No trip to Abergavenny is complete without a spin up the Tumble. Though let’s not be overly trivial; it’s one of the most difficult climbs in the area and certainly a challenge after the 50 miles from Bristol. You’ve got to get back again, remember!
The main segment, at an average of 8% for 2.5 miles, is classed as a category 2 climb. And while that in itself isn’t much to write home about, its middle section is particularly tricky, getting up to around 15%.
But it isn’t the sheer difficulty of the Tumble that makes it a ‘road to ride’, it’s the myth. The unexpected. Once you’ve conquered it once, you’ll be fine forever more. But until then uncertainty makes a friend of fear.
It’s difficult to suggest starting at the bottom when it comes to the Tumble; life is all hairpins, hedgerows and pain. However, things start to open up at around the halfway mark, onto a sort of bleak yet beautiful Welsh mountain landscape.
For it’s this point in the climb that truly separates the men from the boys. Do you continue to spin or aim for the big ring and a decent out-of-saddle effort?
The answer? The latter, of course. Your legs might even play along with the charade once you spot the several cyclists up ahead whose legs have long given up the ghost.
Sheep line the roads on your left and right and trees are no longer part of the landscape. As your effort increases so it seems does the likelihood of you toppling bodily from the side of the Iron Mountain.
It won’t be long before you reach the summit, but if you’ve done it right, you’ll be tired. Heading back down, don’t be tempted to take a left down a road that seems an interesting descent; it’s awful.
Either go back the same way and continue your journey, or continue over and discover some new roads. Either way, enjoy it; it’s a fun, fast descent. Your time with the Tumble is done.