Cardiff to The Beach Night Ride

Start Point — The Mochyn Du.

Begin by coming out of the Mochyn Du, towards Cathedral Road and taking a left turn. Follow this road all the way until you come to a set of traffic lights and the Westgate Hotel Pub. Take another left and follow the road over the bridge. Once you’re on the other side of the bridge, take a right down Westgate Street. Follow this to the end, taking a left and follow the road around to the right — watch out for people spilling into the roads after a few too many.

Follow the road to the bottom of St Mary Street and take the first exit off the roundabout. Go under the bridge and take the right hand turn up Lloyd George Avenue. Follow this all the way down for about two miles before coming to the Wales Millenium Centre in front of you. Follow the junction around to the left and stay on this road, around the back of the Senedd and the front of the assembly square buildings. Keep following this road past the Norwegian Church until you get to the Dr Who Experience — here you’ll want to veer onto pavement, otherwise you’ll have to stop at the entrance to the barrage, get off and lift your bike over the kerb.

Follow this cycle path all the way down until you pass the skate park and come onto the Cardiff Bay Barrage. Keep an eye to the left so you can see the moon glimmering through the probable clouds and enjoy the flat, smooth roads as you cycle along the connecting, pretty inspiring road from Cardiff to Penarth.

Penarth Leg

Now you’ve come across the Barrage, drop down a few gears as you’re about the hit the first of three seriously challenging hills on the route. Take the first exit off the roundabout in front of you and climb roughly 200ft over 0.3 miles (about a 10% incline). Stop at the top for a swig of water and follow the road around to the left. Take a right onto Maughan Terrace and stay on it as it turns into Stanwell Crescent and again as it turns into Albert Road, past Albert School and Surgery.

Once you hit the roundabout, take the second exit following the A4160 downhill. Follow the road past the Westbourne School and take a left along Victoria Road, past the Paget Rooms, then another left along Westbourne Road, following the road signs for Sully.

Sully Leg

It’s impossible to get lost along the Sully leg of the journey. One straight road will take you from Penarth, through Sully and onto Barry Docks. A gradual descent out of Penarth, followed by a gradual ascent into Sully and then a gradual descent again as you come out the other side.

This whole stretch of road is pretty well lit and not too taxing, even to the freshest legs in cycling. Although the views aren’t too brilliant — there’s a good chance you’ll still be in a large pack by this time so take it as a good opportunity to warm up for Barry ahead.

Once you’ve come out the other side of Sully, take the first exit off the roundabout you come to. Then it’s straight ahead at the following four roundabouts as you pass through the docks. Take a right at the next roundabout into the town centre and straight across the next one.

Barry Leg

The second and quite possibly most difficult hill is now just ahead of you. Ascend from 26ft to 260ft in a one mile straight. Stop at the bottom to get some water inside you and change down as far as you can before attempting this punishing ascent. No one will think any less of you if you then need to stop again at the top and glug down another half a litre or so and grab some granola bars out of the bag.

Once you’ve recovered, take a left past the pub and follow the road around until you hit a roundabout; take the second exit from here and follow the road for about a mile before you come to another roundabout. Take the first exit off this one and the following four roundabouts until you get to Cardiff Airport.

Hop onto the cycle path here and follow your way all around the Airport, if you’re lucky you’ll get to see a plane taking off or landing — although cycling round an airport in itself is quite a pleasant experience.

You’ll pass through Rhoose and East Aberthaw as you make this journey — it’s all one long road so no chance of getting lost. The whole journey past the airport is about five miles before you come back out onto a main road where you want to take a left.

Llantwit Major Leg

A gradual ascent will then take you up to Llantwit Major, you need to take a turn left when you see a sign for Boverton — be careful all around here as there’s little to no street lights anywhere. Follow the same road you came off at when you saw the sign for Boverton and come into Llantwit Major high street. Look for the crowds outside the Old White Hart and The Old Swan Inn and you’ll be able to find Cafe Velo.

The stop off in Cafe Velo is where you’ll find a much needed caffeine and cake fix. If you ask nicely, you’ll get your water bottle refilled for free and it’s generally a good spot to find people if you got separated earlier along the way.

Once you feel suitably refuelled, come out of Burial Lane and follow the road in the same direction you were heading when you arrived at the cafe (don’t go back on yourself).

From here you want to take a left onto Dimlands Road and follow it gradually uphill for about two miles before you hit a turning to Marcross. Follow this, again gradually uphill, for four more miles, passing through Monknash, and you’ll come out just past Wick.

Bridgend Leg

Two more miles down the road you’ll come to a turning left for Southerndown and Ogmore, take this and follow the coast road all the way. This is probably my favourite part of the journey, with the sea breeze in your face and the moon shining bright in the sky (hopefully). This whole segment along the coast is around 5 miles long and predominantly downhill.

Once you’ve gone through the other side, over a few cattle grid, through Ogmore Village and then Ewenny — you’ll hit the Ewenny Roundabout (locally referred to as the Magic Roundabout, thanks to all the traffic lights). Take a left here and begin the ascent up the A48 towards Pyle — the third big climb on the journey. Cross straight over every roundabout you come to until you’ve come over the top of the hill, passed over the M4 and enjoyed the downhill virtues of an uphill climb. You’ll hit a roundabout and you want to take the third exit to Pyle.

Port Talbot Leg

Come straight through Pyle and follow the road through the dark, but still rather beautiful Margam village. You’ll pass Margam Country Park on your right hand side, which is well worth coming back to in the daylight. At the roundabout take the second exit, then at the following roundabout take the first — diverting off the A48 so you can take advantage of the (fairly) recently laid road which runs past Port Talbot steel works.

If you’ve timed this leg of the journey well, you will see the sun rising above Port Talbot. Someone once told me that the set design for Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner was inspired by the skyline of Port Talbot and you can really see it. Although that may be because you’ve probably not slept for quite some time now as it’ll be somewhere near 4:00 in the morning.

Go straight over the five roundabouts you’ll come to, past Neath Port Talbot Hospital, and straight ahead at the following three. Turn left into Baglan, straight ahead at the next roundabout and over, the alarmingly steep, Briton Ferry bridge. Once you come down the other side you’ll be on Fabian Way — the main road into Swansea.

Swansea Leg

There isn’t a great deal to say about the final Swansea straight as it’s just that really — a straight. Once you come down over Briton Ferry Bridge and onto Fabian Way it’s a 10 mile sprint (if you really want) along the coast to the Mumbles. So long as you have the sea on your left hand side, it’s impossible to get lost.

Cycle all the way down Fabian Way until you hit the West Cross Inn — where you can fill up on a breakfast baguette, buy a pint and have a nap on the grass outside, or on the beach if you really fancy.

If you did manage to get here before the sun rise, relax as you see the sky light up with a drink in your hand and feel that warming sense of comfort that you managed to cycle 65 miles, over night, with no support other than the sheer determination to do it and whatever supplies you brought with you.

You can see my full route map here. I got a bit lost in Penarth so it doesn’t quite match up exactly as I describe it, but generally it’s right.

Originally published at on June 26, 2016.