Photos by Lyn and Colleen. Left click on images to enlarge
Fueled by a hearty breakfast of bacon butties at the choir hall, ten members of Cor Meibion Caldicot Cycle Club and another thirty supporters and friends (with bicycles) were transported to the canal basin at Brecon. At 10am in already sweltering July heat they started to cycle the 60 miles or so from Brecon to Caldicot. About twelve struggled up the long 7 km climb to the 518 metre (1792ft) top of Llangynidr mountain before descending rapidly through Brynmawr and down the spectacular Clydach gorge to meet the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal at Gilwern.
Simultaneously, the remainder cycled the less arduous, but beautifully scenic route along the canal towpath, through Brynich lock, Talybont on Usk, Llangattock, Gilwern and on to Goytre Wharf where they were met by the mountain route cyclists. Each route was kept well supplied with water, energy drinks and snacks by a Support Team of seven vehicles including first aiders (fortunately not needed until the end). The canal is navigable from Brecon right through to Pontymoile basin at Pontypool. The canal goes underground at Pontnewydd and becomes navigable again where it meets the Sirhowy Valley canal at Newport.
Following a well deserved rest under the shade of the trees at Goytre wharf, (packed with boats and canal barges of all descriptions), the riders then continued the ride along the canal tow path through Pontypool, Cwmbran and on to the end of the canal at Malpas in Newport. Following the new cycle path along the River Usk, behind the Riverside Theatre and the new University campus to arrive at the iconic and world famous Transporter Bridge. Built in 1906 and refurbished in 1994, this bridge is one of only six of a similar type of arial bridge surviving today. At 4-30 pm. the whole group crossed the 645 ft across the River Usk on the gondola, supported by cables from the traveller and beam some 165 ft above. The height of the towers is 241 ft above the road and it is possible to climb the towers and walk along the beam. The cyclists thought it too difficult to get their bikes up there though. The Cycle Club would like to thank the staff at the bridge who were amazing in organising us on and off the bridge and for setting up photo shoot locations.
With banners and flags waving, the cycling club set off from the bridge at Stephenson Street, still in blistering heat and headed towards Nash and Pye Corner before making their weary way along Broadstreet and Bowleaze common to come to rest at The Rose Inn in Redwick. Suitably refreshed, they all, with aching legs and breathless lungs, set off to Undy to finally assemble at Mill Lane, Caldicot before riding together with banners waving, around the corner to be met at the Choir Hall in Caldicot by a large, welcoming cheering crowd. At this point, chorister and organiser Tony Griffiths, after cycling 60 miles found it difficult to manage a flag, his bike and a sleeping policeman all at the same time and fell off. Fortunately he recovered after some first aid treatment from Siân, take a full part in the evening’s celebrations.
Why did they do such a crazy thing in this sweltering heat? This event has been in the planning by a team of choristers; Tony Griffiths, Leon Jones, Grahame Morton, Lyn Gauntlett, Graham Hughes and supporter Nick Powell for several months to raise funds for local charity, The Victims of Chernobyl Children’s Trust. This charity raises funds and organises relief aid for those children in Belarus who are suffering the adverse effects of the disastrous nuclear explosion in 1988 in nearby Chernobyl across the river in The Ukraine. Organised by Marcia and Michael Doyle, the charity also aims to bring children from Belarus to Caldicot for a month’s respite. Currently six children and their interpreter Hannah are staying with Marcia and Michael for this month. Following a moving visit by children from Belarus last year, the choir decided that it would nominate this charity for its fund raising efforts during its 50th Anniversary year. Other events and fund raising have so far raised nearly £600 for the charity this year.
The evening culminated in a celebratory hog roast and party at the Choir Hall attended by about 150 supporters, who generously bought raffle tickets made donations (including £300 from Tata Steel and £350 from Reliance Water Controls) to the The Victims of Chernobyl Children’s Trust Charity. Marcia, Michael, interpreter Hannah and six children from Belarus were enthusiastically welcomed by all as honoured guests at the party. Some choristers also set out earlier in the year to try to locally cycle the equivalent distance from Caldicot to Belarus (1600 miles) before this event. Tony Griffiths was the only chorister to complete this monumental task and was presented with a certificate to mark his achievement by choir chairman, Leon Jones.
Many people and local businesses have supported the Côr Meibion Caldicot Cycle Club in this very worthwhile venture and a separate post will be put on this web site to give them, in a small way an expression of the Choir’s gratitude in helping us to achieve this incredible adventure for all involved.