Sunday, 29 June 2014

Tangara Trail (Switchback re-alignment - Gellibrand Drive)

I put a post up on back in May about a re-route of a steep section of the Tangara Trail off Gellibrand Drive.

I never saw any follow up on this on the Tanagra Trails facebook page, so on my way back from Arm's End (and being conscious that I was cutting things fine in getting back to meet Kim at 3pm), I headed back to Lauderdale via Gellibrand Drive, jumped out of my car at the top of the trail head and ran down and back up the new track section (with GPS in one hand and camera in the other) to see where things were at, and this is the result ...

Does that make things clearer?

Yea, hand held GPS tracks are not always the most useful thing in the world.

But ... sixty minutes and a bit of post processing later ... this may be a bit more useful.  I'm talking about the bit of trail highlighted in yellow below ...

See the yellow highlighted bit ...
And after cleaning up that GPS file, we're talking about new switchbacks which look something like this  ...

On the ground, you'll just find yourself on these, and although they were a bit muddy when I ran them, they are a definite improvement over the old plunge which used to go down here.

Here's some quick pics ...

And here's what it used to look like (minus the trees which were obviously put there for rehabilitation purposes) ...

Quite an improvement don't you agree?

The new trail section is now integrated into the Tangara Trail notes, gpx and kml over on

Arm's End Loop (South Arm)

Despite being only 7 kilometres as the crow flows from where I live, I've only ever got down to Arm's End three times in my life (once on foot, once on kayak and now on a bike).

This is kind of a shame as it's rather a nice loop ...

Now I'm not really sure of the status of Arm's End in terms of cycling.   There was talk a while back of the whole area becoming a golf course, and if you try and find it on Greater Hobart Trails, you'll be pointed towards the South Arm Peninsula Trail instead (which while nice, is basically just a track alongside the road between South Arm and Opossum Bay).

There is a "no vehicles" sign up at the gate (but my understanding of the law is that a bicycle isn't a vehicle under the relevant act), and according to the Friends of the Arm group, one of the appeal decisions was to maintain access by foot and bicycle ... so maybe if I don't ask too many questions it's OK to ride there?

What I do know is that there is Serrated Tussock on Arm's End which is a weed of national significance (who even knew such a thing existed?) so if you do go cycling down here ... make sure you clean your shoes, socks, tyres etc. extra carefully afterwards.

With all that said, I had to head down to Lauderdale to meet Kim at 3pm today, so thought I'd head down here beforehand and finally check this trail off my to do list ... despite the wind and the rain that had been pounding the house all day.

And, I'm glad I did ...

It's a short 6km loop, best done in a clockwise direction in my opinion, so turn left as soon as you head through the gate and if unsure where the trail is look up into the distance and you'll see it heading up the hill and can track onto it from there.  It's mainly a mowed 4WD track the whole way around, with the option of dropping the bike and wandering down to a few lovely beaches on the way.

Basically I liked this loop, and it's somewhere I would think of taking the monsters for a days ride around Hobart, but given it's a 50km drive each way to get there ... it may be a while before I get down here again.

And that was Arm's End for me.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Meehan Ranges, Flagstaff Hill and other unexpected trails ...

In terms of "first world problems", I think one of the big ones is the discovery of unexpected trails ...

Meehan Ranges : New Trails shown in yellow, singletrack in red, fire trails in orange
You know what I'm talking about right?  you head out for a ride, you've got this perfect (if somewhat ill defined) route in your head and everything's humming along nicely ... and then ... there it is.

An unexpected trail meandering off into the distance ...

Another trail to be explored and suddenly you're left with an anguish filled dilemma ... do you stick to the plan or do you check out this new trail?

I can picture each and every one of you leaping out of your chairs and screaming at your screen ... "yes, yes, yes ... finally we have someone that is prepared to talk about the big issues that impact on us all... the unexpected trail."

Now I did figure out a sort of solution to this problem several years ago (and it wasn't a support group where we all sat around saying "Hi, my name is John ... I've not ridden past an unexpected trail in 35 days".)

No, my solution was called the Friday Frolic and in simple terms it entailed heading off for a ride after work on Friday and every time I came to a track I hadn't ridden before ... I had to go down it.

It was a great way of getting to know the trail network around Hobart ... and for ending up in scratchy, dead ends, usually with a big push back uphill to the junction.

Ah, where was I?  yes, that's right - the injustices of the trail gods in providing too many trail options ...

This is a a trail God called Ian who helped build the new
trails out on Golden Hill.
If my rides were still uploaded to strava (which they're not thanks to the evils of strava heat map) those that follow me would be forgiven for thinking that I'm becoming rather obsessed with exploring the network of trails on the Eastern Shore.

I was there last weekend, I was there at 5.55am on Tuesday morning (I say 5.55am because it sounds so much more hardcore than 6.05am which was, in truth, when I actually got there) and I was there again today ... just riding up, down and around every trail I sort of knew about or had glimpsed on trying to figure out if there was a sensible way of turning the Clarence Foreshore Trail into a Clarence Loop.

And to do this I've been scouting out trails around Mornington Hill, Natone Hill, Gordons Hill, Pilchers Hill and all the roads in between.

Today I wanted to see if my grand loop might not be better routed if I headed from Mornington Hill into the Meehan ranges and then over flagstaff hill into Pilchers Reserve (rather than the easier route around Gordons and Natone Hill).

I also wanted to check out some of the new trails that are being built for the Meehan Monster and a few other trails around Pilchers and Gordons Hill where ... you guessed it ...  I had come across trails earlier in the week which I had to go back and explore.

Let me start by saying that, ignoring the steep ascents (I did it twice from two different directions, because again ... there were all those junctions and trails I had to check out) it was a brilliant route with lots of gorgeous track and wonderful views.

Quick photo montage of the day ...

As I say this dilemma of having to explore unexpected trails is a real and genuine first world problem.

Things I discovered today ...

1. The new trails up in the Meehan Range are awesome, especially the new Golden Hill trail, and loving the new switchbacks up out of Belbins.

2.  I'm still a sh*t rider ... for example I found a new section of track over the back of the range which has a few log obstacles on them ... There are some photos of them below, not because I wanted you to necessarily see them, but because it gave me an excuse not to have to try and ride over them ...

I did however ride up a set of five steps down near the TAFE later on after being inspired by a video I saw of a certain Mr Brookfield doing some real stair climbing on his bike.  On the scale of technical achievement my step climb was probably a 2 out of 5, but I was still pretty happy about it and gave myself two bonus points for giving it a try making it a 4 out of 5.

3.  Flagstaff Hill (which I noticed is incorrectly called Rocky Tom on some of the older 1:25000 maps) is an awesome link over to Caves Hill and Rocky Tom and then down into Pilchers Reserve.  I will caveat that by saying that by "awesome", I mean it's a lung busting effort (or in my case push) up from the main Meehan Fire Trail to the top of Flagstaff Hill and then a short, but gorgeous ride along the top before a 90% fun, 10% terrifying descent back down to the Caves Hill junction.  The 10% terror was when I hit a bit of slick rock which was more like ice than trail and went on a rather scary slip and slide that could have ended very badly if luck hadn't been on my side.

innocent bit of sliprock that sent me ... well slipping.
4. The new fence which I'd heard had been put up along the bike trail many of us use alonf the Tasman Highway next to the new retirement village is really the equivalent of a fishing net for cyclists ... it's very hard to see ...

You may need to click on and zoom into the image to see where
the new fence is, but it's where that yellow box is on the left of photo.
Gill net for cyclists.
but fortunately it's not a show stopper (well unless you don't see it until it's too late) as you can just ride along beside it ...

So now that I've got to the end of this post, I'm feeling it's a little harder to justify my initial diatribe about the first world injustices of all these new trails, but as I am a firm believer in justifying my opinions over admitting that I might be wrong, I shall just point out that it's now past 8am on sunday morning and I started writing this post around  5am ... so a good two hours of that time was spent uploading GPX tracks and creating the maps for all these new trails (Imagine if I actually spent time reading and editing these posts as well ... I'd never get them out).

Now I have to try and update the Meehan Ranges (Belbins Road) trail notes over on before lunch so I can get out for another ride ...

Do you now see the first world heartache that all these new trails cause me?

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Charles Darwin Trail

I like heading off and doing remote and challenging rides ... like my recent sojourn to Lake Spicer.

I like that when things go wrong, like heading out for a ride early yesterday morning only to find that I had brought two mismatching shoes and one of them doesn't have a cleat attached ...

... that I still find myself sitting on top of Pelverata Falls that afternoon watching the solstice sun head towards the horizon before racing darkness back to my car ..

View from the top of Pelverata Falls.
But the rides I love the most by a long, long way are the ones that surprise on the upside and that just give me so much pleasure.

Like today's ride around the Charles Darwin Trail which actually started out as a planned ride combining the Clarence Foreshore Trail with the Meehan Ranges and Pilchers Hill, but somewhere along the way I just got distracted exploring little dead ends and whatever trail was in front of me and so ended up doing a smaller loop instead.

I started from near the bridge in Lindisfarne simply because it was somewhere to start, and I set off back towards the bridge and around to Bellerive.

It was brilliant to see all the families that were out on their bikes, or in one case I passed a family of five who were all out running together, and I think it was this as much as anything else that got me to settle into a more relaxed pace and really just got me enjoying all the little things around me and took away my intention of covering distance.

It's been a while since I cycled around this way, and I was very impressed by the new sections of track around Bellerive and connecting Bellerive Beach with Howrah Beach.

I got a little bit lost trying to find the way to Waverley Park near the Shoreline Shopping Centre... well more truthfully I took pretty much every wrong turn imaginable (hint: turn left into what looks like someone's driveway just past the Petrusma Real Estate Office and once on the driveway you'll see a path that runs through to the next street) ...

Follow this path down towards the house and then you'll turn left
where the two trees are.
Once I found my way onto the Charles Darwin Trail (well, once I found my way onto it the second time .. I missed the main entrance the first time so had to backtrack here as well) it was a beautiful ride up over the hill and then down the other side.

The Charles Darwin trail must be one of the most under-utilised tracks in Hobart, but it's a great climbing grade and a wonderful descent (but this is a recreational ride with too many other users for pace).

Once over the other side of the park, I followed the track out onto the road and descended down towards Eastlands and then, on a whim, cut around Gordons Hill Road and onto the Gordons Hill track itself via Selby Place.

Now here I have to admit that although I've ridden around parts of Gordons Hill on several occasions, I've never actually ridden around the north eastern side of the hill and so that's where I headed today with various plans in my head of either trying to find a way to cut across through the streets to Sherwood Court where I could jump onto the Pilchers Hill trail network, or failing that, cut through Lindisfarne and onto the Natone Hills trails ... but instead, just as I got around to the NW corner ...  my chain snapped (again).

Which was a little bit annoying.

Fortunately, I figured it was all pretty much downhill back to my car if I pushed my bike around the hill towards Rose Bay High School and then headed straight down from there ... all downhill that is except for all of the uphill bits ...

It was at this point (where I took the photo above) that I remembered that I was actually carrying a spare chain in my backpack (I know, who does that) and so five minutes later, with a brand new chain on my bike, I was off again heading around the hill, just checking out any trail that took my fancy and which ultimately led me up to the top of Natone Hill and then back down the other side.

At this point (as I was now chasing my tail) I headed down into Lindisfarne and finally back to my car.

Yes, it may not be an epic day and probably more than half of the days riding was on sealed bike paths and roads, but I got happily lost, I backtracked, I discovered new trails, I got to see another side of cycling, I enjoyed the sun and I just enjoyed my time on the bike.

And that's one of the best kind of days there is to be had on a bike.