When I lived in Swansea a ride over the black mountain was always great. But the south side is the easiest and the least attractive - Id always wanted to do the ascent from the north side but from Swansea it meant a long flat ride up to Llandeilo first and I never got round to it...until now and the great idea of driving to Sennybridge and riding from there. The route I took follows the old roman road - its quite a desolate place up there, and then you drop down to the start of the climb. The climb really is great - a couple of weeks later the Tour of Britain came over it and the race blew apart. I'd say the bottom is the hardest - its not steep, but its quite difficult to get a rhthym going. Once out of the trees and round the first hairpin then you can start to get it going quite well. The last hairpin is quite wide and the road surface is good. It gets hard again, but going over the top you get moving again. I found the second climb by accident but basically it goes back over the black mountain rather than following the main road past the Crai reservoir. Its a bit uneven with some ups and downs and I was having a bit a bad patch here - the long ride up the Swansea valley was pretty boring, although I did see Adam Jones - the Welsh international prop - ambling through Ystalafera. I recovered on the descent though and stormed back into Sennybridge very happy.
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
Many people think the Bwlch y Groes is the highest through road in Wales. Not so its actually Hay Bluff or the Gospel Pass, but its almost in England so maybe people discount it for that reason. Ive never been to the Bwlch, but the view from the top here is spectacular, and the climb is not that hard - steep at the bottom, but if you take your time its easy enough. In that respect, its a bit of let down - nowhere near as hard as the climb from Machynlleth. The descent is also rubbish - too narrow to get up any speed and sheep and grockels everywhere. I blew spectacularly coming out of Abergavenny despite (or perhaps because of) overdosing on jelly babies. For that reason, I may be biased against this climb.