Tassie Trail Day Nine – New Norfolk to Judbury

45.4km, 9.31km/h average, 1057 metres up

We always anticipated that Stage 14 would be challenging. With rain threatening and warnings in the guidebook that the route could even experience snow, we were taking no chances. We lingered around the Resort, cooking up our lunch and getting ready to tackle what we expected would be a long morning of climbing. We lingered even longer with a detour through town to pick up a few supplies, then more lingering occurred when Kim discovered the motel room key in his back pocket. We finally worked our way out of town from the motel a second time around mid morning, taking what Kim assured me would be the way back onto the official route. Needless to say, I was nervous. Trusting Kim’s unerring sense of direction, we were soon on the road to Lachlan, that the locals pronounce Lacklan, and all was forgiven.
The directions for Stage 14 sounded simple enough – take a hard left into Jeffreys Track, follow it up to White Timber Mountain Track, then ride down Judds Creek Road into Judbury. Somehow, we missed the hard left, then found Jeffreys Track heading very definitely off to our right. After a couple of laps up and down the road, and without any luck in making the map match what we were seeing on the ground, we took the right turn uphill. Once again, I was nervous.
We rode steadily uphill on reasonable dirt roads, with a few steeper pinches to keep things interesting. The elevation showed a consistent increase, generally in sync with the deterioration in the road surface. Maybe it was due to my concentration on the climb, but there seemed to be a distinct absence of trail markers. Our several detours earlier in the day had added a few kilometres to our daily tally, so the route descriptions didn’t help to make any sense of the few landmarks we were passing. As the track continued skywards and the surface grew rougher, my lingering nervousness about our 180 degree piece of poetic licence at the entrance to Jeffreys Track reach a near fever pitch of anxiety.
At a non-descript road junction, we veered right into what we assumed was White Timber Mountain Track. The road surface continued to deteriorate, until much of it was unrideable. The next several kilometres were a blur of pushing Pokey up long hills, inching around enormous mud puddles that looked like they had been formed by small atomic explosions, scrambling over loose ballast-sized rock and watching the elevation slowly climb towards the magic 800 metre mark. The mood of the afternoon was lightened somewhat when Kim finally spotted a trail marker high up in a tree. I was not sure whether to feel elated that we were on track, or incredulous that someone actually intended for us to be riding our bikes in this area.
After a very hard fought climb, the road tilted downwards, again on large and loose rock that made for very slow progress. After a few near misses on the rocky surface, I resorted to scrambling down several of the steeper pitches. Pokey’s brakes squealed in painful protest all of the way down the sections I was brave enough to ride as the elevation dropped several hundred metres over just a few kilometres. It was an enormous relief to reach the smoother dirt roads of the lower section of the descent, and have a downhill ride where the effort versus enjoyment ratio was definitely in my favour.
We flew into Judbury aided by a howling tailwind and found the camping area at the far end of the town’s cricket pitch and recreation ground. The temperature had dropped significantly and we had encountered enough drizzling rain to don our raincoats as we crouched in the shelter of the electric barbque for an afternoon coffee. Kim was soon chatting with the local groundsman who had seen us riding into town and came down to move the sprinklers and invite us to visit the community market in the morning. The wind continued to howl throughout the evening and the frequent scuds of rain had us beating an early retreat to the comparative warmth and comfort of our little tent.
(11 February 2017)

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