It is a delight to be able to cycle routes away from the Norfolk Plains again and so on Sunday we headed off to renew our acquaintanceship with Meander circuit – including a climb of The Grunter.
Before we get there, here are a few thoughts from the past week.
The weather remains wintery with frosty mornings, some rain showers and little wind. On mainland Australia, easterlies are giving the coastal areas a battering. TV news has showed us beach front houses being undermined, vehicles plowing through waters across roads, vehicles afloat, people wading through flood waters etc. All of that seems to be avoiding Tasmania at the moment. The Lows are gliding across just to the north.
Another thing still avoiding us is covid-19. It is going gang-busters in Melbourne though – just a flight or Spirit of Tasmania trip away. With good planning and (probably) a bit of luck, our border remains controlled and quarantine is working well enough to keep us safe. Fingers crossed that lasts.
On the covid topic – I reported in an earlier post that the Lower Longley pub in Southern Tasmania has built a wooden Covid-19 Virus and the plan was to burn it at an appropriate date. Well it seems that date arrived and I found this on YouTube:
(Well, the initial video disappeared but then I found this improved one that replaced it. Improved and credited)
Hmm … not sure we are correctly social distancing when at events …… but a good time was had by all!
Anyway, to continue.
During the last week I spotted a baby Spurred Lapwing (Plover) on the road by Back Creek. It’s parents weren’t flying/diving though – they just looked at me and shrieked “stay away!!”. The ball of fluff on spindly legs was roaming about, oblivious to everything.
Perhaps not so pleasant. I have been passing a paddock in which are lambing sheep. On one pass I could see 5 groups of half a dozen Ravens each surrounding a white blob. Yes, 5 lambs had died (probably in the previous night’s frosts) and the Ravens were tucking in. The farmers usually clear out any dead lambs but this day they hadn’t called by.
And Now ……..
Up “The Grunter” .. and down again
We planned another ride away from the Norfolk Plains. This time a return to an old favourite – the Deloraine to Meander loop including a climb of “The Grunter” (19% gradient) up to Huntsman Lake.
Sue came with me to Deloraine. I unloaded everything and then Sue took off for the Latrobe markets before returning to visit her sister in Deloraine. As we pulled into the car park by the Train Park who should be pulling in at the same time – Colin.
We put our trikes together and pedalled off. Initially there is quite a climb up and out of Deloraine all the way out to the roundabout where Mole Creek Road takes off. I am not sure of the best way to do this but riding up the main street is not the way to go – and bicycles (therefore trikes) are not allowed on the footpath through the main shopping area. So we go out via side roads, some of which are quite steep. With cold muscles it is important to take it slowly, so we did.
Arriving at the roundabout and starting a coast along Mole Creek Road gave us a chance to check out the weather. Rain is scheduled for later and there were a few grey clouds over the higher points of the view. We were in sun. All good.
There was not a lot of traffic on Mole Creek Road. Colin was trying a new way to hang panniers off the trike in preparation for camping trips to come. They were sitting well so this system may be the one to go with. His seat hadn’t settled properly though and so some adjustment was required. Bluey on the other hand had gone together better than it did at Forth and was cruising along nicely.
Montana Road was next. With even less traffic to worry us the roll along this road was another delight. We didn’t stop at the trout and ginseng farm for a coffee this time as coffee was to be taken at the Meander Cafe. I had checked that it would be open. Besides that, the climb out from the 41° South cafe was steep and on gravel; = awkward.
With so little traffic we were able to watch the bird life as we went along. Lots of Grey Fantails about plus some Currawongs. Currawongs are three species of medium-sized passerine birds belonging to the genus Strepera in the family Artamidae native to Australia. These are the grey currawong (Strepera versicolor), pied currawong (S. graculina), and black currawong (S. fuliginosa). In Tasmania we have the black currawong. They are intelligent birds. Back in the day when people fed wallabies, we were at Lake St Clair. Someone gave a wallaby a lettuce leaf. A currawong landed on the wallaby, bit it’s ear and stole the leaf! A cafe newly opened in the national park west of Hobart didn’t deter the birds for the first few days. Then they had to get serious as the currawongs soon were stealing food off plates. They are a big bird with big beaks and yellow eyes. Quite intimidating.
Both trikes and riders were now warmed up, settled down and travelling well. We entered the Meander Valley to find a cool wind blowing. Sometimes it was to one side, sometimes behind. Behind was best as the sun was still out and about and the radiant heat warmed us when we travelled at the same speed as the cool wind.
Into Meander past the 2 nicely trimmed gardens followed by the wreckers yard which shows what can be done with a garden space when you try.
The Cafe was open, food was on and, although only 4 people are allowed to sit inside at the moment, we bagged two chairs and a table. Some who came later had to cool their heels outside. There was a surprising amount of activity at the Cafe and I realised that this was the opening weekend of the trout season. So the boats being towed past were going to / from Huntsman Lake.
Soon after leaving Meander, with full stomachs and the taste of a good coffee still circulating the taste buds, we got to “The Grunter”. The hill was so named by the ladies in the Cafe after seeing cyclists come back from climbing it! We are talking of a climb with a gradient up to 19%. I hadn’t tackled it on Bluey before but well remember the straining legs of a couple of rides up it on Maggie. How well I went would serve as a benchmark for coming years as I expect I will need to use greater power levels as age increases. Colin, on Maggie, suffered more than I did on this day. I pedalled slowly up using motor level 3 and as much power as I could put in. Colin had cramp early on but soldiered on and made it to the top.
There was a group of fishers sitting at the picnic table. I approached and asked how their day was going. It didn’t sound like much in the way of trout was caught or even seen. I know those days!!
One of the guys turned out to be Colin’s ‘across the road’ neighbour. Tassie is a small place and this sort of thing happens a lot.
Soon it was time to leave the lake and head for the excitement of the day – a run down Grunter. I had 3 mounting points for the camera on the trike but not one of the locking screws. They were all left at home. So I hand-held the camera, which led to some interesting angles shot when I had to use two hands to steer and brake on the hill. All was managed without dropping the camera.
The descent was exciting. Anything over 50kph when sitting a few centimetres above the road gets the blood up.
From Meander to the climb out of the valley we were more or less traveling into the cool headwind. This kept speeds down. Last time we did this stretch the wind was behind and speeds in excess of 25kph were easily pedalled. Not this day.
The last stretch is on the Highland Lakes Road. As this takes fishers up to Great Lake I though we might meet with some difficult traffic. The road is quite narrow in places without much of a hard shoulder and the trike, including the rider’s head, runs close to Armco edging. It feels like riding between a rock and a hard place. On this Sunday, once again, traffic was light and no troubles were encountered. What a great day. Did I say that before?
To finish up I decided to ride a different shared path in Deloraine back to the car park. This involved using a narrow walking bridge over the Meander River which would take me into the caravan park. I hadn’t realised just how steep the bridge was! After checking (as much as I could see) that the bridge was empty I started up it. The middle part of the arch I could see was pretty steep so I selected level 6 (!) for power and trod hard on the pedals. Things slowed down somewhat but trike and I managed to stagger up and over.
A quick run along the shared path down to the car park had us saying our goodbyes. I then headed back into the side streets of town to meet up with Sue and have a cup of tea with the in-laws.
Hmmm. Where to next? I reckon a ride of the rail trail from Scottsdale to Ledgerwood. Haven’t done that for a while. Now to twist Colin’s arm and maybe David’s too.