Despite not having to prepare our breakfasts or pack up our sleeping gear, our speed in getting started for the day didn’t improve, and we were the last guests to leave the hotel. The first part of Stage Nine headed out of town along the bitumen and past Bronte Lagoon, where we paused for a photo at a plaque marking the geographical centre of Tassie. The trail then followed a dirt road uphill, and remained on Victoria Valley Road for the rest of the stage. It was pleasant, undulating riding through forestry areas, past isolated farms and bush blocks and beside lakes, with a sudden halt for a tiger snake crossing the road. We saw the occasional vehicle on the road, but the area otherwise seemed deserted. Once again the weather was warm and sunny, and we were helped along by a huge tailwind.
We stopped for our first smoko beside Dee Lagoon just past the dozen or so houses that constitute the township of Dee. The wind was howling across the water at us, which had the positive side effect of making it more difficult for the swarms of march flies buzzing around to find a landing spot.
Soon after smoko, we spotted cyclists approaching in the distance, being the first we had seen on the trail. Kim slowed down, waving excitedly to the first four in the group, who waved back as they zoomed past and continued on. The two sociable tail enders stopped for a chat. They were doing the Tassie Trail from the south, and had started in Hobart the day before. They had managed to get themselves misplaced from the outset and had covered some 20km extra before finally reaching the pub in Ouse. The publican had found other accommodation for the resident road workers to free up six rooms for them. We stood in the middle of the dirt road and swapped stories of cycling, bike packing and the differences between riding in Darwin (super flat) and Tassie (not flat).
Stage Nine finishes at Victoria Valley campsite, which sits in a lovely paddock with a picnic table, toilet block and water tank. It was perfect for a relaxed lunchtime cook-up, and we lingered over our food and coffee before starting Stage Ten to Ouse. If the profile was to be believed, Stage Ten would not have required any level of exertion, but been a gentle roll all the way. I was even considering a side trip to check out the Victoria Valley Falls along the way. In reality, I was soon pushing Pokey up some steep hills which were mercifully short, but negated any intention to add extra kilometres to my day with non-essential side trips.
The majority of the trip along Lane Tiers Road was a downhill run on forestry roads, with the high winds pushing us all the way. Maybe it is my anal need to precisely follow the instructions in the Trail guide book, or my stunning inability to transpose written spatial directions, that led us to ride the trail from north to south. Whatever the reason, we repeatedly reminded ourselves of our good fortune in riding with the winds, unlike the south to north group we’d passed who would have been pushing uphill into a headwind all day.
We rolled into the town of Ouse, that we had been trying to make rhyme with mouse or moose, only to learn that it really was pronounced like slimy unmentionable green stuff. The campground was on the town common, furnished with a shelter shed, toilet and a flock of sheep. After putting up our tent to stake our claim, we retreated to the pub for a beer and chippies. The publican and locals were thrilled to be able to relay the story of yesterday’s lost and tired cyclists, but seemed disappointed that we were well provisioned and happy to camp on the Common. We asked their opinions about the weather for the next few days, thinking that local farming types would be well versed in this regard. “Should have the forecast at the end of the five o’clock news”, they said before returning to the more important task of dealing with the day’s brew.
The television weather forecast was ominous, with the satellite images showing big clumps of rain and wild weather posed to engulf Tasmania in the next few days. Kim checked the Bureau of Meteorology website, and thought it would probably clear before the end of the next day. Given our track record, we would have no problems orchestrating a slow start in the morning, or sitting the day out on the Common with the sheep in Ouse. With those happy options in mind, we headed back to our tent, ready for tea and bed.
(8 February 2017)