Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Pen-y-coedcae: The Poggio of South Wales

Its different in som many ways, but in my mind the climb to Pen-y-coedcae above Ponty reminds me so much of the Poggio - the famous climb at the end of Milan San Remo.

Its not so much the climb: from Ponty its much steeper than the Poggio, from the other side maybe its similar but you dont get the sense of being on the side of a mountain as you do climbing out of Ponty. Really its just the bend through the houses in Pen-y-coedcae - a sharp right hander which marks the start of the vertiginuous descent into Ponty. Even this is different - on the Poggio its a sharp left hander and then the descent is stacked with hairpins: the main obstacle on the descent into Ponty is when you start to come in to the houses, just as it gets really steep. And of course, Ponty is no San Remo.

I bet we all have these little imaginings on our rides of places being similar to those landmarks and monuments of cycling we see in the classics and the tours. I bet some of you even rename local hills the "col de so and so" in recognition of a real cycling landscape. No doubt its why thousands will be coming to ride the Dragon ride in a couple of weeks in South Wales - not so much for a physical challenge, but because the roads over the Rhigos and Bwlch are the closest to what we think we'd find in the Alps and the Pyrenees. They are not. But we can dream they are.

Anyway, here's my ride tonight. Went hard up the drag out of Ponty twice, and then up over the Graig through Pen-y-coedcae. I took it relatively easy on low gears so I reckon I can take some time out of that next time. But for the moment, Im still King of the Mountains on Strava.