Tumble definition, to fall helplessly down, end over end, as by losing one’s footing, support, or equilibrium; plunge headlong: to tumble down the stairs.
Except I don’t mean that kind of tumble, I mean ‘The Tumble’, an infamous cycling route on the outskirts of Abergavenny.
The Tumble is a difficult cycling challenge that follows the Abergavenny to Blaenavon road weaving its way around the edge of the Blorenge. The Blorenge is the large hill that dominates the skyline to the south of Abergavenny.
The climb is about 3 miles long and gains around 1200 feet in height and finishes just past the Keepers Pond. This leg burning, lung bursting ascent is rated as one of the toughest climbs in the area, frequently featuring in tough endurance competitions such as the Tour of Britain and the Velothon.
On one of the hottest days of the year, I met with the ladies I cycle with to test our fitness and fortitude by attempting to cycle to the top of the tumble.
The route can be quite deceiving to those that are riding it for the first time or those that are not familiar with its formation. The climb starts off quite gradually, winding through the village of Govilon and crossing the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal, lulling you into a sense of comfort and wondering quite what all the fuss is all about?
A sharp couple of dogleg corners with a 10% climb in between quickly brings you back to a painful reality that the ride is only going to get much harder.
As you climb up through the wooded section, you feel like you’re on a film set for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, with overgrown trees and steep banks with rocks that jut out close to the roadside. Then on the other side of the road, there’s the array of ferny undergrowth that disguises the sheer drop down the hillside below.
Once you’re out of the tree canopy and over the cattle grid, the gradient certainly picks up very quickly, and you’re only half way up!! As the ever-increasing ascent follows through the open moorland, do take in the magnificent views if you can, they are spectacular, and it’s also a half convincing excuse to stop and try and catch your breath. The only spectators you will have for this gruelling section are the sheep. They lay on the roadside chewing what little grass that grows on the arid landscapes and they do smell. The sheep also have a following of flying biting creatures that are always on the lookout for a fresh feed, so beware!
The last section of the climb seems easier in comparison, but will still sap any remaining energy from already tired and burning legs as the final 2km of climbing takes forever to complete. The famous Keepers pond will greet you as you round one of the long bends. Strava segment hunters beware, the climb doesn’t stop there, you need to carry on to the last little bump in the landscape to the very top of the hill.
I completed the tumble climb with numerous stops, I will return and try again in the future, but I think I need to forget about this one first!