When I first moved out to South Wales around 10 years ago, the first hill I specifically targeted to ride was the Tumble out of Abergavenny.
The climb is famous in UK pro-cycling having regularly featured in most of the UK stages races (such as the Milk Race, Tour of Britain , and National Championships )
The Tumble climbs the Blorenge hill, is just over 5km long, ascending about 400m, to max out at a smidgen over 500m. It is a nice climb to ride, with a steeper section at the start under the tree cover, but then a fairly regular gradient as it opens up.
Having ridden this numerous times, including a couple of Velothon rides, I thought it would be interesting to try an alternative way up the Blorenge.
Referring to my trusty bible of interesting welsh rides, Jack Thurston’s Lost Lanes Wales , I found ride 16 Three Peaks, which ascends the Blorenge via the Tyla Road.
So on what was one of the hottest days of the year so far, I set out from Dinas Powys to ride to Abergavenny, and then return via this road.
For those of you looking for cycle friendly routes to negotiate the north of Newport, without going through the centre to Caerleon, then I can recommend the route I used .
Once you arrive at Bassaleg (via the Penylan Road), then turn right to join Caerphilly Road and continue straight ahead to Viaduct Way. Here you leave all the traffic, and go round to the left and under the viaduct . It’s a quiet residential road, which then leads to a cycle / footpath which crosses the Ebbw River and drops you into a reasonably quiet Tregwilym Industrial Estate.
Unfortunately you then have to ride alongside the busy B4591 but there is a broad cycle / footpath on its side which helps. Once past that , turn left into the residential estate , pass through and head out on the Mescoed Road.
From here you are in pleasant countryside, and can then traverse across to the north east of Newport via Malthouse Lane. It is all very pleasant quiet rides at this point.
It is quite an undulating route upto Abergavenny, which was a bit of a concern given I knew I had a 400m climb looming later. However the glorious quiet country lanes meant it was tremendous cycling.
Having reached Govilon, I was on the look out for a refreshment stop. I found the Abergavenny Garden Centre which offered Coffee, Cakes, good selection of cold drinks and ice-creams. This was an ideal stop before the ascent of the Blorenge.
Leaving Govilon on Church Lane, you are faced with a very low bridge (5’ 6” !!) , so you have to cycle through its centre to avoid a headache !
From there on, the road remains narrow , and when you eventually join the mountain road (after a couple of nasty broken surfaced hairpins) the road is steep and rutted. This makes the first few hundred metres of the real climb quite unpleasant riding. Bear with it though, as it does improve !
Soon you are traversing around the north-west side of Gilwern Hill , with a steep drop on your right hand side, that keeps the mind focused. From here the road surface continues to improve, and the gradient is regular and not too difficult to ride .
The final couple of km are not steep (perhaps 3 to 4%) and the road is traversing open pasture with plenty of sheep about. It’s nice riding here all the way to the top, where you join the Tumble road by Keeper’s Pond.
When I set out I expected the climb of the Blorenge via Tyla Road to be the most memorable part of the ride. It wasn’t. The descent from the top of Blorenge , and the following 15km through twisty, turning, dark unclassified lanes is the part of the ride I won’t forget in a while.
I spent a large part of that 15km on my brakes, and even with sintered pads in my SRAM hydraulic brakes I was wondering whether they were going to overheat and begin to fail.
Having lost 400m in height, and crossed over the Usk road, the ride back was a repeat of the ride out. So tranquil and relaxing , just what was needed !
All in all fantastic ride, and a nice alternative if you get the urge to ride to Abergavenny.
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