The unexpected epic
An hour and twenty minutes should never present an epic. EVER. But that’s not what happened on Sunday.
8.30am. Need to be back by 10. Single speed blast – Garth/Treforest/Sengenydd Moor/Caerphilly Mountain/home. Perfect. Leave the house and head for the Taff Trail. The river is gushing. At the weir, a raging, white, boiling torrent . It’s level with the trail and lapping. This is high. This is super high. Blame it on the Snow melt, torrential rain, violent hailstorms; everything but the moonshine. Blackweir will flood today.
Cut across to Gwaleod-Y-Garth. The wind is blustery, I heave the bike. A familiar sensation creeps across my upper lip. Nosebleed. A trickle at first, but I can feel the tension building and the headache pounding. My nose starts dripping like snow melt then gushing like the Taff. No amount of wiping will mop up this one. I’m not going to stop though. The blood streaks across my clothes, my frame, my handlebars.
The climb to Senghenydd moor is a killer. 16%? 18%? I can just about force the bike to go up there with a bit of weaving across the country lane. Water cascades down, carrying scree and debris on its fluid shoulders. Lose traction on the back end and you’ve had it. Finished. Kaput. It’ll be a long hike before you can climb back on again.
Crest the top and take the tight right hander. Sh*t! Snow. SNOW. Still. Unbelievable. It was 9 degrees yesterday. Keep backside on saddle and push on through. The views are tremendous. The Bristol Channel dead ahead, the Garth mountain to my right and Pen-Y-Fan to my back. The snow abates and takes its usual Welsh form: Free flowing, plentiful, fill your boots, water. The nose bleed relents.
I descend quickly but carefully, keeping a keen eye for cars. Braking will not be quick today. The water flows over the rims leaving spokes gleaming, valve keeping its periscope head just above the water. The road is not visible. Its fresh. Exhilarating. Why would you want to be anywhere else?……pffffttttt…………..
Knew it! Puncture. Rear bloody wheel. Hop off, reach for the Knog adjustable (and foldable) spanner and set to work on the nut. Ow! <grunt, twist> Ow!! <grunt, twist> OW!!! Slipped off, cut my thumb. Now that’s bleeding too. This bloody thing may look useful but it will not grip. I keep trying and trying and trying. Nothing. Frustration leads to anger, anger fizzles out, acceptance settles in. I’m going to need a rescue. Good job I’m now only 6 miles away. Better walk off this hill to a more accessible spot.
I yomp down the hill. Past the roundabout, along the road and loiter near the GE factory. It’s an obvious spot . The rescue crew arrives about 30 minutes later. On this freezing January day, I’ve lost feeling in my sodden toes and colour from my face. It’s hard to stay warm in an exposed layby on the A468.
It was an unexpected epic. Bizarrely I still enjoyed it. I’ll be back to finish that ride on the weekend, packing a traditional tool (nice aesthetic fellas, but work on those grips). Image courtesy of NBC.