Saturday, 6 November 2010

Poets, Potters, Yellow Hippos & Frolickers

Start of trail, top of Poet's Road.
 'tis Friday, specifically it's Friday, 5pm ... it's time to frolic.

It's the second week of the Frolic, with my departure getting somewhat delayed by not actually having a bike.  Said bike, being in the bike shop getting new brakes.  Well, I thought it was getting new brakes, but when I got there it only ended up getting one new brake as they only had one set of avid eclipse disk pads, so they just put those on (and no if you're wondering, I'm not so mechanically challenged that I can't change over some disk brake pads.  The problem was the new brake pads were rubbing against the disk and had to be "bled".  Now I'm even less a surgeon, than I am a bike mechanic, and the only way I make things bleed is if I hurtle into them head first, and go "ouch, that hurt ... darn I'm bleeding", and to be honest I usually, no always, only do that by accident, not by intent).

So it was nearly 5.30pm by the time the bike and I in motion chugging up from my chosen starting point on Goulburn Street in South Hobart.  I deicided to start down low and pedal up so as to get a warm up before hit the real slopes.  I was soon cutting off at Faraday street, and *pushing* my bike up the steep pedestrian connector path to get onto Poet steet.  Yes today's route had been selected to start out honouring our artisan's of word and finish up honouring those of mud (potters).

Just before the top of Poet's road, I was paced by one of those tiny toyota echo cars ...  This was noteworthy because it had two racing kayaks on the roof racks and a mountain back thrown in the back.  I was very impressed by this mechano set configuration, and the last section of uphill was barely noticed as I pondered whether perhaps I could downsize to a more environmentally friendly car.

Trust me, steeper than it looks (or I'm lamer than I think)
My attention was well and truly snapped back into the moment as I left Poet's road and quickly found myself in granny gear trying to keep enough forward momentum to get up the track in front of me.  Gravity and inertia still seem to be my betters, so I found myself for the second time in under 20 minutes pushing my bike up a hill, not riding. 

Fortunately this section is very short (<50m) and I was back on the bike climbing up onto the knocklofty paths before I knew it.  This is a beautiful little section, though lots of mozzies seem to be coming out.  The key thing is that is was previously un-cycled, so I'm chalking that up to the frolic account for new paths discovered and covered.

From here it was onto the previously explored Summit Circuit (yes, including a bit more pushing) then around the side of the hill on the Mt Stuart Track.  Who knew this section was uphill?  I could have sworn it was dead flat when coming from the other way a few weeks ago.  After my usual near crash going through the rock garden I crossed the firetrail and was about to head downhill when I espied a few bike tracks leading off into the bush to the left ... thus was born (unknown to me at the time) frolic rule number one:

1. Though shalt not cycle past an unexplored path

This trail turned out to be a short section of twisty, rocky, turny, beyond my skilly most of the timey piece of single track called the "Yellow Hippo" that ran down parallel(ish) to the main trail I was originally planning on descending.  It was mostly fun, but was still a couple of grades above my skill level, which is currently ranked as "pretty pathetic, mainly relies on luck, has been known to do better blindfolded".  Anyway, the good news was its one of the few downhill sections I've ridden where my heart rate went up going down hill as my certainty of impending doom increased around each corner and over each rock sending me into adrenilin overdrive.

After diversion number two, I discovered a couple of "rides for another day" heading off to the left and right as I headed around past Noah's waterhole and up towards the New Town Track ... the goal of today's ride.  Half way up the push just past the waterhole, I paused for a breather and noticed a very obvious track heading off to the right and left.  With the idea of "no path left unridden" tickling my mind (admittedly combined with the fact that it wasn't as steep as my current route) I jumped back on the bike and headed off along this track.  This actually turned out to be a good choice (which is unusual for me) as it was a nice section around the hill, joining the New Town track a bit lower down than I had planned, but at a point from where I could cycle back up on a less cruel gradient, so from there I managed to claw my way to the top of the saddle and lurch down the other side.  I stopped two thirds the way down, heart in mouth and wondering how I was still alive after barely dodging several slippery sections and rock drops, and took a couple of pics of the sun setting behind Mt Wellington, as I allowed my pulse rate to drop a bit and my courage levels to rise.

Enjoyng sunset, not woried at all about rest of descent.
I finally reached the Main Fire Trail a bit after the sun had slipped behind Mt Wellington dropping the temperature several degrees as I started my plunge down the track alongside the firetrail, just because the route I'd found this on on said I should, plus as it was beside the fire trail, not the firetrail itself, this made it new trail which was definitely in the spirit of the frolic.

From here it was a fun descent down pottery road (that's what the sign said, though I think trail would be a better description).  The only prblem was after my sweaty ride up, and the sudden drop in temperature, I started to get a little cool.  I saw my first wallaby for the evening just before emerging out onto Pottery Road proper, and more strangely I passed and said hello to a guy walking up along the track in his good town clothes, reading a paper as he walked along, with a backpack on his back.  I was sorely tempted to turn around and find out his story, but felt it was kind of rude to ask someone "Are you strange?" by way of intro.

Yea right, I bet it's a four lane highway.
As I hit the bitumen road, I cut a sharp right, past a gate and then straight up towards the water station ... I was now back at the very bottom of the New Town Trail and I had to push the first section before the slope eased up to where I can ride it (noting to myself that I had seen five cyclists effortlessly take off cycling up here just a few weeks earlier) but from there I was off and pedaling. 

The next 30 minutes were a hoot as I was on virgin ground for me.  I took off down several previously unexplored trail, often having to pull my front wheel up, and leave trails for another day as the my GPS was telling me I had less than 30 minutes before full darkness and I'd realised that I'd left my rear light on the back of my lifejacket after Wednesday nights paddle.  On the way back I followed the little bit of trail I'd found earlier in the opposite direction and soon found myself criss crossing my own trail on unknown tracks, and having to make many choices between unknown destinations.  I emerged out onto the top of Noah's hill at one point and found myself cycling along with five bennetts wallabies which seemed to have no fear of me as I snapped off a couple of pictures.

Where's Wall(ab)y?
There were so many sections of single track I just had to leave for another day due to the iminent sunset meaning I had to turn and make a run for home. 

I retraced my tread around to Knocklofty, but having by this stage started to lock in a few concepts in my head about the frolic that I intended to pursue I found myself unable to just peacefully chug past a small section of very steep track I had previously not ridden, and which I knew headed to the top of Knocklofty.  Therefore despite the growing darkness, I turned the front wheel up hill, and with several "Froooolic's" shouted to an empty audience I began the push to the top.  It as only a few hundred metres, but it was all up. 

So many tracks, so little light left ...
The fruits of my labour was the switchbacking trail down the other side on the new section of the summit trail.  That's when I got very proud of myself.  At the bottom of the junction, and with only eight minutes to sunset showing on my GPS, I turned my wheel right and started what should have been a quick and easy descent back to my car the way I came up,  But then it happened: I found my speed slowing and my wheel turning 180 degrees and with a mischievious smile I again heard myself yawping out "FROLIC!!!" as I instead sped of in the exact opposite direction away from my car to see if a path I'd gone past a few weeks earlier might also drop me down near my car somewhere. 

It didn't:  it dropped me off at the Mt Stuart Lookout, but it was a fun ride, and it also meant that I got to fly down the bitumen road from there, cut off down Melifont Street (steepest street in Hobart), around Landsdowne Crescent and back to my car and I still made it back in reasonable time.

All up I'd been out for about 2.5 hours, and only clocked up 18.5kms (including a fastest speed of 58.2km/hr coming down Melifont Street), but most importantly I'd froliced and that was all I ask of myself.

There's Wall(ab)y!!!


On the fifth day , God didn't really say "and it was good", he actually said "and now they should frolic".  Like all those who frolic, he was simply misunderstood.

1. At any junction, a frolicer should always pursue the unknown path, and do so with a smileon his face.

2. All steep hills should be greeted with a YAWP like "FROOOLIC" and should be attacked with a frenzy.

3. The Hill will usually win, regardless See rule 2.

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