The owner of the hotel, Marty, kindly ran us up to the pass to avoid the initial climb out of Weldborough. It had been windy at the hotel, but up at the pass it was blowing an absolute gale. Luckily it was coming from behind for the first ten kms up to the Blue Tier itself. It was a fantastic ride up a dirt road, currently closed to cars due to the heavy rain. The road was shrouded by ferns, with snatches of stunning view out over the ranges towards St Helens.
We rode through Lottah, an old tin mining town, and on to Poimena, another old tin town that is now the start point for walks and rides in the Blue Tier State Forest. There used to be a town of a few hundred people here back in the tin mining hey day, but now all that’s left is a clearing and an information board showing the old street plan. I’m always astounded by how quickly and comprehensively nature can reclaim abandoned towns. It was blowing a gale up here too so we didn’t hang around too long.
The ride back down, The Blue Tier Descent, was sodden! For those who’ve walked in Tassie, think of those muddy bogholes that you find on walking tracks. Now imagine carrying or pushing a bike through them! It wasn’t long until our feet were soaked (cycling shoes have holes in the bottom where the cleats attach meaning wet socks as soon as water touches the sole). We felt guilty for being here, even though it’s a designated mountain bike trail, as we could see what damage we were doing to the environment. Our consolation was that there probably aren’t enough riders to be a problem – you couldn’t have a trail like this in Victoria as the crowds of visitors would destroy it.
In case you haven’t guessed already, Tassie, like the rest of Australia, has had a stack of rain recently. So as well as the mudholes, the tracks have suffered enormously from erosion. This made parts of the downhill totally unrideable since the track had practically become a creek! It was extremely tough going and many sections were unrideable (not to mention the sections that were unrideable for me because I’m only your casual mountain biker)! All this mud and erosion, not to mention creek crossings and trees across the track, made for extremely slow going and our expected 3 hour ride to be back in time for lunch turned into a 6 hour back in time for dinner outing. Boy were we glad when we finally popped out of the forest and into the pastures of Weldborough, muddy and hungry!
We spent the rest of the day in front of the fire in the hotel talking with a couple of Swiss mountain bikers that we’d met riding up the impossible downhill, and waiting until 6pm when we could order dinner! By 7.30 we were well and truly tuckered out. Not even the lure of talking to two cycle tourers who’d just slogged up the hill from Bridport could keep us up. By 8pm we were tucked up in the tent and asleep!
Notable food and wine moments: Few and far between today, although a piece of homemade brownie after the ride is definitely worth mentioning.