First pedal strokes? And I just don’t believe it.


January 29, 2009 by welshcyclist

It’s been awhile since my last post, but getting on the computer to type requires a good deal of time, something I’m not well endowed with these days. True I do get big gaps in my shift pattern, but once I’ve spent a couple of hours out on the Subway 1, and then done some chores, or gone out shopping, or for a walk with Elizabeth etc., it’s a struggle to lock myself away here on the pc.

Having said that, the weather here has been changeable to say the least. Last weekend it was cold and icy, so much so that I got my new trainer out, for a first go on Saturday. Thanks to my son Tierloch, who solved my inevitable misconstruction, it was ready and waiting to be connected up to the Subway. I’d got up early, which I usually do when I’m going on one of my leisure rides, but chickened out as soon as I saw frozen water, on the back path. So I set the trainer up and attached the Subway, and was taking my first tentative pedal strokes at 07.30. I tried the various resistance settings, and was impressed.

I had a run at setting 3, for 15 minutes, which brought me out in a sweat, had a glass of water, did another 15 minutes, another glass of water, then rounded off with a 20 minute session, varying the settings. Perhaps it was the fact, that I didn’t have the cooling effect of the bike moving through the air and a breeze, but I worked up quite a sweat, and could feel the effect of the workout, on my legs.

My overall reaction is good, when it’s icy I can get a ‘ ride ‘, but pedalling and not actually getting anywhere, having nothing to interact with as you pass and see things when on a normal ride, is a terrible bore. So when I set it up next time, I’m going to be prepared, either by way of something to read, or an audio book to listen to. Reading will be a problem though.

A major drawback, which hopefully I can rectify, is the fact that when assembled with the trainer, the Subway slopes forward at an angle that I find uncomfortable on my hands. The simple answer is, I hope, a matter of raising the front wheel up by about 2 inches, so making the whole assembly level. I’ll keep you up to date on developments, but, as I said the weather is very changeable, and has now gone back to a very mild phase, and I’ve commuted to and from work 3 times in the last week.

The first commute after my efforts on the trainer was great, I kept imagining to myself that my leg strength had improved, but after that my trips to and from work became really hard work, and I seemed to be getting overly tired for no reason.

Same thing happened today, when I went for a leisure ride with my camera. It seemed hard work over stretches I’ve cycled now, many, many times. Taking pictures was a relief. Here are some.

This first shot is taken from the old road looking down into the valley, through the trees to the fertile plain below.

And this is the road that meanders along northwest side of the valley.

A big change of subject here. Above shows a pair of workers’ cottages, set next to the old coach house and stables, part of a large estate at Rheola pond. I don’t know any of it’s history, but have decided to find out more asap.

Here I’m looking the other side of the cottages towards Rheola pond, I think you can see that the views have been ‘managed’ i.e., in the past the owner of the large house did some landscaping to enhance the views.

Looking again toward the pond, and once more I believe one can see the ‘managed’ setting.

Here is the drive up to the big house, on the right is perhaps a gatekeepers house. Note the sweep of the road with an old dissused factory on the left.

This is the gatekeeper’s house again showing it’s relationship with the workers’ cottages and the stables.

This is a stream which has been walled either side, and is a major feeder for the canal across the road. If you expand the picture you will see it also acts as an overflow for Rheola pond on the right.

Another shot looking up towards the big house, set in the trees at the back of the bold sweep of grass, between the stables on the right and the main house itself.

I said the factory was dissused, but in fact it is now in use by demolition experts, who reclaim stone and timbers from old schools and churches etc., selling it all on to be used again. The factory building meanwhile has found a new purpose, being used every Saturday to house an indoor market, which is very popular in these parts.

As I left the factory I noticed a farmer feeding some horses, across the road, on the other side of the canal, I said a quick hello, and took a couple of picture of their horses.

I left the farmers and their horses and decided to cycle on down the canal towpath to Resolven.

I stopped to take the above photo, it shows a small barge that is used to cut back weeds from the canal sides, a lock and an overflow, used to take excess water away when the lock is closed.

I took this shot from the canal towpath looking north at Rheola forest, which occupies the escarpment separating the Neath valley from Crynant and Seven Sisters.

To my dismay I found that the batteries in my camera had run out, so I put the camera safely in my jacket pocket, and cycled on towards Resolven.

This is where ” I don’t believe it ” comes in. It’s the catch phrase of Victor Meldrew, a popular sitcom character on TV, because you wouldn’t believe how many things I saw that I wanted to photograph, on the rest of my trip. It was only a couple of hundred yards further on, when I came within 10/15 feet of a dipper. Like an oversized robin, but with a white chest, and darker brown everywhere else, a really smart looking bird, that bobs while standing still. They always make me think that they’re wearing an extremely white bib. It’s a bird that lives by waterways, feeding on worms, underwater grubs etc., and dives under water to seek it’s food out, hence the name dipper. The really amazing thing about these birds is that, while under water they actually swim using their wings.

Anyway, this little fellow was stood in a feeder stream alongside the canal, bobbing, and despite my presence continued to have a good wash, I know I could have taken a great picture save for those darn batteries,……..”I just don’t believe it”

I carried on toward Resolven, and soon I met a party of walkers, about 15 strong, heading towards me, I gave them cheery ” good morning”, but all I got in return was a faint hello from one of their party, and sullen looks from the rest. I got the distinct impression that they disapproved of a cyclist sharing “their” towpath?? In fact they made sure I had to leave the towpath to pass them, despite there being more than enough room for us to pass.

A few minutes later I was turning round at Resolven, and because of the miserable walkers, I decided to make the return leg to Glynneath on the road. Just like my last couple of commutes, I found it tiring on the inclines. So when I got as far as Cwmgwrach I decided to have a coffee at MacDonalds. After my coffee, I checked out my bike, and found the back brake was rubbing the wheel rim quite badly, so I adjusted it as best I could, I’m far from mechanically minded, terrible with a spanner or any tool, for that matter, but my efforts eased the problem.

Leaving MacDonalds, I decided to cycle up to Pontneathvaughan, after having exchanged text messages with Elizabeth, who I was due to pick up from her hairdresser at 12.30, when she told me it would be after 1.00., before she was ready.

When I got to Pontneathvaughan, I decided to take a trail I’ve never been on before, well only a small part of the way. It was to go to the gunpowder works, at almost the head of the valley. I’d stopped short of going all the way up the trail previously, because of dogs, or the possibility of dogs, at the couple of residences along the way.

In places it was very muddy indeed, and I struggled to keep the Subway upright, but I enjoyed the ride and the views, again wishing I had a working camera with me. The ride to the gunpowder factory, well the remains of, took about 15 minutes, and was well worth the effort.

I was so disappointed at not having the camera, but I had a thought, perhaps the batteries had recharged enough for a couple more shots.

I got out the camera, and turning it on was delighted to see the green light flashing, so hastily I took this last shot, and last shot it was because the batteries died for good immediately after.

It shows the river passing through some sort of manmade damn, obviously something to do with the gunpowder works, which I will return to get some shots of, and find out some of its history.
Well, then it was a quick return down the trail to Pontneathvaughan, then by the road to Glynneath and home.
Cheers for now.

5 thoughts on “First pedal strokes? And I just don’t believe it.

  1. Doug says:

    Again, thanks for sharing some pictures. That last shot is very nice! Looks like a fun ride. I have to tell you about my trainer. I bought for my wife about 4 years ago. Since I’ll ride in any weather I haven’t bothered to bore myself with indoor “training” until now (with the broken arm). Anyway, that trainer of mine is exactly like yours. Right down to the color scheme. The only difference is the graphics and/or brand name on it and the actual resistance unit thingy. Funny, what a small world. I use a couple of phone books under the front wheel to raise it up.

  2. welshcyclist says:

    You’re right Doug, it is a small world, I hope our phonebooks will do the job for the trainer. I think I’ll be needing it over the next few days, the weather forecast is bleak, winds blowing in from Siberia, plenty of sub zero temperatures, and a major threat of snow. Still haven’t sorted any reading/audio material for when I use the trainer. Thanks again for popping in.

  3. Nick says:

    I can’t (yet) comment on your post, because I haven’t yet taken the time to read it properly. But I will, and I look forward to doing it at my leisure! But already your pictures are giving me pleasure. Wonderful; they remind me of what I have left behind – and I’m now resolved to bring myself and my bike back to the UK and visit your part of Wales. I haven’t been there for far too many years now, and it’s time I took another look. High time. Thanks for giving me the idea; all I have to do now is persuade V. to come with me.

  4. Anna says:

    wow it looks beautiful there! i think bikeskirt needs to travel over there and have you take us on a biking tour. in the summer 😉

  5. welshcyclist says:

    Thanks Anna for dropping in on my blog, I very often read your “Bikeskirt” blog and enjoy your posts and pictures. I can definitely recommend a trip to Wales, where I’ve no doubt you will receive a very warm welcome, as we say in Wales, “Croeso Cymru”, i.e., “Welcome to Wales”. Cheers.

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