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Day one; Mountain River to Glenorchy

Vince's Saddle, do or die.

Day 1

On this 5 day e-bike tour, my first, it gradually became apparent that the bike would manage approximately 50 kms comfortably on the hilly Tasmanian terrain without recharge. However, when I started off from home I was worried that the long climb out of the Huon Valley over Vince’s Saddle at 495 meters would drain my battery completely, I had no way of knowing. That is why I stopped at “My Slice of Pie” a little cafe on the shortcut from where I live in Mountain River to ask them whether I could top up the battery before I climbed the saddle.
Unfortunately, this was the only venue on my trip where the owner said “That’s not what I’m here for...only in an emergency.” Even when I suggested that she might well get more customers like myself to recharge and spend a little cash. So that left me a coffee and cake lighter in the wallet and even more nervous than before, thinking that I may not get a good reception in other places and this whole venture was going to be a debacle.

‘I must save as much power as possible’ I was thinking as I began to climb, so switched to the TOUR power setting which meant putting in a lot more effort. [My little computer display has power assist settings of ECO, TOUR, SPORT and TURBO which is more descriptive and much cooler than numbers]. It turned out to be quite doable as the gradient on the highway is not very steep and I was at the turnoff onto the old Huon Road into Longley much sooner than anticipated, without taking a break. ‘Should I stop? Nah, I’ll have my break on the way down.’

This is a delightfully quiet and varied road snaking along the edge of the Wellington Range through bits of forest and with wonderful views over numerous lifestyle properties.
Even more delightful was that I knew there was a great pub at Longley where I could replenish my liquid reserves and hopefully electric ones as well. As it turned out the battery was not even half empty but would definitely need to be topped up to reach Hobart. When I asked for a recharge the barman was most enthusiastic, it turns out he was thinking about starting e-bike tours on Bruny Island himself. As you can imagine I was over the moon [well, over the Saddle anyway] about my prospects now. The battery and I had coped very well.

With more wonderful views, waterfalls and cool, shady forest, the road swings towards Fern Tree where there is another nice pub. [Charging fine as long as you buy some food or drink]. Past the turnoff to the Kunanyi [Mt Wellington] summit. [Cyclists ride up almost every day for a bit of training, and I know someone has done it on an e-bike, he just made it on a charge. Mind you from Fern Tree it is only another 850 meters to the top at 1270 meters so if you fancy a bit of a view...be my guest].

With an euphoric sense of relief on the descent into Hobart, it felt like flying at 53kms/hr, the fastest yet on my bike. It was just as well the brakes were hydraulic as the heavy bike has a lot of momentum. I slowed down a bit as I suddenly realised I was breaking the speed limit. Then plunging into the heavy traffic through the city centre, I tried my hardest to catch the sequencing of the green lights through town, but dammit the cars were snarling up and slowing me down. You do have to ride at 40km/hr at least so I guess I was a bit ambitious. I had some shopping to do so did not continue through to the Intercity Cycleway like any sensible cyclist would, to curve north along the river at the Cenotaph, but instead turned towards North Hobart to have a late lunch.

In cities there are too many venues to mention who would likely charge your battery; cafes, restaurants, pubs, bike shops and even libraries. [Try using one of their computers for a bit of blogging whilst your battery is charging nicely]. One could even ask at cinemas or museums where you could get some entertainment or education while your battery was sucking up electrons. Often a city or town would be a final destination where your accommodation would provide the power point at night.

The destination for my first night was to be the Hobart Showgrounds Campsite in Glenorchy which I reached via the Intercity Cycleway, not easy to get onto from North Hobart incidentally, there’s a maze of suburban streets to negotiate and only one entry point in this area, so if you miss that you will have to do a a long detour. I's not the most scenic cycleway in the world, with long sections of walls and fencing and endless warehouse with their ugly backs tuned towards you. I'm glad there is a bit of colourful graffiti to cheer you up. Not complaining mind! It's good to ride away from traffic and you get there fast. Poor Hobart, they're so proud of this, but when you compare it with Holland...

Although the Showground does not have powered sites you can easily charge up at the communal kitchen for free. It is by far the cheapest campsite around Hobart, right next to the cycleway and has excellent new shower blocks.
In the evening I cycled back to North Hobart to see a film at the excellent State Cinema. “Lion”, about a young Indian boy who gets lost and adopted by a Tassie couple. True story, at the end there are shots of the real grown up boy being re-united with his mother in India, which really tore me up. But then, I always cry at the cinema. Why do I always forget the tissues!

Posted by takinitezy 05:20

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