…the east coast and on to Hobart & beyond… by: JK | Thu 17 Feb

I bid Michelle and Jo adieu and headed off on Monday morning bright and early. Well, the journey to Swansea was the first time I have managed to get my average above 20km/h for the day! Only just, mind you, but I’m not going to quibble about degrees. I did 108.7km today rolling down the east coast with what felt like a bit of a tailwind. The sun was shining and all was well with the world. What a great part of the country this is – [small] rolling hills and great views of the Tasman Sea until I reached Bicheno when the road headed inland. I stopped there for some grapes and a drink before continuing on my way.

After passing the turn-off to the Freycinet, I got into Swansea just after 3pm and, as I was riding through town, a voice called out my name. Cynthia, my council contact, had noticed my arrival! This was terrific as I was still missing mobile coverage. [I have taken it for granted and, when it is missing, I really feel the loss.] Now there is no need to try to make contact with her. She has very kindly managed to find me a place to rest my head for the night. [Thanks Suzanne.] This is important to me as I am going to try to get to Hobart tomorrow and a good night’s sleep will be essential.

With help from a number of fronts [thanks everyone involved], the setup for my talk at the town hall is completed successfully. The projector didn’t want to play ball with my netbook’s video out. Another laptop and a quick transfer of my PowerPoint presentation [all of 9 slides for the 2 hours] and we were good to go. The audience was great and I left the hall believing I had made an impact.

Suzanne was getting solar panels installed on the morning I left and the crew turned up before I departed. I was on the road before 8am on Tuesday morning bound for Hobart. This meant a quick pack-up and, as I later realised, the leaving behind of some clothes. I hope they find their way to the local op shop.

After 2 ½ hours riding, I found myself in Triabunna for morning tea at the local bakery – a great place to stop. I also got a fruit bun to ‘go’, refilled my water bottles and started the climbing that I knew was coming. The first part was pleasant enough with the Prosser River on the right and a rock wall on the left but the hill is relentless and I was sorely in need of a break by the time I reached Buckland. At a park there, I bumped into another couple of cyclists whom I had seen when departing the Spirit of Tasmania last Sunday. They are headed in the other direction and bound for Orford for the night.

After restocking my stomach and indulging in a bit of like-minded conversation, they headed off their way and I headed mine. Back to “Break-Me-Neck” – the killer climb from this direction. “Relentless” is a word that springs to mind but, in time, even this hill must end and it is with great relief I crest the summit. “Bust-Me-Gall” now beckons and I drop some altitude before starting this climb. I have run out of drink in my bottles near the summit [this is my electrolyte drink and it is a very warm day] so I stop in at a house near the top to replenish my supplies. The lady of the house invites me in to get shelter from the sun and this is most welcome.

Rested and replenished, I continue the small distance to the top of “Bust-Me-Gall” and commence my descent – OMG, what a descent! Before I know it, I am hurtling downhill at break-neck speed and daren’t touch the brakes for fear of jack-knifing. When I can check my speedo at the bottom, I realise that I have topped my previous maximum speed on this trek around Australia – 82.9km/h! I am sure the trailer manufacturers would be pleased to know that it stuck true and didn’t bounce or wander.

The rest of the ride into Sorell was fairly uneventful with only minor [for Tasmania] hills to conquer. The Causeway there must be about the only flat road on this island state! Another long ascent greeted me after I left the Hobart Airport behind and then it was a gentle downhill to the bridge into Hobart at Rosny Park. The cycle path over the bridge is very narrow and is shared with pedestrians which can create interesting situations but, even more interesting, is meeting other cyclists coming the other way! Normally [to my mind at least], there would be westbound on one side and eastbound on the other but not so in Hobart.

One last challenge awaits me before I reach my stop for the next two nights. Chris, Carol & Michael live up [and I mean UP] in Dynnyrne on Waterworks Rd and, when I turn into the bottom of Waterworks, I see a monster hill before me. Already weary after 135km of mainly climbing, this comes as an almost spirit-breaking sight! I had to stop part way up for a breather but, the steepness of the climb means that starting off again is rather interesting. I manage however and eventually make it to my destination. My hosts are not in at present but relieved at having got “home”, I sprawl on the grass and relax – grateful for having arrived. My talk in Hobart is on Wednesday night and I will check out the venue that day and make contact with the council officer involved.

The venue is the Arts building at the University of Tasmania and is quite high-tech – numbers are less than I would have preferred but I get a fantastic intro from the Mayor and a warm welcome from the crowd. Wednesday was the first day of school in Tasmania and also being a very warm day, people may be taking advantage of the sunshine. After the gig, I ride back up the hill [via a lovely bike path this time] in the dark and tumble into bed tired but satisfied. Thursday will find me south of Hobart in Kingston – a doddle compared with the riding I have done recently with only one hill to speak of on the road past the old Shot Tower.

A talk in Kingston tonight, another tomorrow in Kettering and then I head north back towards Devonport and home…..

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