Meet our groups: Cardiff CTC Caerdydd
Cardiff and South East Wales Cyclists’ Touring Club had been around for many years, with the old District Association structure giving us a membership that extended to the east and the border with England in Chepstow. How far west we went until we met up with Swansea CTC, I’m not so sure. Nowadays, we are known as Cardiff CTC, a Cycling UK Member Group.
For many years, the one consistent ride done under the Cardiff CTC banner has been the Wednesday evening ride organised by Owen Rook: 52 weeks of the year on a Wednesday evening, people gather for a ride at 6.45pm and head out, usually taking in a pub en route.
The weekend club rides had, however, waned over time until 10years ago. Clive Cazeaux, who first joined Cycling UK as a teenager in Brighton a fair few years ago, decided it was time to start offering members in Cardiff the opportunity to experience all the benefits of these rides again.
An appetite for rides at a touring pace
We weren’t quite looking to go back to 1898-type rides, but there was a definite appetite for rides at a touring pace, allowing for conversation and with the right ratio of miles to café stops.
In Cardiff and the surrounding areas, we have many cycling clubs, and many of those who ride with other clubs are members of Cycling UK – they join because they support our campaigning, belong to an affiliate group or used to ride and want to continue to be part of something good.
The vast majority of our rides start in Cardiff, but we have some favourites for which we’ll take the train once a year. One is to Abergavenny to climb the Gospel Pass to Hay and back, and the other is the train to Rhymney to head over the hills to Talgarth and then back over Llangynidr mountain.
Discovering new ways
Starting from Cardiff gives us lots of opportunities to ride. If we want a flat ride, though, there’s really only one option and that is to Newport and the Gwent levels, which we and others successfully campaigned to stop the M4 relief road being built on.
Many of our rides are to the west and the lumpy lanes of the Vale of Glamorgan, which offers a multitude of options with its dense network of lanes. From a short ride to Cowbridge for coffee or a Boxing Day ride to the beach café in Llantwit Major, which is open 364 days a year, you can discover new ways, even when you’ve been cycling there for years.
We will, on occasion, head up a valley and climb the Bwlch and Rhigos, or take a route across one of the many commons just a few miles out of Cardiff.
The last two years have obviously been a bit short on opportunities for socialising, but prior to that, in addition to the annual Christmas meal, we’d meet up for food and to plan rides. You’d usually see a group of us at the Welsh Festival of Cycling and we’re hoping we see the return of that again before too long.
Our cafe rides
Groups being as they are, members come and go and ride leaders get busy or move away, so at times we rely on a small group of people to keep things going. We like to offer a variety of rides but, even when we’re short of ride leaders, we always put on our first Saturday of the month café ride.
I started these rides a few years ago as an introduction to group rides and they are popular! When we first came out of lockdown, we had to split into two groups to comply with the coronavirus regulations. People had really missed the opportunity to ride with others.
The café rides are under 30 miles, at a very friendly pace and enjoyed by everyone. We meet at the inclusive cycling charity Pedal Power in Cardiff for a chat and, when the café is open, coffee and cake. If people want to find out more about us without committing to a ride, they can find us there at 10am the first Saturday of every month.
Our favourite cafe
There are so many fabulous cafés, it’s really difficult to chose a favourite, but a National Trust cheese scone at Tredegar House or Duffryn Gardens have to be up there among the best. Café 49 in Usk is an experience and I’ve found the best Bakewell slices in Talgarth at the Old Mill.
Our favourite rides
Favourite rides, much like favourite cafés, are plentiful. In May, we’ll be heading out from Newport on one of Jack Thurston’s Lost Lanes rides, which he tried out on us when he was writing the book, and sometime soon we’ll be heading up the Gospel Pass.
For St David’s Day, we’ll revisit this favourite heritage loop created by Clive during lockdown, and take in lots of local heritage. The Transporter Bridge in Newport isn’t open at the moment but it’s still a fabulous ride.