A race against time

It’s almost the shortest day and daylight hours are, well, short. Cycling in the early morning sunlight and at dusk is not a good idea as the other road users have to squint into the sun. Cyclists are easy not to see.

I wanted a bit of a challenge and decided to tackle the above ride. 104 kilometers. A bit more than I usually ride in one day! It was made possible because I have two batteries now.

Even so, Ride with GPS estimated the time to ride the loop at 6 hours and 38 minutes; obviously working with all my previous rides to generate a reasonable estimate for Bluey and me. You may well be shocked but I can assure you that, as a team, we aren’t very fast.

I reasoned that with a 9am start and a 4pm finish I would be able to keep out of the “sun on the horizon” hours. That gave 7 hours to complete the 104 kilometers. With ½ an hour for lunch and other stops, it was doable.

We set off a little behind schedule (of course) and had a good run along Cressy Road to Cressy. Most traffic was travelling in the other direction. Cars were held up by trucks but ,when they stuck their noses out to overtake, all spotted my flashing front light and backed off. Cressy has a wide main street and I easily cruised past the Rustic Bakery, ignoring the magnetic pull of their coffee. The next section of the B51 can be nasty with log trucks and agricultural equipment but today it was OK. A few high speed Utes on my side and most traffic still going the other way.

I stopped at the junction where the B51 goes off towards Poatina and the C522 takes off towards Campbell Town. That was the direction for me. The road was now quiet – most traffic heading off on the Poatina road. This included the log trucks thank goodness. The wind was a reasonable strength and came in behind at about 7 o’clock. With the wind and use of power level 4 I was able to pedal along in the low 20 kphs and get some distance in. The wind would be causing problems later so, to make the time, I needed to push on now.

The first milestone – the church at Lake River

Soon we passed the church at Lake River – the first milestone on the C522. NB: I will use the obsolete term “milestone” quite a bit today, so get used to it! Onward the road continued with this trike rider feeling no wind, being gently warmed by the late autumn sun and enjoying the views of the countryside. There was a fair amount of birdlife but mostly detected by birdsong. Tasmanian Ravens were busy digging stuff up in the paddocks although a group was industriously working at the carcasses of two large wombats that had, sadly, been run over within a few metres of each other.

The graveyard at Barton.

The next milestone was the crossing of the Isis River and cycling on into Barton. Well, Barton is a mere shadow of it’s former self. Once a busy farming hamlet now it is the farm “Barton” and a rural fire brigade depot. The graveyard above seems to have been created from the original cemetery – at least that’s what it looks like.

The River Isis. Apparently The Isis is an old term for the River Thames. Not a lot of similarity.

I pedalled onwards with the next milestone a lonely grave next to a tree on a mound. Must have been someone’s favourite view? I thought I had a still image but no – I didn’t stop and it can only be seen in the video linked to below.

It continued to be a good run along to the turning point where the road heads east across the Macquarie River and then up to the C520 back to Longford.

Side of the road lunch stop. View looking back along the road that climbs up from the Macquarie
From the same spot – the way back

While eating lunch I noted I was in a sheltered spot. The wind was gently nudging the flags – it would be different once we rounded the corner.

And it was. This side of the Macquarie is much more hilly than the other. A lot of riders call it undulating. I find it hilly. So there were now hills and there was a head wind to come. I changed the batteries over at the lunch stop and so had a fresh one loaded.

The time was around 12.30pm and the distance was half way. It looked like the ride would fit within the desired timeframe. i.e. I would be back before 4pm.

Although hilly and windy it was still a good ride. A little problem arose in that, with the sun and reflection off my riding jacket, I couldn’t see much on the display so I was unable to track info about battery use. I could see the digits giving speed and power level but that was about all. I cycled using power level 4 and on occasion I could see the yellow power use indicator and it looked to be a bit high. No worries – it’s a fresh battery!

On this side of the river the main milestones for the ride are the crossings of Barton Road and Powranna Road.

Before Barton Road I went past this little church in the middle of nowhere on the side of Valleyfield Road.

Such a nice view. I suspect there was another small hamlet here back in the days when people, not machinery, worked the land.

Suddenly there was a noise – like a dive-bombing plane. It was a crop sprayer coming in at 10 o’clock. It flew over the road as I cycled under it, slowed down and started to spray. Luckily the wind was blowing the contents of its tanks away from me.

Barton Road came and went. The Council has been doing chip seal work on the road and it is not good. After coming across some very smooth new chip seal work in the past weeks it was a surprise to come across work using very large sized gravel. It makes a trike vibrate and not in a good way. I have decided to call it “boulder seal” not “chip seal”.

Ah, there is another milestone on this route. Between Barton and Powranna Roads there is a poppy processing factory. I believe it is now not used due to the fall in world demand for Opioids. Well, legal ones. Tasmania’s poppy crop was quite limited last summer and farmers are planting other crops – which, as a cyclist, is interesting as the countryside looks different – different greens, different flowers. Especially the bright yellow of canola. Some years ago I came across a crop of hemp. I understand it is being grown both for the fibre and for medicinal purposes but haven’t spotted it again.

On arrival at the Powranna Road junction I stopped and checked battery usage. Blimey – it was really low! Those hills (undulations), the headwind and keeping the speed up using power level 4 had really chewed through the watts.

There was enough left though to back off to level 3 and just travel slower. I had made pretty good time and there was enough daylight for me to cycle the remaining 20k before squinting time.

Which I did.

Macquarie River loop – the movie
Here is the Ride with GPS track of the ride – see Ken, proof

The track of the ride within Ride with GPS shows that the app found enough satellites half way along Cressy Road. It also had issues during the ride and had to catch up – hence the top speed of 90kph! Interestingly the pre-ride route generation shown a max gradient of 3% whereas the actual ride shows 7.1%. It really doesn’t do so well with climbs.

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.

10 thoughts on “A race against time”

  1. There are apparently quite a few marijuana / hemp crops in Tasmania. It’s an industry that could really explode down here depending on legislation. For obvious reasons none of the companies advertise where they are located, so you were very lucky (?) to have seen one in the flesh!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good name “boulder sealed” The other day when I rode through that way, I mused “sod it:! they really have ‘mucked up’ a good ride… great effort 104 ks

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Ken. Yes it is. We drove past towing our caravans quite a few years ago now. We stopped and had a photography competition – which you won.


  3. What a great ride – epic length with so little light available. Glad the two battery system worked for you with hills and wind, too. I love the photo from your lunch spot. And yes, boulder-seal makes me sigh in exasperation, also. Sometimes, when they use huge chip AND spread it thin, the gaps between the boulders make it even worse – particularly after about 6-9 months of wear. I mentally note those roads and avoid them on future rides – there enough roads to ride, I can mostly avoid them once I know about them!
    Hope you can get some more good rides in on the good days over winter!

    Liked by 1 person

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