Neath to Cardiff via the Bwlch

We have another fun, incredibly scenic route for you to try before we say goodbye to the warm weather for 2015.

Up, up and away

If you are looking for somewhere to ride that is both beautiful yet incredibly tough, the Bwlch is an excellent place to try. This is a 40 mile ride that’ll bring you back into Cardiff via Pontypridd, where you are at liberty to head home down the Taff Trail if you wished. When we did this ride we stuck to the main roads and returned via Manor Way.

Getting to Neath

Your first challenge is getting to Neath. We used the train, but if you are feeling energetic you could ride through Penarth, Barry & Ogmore before joining route 88 to Neath.

If you do get the train and there are a few of you, ask at the station for a group ticket –it’s a little cheaper and only cost us around £6 each for a return (not that we used the return ticket!).

The First Climb

The route will take you through Neath’s commercial centre, giving you a chance to fill up on coffee & cake for the ride ahead. However, shortly after leaving the town you’ll start to climb over Cimla hill, through Efail Fach and Pontyrhydyfen.

The Big One

At the 10 mile marker the road kicks up significantly and doesn’t let up for four miles. By the time you reach the top you’ll have climbed 1,703ft from the train station. The good news is, it’s all downhill from here and you’ll be greeted to an equally steep and fast descent on reasonably good roads.

Before you do though, stop and admire the amazing view. You’ll be able to look back at the road you just climbed, which has been cut into the hillside. If the weather is good, this is the sort of ride that will make you glad you decided to get back on your bike in the first place.

How steep?

The challenge on this hill is one of distance rather than grade. I was able to remain seated throughout the climb while running 36/46 chain rings and an 11-28 cassette. Using Rhiwbina Hill as a benchmark, it’s not unlike the Heol-y-Forest climb from Tongwynlais, there’s just a heck of a lot more of it!

If you try it, let us know how you get on in the comments! Here’s the GPX File.

Gavin

Bike commuter, randonneur and cat wrangler

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