Yes, Spring is in the air – on certain days! Winter soon returns but those one-off springlike days are very enjoyable. For now our Magnolia is in flower – usually the flowers get blown off really quickly as it’s the start of the windy season : Welcome to the Roaring Forties!!
Today is not a spring-like day. We are looking west into large, grey sky covering clouds as the wind builds up for what promises to be a stormy 48 hours. Luckily yesterday was a showery precursor and I had time for a ride.
I chose the above map to show where Saturday’s ride was because the colourings really show how the Norfolk Plains are in the flatter part of Tasmania. Once we venture outside the light green it gets pretty hilly.
The week had begun with a couple of 15 kilometre Bike E rides. These were snuck in around rain and appointments for things medical. The week seemed full of such fragmented bits of time which included fitting in a LAGS lunch (after which one feels too heavy to ride very far!).
The Bike E is going OK. I hadn’t ridden it for a while so it was a nice surprise to find balance and control were fine. I have opened up discussion with Phil of Carlton for giving it two presents. The first: fitting the Shlumpf Mountain Drive which has been sitting in the shed since to came with Bluey. The second: fitting a rear hub electric motor. This will all take time to organise – no rush.
I had also dashed out to Bishopsbourne and back one morning. so by Saturday I had 60k on the clock for the week – 40k shy of the weekly target.
There were heavy clouds over the Tiers as I left Longford on Saturday. The wind was astern so I couldn’t gauge how strong it was; I just knew it was there. “I’ll just head out to Woolmers, go up the hill from the river and maybe head out to the Midland Highway” I was thinking. “That’ll give me another 20k towards the total”.
Crossing the Macquarie I checked river levels – the kayak landing ramp was visible again so the levels are falling. That was interesting, the South Esk, just below the confluence with the Macquarie at Longford, is covering the walkway under the railway bridge so the S Esk levels are still up.
Still in two or more minds about exactly where I was going I climbed the hill away from the river and, during the ascent, decided to turn right and head towards Panshanger. There was a fair bit of traffic passing while I was on the climb – traffic that heads off to the Midland Highway – so I reckoned Panshanger Road would be quieter; and it was.
Running down the hill towards the Longford Feed Mill the first drops of rain sprinkled down. Nothing heavy. Ahead (south-east) looked good, just don’t look right (west) – towards the Tiers. Past the Phoenix Flyers airfield and there were no cars in sight by the clubrooms. Too windy I expect. I hadn’t checked their weather wall but I suspect it would have been similar to this :
All around there are paddocks full of water and frogs a-croaking. Sheep and lambs abound and some lambs along this stretch of road are getting quite large and chubby. They still push Mum up in the air to get under at the teats though. In a few areas they are finding it difficult to get to dry areas for their afternoon siesta.
I had an interesting experience out Bishopsbourne way earlier in the week. I passed a small lamb who had got through the fence. It was busy chewing at the long grasses by the roadside. I couldn’t stop as it was a bendy bit of road and traffic was a bit busy. On the way back it was still outside, near the road. This time I could stop and so did. I pulled off a little after the lamb and walked back. The little bugger was nowhere to be seen. Oh – there you are! He had snuck back under the fence and was jumping about looking at me. With his snowy white head and a patch of pink dye on his forehead, he looked really cheeky. When he finally turned his back and bounced off with his mate you could really see he was a he. Was that what the pink dye was for I wonder?
Back to Saturday’s ride: the rain spits soon stopped but now the road surface was wet. Not from the last little shower though. I cycled past the entrance to Panshanger Farm and continued on. “How far to go?” I thought. Well, if I go to a previously used turnaround point that will give a 30 kilometre ride. OK!
A few more spits, some decent pushes from behind and some more dark clouds over in the west set me thinking. It’s OK at the moment but it could be a bad ride back. No matter, I wasn’t using much power going this way so there will be plenty for the ride back into the wind.
Reaching the turnaround point I thought “Hmm. Only another 5k and that will be a 40k ride today. Add that to this weeks total and I will have got the 100k in for the week”. So I went on down to Powranna Road. That wasn’t quite enough so I crossed over onto Mt Joy Road and did another k or so. Eventually sense prevailed and I turned around.
Let’s just say the wind was noticeable now I was heading into it. Depending on how the road twisted and turned it was either full on – 12.oo o’clock or coming in from the sides at 10.00 or 2.00. The power level was upped and I began riding at level 4 and level 5. The beauty of a trike is that the side winds don’t move you about on the road. Even when it’s more a 9.00 sidewind and the protection suddenly stops as you cycle past gaps in the hedge.
Climbing up at the start of Chintah Road, the rain began. A deeply coloured rainbow appeared first and then the rain arrived. I stopped and struggled into my rainproof overtrousers left over from motorcycling days. They still work and they are still hard to get on.
It was a bit of a plod back “enjoying” the winds and experiencing the occasional heavy shower. Spring in Tassie although officially it’s still Winter.
On the final stretch there was some traffic about and it was raining. I steered to the edge when vehicles came past and worried a bit about hawthorns in tyres. Earlier in the week I had a reminder of what happens with thorns. I rode Bike E over a rose clipping someone had kindly left in the gutter. It took a while for the puncture resistant Big Apple tyre to flatten but it did, about 1.5k from home. I repaired the puncture that arvo but on putting the inner tube/tyre back on the wheel the patch must have caught on something and lifted. I didn’t see, finished the job, pumped then tyre up and it immediately lost pressure! The second round of patching worked OK.
Why did a Big Apple tyre let the thorn in? – because the entry point was off to one side and the thorn was a bloody long one ~!!~
The saga of mounting the Veltop continues. I am making a bracket to clamp onto the rack which will allow the Veltop fitting to be mounted further back – off the rear of the rack. I got me some wood, tenon saw, chisel and mallet and began. That wasn’t going to work! I was soon reminded that my carpentry skills are at the level of basic bush carpentry.
So I dug out the ageing Black and Decker router and dug channels in the wood with that device – a much better finish.
Not good enough yet though. I had sized it so the Veltop fitting would be out of the way of the panniers; except when I attached the tube bags that fit on the rear of each pannier there was a clash. Maybe I will have to send off for the Veltop fitting that bolts onto the seat. One more go and I will decide. Ideally I can make a fitting that holds the Veltop rear bracket and also has posts for lighting and a hole or holes for flag/s to sit in. That’s my aspiration!
More on this next week
’til next time ………………………