Saturday, 6 November 2010

Tasmanian Trail - The Wine Route

I started todays ride in Glenora, yea I know - Where?  It's a small town about half way between New Norfolk and Westerway, and don't say where again, just take my word for it that it exists, it has a school and a pool, and even if you were there you'd still say "Where?"
Parking next to the school, I had to backtrack slightly towards Hobart and then turn up Kenmore Road which you basically follow until you cross the train line, as per the trail guide, and then if you're anything like me you will spend quite a bit of time  trying to reassure yourself that you are actually on the trail before hopping the gate in front of you onto some farmers property.





It was a lovely push up through and along a farm track with great views in all directions, which again if you're like me you'll have plenty of time to enjoy as you try to figure out whether you should go through gates, or along fencelines or basically which darn way to go.  I can give you this advice: It doesn't matter: all roads lead to Rome, or in this case, to the trail.

After the small ascent, you jump a couple of gates, turn hard left and cycle along the fence towards a big pine tree, and then on around the ridge above Glenora.  This is some nice riding, and before I knew it I was hurtling back downhill again towards some farm houses.  Trail got a little bit confusing here as I felt like I was cycling through someone's backyard, and then just as I came up towards what looked like an old grinding mill, there was an unsigned junction (take the left fork) which eventually lead me back out towards the main road.
Just before you come back out onto the road, you instead take a right and follow the signs out towards Meadowbank.  This is another lovely section of gravel road meandering alongside the Derwent River and through farmland.  The road leaves the river after a couple of kilometers and you start up a little bit of a climb, before hurtling back down the other side of the hill.  This is where I made my first real mistake of the day.  As I was coming up to a farmhouse where I thought maybe I should pull out the map and see where I'm at, I instead decided to just go a little bit further, at which point I saw a Tasmanian Trail sign pointing straight ahead along the road.  Rather pleased with myself for not stopping, I continued on for another kilometer or so until I approached another junction to my left.


I saw the trail sign pointing up the sharpish hill to my left well before I got to the junction, and so turned and raced across a cattle grid as fast as I felt was safe in an effort to get a good run at the hill. However, 110kg guy on bike vs gravity and friction means I soon lost what little momentum I had as the climb became sharper and I quickly found myself settling into a climbing rhythm.

It was at this point that a farmer on a quad bike who had been coming at the junction from the other direction pulled up beside me with his three farm dogs,

"You heading along the Tasmanian Trail?"

"Yea."

"It doesn't go this way anymore."

Brakes slam on, and what little speed I have disappears.

"Say again?"

"You must have an old guide book, the trail now goes ... well, I'm sorry to say it, you should have turned off about a kilometre back ... it goes up there ..."

This last was said as he pointed to the top of the highest ridge in view.

"Up that ridgeline, where those tyre tracks go?"

"Yea."

"But, there's a sign right there pointing up this road?"

"Hmmm ... yea they should probably take that down, the road hasn't gone this way for years.  It's a shame because it's a great section, but the farmer who owns the property at the other end doesn't like people going through, so it now diverts up that way."

"Oh"

"Yea, I own this land and saw you heading up here and thought you might be going to visit the winery, which is closed by the way.  If you had the new guide it would tell you to turn off back at that house up the road."

"Oh ... but, I do have the new guide, and there's a sign at that house pointing up this road, are you sure it doesn't go this way?"

"Yea, there's a gate just up ahead which is locked which will stop you."

"I've already jumped three locked gates this morning.  The trail is a litany of locked gates.  I've followed the trail through shooting ranges and past trespassers prosecuted signs ... locked gates don't even raise a pause anymore."

"Oh."  This time it was his turn to take a pause.

"You sure this isn't the way?"




My denial, my wish that this was indeed the way, came from my attachment to the trail signs.  On a trail where so much time is spent searching for those little triangular becons of red and yellow which provide the comfort and assurance that you are indeed going the right way, it was very difficult to comprehend that they were leading me the wrong way and on the word of a local I was about to start pushing my bike up through a series of paddocks along a shortcut he assured me would "drop me out onto the trail, no problems, just go straight up that ridgeline, you can't miss it."

Yea right.  There were probably a hundred ways I could miss it, and I only needed one.  The chances of me ever seeing the trail again today had just disappeared in my mind, but the guy owned the land, and obviously knew what he was talking about, so I turned tail, said thanks and goodbye and set off back to the shortcut and from there up, up, up the ridgeline.

Yep, it was just another day on the Tasmanian Trail.  However, despite my misgivings, he was right, and although it was further than I expected,  I did eventually find myself rejoining the trail after a rather nice diversion up the rideline.

I, of course, lost it again soon after.  Well it's not that I lost it so much as I wasn't sure whether or not I was on it.  The trail carries on up past a cattle yard, and then unsigned, I followed a vehicle track up through some more paddocks and eventually over the top and down the other side.  At one point, just after passing through a fence I came to a Tasmanian Trail sign pointing to the right, but somewhat dubious, I continued straight ahead and was rewarded a few hundred meters further on with another trail sign.  Yes.

Following a very faint trail
After this the trail is a lot of fun, it cuts through a paddock, down through some bush, through a second bracken filled paddock, another steep descent through the bush and then a rolling descent, down, down, down.  It would have been perfect, except that after crossing a small creek I was greet with two tracks in front of me and no sign of which one to choose.  One option looked very attractive, the other went straight up.  I decided to go up, and after a pretty steep push, especially given I was pretty stuffed at this time having brought no food with me, I was delighted to be greeted at the top by another TT sign.




One last quick, steep, descent and I found myself at a gate with "Private Property - Trespassers Prosecuted" plastered all over it, and after walking through a flock of sheep, emerged back out onto the main road.


I had had ideas at this point of continuing on over Mt Bethune, but I was hours behind my original schedule and pretty low on energy, so instead headed straight back along the road to  Glenora and home.

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