It took some hours to find all my camping equipment that had been stored in cupboards to overwinter after our return from South Australia. Yes, it’s been that long since I camped out with a trike.
Eventually all was located, fitted into the panniers and we were ready for the off. As for 2017 and 2018, my first Sub 24 hour Overnight ride for Spring is to the Liffey Falls Campground.
It’s not a long ride but the final kilometers are uphill. The uphill gets steeper the closer you get to the camp ground. Then the surface turns to gravel. Last year the gravel was good but the year before it was as if the road was coated by slippery marbles. What will this year be like?
At 2pm it was sunny as we rolled out of Longford. Hitting the 4 hills on Wilmore’s Lane I was careful to take it slowly in pedal assist (PA) 1 in order to keep things spinning thus relieving strain on the motor and lessening the draw on the battery. I had a bit of “range anxiety” about this trip of 80 kilometers all up, reasoning that the extra weight and the hills would drain power more quickly than normal Norfolk Plains riding. The camping gear really made itself known going up the hills but it was possible to spin enough to keep the power being used to a minimum.
The sun began to hide in the clouds. Rain was scheduled for the evening and it looked like the forecasters might be right. I noticed that the trike travelled more smoothly over the crappy Wilmore’s Lane chip seal, reminding me of how much loaded panniers dampen the bumps. One for the plus side of carrying gear. Also, when I let go of both handlebars to pull the zipper on my jacket, the front wheels did a shimmy as per normal but then stopped – this is not normal. It would seem the weight at the back somewhat calms the front wheel wobble created by having the motor on the front of the boom. Another plus! (The wobble only occurs “hands off” so riding is not normally impacted).
At the Bracknell riverside stop I pulled in and took time to drink some water and eat some nuts. There were no campers around but several vehicles with single male drivers came in, stopped, looked and drove out again. Looking for their drug dealer? What could they be looking for? Other males?
Not wanting to know, the journey continued.
After taking the above picture I now have 3 images of loaded cycles heading to Liffey Falls. In 2017 it was Brompton (folding bike). In 2018 it was Red Magnum. In 2019 it is Bluey.
I have used the space under the seat, managing to strap the tent onto the seat above the battery. The sleeping bag is above the tent in a dry bag wedged between the rack bag and the seat. The brown bag is handy to access the various bits and pieces needed during the day. Gradually I am working out how to carry stuff. Perhaps I should be working out how to manage with less stuff!!
After the above signpost (at the junction with Cluan Road) the road starts to go up as it runs alongside the Liffey River. Initially staying in PA 1, it was low gear time to keep the pedals spinning. Battery usage at this stage looked OK.
The hills steepened, the skies darkened and the occasional spit of rain was squeezed out into the air and onto me. There are two steeper hills before the gravel starts and it was necessary to use PA2 to get up them. Then – the gravel. A quick check showed a surface of .. (oh dear!) marbles or, rather, a lot of loose gravel all over the surface. The hills from here needed PA2 to climb them and the rear wheel spun quite a bit on the way up. Immediately the tole on the battery was noticeable – the larger PA settings = more battery drain. In turn – more human “Range Anxiety”!
The rain got a bit harder. Now the question becomes, do you stop to locate and don rain gear or do you just carry on? Hang on .. the rain has stopped. Let’s go. Oh no, it’s started again. Go through the question loop again from the top. Hmm, quite wet now so might as well carry on. After all, we are nearly there!
Not far from the camp grounds there was only the steep downhill to deal with. Braking on the marbles introduced interesting sideways swerves to the descent as first one front wheel then the other locked up on the loose stuff. No rear wheel braking on this machine. A slight shot of adrenaline was produced and then we arrived safely at the bottom. After that it was a flat but rocky track to follow into the Liffey Falls Camping Area.
I spotted that my “usual” site beside the river was free and hurriedly put up the tent in the ever strengthening rain. I first covered the trike with it’s flysheet to stop rain getting into everything on board while I tackled the tent. There was no wind so things stayed where I put them. Tent up, I used an absorbent towel to remove water from the inside and then put the gear in. Not a nice evening but I was watched for a while by a Flame Robin sitting on a post in the rain.
After having a chat with my neighbours (by their fire under their awning), and watching a pair of Superb Fairy Wrens checking out their ground, I took to my bed in the tent. Early I know but it wasn’t raining in there.
Unfortunately the small tent and the mummy style sleeping bag didn’t work too well with bursitis. My shoulder was quite a problem overnight meaning sleep was a bit hard to find. This is interesting. I think I will have to forgo further camping trips until it is warm enough to allow the use of the sleeping quilt once more. That’s a bugger.
After plenty of rain overnight eventually the sun was high enough to hit the camp site. It had to rise over the nearby hills and trees so by then I had already packed up the soaking tent, groundsheet and flysheet. That was a cold business on the fingers so I had a brew and warmed up. After another chat with the bloke from the next site (they were from Ceduna, South Australia), it was time to finish packing up and get ready to head off.
A very nice morning! In the above image I had just climbed the steep hill away from the campgrounds. Last year I reported a climb speed of 2.5 kph – taking it slowly on cold muscles. Using PA2 we shot up the climb this year – at 5kph!
The feature in the distance is Taytitikitheeker / Drys Bluff.
In the foothills sits former Senator and Greens Leader Bob Brown’s house – he donated it and the associated land to become the protected Oura Oura reserve.
As I cycled past I spotted a working party of land care volunteers getting ready to head off into Oura Oura to do some serious maintenance. They looked a jolly bunch with manly beards and we exchanged hearty “Good Mornings”.
With plenty of downhill to come, the battery indicator looked promising. Range anxiety lessened – I should get home easily.
Not much traffic around and with good visibility I was able to speed down the hills and enjoy the bends. Once off the gravel it wasn’t half so exciting! Liffey was soon cycled through and then we were at the start of the hills leading up to Bracknell – starting at the much photographed Cluan Road signpost.
It was a dry, easy run from Bracknell on well known roads. By the time we were back in Longford the battery indicator was at half full. This is a bit misleading as from this point it tends to nosedive, gathering speed as it goes down to quarter full. At that point the indicator “worm” turns RED. How much distance is left in the RED zone I don’t know, being unwilling to test it by riding Bluey to a full stop – and then cycling home with no power.
I pedalled up the drive at 12.30pm and so can claim this ride as an S24O. Just.
Camera. For this ride I used my old Nikon Coolpix 5400 dating from 2003. 16 years old. Wow! Doesn’t time fly?
Digital cameras still going through a period of rapid refinement, it cost around the $1,000 mark and had a dodgy lens. I read that the 5400’s made in Japan were good but those made in Korea had lens problems. Mine was made in Korea. So it went back to the shop with a batch of sample pictures. The experts agreed the focus wasn’t right. The camera disappeared for a few weeks and then came back, working well. I haven’t used it for ages as the batteries had worn out and Nikon don’t make them any more. Last week I found a replacement via a battery supplier in Launceston gamely called “Every Battery’. The local camera shops were unable to source one – I guess they only tried Nikon.
Anyway – here it is. A massive 5 megapixels, 4x optical zoom and using the huge memory cards that were pre SD. One thing I always found it did well was to take macro pictures (if there is enough light) so that’s what I will be testing. It is a small camera and easy to carry on the trike so I will use it for a while and see how it goes. In particular – can I live with 4x zoom these days?