Riding with the NW Group

After 2 weeks of grey skies, wind, fog, rain and other crap brought about by a negative Indian Ocean Dipole (so the weatherman said this morning), it was approaching the weekend to visit Deloraine, a visit chosen by the NW Tasmania riding group of Bicycle Network. I had suggested the rides as possibilities at the December meet where rides for the next year were up for discussion. Both were picked and, as I suggested them, I was elected to lead them.

As the time approached I regularly checked the 7 day weather forecast, hoping for some rideable conditions. This is what happened.

Saturday 26th June.

Ride 1 : Deloraine to Meander and back to Deloraine

The Deloraine – Meander – Deloraine Ride

I loaded the trike plus riding gear in to the trailer on Friday evening and so, in the morning, all I had to do was hook up. The ride was scheduled to start at 11.30 to give people time to drive over from the coast. At least one person had cycled in yesterday and was camping in Deloraine. I thought at the caravan park but later found he stayed in The Wild Wood – an area of bush upriver from Deloraine. A brave but cold decision we were told – it was frosty overnight!

Anyway, we met up at the Train Park in Deloraine mingling with heaps of other cyclists. We had timed our ride for the same weekend as Cycling Australia was running a race out of the town – and also meeting at the Train Park. They had 100+ starters; we had 21. It is possible we would beat them if you were to total up the ages of riders in each group though.

This was for the Cycling Australia race – not us !

Eventually we found all our people, had an introductory chat and set off, heading out of town via the riverbank pathway and then up the climb to the Emu Bay Road roundabout junction with Mole Creek Road.

Our goal was to reach 41° South – the Salmon and Ginseng Farm – for lunch around 12.30. This was deemed a good time for people who had driven quite a way to get to the ride. It turned out to work well.

I haven’t mentioned it yet but the weather had been foggy when I set off from Longford but, by the time I arrived at the start, the sun was out!! The sky was blue, clouds minimal and winds were there but not too strong. Riding down through the forested area towards 41°S was a delight – the sunlight picking out the trees nicely.

After lunch we continued down Montana Road aiming for a junction in the road before the Meander township; a point at which some riders would take the opportunity to ride a short cut and head back. This was managed OK, several took off heading towards Deloraine while the rest of us headed to Meander proper. It was about this time I realised there seemed to be a vehicle trailing us. I had noticed it in the mirrors a couple of times and duly called “Car! Back!” to warn the less attentive riders a car was coming – but it didn’t. It fell back and disappeared from my mirrors. We had a Sag Wagon!!

The organisation duties for this ride was split between Roger any myself. Roger has the Certificate to prove he is a Qualified Ride Organiser. I do not but this arrangement covers our responsibilities and liabilities. With the split organisation I had been unaware of the said Sag Wagon. While no-one actually “sagged” on Saturday, the ute had a “Cyclists Ahead” sign on the back so we looked like a proper cycling group.

How good was that?

After a short rest in Meander, the ride continued. The ‘unwinter2021like’ sunny and warm(ish) conditions remained, the roads were nicely quiet from other traffic and a good ride back to Deloraine was had by all.

Saturday was rounded off with a group evening meal at The Empire Hotel, Deloraine. The Proprietor is himself a cyclist and the the Hotel is on the site of a bicycle shop back in the early 1900s – so all very appropriate.

Sunday 27th June

Ride 2 : Westbury – Four Springs Lake – Westbury

I drove to Westbury in sunny, calm conditions. I didn’t believe it – two great days sequentially. Wow.

Sunday’s ride would be a bit more hilly than Saturday’s and some people would not take the gravel extension out to the actual lake.

We met up at the Village Green in Westbury
Prepared our bikes and then set off

The ride began by cycle along Birralee Road. This is a major route along which travel log trucks, fuel trucks, milk trucks (all with trailers) and tradie utes; a route I don’t like much. On this Sunday though it was great. No traffic to speak of and the sun shining merrily on us. Light winds too. Who could ask for better?

The road is also undulating with some pretty steep climbs. Those in the group with electric assist had no troubles. Some without sensibly geared down and didn’t try and stay with the faster ones. We stopped regularly to gather the group together.

On reaching the turn for Four Springs Lake we did a head count. Who was staying on the tarmac and who was going dirt. In the end 7 out of today’s 18 riders set out for the lake. I believe the Sag Wagon went with the majority but I did lose track of it at that point.

Arrival at the lake

The lake is an artefact of the people. Developed to provide trout fishing close to Launceston it was created by building a small dam on the far side and overflow water goes over the dam and into Four Springs Creek. In August, at the start of the fishing season, the lake gets covered in boats and the road in gets chewed up by the 4X4s

The last bit of the road in today claimed one casualty. Ron arrived with a broken spoke in his rear wheel which caused a fair old buckle in the rim. It happened on the last bit – just where the rocks in the trail are the worst. After a small discussion the Sag Wagon was recalled from wherever it had gone and the broken bike loaded in. There was also room in the double cab for Ron. Problem solved.

There was time to take in the views
Before heading back

We bounced our way back along the 1.5 kilometers of bad gravel and got onto the good stuff which looks like it has been freshly graded. Then it was back onto the tar and soon we were heading down the gentle decline towards Hagley. A simple potter along Meander Valley Road and we were back in Westbury enjoying a good lunch at Verde Cafe.

I couldn’t help thinking just how lucky we are in Tasmania to be able to enjoy maskless group rides, group evenings meals and group lunches. There are various covid lockdowns occurring in the other Australian states right now and, of course, horrendous happenings in other countries. I suspect the dreaded Delta variant will raise it’s head here too but for now it’s all good.

A great weekend. Two good rides. Two days of brilliant winter weather. I hope everyone has the opportunity to do the same soon.

Stuff you should know

Well, not exactly the American Podcast of that name but, rather, stuff I have to tell you.

First. I have challenged myself to cover 5,000 kilometers in 2021. I can report that by the end of June I have covered more than 2,500 kilometers and, so, am on target. Yipee !!

See – 2,578 for the End of June

Second. I have a new battery on order after a visit to the Launceston E-bike shop. Sorely tempted by the range of e-bikes on offer I resisted and just ordered a battery.

I have given the old, partly dead one to Patrick – a member of the NW Group. I was not allowed to open it up as my history of working with electricity isn’t good and a local friend who worked in the electronics field wasn’t confident in our ability to open it up and not cause an explosion. Patrick has built up a few e-bike batteries and is aware of the dangers.

Third – performance. Even with the large chainring and using the battery to the max I was only just able to keep time with most of the riders when they were cruising at a constant 22-23 kph on the flat. I fell behind each time we began climbing but caught up on the descent.

Riding 2 and 3 wheel bikes together is not easy. As I reported to Colin, I emptied 2 legs and 1 battery twice – once on each ride! It was well worthwhile although I am now looking forward to refitting the smaller chainring and travelling at a slower pace.

’til next time

Author: antc1946

Born in 1946 I learnt to cycle about 10 years later. On a bike with rods connecting brake levers to the brakes - anyone remember those? I emigrated to Australia (from the UK) in 1974 and moved to Tasmania in 1984. Bicycles were in my life for most of that time although sometimes they were replaced by motorised two wheels for a bit more excitement. On reaching 70 I decided to stick to pedal power but in 2019 an electric recumbent made an appearance. It is good!

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