Five rides that changed me: Peredur ap Gwynedd

Pendulum guitarist, race commentator, and lifelong cyclist Peredur ap Gwynedd details five rides that changed his life.

Feature photo by Tim Lambert

David McQuillen
by David McQuillen 01.05.2024 Photography by
Peredur ap Gwynedd
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by Peredur ap Gwynedd as told to David McQuillen

Perry, as he’s known among those who don’t speak Welsh, is the guitarist for drum and bass band Pendulum. He’s also a cycling commentator/pundit for Welsh TV Channel S4C, having worked on 10 Tours de France, five Giri d’Italia and one Vuelta a España. He lives in London with his wife Victoria and son, Blaise. These days, he rides an Orbea Orca.

Falling in love – Abernant Road, Cwmgors, Wales (many moons ago)

I guess I would have been seven or eight years old. It was Christmas Day and I’d just got my first bike from my parents. It was a Raleigh Chopper. A RALEIGH CHOPPER! To this day, I can still remember the buzz I felt at that moment. As soon as I realised I could balance on it, I set off. Up and down our quiet street again and again and again. That was it – I had fallen in love with cycling. 

The first mountains – Jausiers, France, 2009

I’d never ridden my bike overseas, so my friend Duncan proposed we fly to the French Alps. Our base was a little village called Jausiers, near Barcelonette, close to a lot of the mythical cols I had watched my heroes climbing at the Tour. That week we did so many: Bonette, Izoard, Galibier, Ventoux, Madone, Alpe d’Huez, Les Deux Alpes, Pra Loup and many more. We even rode around the F1 circuit in Monaco. My legs hurt, but I was ecstatic and with this single ride I became totally addicted to mountains. It made me want more and in the following years, whenever I wasn’t on tour, I would go and stay at a friend’s apartment in Nice. I’d spend weeks on end bagging cols. Nice more or less became a home away from home.

Finding peace – Pendulum European tour, Zurich to St. Nazaire, 2010 

I started bringing my bike with me on our tour bus. We’d arrive at a venue in the morning. While the crew would build the stage, I’d build my bike up. Then, instead of twiddling my thumbs until soundcheck, I’d ride up the nearest mountain. In August, we had a festival in Zurich followed a week later by a gig in St. Nazaire (on the west coast of France). For some reason, I decided to ride from one to the other. It took me six days, averaging around 180 km a day, into a block headwind. Away from the noise of being on tour, it was such a peaceful, cathartic experience – Zen-like. I found that I didn’t need to meditate – I could just ride my bike. And I found that I needed that on tour. To this day, I still do these gig-to-gig rides. 

Peredur ap Gwynedd, guitarist for Pendulum, stands with several BMC pros including George Hincapie after riding the Stelvio pass. Perry is dressed in black and white cycling kit in contrast to the BMC riders' mostly red and black kit as they stand over their bikes facing the camera.
Peredur ap Gwynedd, guitarist for Pendulum, stands with several BMC pros including George Hincapie after riding the Stelvio pass. Perry is dressed in black and white cycling kit in contrast to the BMC riders’ mostly red and black kit as they stand over their bikes facing the camera.

Having fun without being fast – pro training camp, Calpe, Spain, 2011

Through a mutual love of music and cycling, I became friends with Manuel Quinziato of the BMC Pro Team. He invited me to join he and “some friends” on a winter training camp. We stayed in a hotel next to the beach and it was FULL of pro cyclists. The first morning a huge group of pros (and me) set off. There was Tom Boonen, Sylvan Chavanel, Daniel Oss, Jacopo Guarnieri, Greg Van Avermaet, Ivan Santaromita, Frederick Willems. I was riding with my heroes! We did a few kilometres on the flat as a warm up. They set quite a pace but, sitting on the wheels, I thought, “This is easy!” Then we hit the first incline. It wasn’t easy anymore. At least for me. As I was spat out the back and watched them ride effortlessly away I realised how untalented a cyclist I really was. But I also realised that it didn’t matter – I didn’t have to be fast to have fun. “I’m shit, and I don’t care!” It was the best feeling in the world. 

Peredur ap Gwynedd stands on an Alpine hillside at a Tour de France stage with two other men. They're dressed casually, holding TV microphones for the Welsh S4C network.
Gwynedd in his moonlighting gig as a race commentator for Welsh S4C television.

The dream climb – Stelvio, Livigno, Italy, 2011

Even though I was a dire cyclist, I still got invited by Manuel to other training camps. Livigno (1,850 m) is where a lot of pros go for altitude training and I was staying with the “rouleur” half of Cadel Evans’ BMC Tour team: Manuel, Marcus Burghardt, Brent Bookwalter, and George Hincapie [lead photo at top]. I’d do the “two hours easy” part of the training with them (there’s 15 km of flat valley road in Livigno), then I’d say my goodbyes as they went uphill. As a cyclist you’re spoilt for choice for mythical climbs in the area, and which one did I decide to do first? Well, Stelvio of course. Stelvio had always been on the top of my list as far as climbs go – I had a photo of it on my wall at home. I’d memorised those hairpins, and I couldn’t quite believe I was riding each one. As I reached the top, I was in pain, but smiling like a loon because I did something I had previously only imagined. “Fucking hell! I just climbed Stelvio!” Anyway, Cadel won the Tour that year. Yay me! 

Photo:  Jaden Tiger Moss

About Five Rides

We all have rides that we’ll remember forever. A bucket-list climb. A new skill. An incredible performance. A crash. A new friend. An adventure. But which ones truly changed us? Five Rides captures the rides which had a lasting impact on one particular person. Five Rides that really mattered. What are your Five Rides? Comment here or head over to Escape Collective’s Discord to discuss.

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