So, what’s a girl to do with a day pass on a sunny Easter weekend? Spot of shopping? Nice lunch down the Bay? A lie in? It all sounds very nice, but I had something much better in mind…
Early to rise, bowl of porridge, squash in the camelbak, sarnies made, load my bike on the rack of my friend’s bongo, kiss the mini muddies goodbye and head for the hills. Destination of choice: The Gap in the Brecon Beacons. If you have never ridden this before, then get it on your mtb bucket list, it’s spectacular in every way. I ride it every spring/early summer time and is definitely on my top ten natural rides.
After a bit of a false start (me realising I forgot my helmet just as we arrived, so a back track to Bike Park Wales to hire one) my riding partner, Vicki and I set off in glorious weather. The old roman road (with the exception of one dip down to a river and a short push back up the other side) is a lovely ascent; wide, not techy but interesting and the perfect gradient to keep your legs spinning whilst looking at the Beacons horseshoe get ever closer.
Soon enough we are at the saddle between Cribyn and Fan Y Big (hehe) and preparing to start the descent that gets your calves burning, heart racing, eyes streaming and arms pumping. I have done this route several times, however this was the first time I have attempted it without elbow and knee pads, and I must admit I missed them. The first part of the descent is super rocky and it feels natural to veer wide close to a sheer drop so hoping over loose boulders to get away from the drop off made the descent even trickier.
The trail then gets less rocky with a short pedaling section then a fast fast descent avoiding sheep and walkers and trying not to stack it at drainage ditches (I really need to learn how to bunny hop).
The next section is, in my opinion, the highlight of The Gap Ride, a very narrow rocky shute that is on a slight decline so no need to pedal but you get bounced along from one rock to another whilst trying not to hit your cranks on the sides. Great fun!
From there it was an easy lane/canal towpath ride to Talybont-on-Usk for a much needed refueling – cheese and salad cream sandwiches – the food of athletes. There are also toilets, a small shop and two pubs at the village – so if you don’t want to carry your food then the White Hart does very good food. Although be warned, there is a long steady climb (of about an hour) straight from the back entrance of the pub back to the start!
My recommendation for the route back would be the Brinore tramway (as opposed to the Taff Trail), way more interesting a climb, better scenery and very quiet. From there its over the top and a fabulous rocky descent down to Ponsticill that made me wish I had my knee and elbow pads again!
All in all, with stops, it was 3 ¼ hours so not an epic in time but certainly epic in gorgeous views, fun climbs and crazy descents. Just make sure you do it when the sun is shining. Brilliant 🙂