This is it. The weather looks good for the next 2 days and we are off to Ross. The plan is to cycle down the east side of the Macquarie River and back (tomorrow) along the west side.
The route starts with a ride to Woolmer’s, a river crossing to the east side of the Macquarie and then up the hill away from the river. The whole ride is through land once belonging to the Tyerrernotepanner (chera-noti-pahner) Clan of the North Midlands Nation. The early European settlers were granted the land to “develop” and they managed their estates well. Today a lot of the evidence of settlement has gone but the main farmhouses remain.
As we climbed the hill the clouds were disappearing and the air was warm.
There are four sections to this ride – each defined with crossroads. We would see the river to our right, quite far away.
The country is drying off. With not much rain and plenty of wind, once the hay is cut (or the sheep have eaten the grass) what remains is yellow and dry. There are plenty of irrigation pivots around and where they are can be seen circles of green.
On this leg we passed several fields full of brassicas. Usually there are no cabbage white butterflies to be seen – which must point to insecticide usage. Today though there was a plentiful number of the little critters. As we pass by crops I try to work out what they are. The white flowering one above – I have no idea.
Those butterflies got me thinking as to how few flies and insects are seen in this area. When we first arrived I put it down to the agriculture practices. Still do.
During this first leg we spotted a dead Copperhead snake. It had been run over. They were to become a feature of the ride, warning us that snake season is well and truely here.
At the Powranna Road crossing we called the first stop for water and an energy bar. While not riding, we realised the tail wind we had been aware of was actually quite strong. Good!!
The day was warming up so at each stop the plan was to take on plenty of water to keep hydrated.
The second leg is flattish to begin with but after the Poppy Processing plant the hills become more significant. It was nice to have the winds blowing us up the climbs – especially for Colin.
During the approach to Barton Road we had been watching a crop sprayer flying low, hoping we weren’t in for a soaking. Nothing was sprayed though so possibly the pilot was just checking out the wind and the area to be sprayed. As we got to the crossroads the plane landed not far away. While we were stationary it took off again and headed back, now ready to spray. Luckily the spray area was some way off to the left of the road up near the trees on the horizon of the picture above.
By now the temps were around 30°C according to Siri, and we were feeling it. The first warm day of summer. Actually we both had issues with our feet. We both released our shoes to make sure they weren’t too tight. Then Colin’s feet overheated and off came the socks. Mine became sore on the balls of the feet (where the pedals sit) and by the end of the day I thought I had blisters. Actually didn’t so I assume some sort of bruising.
The third stage once again begins as a flattish run but then winds up to a long climb up to the road junction meeting the road from Campbell Town. (See the point at 50k on the map). It was hot, humid and not too good there for a while ! A nice rest in the shade by the road junction was welcome. If we were going to turn to Campbell Town we could see we would be riding through roadworks. From our viewpoint we could see the comings and goings of quite a few trucks. Trucks with trailers carrying stuff for the road. Trucks with sprayers going down to the Macquarie to load up with water to dampen off the road surface.
We, however, turned right to head down to cross the Macquarie and pick up the small rural road down to Ross.
It was a delightful 3 kilometre roll down to the bridge. It’s not steep – just enough to keep 30kph on the dial. With no human input.
As we approached the turn off to Ashby Road the country seemed even dryer, if that was possible.
The wind was still behind us and ahead we could see a build up of cloud and rain falling over towards Campbell Town.
Ashby Road is gravel for the first 8 kilometres. Today it had a light covering of small marble-like rocks. This caused much bouncing as did the occasional collection of corrugations. A different times two Utes stopped, the drivers hanging out the window for a chat interested in what we were doing. Most other vehicles passed nicely, drivers waving. I gradually pulled ahead and suddenly noticed the wind had turned. It was now a significant headwind. No more cruising along at Power Level Zero.
I ploughed on and Colin dropped further and further back. I had the benefit of the electric motor and Colin was also probably suffering from not enough riding before the trip.
As I came round a bend the above pivot was totally front on. The 8 sections clumped together looked like a solid body and the two 45 degree poles looked like the antenna of a large insect. OK – yes, it was probably heat stroke addling the brain !
I continued along the tarmac section down to the Midland highway. I slowed and turned onto the highway and stayed slow so that Colin could see which way I turned. At the start of the road into Ross (off the Highway) I pulled up at the sign to wait for Colin and get his picture.
The tyre was not totally flat so, like me on the trip to Deloraine, Colin elected to continue and fix it at the campsite.
We rolled into the Ross Caravan Park just after 4pm, paid up and selected our site, dumped the trikes, grabbed coffee making gear and headed to the camp kitchen. It was then the rain began. Large drops. Then the thunder started.
After a little while things settled and we began to put the tents up. With tents out but not yet up, the rain came back. Hasty erections occurred and then we were back in the kitchen.
So it continued for the evening. The thunder rolled around, the rain hammered down and things got wet. It stopped. Then began all over again.
At the end of the day I found I had left my camera hanging off the trike seat. Luckily the case, while wet, did keep the water off the camera.
While cooking tea we spoke to another cyclist who arrived and set up a tent. He was testing out the battery on his new electric bike. He had covered 80 kilometres from Launceston and his plan was to ride on tomorrow to see where the battery ran out. He had a pick-up organised for when it did.
One piece of interesting information was that he had ridden through the roadworks on the way to Campbell Town. The advice was not to do it! The works go all the way into Campbell Town and the temporary surface is medium sized rocks – difficult to cycle on. We shall avoid.
At a suitable lull in the rain we finished off loading gear into the tents. I covered the trike and we retired for the night.
A good 72 kilometre ride.