In and Out of the Saddle

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Bridge over the River Wye

Its been a month since I posted on here! That’s not good, but all it means is I’ve been busy. Unfortunately I haven’t been nearly busy enough riding bikes as I’ve been training to run a half marathon.  I know!

It’s kind of been a goal of mine to get fitter off the bike and get into trail running – so the suggestion of a half marathon set me on a collision course with next Sunday and come back soon to find out how I got on.

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There’s gold in them there hills

Monmouth with MB Swindon

I did get out last weekend. I took a large group from MB Swindon on a guided ride around the Wye Valley south of Monmouth.  Here’s what happened

Getting out of Monmouth was the most likely part of our journey where we were going to make a mistake and I didn’t want to miss any turnings early on in the ride. So 18 patient riders had a bit of a stop-start start to the ride until we got off the road and began following the River Wye south towards Redbrook.

A twisty trail that had a distinct footpath feel to it eventually brought us to Redbrook. A small village on the edge of Gloucestershire, and a village we would ride through 3 times today as we would fan out in various directions including across the border into Wales.

From Redbrook we made a steady 200m climb up above Whitebrook towards New Mills. The cool November air that had us wrapping up in Monmouth now seemed like a distant memory as we shed layers after warming ourselves nicely on the climb up.

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Redbrook

As you may know this route hadn’t been ridden before by any of us so surprises were in store and our first one was probably the highlight of the ride.  While looking for my planned exit from the top of the woods I found what looked like a fun trail down so decided, after a review of the map, that we should take it.

Pwllplythin Wood delivered a gnarly leaf strewn treat that dropped us almost all of our 200m in a very short distance. We picked up the scent of my original plan and free wheeled the rest of the way back down towards the river and our trail back to Redbrook.

After we had a stop for lunch we lost Gary P. as his rear shock was misbehaving and he’ll be disappointed to hear that he missed plenty more climbing.

After our second visit to Redbrook we climbed towards Offas Dyke and then followed Valley Brook in a large U shape to what can only politely be described as a very muddy second descent back to the village! Yes we got a bit mucky on our second loop and the descent, while it definitely delivered some smiles and laughter it was almost certainly the muddiest track I’ve ridden in a long time.

We were in Redbrook again for our third and final visit and then a fairly stiff climb up Duffields Lane.  Mostly track and solid surface it wasn’t too bad and eventually brought us to a farm at the top, where we sniffed out the bridleway to bring us down to Wysham Lane.  It was fast and fun but the off road section was over a little too quickly and we were soon on tarmac and pedaling back into Monmouth.

After navigating some traffic lights and a subway we found our way back to the start.

The weather had been kind to us and though we were mostly covered in mud, we were pleasantly warm for a ride in mid November.

Thanks for the huge turn out and once again for the riders who put their trust in me to take them to new territory. We definitely found a route that we should revisit in the Summer.

I’m formulating some plans for some official TimFromWales guided rides next year and this one will most certainly be on the agenda.

If you are interested in guided rides with me then please get in touch, or at least stay close to the blog and look out for announcements.

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