Misery on the Highway

(70 Kms)

Friday, 12 Jan, 2018

Launceston - Low Head

Georgia had been watching women's bike racing and noted that their hair was either short or plaited. Georgia opted for plaited so as to be ready for a full days riding. Her first attempt was too high, so some adjustments were required before we were ready to depart.

Georgia doing her racing plait

The morning was fine, but the forecast was ominous and we were keen to get as many kilometres under our belts before the rain set in. However, there were two stops required before we left Launceston. The first was to pick up some methylated spirits for our Trangia burners so we could make a cup of tea en route as we pleased. The second was to post our bike bags into Hobart where they could be held by the local post office ready for us to collect. Mission accomplished we wound our way out of Launceston along the highway with the Tamar River below on our right.

Vehicles were most courteous, leaving plenty of room as they passed us. Still, we were pleased to leave the highway and follow the rivers edge through the little town of Rosevears before returning to the highway for a few kilometres. There was no shoulder on this part of the highway and it was an unpleasant uphill ride, made moreso as we cycled past some flowers marking the spot of an accident.

Boats moored along the river at Rosevears

River at Rosevears

Fortunately we were soon back on back road to Gravelly Beach, and after a brief toilet stop at the park, we continued on, turning off to travel 2 kilometres to the little town of Swan Point and the highly recommended Riley's Cafe. The sky actually brightened a little as we reached the Point, but nonetheless we set ourselves up in a covered picnic shelter and crossed the road to order our coffees. It appears that table service includes the surrounding picnic tables and we were soon enjoying drinks with our premade chicken rolls.

Swan Point

Riley's Cafe at Swan Point

Waiting for our table service

All fed and ready to roll into the rain

It started to spit as we made our way back to the junction, but we managed another 10kilometres before the rain really set in. Fortunately it was short lived and it was fine as we crossed Batman bridge with its awesome views up and down river, but no time to enjoy them as stopping on the bridge was not permitted.

Coming off the bridge we lost the shoulder on the Batman highway, and B double log trucks roared past us, as the wind picked up and made even cycling downhill hard work. We took at detour onto Archers Road, enticed by the sign that stated no shortcut for logging and quarry trucks. Though gravel, it was well graded and reasonable riding until the rain set in again. Our new raincoats were getting a good workout, and were proving a good buy as they are small enough to fit our handle bar bags for easy access.

No big trucks on Archers Road

At least the countryside will benefit from the rain

We rejoined the highway as the rain intensified and we ground out the 15 kilometres to the turnoff to Georgetown. It was miserable riding as we lost the overtaking lane, and then lost the shoulder as well. The rain was heavy and it seemed a long way to Georgetown. Finally we reached the outskirts and Jonno and I headed straight to Woolworths, letting Simon and Georgie know where to find us. We squelched our way around the supermarket. As our shoes and cycling knicks were soaked, I was sure that we must be leaving a damp trail behind us, but the floor remained dry.

We stocked up on provisions for a beef Rogan Josh and picked up a nice local Ninth Island pinot noir to accompany our dinner. It was only another 3 kilometres out to the Low Head Tourist Park, and we were so glad that we had upgraded from an unpowered tent site to a cottage. It was a wonderful feeling to strip out of wet clothes and enjoy a hot shower as the wind picked up again, howling around the cabin. We had planned to do a tour to see the little penguins at dusk, but abandoned this idea in favour of a night in our cosy cabin, including some well-earned pre dinner cheese and biscuits. Even better, Jonno and Georgia are cooking dinner whilst we enjoy some background music on the very useful bike speaker. Our misery on the highway a distant memory.

All wet gear dumped in the kitchen

Bikes out of the elements on the veranda, no shower caps required tonight

Improvised hanger for drying bike gloves

White caps on the river, glad we are not in tents