My last overnight cycle trip to Deloraine was in February 2018 (https://tonyscycling.blog/2018/02/04/week-5-2018-including-an-overnight-deloraine-cycle-camp/#more-80).
I also cycled one in 2016 as well – so it is becoming a traditional Tony summer ride. In 2016 I cycled using the old road between Deloraine and Launceston. This road is quite busy and the traffic flies along so last year I re-routed and went through Bracknell and Osmaston. I will do that again this year but in addition will start by cycling to Cressy. The roadworks on Bishopsbourne Road have caused this change.
The map shows the route out and back, explaining the mirror image on the elevation graph. Interestingly this “Ride with GPS” ride result shows a max gradient of 9+% but the first cut of the route showed 6.something%. It would seem that the software doesn’t use standard gradient information or else it would be the same each time. Every time I ride up Rip, Rack, Roar and Rumble the max gradient varies. (For an explanation of R,R,R&R see the link in the first para.)
At the crack of 9.30am I finally wheeled Magnum out of the garden.
We began slowly by riding along Marlborough Street out of Longford and up past the Tip. After the Tip the road changes to gravel. There was a bit of a head / side wind which combined with the gravel surface slowed the pace. The map showed Marlborough Street continuing on past the Golf Club running parallel with the truck infested Cressy Road. I didn’t remember there actually being a road where the map shows but thought I would try anyway. Yep. I’m right – map wrong!! Well, there probably is Marlborough Road proceeding onwards but there is a gate and the farmer is using it as their own track to access various paddocks. OK, let’s go back a bit and join Cressy Road.
The Cressy Road hard shoulder is negligible so you have to keep a weather eye on the mirror looking out for those pesky trucks and large SUVs, caravans and boats. They all came along today so it was slow going, diving off the road regularly to avoid becoming a statistic. Finally Cressy came into view and I could look for our turnoff – Saundridge Road leading to Elphinstone Road.
Turnoff found and taken – right into a strong headwind. I have ridden Cressy to Bracknell before into a headwind and know it is character building exercise. It certainly was again today. Any sort of headway gained because of a sheltering feature like hedge or embankment is knocked back as soon as the shelter goes. 6kph is the norm!! Up hill less !!! I did the usual checks – are the brakes on? Do I have a puncture? No and no – just keep riding.
By the time Bracknell was in view and I was sitting beside the Liffey River at the BBQ area I was really questioning why I was doing this. It had taken 3 hours to get 30 kilometers to Bracknell. The next bit was going to be equally was hard – Cluan Road with it’s many hills and unhelpful winds. Pulling the bottom lip back in I stopped sulking and took off drifting up the hill through Bracknell. Oh – apparently I am continuing!!
Cluan Road was as hard as expected. Towards the end there is a set of 4 hills each with a CREST sign just in case you can’t read the road and don’t realise you can’t see over the peak. This time drivers were careful. On the top of the third peak I saw a group of cyclists coming the other way. The leader had a tandem – one of those European jobs with a recumbent seat on the front and normal DF bike on the back. One lady was pulling a trailer and pedalling like crazy to get up to the top. Lots of smiles and waves and we separated – nobody wanting to stop climbing to talk.
At the end I stopped for water and saw that my knees were getting reddened in the sun. Odd – I had already used the 50+ sunscreen twice. Added a third coating and cycled on watching the knees get even redder. I realised the shorts were scrubbing the screen off the knees. My ginger haired person skin is a problem.
Now on the Westbury to Deloraine road via Osmaston I started to prepare mentally to climb “Heartbreak Hill” – a hill discussed previously. The road to the bottom of the hill was hard going as the wind was now back to head on. Along Cluan Road it had been mitigated by trees, hedges, embankments etc but here there was nothing to stop it. On and On we crawled watching the scenery pass slowly by. And then – there it was stretching up and away.
With the headwind holding things (well, ME) back, the foothills were taken in 3rd to bottom and, as the steepness increased, 2nd to and then bottom gears were engaged. The hill cut out the wind as the climb really started. The world stopped or so it seemed. The trike continued to ascend at the amazing speed of 2.5 kph – for ages – the more ages. Eventually 2nd gear was engaged and speed rose to 3.5 kph. Yippee. A warning though – the top is not the top. It’s a false summit but the hill does flatten slightly so by the actual top we were travelling at 5kph. Elation – hill conquered non-stop. Although most people would reckon 2.5 kph was really “stop”.
It was not much further before the final descent to Deloraine and a slow spin along the riverside footpaths to the riverside caravan park. $15 only still for an off-power tent site and I was settled for the night.
The park had quite a few fruit pickers camping there and this time the nationality that was most obvious was French. A couple engaged in conversation but most didn’t.
Then Bob turned up. A recumbent rider from Coffs Harbour on a tour of Tassie but in a car – his recumbents are back in NSW. We had a chat and I eventually found out he was in the original group that started “Bucket Racing” using 125cc motorcycles in Coffs. While we were staying in Coffs last winter, our friend Jon had told us he had found a “Bucket Racing” group who use GoKart tracks. Yep – it was the group Bob helped to start.
Nothing else of note to report from the camp site.
The next morning I awoke early due to the 4th or 5th goods train passing by and packed up before most people were showing signs of being alive. I had managed to get lights and phone charged by finding a socket in the toilet block. Although items left for quite a long time all were retrieved OK.
Due to sunburnt knees from yesterday I decided to wear long pants today. I had brought along a light pair for around the campsite so I wore them.
There was a gentle breeze as I left – and it was blowing the same way as yesterday – that today is in a helpful direction. The first task was to ride up East Barrack Street. With cold muscles I took it slowly in bottom gear and it proved to be surprising steep. On the way I was able to spy out a good poppy photographic opp. I was looking forward to going DOWN “Heartbreak Hill” and after climbing several short hills to get to the right height there we were, at the top. I took Da Brim off the helmet before it blew away. I used the straps on the pedals to secure the feet. I set off. It was an exciting descent. 70 kph, inches from the ground and with direct steering was a great experience. Almost scary even. At 60kph this is what went through my mind : “Hmm .. should I brake?” … “It’s not far to the bottom” … “It gets steeper just here, brake?” … “Nah – just let her rip”. 70kph then … “Wow !!!!!” … “Pass me my brown trousers”.
From the bottom of the hill it was a great run back to and along Cluan Road with the wind helping like an auxiliary engine. Much, much quicker than yesterday. Bracknell was reached by about 11am.
Pulling into the picnic area I spotted the family who had cycled past yesterday. We had a chat. They are a French family spending a month cycling Tassie. Mum is pulling the trailer, Dad is on the back of the tandem (an Hase Pino) with a girl child recumbenting on the front while the older boy child is riding a “normal” bike heavily laden with panniers. They are aiming at Ross for this evenings stop so they must be going better than me.
As I left the Liffey they were gearing up about to leave and by the time I had climbed the hill away from the river I could see them in my mirror. By the time I was on the road to Cressy they were overtaking me. “That’s that” I though “Bon Voyage” as I climbed yet another hill watching them crest and speed away. When I arrived at the top they had gone. A little while later I was taking advantage of the slight downhill to get the trike up to 30+ kph for a number of kilometers. On cresting another small rise “what’s this?”. I could see two riders ahead. On cresting the next rise I was closer. I must say that when you start to catch someone you do put in a bit of extra effort – so the trike was travelling quite well now. It was, of course, the French family and I passed them as they pulled in for a stop. The wind had changed to a side wind and I think I was less affected by it than they on their DFs – sitting much higher. The hedging was probably keeping the wind off me. Anyway, we waved goodbye and I kept tracking for Cressy and the Rustic Bakery and a coffee.
When I finished my coffee and exited the Bakery I was to see the family once more. This time they were also leaving the Bakery heading to Ross while I was going in the opposite direction to Longford. I wonder if they made it to Ross? I suspect yes because the wind was blowing very well now and it would be totally on their backs all the way.
Cressy Road was kinder this afternoon with not too many trucks blasting past. So, the ride was soon over. A good day. Good days take the sting out of bad days. One reason why you should always keep riding and not let a bad day win.