The festival consists of 22 events that are described in the rides programme and route map. In these documents the colours green, blue and red are used to indicate the difficulty of the rides, ranging from gentle (green), through moderate (blue) to relatively challenging (red). These gradings are based on a combination of hilliness and length, thus a 40 mile flat ride may be blue and a 30 mile hilly ride red. Ther evening ‘ride’ on the Friday (No. 19) is not a ride but a social evening at the Dunvant RFC. The remaining 21 rides are all led.
The rides visit many of the Gower peninsula attractions and these are described here clockwise round the Peninsula. In addition to the specific sites mentioned there is a wealth of interest in the Gower ranging from its flowers and bird life through its geology and caves to prehistoric hill forts.
At the southern end of Swansea bay are the villages of Mumbles, Southend and Oystermouth. This is a well established holiday destination with lots of pubs, cafés, independent shops and Oystermouth castle. You get the first glimpse of the rugged Gower coast from Mumbles Head . Rides 2 and 11 take you through this area.
Three Cliffs Bay.
This gem on the South Gower Coast is famous for its three limestone outcrops with the arch under them (pictured). On Ride/walk 18 we cross the stepping stones with views up to Pennard Castle and the three cliffs which crown this arch.
King Arthur’s Stone.
This is a megalithic tomb. Marvel how the stone got where it is! It is located on the Cefn Bryn ridge above Reynoldston. Ride 5visits it. (Climbing it is a challenge!)
The Penrice Yew.
The old yew tree in the graveyard by the 12th Century church is worth a visit on Ride 11. You can try and find the grave of Mary, who was murdered in 1829 and on whose gravestone is a blank space for the murderer’s name. It is on the left near the church entrance
Rhossili Down and Beach.
The highest point in the Gower (193m) is on Rhossili Down. Hang gliding started here The beach is well known for its surfing and Ride 11 follows a path above this beach.
Bridge Pottery, Cheriton.
In this small ‘cottage industry’ salt glazed wear is produced. We visit it on Ride 8 when you will be shown the high temperature wood burning stove used to fire the pots and you may be treated to a pot making demonstration. The sophistication of the process and the skill required is an eye opener.
Weobley Castle and Llanrhidian Marsh.
This 14th century castle is situated on the North Gower coast with a commanding view over tLlanrhidian marsh. Rides 5, 8 and 11 pass close by.
A recent plus for Swansea has been Swansea University’s success in winning a competition for setting up a bike hire scheme. This is on the lines of London’s ‘Boris’ bikes and is expected to be up and running by this year’s Festival. It is sponsored by Santander. You should have a chance to try out one of their bikes on Ride 1 (See programme.); also we have changed the Sail Bridge alternative starting point to the nearby Waterfront Museum where there will be a docking station. This means that for some of our rides you will be able to pick up a hire bike here.
About the cycling
In fairness to the others only take part in a ride if you expect to be able to cope with it. If you have some medical condition which might prove a problem inform the leader.
No special kit is needed for cycling; wear whatever you find comfortable. Bright clothing to make you visible is however recommended for safety reasons, and do bring rainwear.
For the bike [E] = essential; [R] = recommended.
- Bike lock [E]
- Bike pump [E]
- Spare inner tube [E]
- Tools (tyrelevers, spanners, alunkeys) [E]
- Puncture repair kit [R]
- A bell or pinger [R]
- Lights [E foreveningrides]
Electric bike riders are welcome.
On the rides
Before you start check that your bike is road worthy: brakes adjusted, tyres inflated, etc. Keep a safe distance from the person in front and avoid sharp braking (unless you have to). Keep behind the leader and if you decide to leave the ride let him or her know.
Many of the Gower lanes are narrow with blind corners, so take particular care here. Also look out for horses, cattle, sheep and the Gower wild ponies . On the cycle paths look out for oncoming cyclists. Make pedestrians aware of your approach and give children and dogs a wide berth.
Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.