Over the hill: Mansfield to Whitfield via Tolmie
Wednesday March 29, 2017, 63 km (39 miles) – Total so far: 268 km (167 miles)
My “aspirational” departure time was 7 am. Luckily it was only an aspiration ‘cos I left at 7.45 on my date with the hill climb over Tolmie and then down to Whitfield.
My packing included a very wet tent which in turn gave wet hands which then, on this cool morning, made fingers very cold. I used the hand dryer in the ablutions to fix that up. Up to Mansfield and filled the water bottles from the free water dispenser come bottle filler provided by the town. Longford does this too so that’s O K. to use theirs.
The hills began not far out of town. Short ones far apart to begin and after about 10 ks they all rolled into one big continuous one. I tracked where I was using the Google Maps elevation graph I had printed out at home. The road was lovely with very little traffic, several talkative cyclists passing, sunlit bush to look at and a continuing hill to climb.
After some kilometers of climbing I was spending time looking at the chip seal surface in front of me. It proved to have been laid using very well screened gravel. All of a size they have slotted together and give a smooth surface. Not like chip seal laid around Longford recently – there the gravel chunky vary too much in size and this gives a bumpy ride – like French races over the pave – (couldn’t find how to access the accent – please imagine)
The climb continued and after a while it was getting hard to see much positive in the experience! Then a sign said we were at Tolmie. It was another 3.5 ks of mostly uphill to get to the Pub. The Chef doesn’t work Wednesdays! The bar guy can’t work the coffee machine. He managed to do me a plate of Satay chicken sticks which were edible.
The climb rises to almost 1,000 metres and I spotted pictures around the pub walls which included snow. “Yes” said the cook – “it does snow here regularly in winter”.
During this respite I worked out I have a bit more climbing, a descent and more climbing then it’s all downhill to Whitfield. Or, have I read the elevation chart wrong?!
Well, the second half of the chart left a lot to be desired. It didn’t seem to be the same road as the one I was on. Where I expected to start descending, the road seemed more like those hilly southern Tasmania routes. A too short downhill followed by much more climbing. There was a run of about 4-5 kilometers steeply downhill but then a lot more of the up then down riding. Eventually about 10 ks from Whitfield we got into downhill mode proper.
A wonderful downhill with sweeping bends, views (if you could look) and holding a good speed – maxed out at 56kph without pedalling. This descent ran down right to the door of The Whitty Cafe. I didn’t stop as I knew the tent was soaking wet, it was sunny and if I could get it up soon there should be enough sunlight left to dry it out.
The camp site was $12.50 and it stayed sunny enough for long enough to dry the tent out – before it gets soaked again tonight.
Thoughts for today:
980 metres of climbing in one day is probably a record for me. Maybe I did more when cycling from Paddington in Sydney to Katoomba but that was many years ago!
You can have too much climbing but, when you’re done, you feel so good!
I think the weather has finally turned the corner into cooler days and nights. Looking at the Bureau’s web site historical data while planning the trip showed this happens at some stage in March. The switch is thrown and things become cooler after that.