Tassie Trail Day One (Take One)

The perfect holiday has begun. From my vantage point, it has fallen into place almost without effort. It seems like just weeks ago I announced our plans to ride the Tasmanian Trail and booked our flights. Somewhere in the intervening months I may have become a bit distracted on other bits of life. Now, as if by magic, I find myself sitting in our Launceston motel room, eating chocolates and watching Kim transform Pokey and Donquita from boxes of bike bits into our travelling steeds.
I try to share with my loved one my thoughts on how much easier the preparation for this trip has been, compared to last years Munda Biddi adventure, when the preparation consumed our time, efforts and bank balance for months on end. Our constant harping on about our Munda Biddi plans put us at risk of having all our friends escort us to the airport, just to ensure we left town. We seem to have done it with much less fuss and bother this time.

From his grease smeared perspective, Kim gently reminds me that our food has been cooked, dehydrated, vacuum bagged, parceled up and sent off to Bronte Park and Geeveston awaiting our arrival. Little repairs to our gear are all done, the bikes are newly serviced, the chooks and ducks have been moved to their holiday home, the grass is mowed, our Australia Day party went off without a hitch and he did find my missing knicks in the lost property box at the pool. It’s really nice to see he is able to relax now too.

Cairns to Launceston was a pretty cruisy run, although starting at 5am from Atherton and going via swimming squad and a short spell at work added a bit to the day. To my amazement, we reached the airport with plenty of time to spare, which would normally translate in my world to several other things we could have done on the way, but in Kim’s world is the preferred concept of normal. After dodging the bomb sniffer guy, despite making eye contact and smiling directly at him, we shared a coffee with Ian, who had come to wave us off from the rain and humidity of Cairns.
Several lumpy hours and a short spell in Melbourne airport later, we bumped down in Launceston, where I immediately realised my advanced planning had not stretched to having a jumper in my hand luggage. After a brisk wait at the luggage carousel, we found our hire car, cruised into our motel, lugged our bike boxes and bags up the stairs, and collapsed on the bed. Birthday luck was on my side, and the motel was a short walk to the Royal Oak Hotel, which intriguingly advertised spirits, food and communication in bold lettering on its external facade.

Inside was a lively blend of guitarists, rough wooden flooring, dreadlocks, tatoos, beers and facial piercings, and a photo-bombing Irishman who entertained us with stories of cycling and life in Tassie. Seems the blurb about spirits and communication was right on target.

We called it quits long before anyone else was ready to leave, but after more beer than was sensible for my one-pot wonder neurons, and meandered back to the motel. I love Tassie already.

Tassie Trail Day One (Take Two)

The plan today was simple. Get our gear together, drive to Devonport, drop off the car, and start riding. After a small detour past the Macau monkeys in the park, we tackled our shopping chores and headed towards our starting point in Devonport.

The countryside was wonderfully lush and green, but the never-ending series of rolling hills along the way had us a tad nervous about what lies between Devonport and Dover. We arrived in Devonport in the early afternoon feeling distinctly caffeine depleted, given that our quest for decent coffee on the Apple Isle is yet to be a raging success. Our café visit in Devonport didn’t change this situation, and we sat looking blankly at each other through bleary eyes trying to come to grips with the concept of starting our ride. Ultimately we made an executive decision to find a motel in Devonport, catch up on some sleep, and try again tomorrow.
Delaying our official start energised us both, and we decided to head to the airport to drop off the hire car and ride back to the motel. The ride from the airport into town followed a pathway along the beachfront overlooking Bass Strait. This wild stretch of water was named after Englishman George Bass, who was a talented explorer, but a lousy businessman and husband. George married the lovely Bess a few weeks before heading to Australia to make his fame and fortune in 1801. Despite exchanging many lovesick letters with his newly abandoned bride, and promising her that he would return a wealthy man, sweep her off her feet, and sail away into the sunset together and forever, things didn’t go exactly to plan. George had a series of failed business ventures, with his discovery of Bass Strait being one of the few bright spots in his long journey. Poor Bess spent years anticipating his return, and possibly wishing she hadn’t taken on his surname. She died years before her time, without ever knowing what had become of George after he headed from Sydney to South America chasing that elusive financial winner.
So Day One (Take Two) morphed into gentle 13km meander along pathways, with multiple photos stops along the beaches and the Mersey River where the Spirit of Tasmania was berthed. We tucked up in our motel, pledging ourselves an early night, ready for an early get-away. Or maybe an early get-away after the breakfast that comes with the motel deal.

(2 February 2017)

"No hour of life is lost that is spent in the saddle" Winston Churchill