Begin 2020 – it’s all downhill

Not all downhill of course, first we had to climb Silver Hills Road, Cygnet.

Even before the trip to the Huon Valley there were a couple of local rides to go on to get to know the new motor / battery setup, so I had better start there.

The revised setup behaves quite differently to the previous one. Phil had set it to have 9 stages of power rather than 5. My thinking was that, with a couple of lower power input levels, I would be able to balance my speed with Colin’s a bit more easily. It turns out that power levels 1 and 2 do not input much at all. Even in top gear, once the cadence builds up power input is zero watts. Level 3 brings in a bit more but cuts out at around the top gear 15kph mark. Level 4 is pretty much like level 1 on the old motor. So after riding the initial test 100k, I think I will be riding using levels 3,4 and 5 most of the time.

On one of the local rides I picked up a bit of rubbish.

On one of the rides I collected rubbish from the side of the road. It seems a local habit to drink Iced Milk (coffee flavoured) and toss the plastic bottle away when done. They litter the side of the road on all roads in and out of Longford. My method is to collect glass first, then plastic bottles as both of these can be recycled and both make a mess if left. Aluminium cans are plentiful too but don’t make quite the mess the others do – so I mostly leave these until such times as our state government gets around to introducing a cashback bottle and can recycling scheme. A scheme is promised but hasn’t appeared as yet.

All things fell into place and we hitched the caravan to the car, put the trike in the car and headed off to the Huon Valley below Hobart to visit some friends. The Huon Valley Caravan Park does not take bookings and it is, of course, at the height of the holiday season. Would we get in? Yes we did. And with power and on a big site. It was a delight. Loads of kids around but the park was quiet due to the spacious layout.

Position of the Huon Valley

On the way through Hobart we spotted a bloke riding a Greenspeed Anura along the Montrose Bay shared path. I have had some contact with an Anura rider in recent months and reckoned it must be Steve. We couldn’t stop anywhere so couldn’t say “Hi” but I emailed him later and, sure enough, it was Steve.

Ken and I were planning to have a ride on the Friday as that would be the coolest day. When Sue and I called round that morning Ken was in a bit of a state as he had tried to lift his trike in his car and “tweeked his back”. A rest and a couple of pain killers and he was ready to go. Sue and I loaded his trike and we all set off to Cygnet. There we unloaded Ken’s trike and then mine. Sue went back to Huonville to spend the morning with Diane while we cycled.

The initial part of the ride was uphill. It seemed a bit steep and Ken kept pulling away from me. Then he stopped a couple of times to make sure I was all right! Ken is 87 next month. An inspiration to us all!

Well, what was going on? Ken’s trike soared up the hill while I followed, gradually losing sight of him. When we eventually looked at “Ride with GPS” we saw the gradients were often around 15 – 16% with the maximum being 21%. That is quite steep. I was learning on the job trying to keep the pedals spinning to keep the motor spinning to keep the heat from building up. As the motor only starts to power things along when I use a slow cadence, the two things weren’t meshing. No matter, I got to the top only a little after Ken. We discussed the differences between set ups. Ken’s trike is lighter – but not that much. Is his motor really a 250w job I wonder? All I know is that going up hills of this nature took a hit out of my battery but Ken’s display said his was 100% full after the ride. Something strange happening here!!

Then it was time to descend. 3 kilometers of pure descending bliss!!! The Huon River kept appearing in the distance and that was where we were going – fast.

A video of the descent

Regrouping at the bottom

I was thinking about taking the coastal road all the way round to Cygnet and Ken decided to return the way we had come. We were to meet for a coffee when we both arrived in Cygnet. Ken set off back up the hill we had just come down. I turned left.

The road alongside the Huon River is very, very nice to ride

The ride remained as a sealed surface and undulated its way along the river travelling up and down as the road crossed streams entering the river. After a few kilometers I got to thinking that to travel the entire way round by the river’s edge was quite a long trip – and the surface would turn to gravel soon. Ken would be waiting for ever. Wattle Hill Road appeared and so I turned left up there to get back sooner.

It too was quite a climb, even without reaching the imposing 21% gradient. I tried one climb with no power and found I could not shift the trike! I checked – no punctures! An interesting problem for the mainland trip. The trike is now geared down so that high gear is now quite low. If I gear down any more for hill climbing (in case the motor packs it in or battery runs out) then high gear would be far too low. A problem to think about. Is it possible to mount a second chainring? That would be ideal even if changed by hand. A “normal” ring for general use and a small one for hill climbing.

After getting to the top of the ridge once more, it was another great downhill right down to Cygnet.

Not Cygnets – ducks. Huon River visible to the left.

Sue and Diane drove over, we all met up and we had lunch in one of Cygnet’s “Cygnet Life Style” Cafes before heading back to Huonville. Cygnet is a special place. A “hippy”, earthy, healthy vibe still resonates even though it is featured on TV too much and a lot more people have moved to the area. Somehow the ambience remains the same – set by the early “incomers” back in the 1970s and 80s. Well done people of Cygnet.

That evening Ken had a visitor – Anthony. Another cyclist. Anthony is a bike-packer off-road tourist and has just completed building a state-of-the-art bike for southern Tasmania trail riding. He is a minimalist and has always wanted to clear out Ken’s cycling bag as Anthony believed there was far too much stuff in it for the day rides Ken does.

So that’s what he did! Ken and Diane watch on while Anthony decides what gear Ken really needs.

Whether or not the “extra” gear will remain outside Ken’s riding bag is something to be checked on later.

By this time some of the smoke was dissipating. Still – we could not see some of the Huon Valley mountains in the distance.

Our time in the Huon Valley continued upbeat even though the next day dawned very smokily. Nobody knew where all the smoke was coming from and the suspect was a fire on the other side of kunanyi / Mount Wellington. When the facts were known we found out that the smoke was actually coming from the Victorian bush fires – a northerly wind pushing it across Bass Strait and then across Tasmania to us. That smoke is the airborne remains of some of the countryside Colin and I hope to cycle through in the Autumn.

Goals for 2020. Ah well, haven’t set any yet. I will let you know what they are when I have thought of them!

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 in 2019 an electric recumbent made an appearance. it's now 2023 and I have 3 bikes. 2 e-recumbents and the Brompton.

4 thoughts on “Begin 2020 – it’s all downhill”

  1. We found the downhill video enthralling. We see the still ‘…The road alongside the Huon River is very, very nice to ride’ as perfect for a canvas on our wall; may we have a copy of the original image to play with? Best wishes to you and to Sue for 2020 (and to those former Queenslanders who apparently saw the light some time ago and now enjoy your company down there.)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: