Dramatis persona*

helenhead Helen Chick

I've always wanted a bumper sticker that said "I'm a female, LDS/Mormon, Scout leading, geocaching, piano-playing, bicycling, mathematics educator with a PhD in maths ... and I VOTE"!

I think this makes me a minority group of cardinality 1!

* Since there's only one of me and "personae" is plural (I think), I've gone with dramatis persona.
December 2018
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Easter bike hike

One of our older Scouts decided that, instead of doing the usual bush-walk for his Adventurer/green cord journey, he would do a three-day bike hike. It has been nearly 10 years since my last multi-day Scout bike trip, and the best part of a year since doing any cycling at all, so I had to brush off some cobwebs from the bike in preparation. I also had to think actively about logistics for my gear since I had determined — for reasons that can only be attributed to the foolishness of the over fifty — that I was going to be self-sufficient. I was literally and figuratively “tagging along for the ride” because one of the other leaders had taken responsibility for overseeing the Scout’s planning, and she, plus her husband and the Scout’s dad, comprised the other adults on the journey.

We started at Miena, near Great Lake on Tasmania’s Central Plateau, on a chilly but sunny Friday afternoon. The southbound Marlborough Highway, with its gravel surface belying its highway status, was level to begin with but before long we were engaging with our first uphill just after crossing the Ouse River.

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We shadowed the four Scouts (well, three Scouts and a non-Scout friend ring-in), who made good time, especially considering that one of them had not done anything more than casual cycling prior to this expedition, and that one of the others was towing a trailer full of their gear. The route followed some of the “main” roads (this is fairly isolated high country, and there was not a great deal of traffic to bother us), past Little Pine Lagoon (shown below) and then headed along a private road before coming out at Pine Tier Lagoon (shown in the second photo below).

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Our stop for the night was at Bronte Park, where it was nice to set up camp, have a meal and sit on something other than a bicycle seat (yes, my posterior was feeling less than superior). The next day was one of those sunny autumn days right out of the box. After stopping at the geographical centre of Tasmania we headed southeast past another lake to our lunch stop at Dee Lagoon.

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The youngest of the Scouts braved the water very briefly. He’d thought it was going to be warm, which was true for the top 10cm or so in the shallows, but not quite so accurate once things went deeper. I was content to take photos of my bike (tent, stove, food, clothes and fuel are in the panniers and dry bag; I carried my sleeping bag, mat, and rain-gear in a large day pack), and of the lake itself with its flooded trees.

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There was a “nice” little haul up from the dam at the end of Dee Lagoon, and then some fun downhills as the rough bush gave way to farming country. There were a couple of sections where the road was clear enough — and smooth enough despite the gravel surface — that this fifty-plus-year-old mad woman enjoyed hooning down at 45km/hr, using adrenaline to suppress all terrified thoughts of the consequences of hitting an unexpected pothole hiding in the dappled shadows.

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Our campsite for the night was not far from the road, in a peaceful hybrid zone of bush and farmland. The ruins of a large old convict-built dam were nearby, which the kids enjoyed exploring with me, while the other adults took the support vehicle and managed the car shuffle so that our vehicles would be awaiting us at the end of day 3.

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The final morning was a bit overcast and windy; fortunately most of the headwinds coincided with downhill stretches. It should be noted that the whole trip involved a net descent of about 900m over the 94km journey, which, given my lack of enthusiasm for uphills, made the trip generally very pleasant and easy despite a few challenging climbs that tested my granny gears and quadriceps.

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The adults visited Victoria Falls on our way up on to a bush track on Lanes Tier. The recent good weather meant that the flow was rather unspectacular. The other down side was returning to find that my rear tyre was flat, probably the legacy of an ancient inner tube giving up the ghost. Fortunately with extra gear and people around it wasn’t too much trouble to change it, and we were soon on our way again, although the kids were well ahead of us by this stage.

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The track on Lanes Tier was good fun to cycle, a bit more “bouncy” and technical than the roads we had been on, but wide enough and smooth enough that you could still get some good speed on the flatter and downhill sections. A steep and rutted descent back into the valley required a bit more care, but then it was back onto a gravel road and a couple more hills as we made our way into Ouse for lunch and celebratory icecreams.

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All in all, the Scouts seemed to have a good trip; I have proved that I can still travel self-sufficiently on a bike; and/but I will admit that my legs and posterior are going to enjoy a little break for a day or two.

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