The stars aligned, the weather was predicted to be windy (Spring in Tassie, why would it be otherwise?), trikes were ready, riders less so but off we go. Just one thing to be careful of – the UV rating is accelerating as we approach summer.
Last season I put the two smaller panniers in the space between the seat back and the pack rack. This was a less than optimal arrangement so, after a re-think, I have worked out how to “hang” the smaller bags using their carry handles. They are now strapped between the seat stay and the rack and still allow enough space to fit the Ortliebs properly on the rack. This was only possible because the Greenspeed rack is huge!
This is a much better solution. Full pannier space is available and the weight is down low. Trike is less “tippy”.
The ‘stuffed full’ look of the rack pack (see picture) is OK. It isn’t heavy gear – just a large down sleeping bag squashed in! We washed the bag during covid lockdown and it seems to like being in it’s expanded format; loathe to squash again!! I was taking it along because low overnight temps were predicted and my light quilt sleeps noticeably cool below 7°C.
We chose to ride via Bracknell, Cluan Road and Osmaston. This would mean climbing “Heartbreak Hill” towards the end – a climb that Colin may avoid by heading to Westbury after Cluan Road and then travelling the less steep Meander Highway into Deloraine.
We soon found the headwind. It was light at first – a mere whisper of what we encountered later on. It already held us up though. To give some context, after Bracknell there is a downhill usually rolled down at 30-35kph. Today we managed just 20kph; pedalling.
Going out past Tioberry, the Skylarks were enjoying the breeze. Quite a few were flying about having finished their climb and sing for the morning. The sunny day gave us great views of the Tiers with the sky full of scudding clouds. Everything is green with growth, dams are full and sheep are simply everywhere. Big pieces of equipment are on the road as they are moved from paddock to paddock where they do things agricultural. Pivot irrigators are being fired up to keep the soils moist – this wind and sun has an amazing ability to dry everything out. A good thing for me – the nature strip mowing is made easier.
It took quite a while to get to Bracknell where we had lunch at the picnic ground. A check on Ride with GPS showed just how slowly we were travelling – average just under 10kph! Headwinds, large load and non-touring fit legs all add up to make a slow ride.
Before setting off from Bracknell I renewed sunscreen on legs. My knees were getting quite red already.
Out of Bracknell we hit the downhill previously referred to but when we turned right onto Cluan Road we did get shelter from what was now a cross wind. Didn’t help much as the legs were tired by then! I felt the trike wasn’t rolling as it should and checked the brakes. Not engaged. Front tyres look OK. The drag must be just me then! I was riding balancing cadence with power usage to try and take more on myself thus saving the battery power for later. Colin was riding faster than me along this stretch.
We reached the end of Cluan Road and debated which way to go. In the end Colin chose to come with me the shortest way – but with Heartbreak Hill between us and Deloraine it was a difficult choice. The road to the start of the hill runs through the Meander River valley and is very open. Today the headwinds had strengthened. It was a drag of a ride to the base of the hill.
More sunscreen was applied at the Cluan Road stop.
As we climbed up to the start of the hill proper we passed a couple of blokes busy with fence replacement. One commented “Get’s a bit steep up there”. We know!
I rolled up it at 4kph, sometimes under. Power level 4 for the steepest bit. After it flattened out a bit I decided to see if I could climb without power. It was odd. I managed to climb at around the 3.5 kph mark but it was very hard work and something felt wrong. So I dismounted and checked a few things. Well. What do you know? The rear tyre, pumped up to 60psi before leaving, now felt flatter than the front two, which I had pumped up to 55psi. It still had air in it though so I continued slowly (with power) as I waited for Colin to crest the hill. He did and caught me up. I won’t say he climbed it with ease but he did really well climbing it without a stop.
There were a few more “ups” to climb before the final descent to Deloraine – where we immediately sought out a coffee.
On arrival at the caravan park we found the Proprietors were out and half the park, including the camp kitchen, closed (covid restrictions?). Left to ourselves we selected a spot on the river bank and set up camp. As we did so a group of people wandered through – one wearing a huge backpack . They were obviously pissed, not able to walk a straight line and shouting loudly to each other with slurry voices. Luckily they kept on walking and eventually disappeared, much to our relief and that of a female camper who was also setting up her tent on the river bank.
It was disappointing to find no hand sanitiser or soap in the facilities block. There was also no signage indicating social distancing. We did the best we could to take no risks.
Did we bring this to the attention of the Office. No we didn’t! Should have but never got round to it.
After setting up camp it was time to address the flat tyre. Checked with a tyre pressure gauge I found it to be 10psi. That’s not much at all – minimum should be 35 psi. Being the rear wheel with the NuVinci hub it was a bit fiddly to get off the trike. Once off, I pulled out the inner tube. Initial attempts to dunk it in the river to spot the leak almost came unstuck with a narrowly missed ‘head over heels’ dive into the river. Selecting a more sensible spot I was able to push the entire inner tube into the river but no tell-tale bubbles arose.
I had a good look at the inner tube and found the problem was at the junction between valve stem and tube proper. It is a vulcanised (?) junction and when the valve stem was pushed slightly off vertical a small split could be seen. Held up to the ear, yes, air coming out.
So I fitted a new inner tube and, with Colin’s help, replaced the wheel in the trike. There was a bit more of a fiddle getting the gear shifting cables back in their correct place but, once done, all worked well. Thanks Colin for the rubber gloves which helped keep my hands clean.
Time for supper. It was almost dark !!
That evening I was pleased with the extra space available in my 8 year old Apollo 2-person tent. It has two vestibules and quite a bit more space inside over my 1-person tent. All the gear fitted in under cover. The range of electrical recharging gubbins was accommodated with no problems and the large, thick, down 34 year old sleeping bag was very comfortable.
As usual, the trains hooted and rumbled past all night – giving a broken night’s sleep.
The next day we packed up and headed up into Deloraine for morning coffee – and a breakfast bacon sandwich for me.
We discussed the route back and, as Colin wasn’t too keen on tackling the hills after yesterday, he decided to head down the Meander Valley highway. With the generally downhill run and a tailwind it should be easier for the motor-less trike.
I decided that, having climbed Heartbreak Hill, it would be amiss not to use the opportunity for a speedy descent! We set off on our separate routes after the coffee and sun screen application stop.
My route had me tackling a steepish climb up and out of Deloraine. This I took slowly as the legs weren’t yet ready for heavy duties. I rolled on past the School, the Tip and then the Golf Club, pleased to find that the wind was now a tailwind. I let it rip down Heartbreak Hill and watched as the speedo reverted to 20 something kph after hitting 56kph. I guess it’s a safety thing in the display to make sure some component doesn’t burn out. I saw 34kph reached during this second stage before the Da Brim on the helmet blew off. At that point I had to brake to return to pick it up. Ride with GPS reckons we did 82kph but I think that’s wildly optimistic. It often is. Certainly 60 and maybe 65 kph can be claimed.
Riding through the Meander Valley to Cluan Road had been such a trial the day before but now was a delight. A strong tailwind pushed in behind allowing the use of higher gearing giving 18-20kph cruising. Imagine the smile on my face 😃
Cluan Road too was a lot easier. I travelled the hilly end and found the climbs up were easier when entered with higher speed and a pushy wind. Today I was turning off along after 7-8 kilometres to ride Glenore Road – a route I haven’t taken before. The plan was to find out where to went, assuming it would link up with Black Hills Road and take me through to Oaks Road, Pitts Lane and back to Bishopsbourne.
This it did. The farmlands in this area look healthy and prosperous. Imagine being those early land owners granted lands in such a good farming area. Well worth the effort to clear it. I expect these are some of the lands where the incomers had troubles with the original land owners – now known as (if I have it right), the North Midlands Nation. How would you be, some white guys come in, build houses, chop down trees, stick up fences over your land and tell you to “bugger off”. It caused quite a bit of trouble.
I thought about those early days as I pedalled through areas being prepared for cropping and paddocks full of sheep. Also some paddocks were stocked with steers – which did the usual thing of every eye watching the cyclist and one group running alongside bellowing encouragement.
Oaks Road can be busy but today it was 4 cars in 3 kilometres. 3 going the other way and one overtaking. I then checked the battery situation and found it good. Getting a bit tired, leg sore and, strangely, footsore I opened the taps a bit and kept the trike buzzing along to Bishopsbourne. Plenty of battery still left so I opened it up even further on the run back to Longford.
On completion of the ride there was still quite a bit of power left – a bit different to the previous day when the battery was quite low on arrival in Deloraine. Just shows the impact of wind.
That’s good. First camp ride of the season done, even if day 1 wasn’t the best. Now we need to keep it up and get another in this month before things get tangled up with Christmas.
Til next time …….