The Valleys. The term conjures images of rolling effortlessly down lush hillsides into Welsh countryside. Cycling alongside free flowing rivers. Hillsides overflowing with opulent shrubbery. What any aspiring geographer will tell you, however, is that for this geographical feature to exist there must also be a hill either side of it. River deep and mountain high as Ike and Tina might put it.
Tired and groggy from a huge day yesterday we start slowly out of Llandrindod Wells. We had hoped for an easy 60 mile day but what we ended up with was some of the longest and steepest climbs we have encountered on a blisteringly hot afternoon in South Wales. We head South to Brecon before climbing our way through the Brecon Beacons and down through Merthyr Tydfil arriving in Pontypridd in a tired sweaty mess.
It is some of the most breathtaking scenery since the highlands but we are in no state to enjoy it as we come creaking slowly over the gradual climb of the A470. For the first time in the trip I consider getting off of my bicycle and pushing it. In fact I consider getting off and throwing it into the nearest hedge such is the power of the midday sun beating down on my head. When my gears fail and I am stuck in the big ring for the second half of the ride I seriously consider some bicycle abuse. But we manage to slowly grind down the miles and somehow arrive in Pontypridd in one piece.
Here we part ways as Aldercy Manning heads southwards for a graduation ceremony while I Rafe Watson, arrive to meet my girlfriend’s (Beatrice Chastity) parents in one of the most physically degraded states of my life. We collapse onto a pub bench and grasp our icy cold beverages with delight. Two full days of rest to come…