Most years, Dave “Surly” Killick comes over from Tassie to ride the Spring into Seymour ride with a bunch of us, it was on this ride that he mentioned he would be running the Ash Dash 200 out of Hobart this year and that we should think about heading over for it. I had almost forgotten about it till my birthday when in my card my wife had written the words “enjoy your trip to Tassie”.
December finally arrived and after packing my bike in a box for the first time, I was apprehensive about how it would arrive in Hobart, an hour later, plane lands, bike fine…Sweet.
Arriving the morning before the ride gave Pete, Ken, John and I plenty of time to get our bearings and even call into a bike shop to pick up some tubes and various bits and pieces which were left on the lounge room floor instead of going into Pete’s bike box.
As promised by the weather bureau, the rain arrived on Saturday evening but also as promised cleared by start time on Sunday morning and stayed fine thru out the rest of our stay.
About twenty riders had shown up for the ride and David was there early handing out brevet cards and Q sheets to the registered.
Hobart is perfect for Audax rides, the ride started in town and you were almost immediately climbing through beautiful wooded hills with low traffic, a pattern that would follow for most of the day with several thousand metres of climbing.
The first of the 6 main climbs starts as you pass the Cascade brewery and ended near Fern Tree after about 15km, the rewarded was a lovely 5km descent before the second climb for the day which was about 5km and worked it’s way to around Longley, by this point I had worked out that I was well off the pace of the fastest guys so settled in to what I thought I could maintain for the rest of the day.
After the fast descent of the second climb comes a long flattish section where I was lucky enough to be able to ride with Gavin and got a guided tour all the way to Port Huon, passing through Huonville and Franklin. This was a beautiful piece of road as much of it was within metres of the Huon River, a stunning setting with the glassy water on one side and hills and orchards on the other.
A short sharp climb stung the legs and delivered us into Port Huon where we caught up with a few of the bunch for the first checkpoint and a bight to eat at the general store.
On leaving Port Huon I was invited to ride with a small bunch but had to decline as the pace along this flat section was a little hot for me and would have only had me sitting on the back of the bunch as a passenger so I declined the offer and spent most of the rest of the ride solo.
The road doubles back on itself through Franklin which is where I saw Ken and John on their way in to Port Huon. Once you get to Huonville a right turn onto the Channel Highway has you again riding along the river only on the other side but still just as pretty. I missed the “LHT” at 90.1km and had ridden about a kilometre before I had realised my mistake and turned around. Once back on track the road heads straight up for 4.5km to the control at Silver Hill. I found this third climb the toughest climb for the whole ride peaking at a maximum of stupid % near the top. I was able to catch up with the bunch that passed me just near the top where Dave was taking some happy snaps of the suffering. The lovely Heather was a very welcomed sight handing out food and signing cards at the control.
As the climbs were coming in groups of two it seemed only metres after getting to the bottom of Silver Hill that the road headed upward again toward Woodbridge Hill but at a much more friendly grade. Again, we were rewarded with a control at the top and more beautiful countryside.
From Woodbridge Hill the road winds down to Woodbridge on the shoreline of Great Bay where the road undulates along the coast with Bruny Island just off shore. This was another very nice piece of road but probably the only bit that I felt a long way from home as a steady headwind and a lumpy road made it hard to keep my rhythm , I decided to pull up and knock down some of that slimy misery known as a sports gel and seemed to get myself going well again.
At 155km you pass through Cygnet for the second time. I took advantage of the shops and bought a drink, topped up my water bottles and had a bite to eat.
Around 12km out of Cygnet the turn right on to Palverata road and the climb which I was most apprehensive about, the road up to Kaoota had an unsealed section which was to have a fairly steady gradient so I approached making sure I had some pennies in reserve. This climb ended up being my favourite as it passed through a very secluded but lovely landscape. The road was very well maintained and the concerns I had for the unsealed surface were unwarranted and only added to the adventure of the ride.
Again I caught up with some of the lads as we approached the top of the climb and pulled in for the penultimate control of the ride.
Once more fed and watered I headed out for the fast descent to Sandfly before crossing the Houn Highway.
At 190km I again missed a turn, the right turn to Longley but worked it out almost as soon as I passed it and spun around to start the final climb of the day, about 7km up the Huon road and toward Fern Tree. This would not be a hard climb on it’s own but the kilometres in my legs were starting to tell and the crest was a very nice place to be. The final 13km could have almost been ridden without pedalling as the road descends into the heart of Hobart and the final control.
Dave was there to greet us for the finish of a brilliant ride. He had organised a top route with support that always seemed to be just when you needed it.
One great aspect of the finish was that it was only metres from the pubs on Salamanca Place so the riders were assembling for a post ride drink, a beer that had all the characteristics of one that you crave at the end of a 210km ride, very cold and beery.
I love a ride where folk hang around a bit after the finish and greet those not far behind.
The next few days were spent doing a bit of sight seeing around Hobart and some of it’s surrounds. Art Galleries-where apparently socks are not acceptable foot wear, pubs, the waterside and some great places to eat made this more than just another brevet. A very long weekend away with some mates in a beautiful spot made this a ripper holiday. I can recommend you put a pencil mark next to this one in your Audax calendar next time it comes around and make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to check out Hobart while you are there(if not Tassie), it's a great place to see on a bike.
I reckon I need to mention the crew on this ride, the local lads made us very welcome as part of the Dash when the heard we had come over from Victoria.
Thanks especially to Dave for all his efforts in organising this fantastic event and dragging us around Hobart and to the girl for the ticket.