Monday, 29 December 2014


Having recently moved down Lauderdale way, I've naturally been out and about exploring my local roads and trails ... just to see what I would see.

I've also been trying to commute to work on the bike as much as possible, and as I was riding home the other day along Buckingham Drive, I saw a couple of guys heading off up a dead end road (Skillion Road) and, intrigued as to why, I took off after them (on my electric bike) and asked.

The answer was that there were trails in them there (Rokeby) Hills, lots of trails apparently, and they were good all-weather trails at that.

Intrigued by this, and not having headed up into the Rokeby Hills for many years, I pulled up the area on strava heat map and saw something that really surprised me ...

Do you see it?

It's not that, yes, there are obviously some trails being ridden up in the Rokeby Hills ... it's that there are no strava rides - none, nil, zip - in Rokeby, and I thought that strange because there are obviously a lot of bike paths and trails through Rokeby ... says it is so ...

So with this little mystery before me, I ventured into Rokeby ... just to see what I would see.

...  and initially it looked quite promising.

But then I took a 'wrong' turn and found myself riding through an underpass filled with filthy, stinking water at one end.  I emerged (with, I hate to admit it, wet stinking shoes) to find myself riding across a path littered with broken glass and surrounded by domestic trash just thrown everywhere.

I was going to stop and takes some photos but became conscious of the fact that there were quite a few people watching me and I felt like a bit of a twat stopping to take photos of the rubbish littered behind their back yards.

In fact, as I continued on, I got increasingly keen to get out of where I was,  so I cut up a laneway to the road only to send all of the local dogs crazy - one at least which almost managed to jump the fence and have a go at me.

I was in fact glad to get up into Rokeby Hills and away from Rokeby itself.

So whilst I didn't enter Rokeby with any preconceptions or prejudices, I've left it with quite a few, and although I won't say I'll never go back there (heck, I've already been back once), I will say that I won't be lighting it up as a strava route anytime soon.

Which is a shame - because if you took away the litter and the glass, it would be a nice area to ride.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Magnet Mine Township

If you don't know Oliver, then you should change that.

He has a map of Tasmania with little yellow flags on it for everywhere he wants to ride ...

I like that map - it has the right attitude.

He also does cool things like publish Velocipedes Monthly, painting Giant Blue Monsters on cycling overpasses ...

And he even sends me posts of rides he's done.

Just last week he made my day by providing reviews for all the routes he's ridden over on, and if that's not enough for you to want to go right on over and stalk him on facebook ... he even has this superpower whereby he can repair his own bike without having to take it into a bike shop (true story - I saw him use this very superpower today).

The only problem with Oliver is that, unlike me, he can actually ride his bike ... like properly - he can ride through mud, up hills and he can even jump over branches and other technical stuff.

This is actually Oliver's brother, Uriel ...
Oliver was probably already off around that corner in front ..
or the one after that.
So when it turned out that both Oliver and I were going to the West Coast to chase down some trails over the new year break, and that we had some overlap in those trails, it sort of made sense to join up somewhere along the way, and fortunately, this thought actually occurred to Oliver and he then did something about it (this is not something we introverts would do).

And that's why we found ourselves parked outside the Waratah Waste Transfer station late this morning excited about going for a ride through a tip ...

Well I was excited, Oliver may have looked a tad dubious.

Sorry, back to the story: Waratah has a gorgeous, but completely unknown, mountain biking loop sitting right on its own doorstep, and having this great asset, decided it's best use was to use the trail head as a waste centre (which has been on fire every time I've gone there).

But, if you're silly enough to ride through the tip and onto the somewhat scratchy trail that heads out the back, and if you don't get put off by a few deep looking puddles, you will get onto this ...

Magnet Mine Rail Trail
Magnet Mine Rail Trail

It's the old Magnet Mine Railway, and before you get too excited, for a lot of the year this trail is just a wet, unpleasant mess to ride (trust me, I've tried, and if you don't believe me, then take this clue from a strava ride of the route titled: "Fuck.  Hills. And Mud.  oh yea we went to waratah, population us" from some girls that rode it in December 2012).

We however pinged it with the track conditions today and although there was the occasional muddy spot, today's riding was sweet (particularly with Oliver out front picking the lines and acting as snake (x3) and cobweb clearer).

Magnet Mine Rail Trail

Cutting on the Magnet Mine Rail Trail

Oliver - he moves so fast he blurs.
but not as much as his little bro ...


From the tip, it's pretty much a long gradual downhill for around 10kms as you drop just over 200 metres over the length of the railway.

There is a creek crossing at just before the 8km mark ...

This is where the riding abilities between Oliver and I first became really apparent ... I got to the creek, looked at it and just jumped off my bike and walked across knowing that that was the only way for me to get across.

Unfortunately for poor Oliver, he then came down the track a few minutes later (he'd actually been waiting for me and not noticed when I passed) and I jokingly indicated where he should ride across knowing full well that any sane cyclist would just look at the water and jump off and push their bike, but not Oliver he actually trusted me and proceeded to charge off into the water.

Somewhat in shock I managed to flag him down before he found himself swimming down the  river, but I did leave him in a rather precarious position ...

After about the 10km mark we started seeing signs of the old Magnet Township, and the effects of the mine that had been there ...

At about this point, the track takes a sharp turn to the left and starts heading up another valley  (the old route shown on the 1:25000 maps to Waratah no longer exists on the ground).

The next few kilometres was my type of riding - the track was muddy and wet (OK, it was basically a river) and there were lots of cool old relics around to go and check out ... which meant things were pretty much at my pace - although Oliver found plenty of steep things to ride up and down.

Showing my greater navigational experience, I twice suggested routes we should follow.

Both times we ended up in scratchy dead ends which I then allowed Oliver to navigate us back out of.

Eventually though the fun had to end, and at about the 13.5km mark we started 'the climb' back out to the highway.  You regain most of those 200 metres you dropped coming down in the next 2.5kms (more if you're Oliver who decided to go and check out some side trail which also went up, up and up) and we managed to score three punctures in this short distance.

I somehow managed to get a front tyre puncture while I was pushing my bike up the hill (yes, it was so steep that even the air fell out of the front tyre).  I have no idea how this happened, and as the tyre re-sealed it wouldn't have been a problem - if my pump had worked (I am pump jinxed, I really am) but for some reason the air was coming out of the top of the pump and what should have been a 1 minute fix stretched out into 5 minutes as I had to do around a thousand pumps to get enough air in the tyre to continue.

I caught back up to Oliver and Uriel who were patiently waiting for me further up the road (somehow these two were cycling up this impossibly steep hill, and they were chatting to each other whilst doing so (which is my way of saying the hill isn't really as impossibly steep as I'm saying it is))

Anyway they took off again, but this time when I caught back up to them, Oliver's bike was upside down with a very nasty sidewall puncture.

I proceeded to provide lots of useful advice on how to fix his tyre - not one of which worked, but all of which managed to chew up an extra 5 or 10 minutes, allowing me to recover a bit before the final push (which I actually rode) to the top of the hill which opens up into a big open quarry.

This is where Oliver's tyre gave out a second time (yes, it was one of my great ideas which didn't work) and Oliver went to the option he was going to try in the first place - putting a tube in the tyre.

That worked.

From the Quarry it was about another 2.5kms of undulating road out to the highway.

At the highway, Oliver and Uriel chose to go for a quick scoot up to the lookout across the road (it's about a 300 metre ride in with a bit of a climb and worth the detour) whilst I decided to get a head start on the final 10kms back to the cars along the bitumen road (I had already been up to the lookout earlier in the morning).

Somewhat miraculously, despite stopping to check out an echidna, I managed to get back to the cars a few minutes ahead of Oliver so I did what any self respecting rambler would do ... I got changed as quickly as I could, threw the bike upside down and pulled out a cold soft drink ... so that when Oliver pulled in 2 minutes after me I could casually say "Oh yea, I've been here for ages".

And because Oliver's such a nice guy, he didn't say a single thing.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Dunkleys Tramway

Dunkleys Tramway intrigued me from the moment I first heard about it ...

Red Line is approx route of Dunkley's Tramway (9km), Blue line is the proposed circuit.
Yellow highlight is the short section I rode.
From what I could determine from TheList and the 1:25000 map series, Dunkleys Tramway (shown in red above) is about 9kms long and heads off from the Heemskirk Road (the trail head is 3.2kms north of the Trial Harbour turnoff north of Zeehan). It appears to link in with some old logging / mining roads at the northern end which would allow you to loop back to the highway and then ultimately back to Zeehan along the old Emu Bay Railway... a ride of around 40kms.

As a keen bikepaker, it wasn't hard for me to understand how this route got into the "potential list" for the West Coast Mountain Bike Project and I wanted (needed?) to ride it ...

So, despite the hiccups of earlier today (see previous posts) I found myself unloading my bike at the very unpromising trail head around 2pm to see how far I'd get.

The first few hundred metres of this track could really put you off going any further as it is scratchy, hard to ride and fairly uninspiring, but then you go through a little clearing and dive into some forest and the whole world changes ...

The next 1.5kms of trail is just gorgeous, and pretty much ridable as it is now (though that's under my definition of ridable - not most people's).

Unfortunately that's where the good news ends.

Just north of where an overgrown spur comes into the track from Parting Creek Lake, the trail emerges into an overgrown bog and after pushing and carrying my bike through this for a few hundred metres, I decided I really didn't have the heart to tackle seven more kilometres of these conditions this late in the day, and so I turned around and tried to make my way to Parting Creek Lake ... but was defeated here by thick scrub.

And that was my trip to Dunkley's Tramway, and my riding for the day - I finished with a total of 4kms of riding for aorund 500kms of driving (I continued on up to Waratah for the night).

I'd got stopped by rain, soft sand, bogs and thick scrub, but I'd still had a good day.

I did drive into the northern end on my way north later in the day, and was rather perturbed by the steep climbs and descents before the track became impassable to my little car.

However what this short ride has got me thinking about is a greater Zeehan loop, that maybe looks something like this (in red)...

Building off an existing little loop out to Parting Creek Dam, a bit of trail construction (from the dam to the highway) and a bit of clearing of the currently overgrown section would create a great little loop for beginner riders out from Zeehan.

This could also serve as an alternative exit/entrance to the Heemskirk Range trail, and who knows if Dunkley's could be cleared it would also make a nice start to a longer route out that way as well.

Hmmm ... I wonder if I could convince my boss that I need to relocate to Zeehan for a few months to do a little bit of volunteer trail building ... I mean work.