Friday, January 3, 2014

F4 3/4 #festive500

This should probably have been titled F5, due to the additional Friend who tagged along with me. As Boxing Day dawned cold and fresh I was running somewhat behind in meeting my friend Pete for another ride. This meant my early journey distance was curtailed as I took a shorter route to Pete's folks' house. Trying to look at the positives I was presented with a beautiful panorama of frosty fog washing down the Usk valley as I headed towards Abergavenny.
Ah it was good to breathe in the freshness.
Time was tighter today as I had to be back by 1 to get ready for an afternoon stroll through the woods with some friends from the village. After being waved through a barriered off road into Abergavenny and some Christmassy wellwishing at Pete's we were on out way. First distraction was a troupe of lovely riding ladies.

Yes, I liked the spotty horse the most too. Passing courteously it was good to have company with Pete along and we soon began to chat. I'm quite happy to cycle alone, and I find it sometimes meditative in experience. I also really enjoy having someone along whose riding I trust and whose conversation I can relate to. Pete is one of those people.
With some friendly banter we carry on along the roads. Pete also provides me with a bit of information on the bridge we cross as I pause to add more water to the river below.

I had never known it was referred to as the 'Army Bridge', thanks Pete.
Our route for today had been defined by me and as such I made a tiny mental route planning faux pas and forgot that the Heads of the Valleys road through Clydach Gorge actually was one large climb. I had chosen this route instead of going around slightly further and up Llangattock Mountain under the mistaken thought there was no real climb.
With Pete twiddling off ahead I had some time to admire the beautiful waterfalls either side of the road, and then the industrial remnants still standing from this heritage area.
A jogger and his partner were carrying out hilly intervals underneath the pipework atop the brick arches.
I arrived at the false flat to find Pete gently steaming and enjoying a drink. He remounted and tucked in behind as we headed towards Blaenavon. There was snow and frost appearing as we got closer to the final summit.

Snow on the hills and frost on Pete's sweaty back as the wind nipped at us.

At the crest we paused to take on some jelly baby based vittles and admire the landscape.
I really love this part of the world, so empty yet so recently full of huge industry.

Time and a cold wind wait for no man though and we pressed on downwards. Pete had been feeling the fresh wind and I grabbed some waste cardboard from outside a shop for him to stuff down his top in Blaenavon town. The old ways work well.
The other great thing about heading back this route is that it's all downhill. Well mostly, the little bits that aren't don't really merit a mention.
The damp roads kicked up spray as we sped through the valley, past Cwmavon with the old architecture of the mill, through Abersychan with life beginning to bustle around as the morning approached lunchtime. Then finishing off at home for a coffee and chat.
Good rides.

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