In Which a Soul-Sapping Slog is Followed by a Sublime Sojourn in the Saddle


Day 1: Hobart to Tarraleah

A day of 127 kms with 1850 metres of elevation with the longest, steepest hill coming at the end was always going to be tough. But then with the wind in our faces most of the day – a cool breeze on the lower Derwent and then a blistering nor’westerly in the latter half of the ride – it became very hard.

Here’s what MyWindsock made of the first real day of our tour …

So that wind wasn’t just a figment of my imagination …

More about the wind later.

The first day of a tour always seems to take a little while to get underway.  Here’s a glimpse of things starting to take shape, with bikes ready to go but not many riders quite ready to get on them just yet …

The trailer that is on lease to Bike Odyssey is an ex-pro team bit of kit, with bike storage and swing-out panels. Here’s what it looks like …

Despite having the wind in our faces to start, it was actually quite a pleasant beginning to the day. Temperatures were cool and we were riding in small groups. Here’s a photo of Beth and Mark following behind me on the cycleway as we’re heading out of town:

Beth favours a big handlebar bag; Mark loves his old yellow steely

With all the intersections along the bike path and different riding styles, we were bound to get strung out sooner rather than later. There were a few of us out in front but we paused 20 kms out at Granton for a bit of a regrouping …

Sharon and Di making adjustments: Di to her kit and Sharon to her back, which has been playing up
Peter and George discussing the merits of the BMC Road Machine

We had quite a nice run up the south bank of the Derwent from Granton up to New Norfolk with a bit of sharing of the load into the wind. Patchworks had agreed to open specially for us, and all the non-locals (everyone but Dianne and yours truly) were much taken by this great cafe …

Clare from Patchworks gives us a heads-up on the cafe’s history

…and the fact that it is located in the old New Norfolk Insane Asylum. Many beautiful old brick buildings are on the campus, but the cafe is in what was once the old schoolhouse, but it had many other uses.  The site has become an arts hub, and a great collection of paraphernalia scattered around the grounds, such as this old truck …

Of course the main motivation for stopping is coffee, and the scrumptious cakes on offer. My current favourite is their Choc-berry Tart …

It’s going to be an energetic three weeks: might as well get some calories on board 😉

Most of the first day on the road involved travelling through agricultural and grazing land, the former consisting of cherry orchards and wineries, the latter of cattle and sheep country. Here are some images north of New Norfolk …

Hay bales south of Ouse
The hills of Mt Field Nat’l Park
The Derwent at MacQuarie Plains

It’s not just sheep and cattle along the Derwent. There are some fallow deer being farmed, and here’s a photo of part of a small goat farm …

A happy-looking bunch of goats

Di got a photo of Sharon stretching her troublesome back …

Sharon relaxing her lower back

… and another of Sam and Mark as they cruised past …

Sam and Mark baking out on the road

It was at about this point that the going really started to get tough. Temperatures were in the low thirties, and so was the headwind (in kilometres per hour) with gusts up into the fifties. Consequently, I don’t have any more photos of the day’s journey as Di and I were both just struggling to get to where we were going.

Eventually we – and all the other members of our party – made our way into the Tarraleah village. Dinner was delayed to account for some late arrivals but eventually we had a convivial get together.

Here’s a shot of most of the group around the table …

Dinner at Tarraleah

The Lodge at Tarraleah was built in an Art Deco style, and there are some period posters on the walls, including this one of a woman dreaming of joining us on tour …

Bike Odyssey cycling holiday poster

The good news we were able to deliver at dinner was that the forecast for our second long day in succession on the road was for much, much more suitable conditions for cycling. Light winds and cool temperatures all day were in the offing: perfect for recovery from the blast furnace that was day one.

Day 2: Tarraleah to Queenstown

At 137 kms and 1870 metres, the ride from Tarraleah to Queenstown was projected to be our second biggest of the tour. As it turned out there was a couple hundred metres less elevation and the biggest hill came right near the start of the day after a gentle couple of kilometres: just enough to get us warmed up. The morning was nice and cool with almost no wind, so that first hill was almost a pleasure to spin up – even with very tired legs.

Di and I had a rendezvous at the top of that first hill and rode the whole day together. And what a blissful day it was. Once we were back up to 600 metres above sea level we rode at between that level and the 800 metre mark with the terrain gently undulating for almost 60 kms before a 10 km descent to the Franklin River and lunch. The terrain becomes much more up and down before a final climb over the Gormanston Hill and a descent into Queenstown. Along the way there are varying vistas and vegetation regimes. It’s an absolutely gorgeous ride, so much so that I really felt more like spinning along and just letting the images sink into my soul rather than jumping on and off the bike to capture them in pixels.  I think I’ll let the pictures tell the story themselves from this point …

We stopped at The Wall but the cafe was close so on to Derwent Bridge ..

Coffee at the Hungry Wombat Cafe in Derwent Bridge was much better than expected
Buttongrass, mountains and the King William Range
The Franklin River
An echidna searching for food
Native blueberries … not very nutritious
The roads are pretty quiet in these parts of Tasmania
Just after crossing the Bradshaw Bridge across Lake Burbury
The cairn atop Gormanston Hill commemorating construction of the West Coast Road
Di arrives
Our first two days on tour: we’ve covered a bit of ground and had some ups and downs!

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