Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gravel grinders of the Weld

This blog is still active, despite appearances to the contrary. 2010 hasn't been one of my better cycling years because of personal reasons and also because I spent November more of less off the bike in China - more of that in a future post.

The approach of the festive season means the weather in Tasmania should in theory at least be more conducive to outdoor activities. For the six or so months of the year from December it's a mad scramble to get as much bushwalking and kayaking and cycling in as possible. Finally having some time off meant I could open my season with a bikepacking trip down into the forests of the south-west.

Benny had planned another Bottles and Chains overnight pub trip this week but the dozen or so people who said they'd be there dwindled to one: me. We decided some gravel road bikepacking would be in order and met in Huonville at 11am Monday to pick a route. We had a rough idea we'd head out along the quiet  forestry roads into the Weld river valley and after some discussion and some advice from the nice folk at the Huon Environment Centre we set off along the North Huon Road in the rain and the mud.

About 15km into the ride comes the ascent of the Denison Range, which is long and steep and unpleasant in the cold rain we were intermittently being pelted with. We decided to make the top then decide whether to push on, which we did after some discussion of pulling the pin if things didn't stay tolerably fine. We ran into a neighbour of mine, reknowned for his local knowledge, who told us there was a serviceable shelter at our destination at Glovers Bluff and we pushed on up the soft and freshly graded dirt climb towards the Ta Ann veneer mill.

Turning off, we rode through some recently clearfelled coupes where Ben stopped to take some photos before snapping the chain his singlespeed. That was quickly fixed with the aid of a spare link and we stopped a short distance down the road for a break at the Weld River Bridge before walking parts of the big climb on the other side. Glovers Bluff was only a couple of kilometres easy travelling from the top.

What a sensational spot it was. We explored the top of the Bluff, taking in the sweeping views over the Weld Valley and the nearby logging coupes before descending a short distance to the shelter, which to our surprise was of recent construction and quite substantial enough to make for a comfortable sleeping spot. Our evening's survival assured, we wandered down to the nearby lookout for more photos and beers.

Back at the shelter we polished off the last of the beers, ate and sat by the fire telling yarns and talking bikes as we awaited the arrival of the third member of the party, Liam, who was intending to arrive later. We'd not long given up and gone to bed when he arrived around 10pm, with more beers to his eternal credit. Liam revealed he hadn't quite ridden the whole way: in fact his car was parked a couple of hundred metres up the track.

The car was to come in pretty handing in the morning when more icy rain fell and we decided the prospect of a 60km return ride in the rain was slightly less appealing than a trip in the car, even if our journey was mostly downhill. Bikes disassembled we bade Glovers Bluff adeiu for the time being: I have no doubt we'll visit this lovely spot again.

4916km so far this year.


lancefieldlairs said...

Great post and photos mate, what an awesome ride, love to give it a go.

Unknown said...

Nice one Dave. Have a great Xmas. I have been off the bike since November 7 courtesy of a broken coccyx and won't return until early January. I feel increasingly unfit and blubbery.

David Killick said...

Awesome ride will still be there when you eventually find your way down here Steve.

Ben, hope the coccyx comes good soon. I felt the same after having November off the bike in China. Starting to come right now though.

Merry Xmas to you both.