A tricycle ride into the Great Western Tiers.
I sat on the trike and thought about what I was about to do with it. Ride to a place I had never been before knowing a fair bit of the trip would be uphill. The gradients would be steep (for Bluey and me) and I had a full battery and a 2/3rds full battery with me. Would it be enough?
The objective was to ride from Mole Creek at the foot of the Tiers up to Lake Rowallan – part of the Tasmanian hydro electric scheme. It is also the water in which a 12 year old girl caught a special trout last weekend. It had a tag on it worth $10,000!! Four such trout were released into four lakes by the Fisheries Dept at the start of the fishing season. The idea is to encourage Tasmanians to get out and visit regional areas to move some cash through the state’s tourism sector severely hit by COVID, while having a fish. So she did and now has a bit of cash to spend!
I wasn’t fishing though. More to the point for me was to see just how well Bluey and I climb the sort of hills we would need to if we were to undertake a tour in hilly country. OK, I hadn’t brought camping gear along for extra weight but even an unloaded ride would give me a clue.
So – we set off.
The first 4 kilometres were flat(ish), the sky looked troubled to the left and OK to the right while the trike was going OK.
Then we started to climb. I had printed off the elevation graph from Ride with GPS as I don’t know where to find it in the phone app version. I was able to follow all the climbs based on the number of kilometres into the ride. It was good to get some idea of progress as the climbing was slow.
The benefit of slow travel is that you have the time to watch and listen to the birds around you. Once past the turnoff to King Solomon’s Cave, the forest came in close to the road and there were lots of birds busy in the trees. Pardalotes, yellow-throat honeyeaters, ravens, currawongs, grey shrike-thrush (Joe Witty – common name after it’s call), grey fantails and lots more I couldn’t identify by their calls. One Pademelon wallaby was spotted – looking very fat so probably had a joey in the pouch.
The route became a bit of a switchback. Steep descents followed immediately by steep ascents. The problem with this sort of riding is that you spend heaps of time climbing and the downhills are over far too quickly. It feels like you spend the day climbing. Today the gradients kept us down to 5-6kph trying to keep the power being handed to the motor below the 100 watt mark. In a battery I have 576 watt hours to spend (actually less than that as the battery management system won’t let you completely flatten the battery). In simple terms, cycling at a constant 100 watts means you would have 5 hours or maybe a bit less available. Travelling at 5-6 kilometres per hour uphill constantly using 100 watts would only take you 25-30 kilometres! Luckily normal riding isn’t constant like that and (although it seemed so today) it isn’t all uphill in Tasmania – so some kilometres were ridden without drawing any power at all.
After some 15 kilometres the road surface had become a bit rough. A surface of the BoulderSeal (large chipseal) variety. After a particularly speedy downhill section the trike was making odd noises. I stopped to make sure nothing serious was happening but nothing came to light, so I continued. There it was again – what was going on? A second stop and I noticed the aluminium water bottle had worked a bit loose in its metal holder. Pushing it right in fixed one the the noises. Then I saw that the right hand front mudguard had vibrated and moved so the front was dipping and touching the tyre. Out with the Allen keys and that was fixed. That left just a little “tinging” noise. Broken spoke? No. Loose battery shelf? No. Don’t know – let’s carry on.
The weather had cleared by now. The road continued up and climbed into the narrow gorge in which Lake Parangana then Lake Rowallan are situated. There was a steep descent to the crossing of the Mersey River with an awkward corner onto the bridge and then a steep climb up the other side to the point where the Mersey is dammed to form Lake Parangana. We passed a group of blokes digging something up in the road, cruised along a bit then stopped for a bite to eat and a look at the view.
At this point the sun had come out and the gorge walls prevented the wind from hitting us. I felt hot for the first time since last summer!
The sunscreen was renewed and I put on the face mask – must remember not to get sunburnt now the UV rays are slipping into summer and having their usual damaging impact on humans.
The situation was then reviewed. The battery used so far was getting quite low and Lake Rowallan was still a way to go. The decision was to turn around at this point. Should I swap batteries? To start back there was quite a climb up from the Mersey River crossing which would extract power. I decided to continue with the current battery and run it down to approx. 33 volts. That was close to the auto cutoff point and probably wouldn’t take long to get there! In actual fact it went better than expected and made it up the climb away from the river. Then I stopped and swapped. The second battery had already 30 kilometres of Norfolk Plain riding taken from it but I thought it should be enough. (It was).
Although it felt like I had climbed all the way from Mole Creek, apparently I hadn’t. There was plenty to climb for the first 10-15k on the way back; did I descend these earlier? Hard to believe ! By now I was quite over climbing. I know Emily (fellow cycle blogger) just loves climbing – I wish I did! Today it was getting a bit much for the knees.
Eventually though we arrived at the top of a climb to find a wonderful descent awaiting. Upwards over 50kph was rolled and some great bends shot around. Then some more climbing. Then another long descent – this was more like it. A good thing too as the clouds had rolled back in and the air was getting distinctly cool.
Note: Ride with GPS reports max speed for the ride was 64kph. It wasn’t – maybe 52 – 53 kph really. It kept losing satellites and hurrying to catch up.
At the foot of the Tiers I pulled into the Cafe near the caravan park. They were closed. I pulled out again and started the last 4 ks to Mole Creek.
The flat going with some slight gradients showed the impact of hillier terrain on the Tony/Bluey combo. Using the same power settings, Bluey and I were now speeding along 18 to 20 kph.
I shall have to work out above what gradient Bluey and I run into trouble. And then take a few % off to cater for luggage! With the knowledge gained today I may have some chance of not setting out on a Mission Impossible this summer. On this ride we ascended approx. 919 metres and used up most of 2 batteries. It also took a while. All things to be factored into summer ride planning.
(Incidentally, Ride with GPS tells me I ascended 919 metres and descended 899. When will I drop the final 20 metres?)
Back in Mole Creek the first 3 Cafes passed were shut! I grumpily packed trike into the car and headed off. On the outskirts I spotted another Cafe – and it was open. A coffee and slice of cake were soon ordered and to hand. Auntie Helen, Veolomobile rider, blogger and cake gourmet from Germany, would approve!
Finally – the video
There’s a bit too much swinging the camera around – I take note and will try not to do it next time.
‘Til then ………