We luxuriated in our four poster bed listening to the rain and wind howling around the world outside. An oversized brown teddy glared disapprovingly down at us from his perch above the corner cupboard as we pretended not to notice that the morning had arrived. Day Eleven on the Tassie Trail, and it was time to complete the final stage to Dover. It was just a small matter of 32 kilometres between our cosy bed in Geeveston and a triumphant finish on the coast in Dover. It was easier not to dwell on the little impediments of rain, wind, falling temperatures and three climbs.
Once again we dawdled over breakfast willing the weather to become kinder. Realising the stunning failure of this strategy, we then reassured each other that they were only small climbs, and we would be relaxing in Dover before we knew it. The initial few kilometres out of town followed a pleasant country road along a valley past small farms. It was a treat to be able to ride comfortably along, chatting together about our experiences of the past eleven days. While completing the Trail will rate as an achievement for me, I concluded that I really would have liked more cycling that was not a desperate struggle uphill or a white knuckle experience going downhill.
This conversation was still underway when the road again tilted skyward, and we were soon pushing up loose gravel on steep slopes. It was the first of three such climbs for the day. I suspect my legs were pretty tired, possibly aided and abetted by my desire to do something other than climb big slopes. It seemed like each long climb was interspersed with disproportionately small sections of rideable trail. The frequent scuds of rain alternated with periods of sunshine, leaving us sweating through climbs and chilled by the descents.
Halfway through our second climb we encountered a couple heading north. They had started from Dover a few hours earlier, and were riding the Trail to Devonport. This was only the second party we had seen in eleven days. They were travelling light and had pre-booked accommodation all the way, but were already a little concerned at how long it had taken them to do their first 20 kilometres. Their first overnight stop was planned for New Norfolk. We wished them luck, knowing that it had taken us three days to ride the same section. They congratulated us on our ride, assuring us it was now all downhill for us to Dover. They were lying, but it was a nice sentiment.
I was looking forward to Swearing Bob Plains, mostly because I thought it was a great name. I was a bit nervous that the guidebook chose to warn us that this section was “a little rough”. Given the warning-free mogul fields in other areas, I assumed we were in for a wild time. To my delight, Swearing Bob Plains was a lovely stretch of high country cycling, with normal degrees of undulation and road lumpiness, as well as some bigger obstacles that could be easily bypassed. Unfortunately it was a short stretch, and we were soon back to the steeper climbing and descending.
The Tassie Trail challenged us all the way, right to the last climb with its long sections that left us pushing our bikes uphill. I kept an eye on the altitude, making sure we paused for a celebratory photo at the very top, which occurred in a rather non-descript section of cleared forest. The last several kilometres were a delightfully normal descent, barely needing the turn of a pedal until we rounded a bend and saw our first glimpse of the ocean.
It was then a short downhill on the bitumen into town to where we hoped the official Trail’s end would feature prominently, possibly with a welcoming committee on hand. When we couldn’t immediately locate something noteable, we sought refuge under the awning of the public toilet block during another heavy burst of rain and considered our options. When the rain cleared, we saw a large Trail sign, appropriately placed halfway up the hill behind us on a suburban street. After a few selfies , we headed for the beach for Kim to complete his “touch the water at each end of the trail” ritual.
We continued our low-key celebrations throughout the afternoon contentedly tucked up in a cabin out of the rain and cold weather. We are happy to have completed another trouble-free cycling adventure, despite finding it challenging in ways we didn’t fully anticipate. No doubt we will mull over the experience during our ride back to Hobart over the next few days, and the highlights will outweigh everything else in our memories.
I appreciate all the amazing work done by so many people to bring us this experience. It is easy to whiz through a trail and forget the huge amount of behind-the-scenes tasks that have been undertaken over the years to make it possible. Guidebooks, maps, negotiating access, liaising with a million-and-one governments departments, filling in endless forms, applying for buckets of permits, putting up markers, clearing track, answering questions, defending and selling the whole concept. These things don’t happen by magic. Thank you to all the volunteers and supporters of the Tasmanian Trail. I hope that the Tassie Trail will continue to develop over the years and become one of the bucket list adventures for the those of us who love long rides.
(13 February 2017)