Afan and back

For a while I’ve been thinking of doing a ride from my house in
Bridgend up along the road through the valley to Afan Forest Park and
then doing a ride around the park and then coming back.  I discussed
the idea with a couple of mates but most people told me I was daft,
till I mentioned it to Dan, who’s a far keener mountain biker than me
and he thought it was a great idea.  It quickly changed from riding
along the road to riding along the hill that splits the Ogwr and Garw
valley and then dropping into the valley, backup the other side and
into the top of the Afan forest.

I roughed out a route on a GPS mapping website and Dan tidied the
route and loaded it onto his GPS.  Yeah, I know it’s cheating, but we
were going a long way over totally unknown ground and we wanted to
actually get there.  We met up outside Rush Cycles in Brynmenen early
one morning, we got going fairly early, about 8am.  I took a wrong turn on the way there so was about 15
minutes late.  It was quite nippy and I was beginning to realise that
my lack of cycling specific kit (no padded shorts, no decent winter
gloves and summer mtb shoes) that would cope with the winter might
mean things were going to get a bit frigid.  However the skies were
clear and it didn’t look like we’d have to contend with any rain.
Anyway, we set off along the first short road stretch trying to get to the proper start of the
ride out of the back of Bettws.  After a bit of faffing we found it
and got stuck into the mud.  It was pretty hard going for me, the
descents were thick with mud so needed speed, not something I’m known
for.  It was basically impossible to ride uphill due to the mud.  So
the tone was set for much of the rest of the ride – hike-a-bike.

Quickly enough we popped out onto the road and set off a long some
back lanes trying to find the first big climb of the day, roughly up
Moel Cynhordy, which is about 450meters.  The first
section of which was basically a stream and as a result more
hike-a-bike.  However the route moved onto a farmers track which was
quite rideable and we made up some time here.  The first small
downhill came up which was mostly ridable.  However it ended in a
muddy bog which we had to walk across.  There was a nice looking
fireroad to the right, but we were heading for a different end of the
Garw forest.  We did use the fireroad on the way back tho.

After the bog we were into the top of the forest, which was basically
all fireroad, so we got stuck into the riding.  Which was generally
decent.  Soon enough we got onto a long and loose descent which spat
us out onto the road at the top of Maesteg.  We weren’t on the road
for long, the next climb beckoned.  Up through a farmers yard and onto
a rough track, eventually bought me up to a part of the world that I
had walked with the wife before.  We headed right up Foel y Dyffryn (366m),
back to hike-a-bike, before being able to ride off the summit into the
back of the Afan Forest Park.  Here we were able to cruise down the
fireroad to the vistor center.  Which when we got there looked awfully
closed.  It wasn’t but, there was a moment of panic.  We locked the
bikes up and went into get cakes.  Once we’d taken our fill of cakes,
pasties and cups of tea we set off to retrace our route.

As is often the way my knee was starting to give me some trouble.  So
I had to ride/walk the initial climb out of the center back through
the forest.  We were able to ride over most of Foel y Dyffryn and the
descent on the otherside was a great piece of rough riding over the
side of the hill.  Well Dan rode it all, he could do the climb, I just
fell over half-way up.  No real line, just enough of a slope to get up some
speed and enough lumps and bumps to make it hard.

Again, back down into the village above Maesteg and back up onto the
ridgeline.  The lovely descent was considerably harder on the way
back, but still ridable.  We stuck to the top of the forest to miss
out the worst of the boggy area and were able to make much better time
here.  Soon enough we were back onto the track at the top of the hill,
however it was about 5pm now, so lights were attached to bikes and
turned on.  We got to the final descent well enough, but decided that
as it was dark and it wasn’t ridable for long enough, we’d stick to
riding back down the track, past the farm and out onto the road.  When
we hit Tondu, Dan said his good byes and headed off to Pencoed.

I kept on down the road into town.  Kept a couple from crossing the
road as they thought I was a car or motorbike, heard the guy go ‘it’s
a bike!’ as I passed.  Soon enough I was home after ‘enjoying’ the
last bit of riding through Bridgend.  I hate road riding.  Horrible.
But I was home in time for beer and pizza.

Stats are:
44.9 miles
6,022ft climbing
8 hours in the saddle, an hour or so in the cafe and a couple of hours of walking

Playstation 3

In an attempt to drag this blog back to it’s slightly geekier roots, I’m going to give a few pros and cons of mine and the Wife’s latest gaming purchase, the Sony Playstation 3.  The Wife is rabidly anti-Sony which is why we’ve held off getting one.  However the PS3 is a good Bluray player, so we decided to bite the bullet.  I’ve also been fancying a decent console for a while.  Anyway, without further ado:


  • Great feature set, iplayer, plays most audio and video files
  • Quiet, you really can’t hear it at all, there’s no noise.  Looks ok as well.
  • Good range of games eg Fallout 3, Gran Turismo 5, Assassins Creed series, about the only major series it’s lacking is Fable
  • It’s dead easy to upgrade the hard drive, well done Sony


  • It’s made by Sony
  • Sony are evil gits who love locking you into a wierd and wonderful Sony only format
  • The number of updates for games reminds me of playing games on a PC, I buy a dedicated games console so I don’t have to spend hours updating the OS and patching the game…
  • You can’t run Linux on it any more cause Sony are cocks
  • When you buy the console you have to agree to a bunch of EULAs, I’m sure somewhere in those EULAs I’m agreeing for Sony to watch my every move, anal probe me and generally record everything I do
  • Also they monitor everything, so if you break some random rule, I’m quite sure they’d ban you from stuff…

The pros just about out weigh the cons.  Now, I’m off to play some more Gran Turismo 5.

Mountain Equipment Jacket Pics

For sale – £30 inc P&P (in the UK)

The Clearout 2010

Rhi and I are having a big clearout of stuff.  Lots of stuff has gone on ebay.  Checkout our ebay accounts:

Me –

Rhi –

Some stuff isn’t making it to ebay tho.

Panasonic DMP-BD45EB-K Blu-Ray Disc Player – £100

Cheiftec Bravo Full Tower PC Case – £20 – (too big to post, collection only)

Email me if you’re interested.

Free Books

Java 2 (SDK 1.4) by Ivor Horton

Software Engineering by R Pressman (4th ed)

QuarkExpress 6 a Visual Quickstart guide


Well the old thing is looking much better after the shiny upgrade.  Now to prettify it.

Y Grib

Recently Greg and I went out to walk up along the Y Grib ridge and possibly continue along to Waun Fach.  We didn’t do that in the end, but we got a decent number of photos out of the trip.  The walk is quite a short one, with an altitude gain of about 500-600 meters from top to bottom and it’s about 5-6 miles in total.  We got on the hill quite late, about 1100 (we stopped off in Brecon to buy some walking poles and new thermal base layers), but made good progress and we were back down by about 1600.  You walk along the ridge and then down back along the bottom of the hill to the start.  The walk back was quite tough in as the snow had drifted quite a lot at the bottom of the hill, coming up to mid thigh on several occasions, making things rather slow going.  It did make getting down the hill easy as you could just run full pelt down the path as the snow slowed you down and made sure things didn’t hurt when you fell.  I did take a fall on an icy patch tho, but didn’t even get a bruise.

We saw quite a few other people out on the ridge, including two guys who made a snowhole in a snow drift on the ridge, which was impressive.  There were also a few skiers out as well, there were a couple of parts where you could ski quite well if you wanted too.

Some guy in a Snow hole

Some guy in a Snow hole

Looking over to Y Grib

Looking over to Y Grib

Matt on the walk back to the car

Matt on the walk back to the car

Lots and lots of snow....  lovely clear blue sky

Lots and lots of snow.... lovely clear blue sky

Looking back down from the top of the ridge to Y Grib

Looking back down from the top of the ridge to Y Grib

Greg waist deep in the snow, it was that deep...

Greg waist deep in the snow, it was that deep...

Matt also waist deep in the snow!

Matt also waist deep in the snow!

1.5 mile run

All running and it took 18 mins, which isn’t too awful I guess.  Felt good and I recorded the whole thing on my phone.  It’s got this Nokia sports tracker application on it.  Once I know what the weblink for that is I’ll put it somewhere on the website.

Recently I’ve been running (2 miles, treadmill, last monday), biking (Penhydd, Afan, Friday, took an hour and a half and felt really good on the climbs), walking (up Pen-y-fan and then onto Cribyn, last Saturday).  So I’m doing half decently on the exercise front.  Also got a longer and hillier walk to and fro work now I’ve moved.

Going to try and update this with run details in the future.