was the climb through Castleton to the junction with Newport Road.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Brooks saddle will need to become worn in to suit my shape etc. just like new leather shoes, and I expected it to be quite uncomfortable at first but it was better than the original saddle had ever been. I needed to adjust its position and I stopped to do this on Newport Road. Two things happened on this road that set me thinking. First, when I stopped to adjust the saddle, another cyclist appeared and pulled up behind me, offering to help get me going again. What a kind thought!
Secondly, a bit further along the road I was anticipating a long climb, which ended shortly after a bus stop. A few weeks ago that slight hill had challenged me severely on one of my first rides and I clearly remember thinking that the queue at the bus stop had a perfect view of this red-faced, panting derelict and they probably thought that I ought to give up cycling forthwith, while I still had any choice in the matter. This time I was still looking for the hill as I passed the bus stop with complete ease. Needless to say, this time there was no queue.
On Sunday I had my longer ride as usual but alone. It totalled about 12 miles. The route starts with a long downhill run along the residential Greenway Road, which must have one of the poorest surfaces in the district from the cyclists’ point of view but still enjoys the status of “Advisory Route” on the Cardiff cycling map. Then Mardy Road leads to Wentloog Avenue which passes through a semi-rural, semi industrial landscape which is neither one thing nor the other. It is a good, wide road with roundabouts and access to new-looking industrial areas and large tracts of undeveloped land. It would all look so promising were it not for various predictions concerning rising sea levels.
Having passed a vehicle dismantlers premises on the left and a scruffy looking caravan site on my right, and survived a long straight section of the wide road on which young boys were racing sulkies (pony carts comprising a frame with a seat on two wheels) flat out along both sides of the road at the same time, to the consternation of the few car drivers that were around at the time, I reached a more rural part of the ride. Now the ride took me past a few pretty cottages and where there were wide grass verges some were populated by tethered ponies.
There were very few cars about and only two other cyclists so far. The first one waved. The second one ignored me completely, no doubt because he was busily practising to be the next winner of the Tour de France.
The scene above is more typical. The area is drained by deep channels called reens which are numerous and run alongside many of the roads on my routes. All seem to have steep banks which are densely populated with reeds, sedges or rushes or all three perhaps. One day I will remember to take my Observers book with me and attempt an identification or two. And this friendly family group of cyclists came along just in time to complete my picture – in which the reen can be seen (covered in duckweed) running diagonally from the bottom left corner.
This is the vegetation which can be found on both sides of the reens. It is often 5-6 feet high.
The Cardiff to London railway slices through the area and provides the straightest line on the map before curving around towards Newport. The few road bridges each provide a short sharp hill and great views all round. It was a good day for photographs. This train came right on cue as I stopped on a bridge for a rest.