Finishing up Uni, I wanted to do something to celebrate and for a long time had been thinking about completing a bike touring adventure. With little persuasion brother Russell was in and roped in Bendigo mate Julian. With a cool-headed crew, we pretty much winged together the idea of riding around Tasmania during our local bunch rides.
For us, the hardest component of planning was determining what gear we needed and more importantly what we could afford not to take. The goals for the trip were to explore Tasmania using as many gravel roads as possible, live the bike packer bum dream of tenting and eating on the go, whilst getting in some sneaky base kilometres for Road National championships mid-January 2020
I was pretty stoked on my chosen weapon for the trip. Recently building up a Merida Mission CX with 40mm tires, set to tear up the Tassie gravel. It was decked out with the new Shimano GRX group set with 1x drive train setup (40t x 11/40). For bags I ran a 10L front loader, 4L mid loader and 10L rear bag, with the biggest challenge being fitting camping gear in amongst as little clothing as possible.
Day 1 – Bendigo to Melbourne 175km/7hrs/1500m
- Buoyage leaving from the doorstep and riding to St. Kilda pier to catch the boat, we were all pretty geed at this point.. maybe we didn’t know what we were in for.
- Didn’t take the most direct route there, with the first 70km all dirt.
- Riding bike paths all the way into the city was a real highlight and a much needed 7eleven stop was needed.. hot day.
- Swam at St. Kilda beach amongst a disturbing amount of jellyfish, then showered at the beach toilets, straight away feeling like bike touring bums.
- Got on board the boat and for the first proper time, actually sat down to plan the route. A lot of people have asked how’d we plan this and honestly it was pretty much winged on a daily basis, with the only set plan going down the east coast then up the west side using the Tasmanian trail.
Day 2 – Devonport to Longford 120km/5hrs/1200m
- First lesson was learnt... spend extra and get a cabin on the boat, the recliner chairs are terrible.
- Road to McDonalds for breakfast and kitted up (health game started strong).
- Hit the first section of gravel got a flat, had to lift our bikes over multiple fences then Russell’s gear cable snapped. Good start.
- Didn’t have lunch till 3:30.. all starting to get hangry.
- Last 40km was all tail wind and rolling hills, at this point we were excited to sleep in our tents.
Day 3 – Longford to Swansea 130km/5hrs/1250m
- Started off trying to re-tubeless my wheel and was abandoned for the Longford bakery.
- Trust a nice Canadian man to help, letting me borrow his compressor.
- Major headwind 3hrs to do 60km.. heart breaking speeds.
- Stopped at the Kangaloo store for a paddle pop, a cultural highlight in the middle of nowhere.
- Road a 16km gradual climb towards the coast and finished with a 20km descent into Swansea.
- That night we paid to sleep on a patch of grass outside the local back packers.
Day 4 – Swansea to Hobart 135km/5hrs/1500m
- Coastal roads were fast, and we decided to chop off rolling turns for 2hrs.
- Parked up out the front of Orford IGA for lunch and started to realise just how much food we required. Just meeting our exergy expenditure was becoming a challenge, blowing the food budget through the roof.
- Went inland again and found the best gravel roads yet, just south of Hobart.
- Set up camp just outside of Hobart.
- After demolishing a pizza each for dinner, Julian ate a whole block of fudge like it was a banana.
Day 5 – Hobart to Mt. Wellington to New Norfolk 100km/5hrs/2200m
- Woke to some grim weather with slate rain.. on the day we planned to ride up Mt. Wellington.
- Road over the Tasman bridge.
- Caught up with Hobart friends before tackling the ascent. About half way up the climb we were in shorts and t-shirt. Then next minute the weather rolled in, bringing would you believe snow. We’d packed light for this trip and snow appropriate clothing was not in our minds. Freezing cold we got to the summit, took a photo and hoofed it back down. Russ didn’t even had gloves on.
- Enjoyed lunch at the Salamanca bakery… each spending at least $30. Sipping hot drinks trying to restore body temp, Russ the champion ate 4 custard scrolls.
- Rode north-west to New Norfolk and set up camp. We had our first dinner in, cooking a feast out of the camp kitchen microwave.
Day 6 – New Norfolk to Wayatinah 115km/5.5hrs/2400m
- First day going proper outback taking the Tasmanian Trial which runs just below Hobart all the way to Devonport.
- The trail was epic, featuring a mixture of fire roads, single track, paddocks and the odd section of hiker bike trail.
- We enjoyed the trail so much we accidently rode close to an hour in the wrong direction, getting help from a farmer on where to go.
- The weather turned terrible, raining for the final two hours and decided to call it at an old hydroelectricity town called Wayatinah. The place had little but $1 showers and a tavern, with no reception or stores. We were actually later informed that the next closest super market was back where we started the day or 150km away.. what had we done.
- With little shelter from the rain and not a great deal else to do that night we were in bed by 8:30.
Day 7 – Wayatinah to Deloraine 200km/8hrs/2800m
- It rained all night and morning and to make things worse we had to ride 1hr and a 600m vert mountain to breakfast. Solely based off a local’s knowledge of the closest café/ food source available.
- Arrived at the café, which felt like a mirage in the mountains. We spent a good $40 each and sat around the indoor fire trying to heat up, not really wanting to leave.
- Set off belly’s full and started the major climb up to the central plateau and across the great lakes, a major plateau in the centre of the Island running at 1200m attitude.
- The main Highway is through the plateau is gravel and quite as hell. It was a cool experience and I think every time we saw a car or local, they gave us a strange look or asked us, ‘how the hell are you guys here’. Going to these sort of areas was definitely what the trip was about, getting a good feeling of exploration.
- Descended off the plateau down Mount Poatina 20km all downhill.. we called these free kilometres because they come so easy.
- We’d ridden 6hrs at this point and still another 70km left…. We started to get deservedly hangry and stopped for an early dinner. Pizza fixed out moods and finally got to our destination after 12hrs elapsed time and 8hrs pedalling. One of the biggest days I’d ever had on a bike and crawled into the tent that night.
Day 8 – Deloraine to Devonport 70km/3.5hrs/900m
- A much-needed shorter day as our last day in Tassie.
- Santa dropped into the caravan park and we got our family Christmas card photo.. a real high.
- What we though was going to be a breezy 70km ended up being rather challenging. It rained almost the entire time and the final section of the Tasmanian trail was almighty rough. Featuring a few creek crossings and rock gardens just to spice it up.
- Got a group mug shot at the tip of Devonport, felling like we’d accomplished something.
- Hit the touring jackpot finding good free public showers, meaning we didn’t have to get on the boat smelly.
Day 9- Melbourne to Bendigo 180km/6.5hrs/1700m
- A week roughing it meant we slept pretty well on the boat’s recliner chains. If you’ve never tried it, its like sleeping in a cinema chair that reclines not quite enough to be comfortable.
- We hit up the St.Kilda IGA for breakfast, fuelling up for our last big day. I ate a standard large breakfast plus four mince tarts, knowing that the kilojoules in those bad boys would get me home.
- The pace was on from the gun, getting out to Sunbury and past the airport in under an hour just using bike paths.
- Stopped at Gisborne for lunch and with over a 100km to go we felt absolutely broken.
- From here on we did 5km turns on the front each, in an effort to get home faster. With the temperature feeling like an oven compared to our poor Tassie weather.
- Coming into Bendigo, we literally rode past my house and into town to finish at the pub.
- A few beers, chips and a final meal together with a few pals joining was a great way to finish off the trip. The local fellas at the bar were more than surprised where we’d come from, although we were probably looking rugged enough to back our tales.
The final stats
- 9-day trip
- 15,529m vert
- Many calories burnt/ many consumed
- 1790tss accumulated in 9 days
- CTL pre 108 post 124
- TBS -51.9
If you’d like to check out the route see my strava profile https://www.strava.com/athletes/2591154
No its time to rest, hit some more higher intensity training and get ready for a big summer of racing!