Week 2, 2018

Total for Week = 39 kilometres : Brompton.  Total for year = 154

Some time ago I tried to ride the Tasman Bridge and got there to find the cycle tracks closed for maintenance. To bring Oscar (Maltese-Shit..su) to the Vets (3rd time to Bellerive from Longford – 200k away) this time we decided to assume he will pass the final exam (after cruciate ligament/patella surgery) with flying colours and so will be more mobile than before. This meant we could take the caravan down to Cambridge (16ks outside Hobart and on the Bellerive side of the river) and spend some time in the Hobart area.

Day 1 saw Oscar pass the X-Rays and leg manipulation tests. He is good to go!! While he was unconscious getting processed we spent a very nice mid-day having lunch with friends at Taroona Beach. This is an unadvertised beach (no signage) on the shores of the Derwent River kept for Taroona locals and those “in the know”. It was particularly pleasant on Wednesday with a slight breeze cooling under the trees where we took over a table for lunch. For tea another couple visited at the caravan park and we indulged in a happy hour followed by pizza from the caravan park restaurant – the pizzas were as good was I remembered from 3 years ago.

Day 2. We had various event sequences in our heads in order to fit in Sue’s shopping and my cycling. It worked out that we drove to Bellerive (dejavu Oscar), let me and the bike out while Sue headed off across the Derwent to the bright shopping lights of Hobart. The plan. Park the car in an undercover carpark, leave Oscar in it, text me which one and meet about 12ish for a vegetarian lunch in the Bank Arcade, Hobart.

I unfolded the B and found the camera, wanting to take a picture of the start of the ride. Just after I got things together a chap came along very interested in the bike. So we discussed it, demonstrating the fold / unfold and then how it rides. He then told me he had never ridden a bike (he must have been at least 60!) but was feeling the need to begin and probably felt encouraged looking at me – obviously a bit older!

Tasman Bridge 3 V small

Bellerive Yacht Club : Mount Wellington top left.

Once he walked off I took the start picture and then set off. Out of the car park the walking / cycling track goes in front of the Bellerive Yacht Club. I recalled several years of debate where they would not allow a track in front of the club. They seemed to have been sorted out as there is a track now – just not today. The bridge over the dry dock rails was closed and I still had to cycle out to the main road and back again the other side of the Yacht Club. Oh to have such power!! Once the YC was navigated I got onto the track that runs all the way from Bellerive to down past Lindisfarne – mostly on shared pathways but sometimes on quiet backstreets. Today I would only travel part of the way, only going to the Tasman bridge.

I used these tracks to commute for about 3 weeks before we left Hobart  We had sold our house and were staying with friends on this – the eastern shore – and I cycled my then new Dahon to work. I remember it seemed a hard ride, always feeling like I was cycling through several inches of mud – I now put this down to the Big Apple tyres and the hills.  Nothing to do with me!!  As I left Bellerive all was OK but within a little while the track became quite up and down. Steep little ups for which a cyclist cannot build up much speed due to pedestrians, cyclists and bends sharing the track. The Dahon had 24 gears and I cycled up everything with a bit of huffing and puffing. The Brompton has 6 gears and I walked up 3 short steep bits ! How embarrassing.

One of the steeper sections goes around the outflows and tanks from the local sewage works – mostly cleaning up the material before it is shot out into the Derwent. Sometimes things go wrong! When the plant is not working well there is a deep, dark smell in the air and cyclists (and walkers) climbing the path have to consider when to breathe and when not. Today all was clear which was good as I had to walk part of the climb.

The track skirts the river and gives views of the river through silky oak branches as the track weaves through groves of the trees. Sometimes dolphins can be spotted in the river (it is tidal here) but none are to be seen today. From round a bend a group of some 15 riders appeared. I pulled over to let them pass. Lots of good looking bikes and a mixed group of retirees riding them. Great to see. Lots of “G’days” and waves as they passed.

Tasman Bridge 10 V small

I pushed on and arrived at the foot of the Tasman Bridge. Initially I could not recall how to get onto the walkway but by following my nose I did remember and started the ride across. The Tasman Bridge is an imposing structure that has a history. Back in 1975 one evening a bulk ore carrier, the Lake Illawarra, was travelling downstream carrying material from the Zinc works sited up river. Things went wrong and the ship hit several bridge pylons bringing down 2 chunks of roadway onto the ship – which then sank killing 7 crew. On the roadway were 5 people in 4 cars which ended up at the bottom of the river. One car braked and ended up with front wheels over the void and the rear wheels on the deck. That couple have never sold their “lucky” car – a Holden Monaro ‘muscle car’. Today the ship is still down there nestling against the bridge pylons with every sensor known to man ready to tell us if it moves. Above the water everything has been rebuilt. Today, if a ship is passing under the bridge, the traffic on the bridge is halted until the boat is through.

Tasman Bridge 11 V small

There are walk / cycle paths slung onto the outside of both sides of the bridge. They are narrow and the wind increases as you rise to the bridge apex. It is not unknown for a strong gust to push the bike and rider close to the outside and then the handlebars may hit the railings. If you have bar ends on this can be bad. The cycle path used to end with steps on the Hobart end and these were not marked too well. So there are tales of cycle crashes caused by ramming the railings and others by not realising the end had steps when cycling in the dark. The steps have been removed and a slope installed. The railings – well nothing can be done about them. In addition there are items of bridge maintenance equipment hanging on the side which sometimes means there is little room for bike and rider. Today the wind at the top was a constant blast – easier to manage than gusts. The speed limit is posted at 15kph. Running down the other side I realised 25kph under brakes was probably a bit quick but all was OK.

Off the bridge and onto the Intercity Cycleway. Today I headed along it towards Hobart, past the Governor’s House and the embankment above the regatta grounds which, for a while, became a nesting colony for seagulls. The stink was awful and cycling past it was another spot where you had to take a breathe before and after but not between! They disappeared one day and nobody asked how they were “moved”. Today proved they are still “living” somewhere else.

On down through the docks and out to Salamanca Place and check the phone. Sue had parked and sent the text so I headed into Hobart to the car park. As I got out of the lift at the 3rd floor a lady saw the bike and asked about it. I did my second demo of the day!

Author: antc1946

Born in 1946 I learnt to cycle about 10 years later. On a bike with rods connecting brake levers to the brakes - anyone remember those? I emigrated to Australia (from the UK) in 1974 and moved to Tasmania in 1984. Bicycles were in my life for most of that time although sometimes they were replaced by motorised two wheels for a bit more excitement. On reaching 70 I decided to stick to pedal power but, who knows, an electric bicycle may make an appearance down the track

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