Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Constitution Hill

After riding the Black Mountain climb it was off to Swansea for the night. I would be riding up Constitution Hill the next morning and after booking into the Premier Inn where I was staying I decided to walk across Swansea to figure out where the climb was. It was a hot evening and after wandering around the Mount Pleasant area and up and down various hills I failed to find it. It was only after buying a street map in a petrol station that I realised I had gotten to within 50 metres of the start of the climb. Oh well, I at least knew where to go in the morning, it was just a shame I had an overly tiring time finding it.

The early morning view from my room in the Premier Inn was quite something

I was quite impressed by Swansea; the place I was staying in was right on the water front and for a £41 a night hotel room offered some pretty smart views. I decided that I would get up early and try and complete the climb by no later than 6.30 the next morning. The weather was going to be hot later in the day and I also wanted to avoid dealing with any traffic.


June the 27th started at 5.30am for me. After staggering around half asleep I finally managed to get the bike put together in the hotel car park and have a leisurely ride through Swansea to the foot of Constitution Hill. Riding through a city in the early hours is great fun as one way traffic restrictions and foot paths all become irrelevant thanks to the absence of other people.

Constitution Hill looks a brute as you approach it. I thought for a minute somebody had thrown a load of cobbles at a wall but no, it was definitely a street and one where I would need to ride against the flow of traffic. This was another reason I wanted to do the climb early in the morning; the only other people on the hill were joggers having as hard a time getting to the top as I was about to have.

Normally when tackling a cobbled climb I’ll try to hit the base with a bit of speed and then spin a low gear as fast as I can to maintain momentum and skim over the cobbles. I got my approach wrong with Constitution Hill and didn’t carry anywhere near enough speed onto it. Straight away I found myself being bounced all over the place by the cobbles and that made it hard to pick up ay extra speed. In short I was locked into a bumpy low speed battle with the road surface and struggled all of the way up. I briefly broke with etiquette and took to the smoother paving at the edge of the road to try and pick up some speed but that didn’t work and my progress to the top was slow and unpleasant. It was a blessed relief to finally reach the tarmac covered road at the top which marks the end of the climb. Sadly I then decided to ride back down the hill to make my way back across Swansea. It was, perhaps unsurprisingly, far worse an experience than riding up the damn thing. I had to spend five minutes checking that various components on my bike weren’t about to fall off once I reached the bottom.

Moments later the Mount Pleasant area of Swansea was woken up to the sound of a fat man complaining loudly about the inadequacy of cobbles as a material for road construction


Before heading back to the hotel and breakfast I decided to have a ride around Swansea’s docks. It was a nice clear morning and still early and it was a good way to wind down from the bruising experience of Constitution Hill before heading to Aberdare and the Bryn Du ride. In the clear early morning sun Swansea was looking good and a bike is the ideal way to explore a city.

After seeing the harbour wall from my hotel room I just had to go and have a play on it with the bike.

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