Whatever you call them, if like me you’ve been inspired by Ronde van Vlaanderen and classics like Gent–Wevelgem, you may fancy shaking your fillings loose on something closer to home.
Here are some pavé roads we’ve cobbled together that are right on our door step here in South Wales.
1. Heol Sticil-Y-Beddau, Llantrisant
This road translates as “The Grave’s Stile”. I’d say that’s apt not just given the size and shape of the cobbles here but the sheer gradient too. This is a rather unknown climb with only 30 people on the Leaderboard according to Strava.
The climb is only 300m in length but has two potential starts and a fork half way up for you to choose where to end up as well. Both start just off the B4595 in Llantrisant and are just a few hundred metres or so apart, they’re both narrow lanes so there’s not much to distinguish between them in terms of preference to pick from other than perhaps which direction you decide to arrive at the climb.
Halfway up there’s a fork in the road and you can either turn left up Heol-y-Beiliau which gets even steeper, bordering on unrideably steep, or continue straight. I would advise continuing straight. The finishing point here is a bit of no man’s land with some short steps onto Church Street or back to High St (B4595). I’ve not ridden this climb yet but I’m planning on it at the earliest possible moment.
Avg. Gradient: 16%
2. Victoria Quay, Swansea
Swansea has a number of cobbled roads so I’m going to divert west for the next few sections of pavé. Victoria Quay near the National Waterfront Museum is another quiet residential road but the cobbles here are even in size and shape making for a less stressful and more predictable ride. It’s only 200m in length and being flat means you’ll cover that distance in no time.
Otherwise there’s not too much to say about this road other than that Swansea marina makes for a nice destination to a ride and it’s nearby links with NCN (National Cycle Network) Route 4 makes it accessible to lots of riders of varying abilities. [There’s also a nice cafe here that we stopped at on Ferryside Fish – G]
Avg. Gradient: 0%
3. Castle Street, Swansea
Assuming you’re riding south towards the marina for the cobbles at Victoria Quay there’s a short section of cobbles in the city centre next to Swansea Castle towards Wind Street.
This section is perhaps barely 100m in length and so unsurprisingly there’s no Strava segment here up for grabs, which is probably a good thing given it’s location slap bang in the middle of the city centre.
It’s worth noting though because if you’ve gotten the train to Swansea, perhaps to do some riding around the Gower, Castle Street is only down the road from the central train station so it’s makes for something different to start your ride. Plus if you are in that area and headed in the direction of Wind Street there’s also a short and narrow adjoining road named Green Dragon Lane which is also cobbled: https://goo.gl/maps/LBiZ9ZFkKeo
Avg Gradient: ~1-2%
4. Constitution Hill, Swansea
Out of Swansea City Centre now and into the suburbs for a climb up Constitution Hill. Technically from the very bottom this is a no-entry road but there are many side roads adjoining the cobbled climb where you can join it legally and turn upwards.
The cobbles here vary in size and shape but are reasonably uniform in height, so there’s no fear of dropping a wheel into a trench and becoming stuck between a rock and…er, a hard place. This climb gained notoriety in 2010 when it was included in Stage 3 of the Tour of Britain when Michael Albasini of the then Team HTC-Columbia dropped everyone on the climb with just 2km to go and nabbed himself the win in the rain.
Footage of his effort and the remnants of a breakaway trying to catch back onto him show just how beastly this climb is with some riders struggling just to stay upright!
Avg. Gradient: 18%
5. Park Lane, Cardiff
Another lane-to-nowhere really but this one’s in Cardiff City Centre and adjoins Saint Andrew’s Place to what becomes Newport Road. The cobbles here are very uniform in size, shape, and height but there are patches where the road has been “repaired” very badly with lumpy tarmac. Just around the corner from Ride My Bike Cafe it’s well connected to many routes and is easily accessible from either direction before or after a coffee.
Avg. Gradient: 0%
What Did We Miss?
I found it difficult to find many cobbled roads or climbs and relied mostly on my experiences growing up near Swansea to write this and so I’m sure there are probably many more I’m unaware of!
Let us known in the comments below and we’ll add them!
It would be quite an adventure to join these all up with a block of gravel over st Gwyno’s forest!
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