Riding around the Blorenge

Every year around the beginning of October, a friend, Fraser, organises a weekend called Mud Sheep Bike! Part birthday party, part old friends meeting up and a little mountain biking thrown in to give some justification for eating too much in the evenings.

This year we all met at Pwlldu Adventure Centre, near Blaenavon, Monmouthshire and for those that haven’t guessed already, that’s in Wales. It’s just up the road (literally 300 metres of accent up the same road) from Fraser’s new house and sits at the head of a huge valley with spectacular views of the mountains to the north of Abergavenny.

For some strange reason I agreed to drop down to Frasers house on Saturday morning to accompany him on the 35 minute ride backup before breakfast. we returned to the smell of bacon and eggs and a gaggle of friends enjoying steamy cups of tea.

The event has changed somewhat in the last 5 or 6 years as more little ones have arrived. This year we had lots of 5, 6 and 7 year olds to get out on their bikes as well as ourselves.

Attending, too, was a group from The Cranks, a mountain bike hashing group (a bash) based near Cheltenham. we all left the centre following a specially created map heading for the Blorenge (a huge domed hill just up the road). we must have been quite a sight, at least 30 bikes including 3 tag-alongs with kids. The weather was being kind and soon we were all enjoying a great ride, the group splitting and reforming as ability and fitness dictated, before eventually meeting up at a pub for lunch.

In the afternoon a couple of us took our kids up to the top of the hill above the centre, an area of old quarry spoil heaps for a ride on their own bikes. They had a great time trying to ride through deep puddles and mud, tackling tricky descents and generally getting very muddy. Holly had a nasty crash at speed as she came back into the centre, catching her front wheel obliquely on a kerbstone, rather than crossing it at 90 degrees. I hadn’t taught her that yet!

That evening we all ate far too much Banoffee pie (another weekend tradition) but the days activities must have taken their toll on our now aging frames as by midnight everyone was tucked up in bed.

After doing my duty of cooking fried breakfast for N, whilst listening to the rain and wind hammer into the building most people decided to call it a day and head for home, the weather putting them off. I decided to at least try and get out and formed a plan for a sheltered ride again around the Blorange and end up down at Frasers house in the valley below. everybody else thought I was certifiable and carried on with their packing leaving me to it.

By the time I got off the road and on to the hill, the rain had ceased and I was treated to a great ride on the edge of the Blorenge, a steep drop below, ducking in and out of the cloud-base, sneaking fantastic views to the north. I then descended down some rocky single-tracks, now boiling streams before climbing back over Coed Y Prior via a scary greasy narrow road descent down onto the cycle path for a blast for home and a hot shower.

After a lazy lunch the weather improved and we managed to get the kids out for another ride down the cycle trail, including a torch-lit mud plug through an old railway tunnel.

The riding south of Abergavenny is wonderful, I just need to persuade Fraser to put on a Mountain Bike Orienteering event now.

Riding around the Blorenge


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