The February Ride 2017 - around Tassie in seven days

Posts: 306
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:41 pm
Location: Bellerive, Tasmania

The February Ride 2017 - around Tassie in seven days

Postby BenevolantDictatorD » Sat Jul 09, 2016 8:49 pm

The annual February Bunch Ride fires up again for its 16th iteration and returns to the Round Tasmania format to keep the pattern of a “Ronde” each fourth year. 2017 sees us head up the East Coast first as we did back in 2009.

The format is the same as the previous fifteen February training/bunch rides. Each rider looks after themselves, organises their accommodation, food, itinerary, and when and if they are going to ride - the same as any bunch ride except over a number of days.

The total distance covered across the seven days will be somewhere between 900 and 1,100kms depending on which group you choose on any one day. The daily distances vary between 110kms and 160kms for the shorter version and between 115kms and 190kms for the longer version - so you will need a reasonable level of fitness to undertake the full ride. There are certainly plenty of hills to test your legs and I think there may be a couple of kms on flat roads every day or so.

There is no compulsion to ride the full distance every day, or ride every day, or even ride with anyone else on the day - its a bunch ride and up to you as the rider. The only thing that is essential is some communication to make sure you can be accounted for to prevent calls for emergency services!

For those without a support vehicle there will be a car and covered trailer to carry your gear, water, spares, food, or (hopefully) transport you and your bike if you break down, etc. The cost for the support vehicle will be $25 a day or $150 for the whole trip. The money covers petrol costs and driver expenses. Of course, if you organise your own support there is no additional cost for you.

As you will see in the itinerary there are four days with one course for all and three days where there is a bit extra for those looking for that. We’ll all start off together and sort out who is going where and when as we go. Within each group there will probably be self-selected sub-groups that look after each other. As with every other year I expect the groupings will change on a regular basis – it’s amazing how a solid head wind brings everyone together.

The itinerary

The basic set up as follows. 8:30 am is the usual kick-off time. The average speed on the road varies from 30kph down to around 22kph. I expect there to be somewhere around 20 riders on the road each day – but not the same riders and not all going the full distance. With that number of riders if you can maintain around the 25kph speed there will be someone to ride with.

The various start, interim, and stop points are loosely selected on the availability of cafes, or accommodation within a couple of hours of the previous stop. That doesn’t always work for us – but thems the breaks!.

Saturday 11 Feb sees us meet at the Hobart end of Station St in Moonah - next to the bike track. This is the ‘normal’ leave point and it gives us plenty of room for everyone to get organised with the support vehicle etc. We head out to Richmond over the Bowen Bridge. No stop at the Bakery. We conquer Black Charlies and Bust-Me-Gall and head to Orford for the first stop. For those who need it the shop at Buckland is always a good back-up. Off again and through to Swansea. No shops on the way so the bakery in Swansea it is. The nominal finish point will be the Bark Mill Pub and café after around 135kms and 1,500m of climbing for the day.
Something for you to think about at this point. If your legs are sore from the first day’s ride – you’re in trouble. Every year we get riders who are just keen to hit the road hard and ride at their normal bunch ride speed. My advice – don’t! Take it easy and finish fresh on day one and two and you will have something there for the hard days three and four. After that you should be in the groove and know how to pace yourself to the finish.
Swansea offers many accommodation and eatery choices from backpackers and caravan/tourist parks through to B&Bs and motels.
Its Regatta Day/Hobart Cup long weekend so hopefully we won’t get too much outbound traffic on the way.

Sunday 12 Feb – First day for a choice! Everyone will meet at the Bark Mill bakery at the northern end of town for a getaway at 8:30. Just a note – if you’re not there at 8:30 you will be chasing to catch up! The ‘short’ course will head north over Cherry Tree Hill to Bicheno for an optional coffee stop at the bakery near the bend. Off again and up Elephant Pass to the Pancake Parlour near the top of the climb. This is one of the great climbs in Tassie with a nice grade for the first half and a nasty sting after the Pancake stop. We continue through St Marys and down the glorious St Marys Pass descent and then through Scamander to St Helens. We’ll make the nominal finish point the bakery on the left as you head toward the centre of town.
Again – a huge variety of accommodation and eatery choices is available for everyone in and around town.
For those going for the longer option the decision point is the turnoff to Coles Bay about 32kms out. It’s a flat and boring road into Coles Bay and I have put the turnaround point right at the end at the National Park Visitor Centre. If it doesn’t have coffee we’ll wander back into the township. The bonus for the extra 60k of hard work is to get a close-up view of the Hazards – an icon of Tassie scenery. From there - follow the others.

Monday 13 Feb – We’ll meet at the bakery for the kick-off with everyone taking the same route. It’s a bit of hard work in the 10km run up to the top of Weld Hill but I think it is easier than the double hit of Mt Weld and Weldborough Pass coming from the other way. Then it’s a marvellous downhill for a long way to a coffee stop in Derby after 65kms. Last time down this descent we had a need for an ambulance – it would be nice if that didn’t happen again!
From there it’s an undulating ride through to Scottsdale for another coffee at 100kms done. And then it’s the simple task of the Sidling and the navigational process through to Kings Meadows for 160kms and 2,500m of climbing for the day. I’ve picked the Kings Meadows Pub as the finish point. There’s plenty of eateries nearby and a number of accommodation choices nearby.
For those on a limited leave program no doubt there is a bus heading back to Hobart that you can pick up from here.

Tuesday 14 Feb – This is the “Queen” stage. For those with sore legs from Monday this will be a tough one. The first part of the ride is on reasonably flat farm land as we take the old highway from Kings Meadows through to the first coffee stop in Mole Creek after 70kms. From there the climbing begins as we head around the back of Mount Roland – up and over Round Mountain and then down Cethana and up Cethana. Another coffee at Moina at 125kms and then more climbing to the plateau and undulations through to the ‘short’ course finish at the Discovery Holiday Park after 150kms and 2700m of climbing.
For the keen ones the ‘long’ course sees you continue to the Dove Lake car park and return. That extra 20kms and 500m of climbing gets you another one of the icons of Tassie scenery – Cradle Mountain from Dove Lake. The short course riders might choose to catch the bus to Dove Lake from the nearby Parks Centre - if that suits.

Wednesday 15 Feb – Today sees the groups split up a bit. First, it is a run down to Tullah for coffee at the Tullah Road House after 50kms. Here the groups split. The ‘short’ group continues on for another 7kms and turns left onto the Anthony Henty Road for a nice undulating ride under the shadow of Mount Murchison and past Lake Plimsoll to join the Queenstown road with just 14kms to the finish at Queenstown after 110kms and a ‘mere’ 1400m of climbing.
The ‘long’ group turns around after Tullah coffee and heads 4km back up the road to turn left onto the Pieman road, over the Reece Dam, and then the Heemskirk Road for 100kms of wilderness riding to get to Zeehan for refuelling. Another 40k and Queenstown is reached. A big day for the long group with 190kms and 2,700m of climbing in the legs. Not many people drive this route let alone ride it!
Accommodation in Queenie is problematic. I’m going to have a go at the pub. Earlier this year they had really good meals there.

Thursday 16 Feb – The groups stick to the same route today for the run to Bronte for 115kms and 1,700m of climbing. This has got to be one of the great rides of the world – no wonder Targa loves going on this bit of road. We get to ride the Queenie bends, Victoria Valley, and the Mt Arrowsmith climb. Magnificent!! We get to the plateau after about 70kms and then have 10kms to the Hungry Wombat café in Derwent Bridge with the finish in Bronte Park after another 35kms that will seem like a lot, lot more. A great day on the bike.
There are a number of accommodation options in Bronte. The Village is under new management and got good reviews from the riders on the recent Strahan to Hobart ride.

Friday 17 Feb – Okay – the legs are a bit tired by now and its only 140kms to go on the last day. The most important things to think about by now relate to where the coffee stops are. My current favourite is the Wild Fennel Café in Hamilton for good coffee and home-made treats.
The good news is that most of the last day’s ride is downhill. We won’t mention Tungatinah/Tarraleah or Wayatinah or Hamilton or Rosegarland but we will think about getting to Sorell Creek and turning right to punch out one last hill and a mere 400m gain as we trundle over to Glen Lusk. From there its downhill (carefully) to the finish in the car park at the back of the Moonah shops and a coffee, multiple pastries and lots of back slapping at Banjos. For the day we’ll tick off another 1,900m of climbing and around 2,500m of descending.

What next?
If you are planning to undertake the Ronde you will need the three basic things – food, clothing and shelter. Food and clothing are reasonably easy to manage on the day but accommodation tends to need a bit of lead time to confirm. You will have a reasonably large range of accommodation to choose from on any one night and near the finish/start points makes a lot of sense. For those with their own support – being close by isn’t such an issue. If you are using the support car to carry your gear, just remember that this becomes a logistical nightmare if riders are spread in all directions.

I have been running these bunch rides for a long time now and the main reason for that is that I keep administration to a minimum. The bit I do get involved in is to try to keep track of who is coming along and what sort of arrangements they might have. That generally means that I keep a list of the riders likely to turn up on any particular day and where they might be going to – which certainly helps to get luggage to where you want it to go.
So – in the short term – if you are interested in coming along – let me know and I’ll keep you in the loop. I keep all the information strictly private and any multiple emails go out as blind copies.

What do you need to do now?
The really good thing about a bunch ride is the lack of commitment necessary. If you are not sure you want to come along – wait and think about it later. If something happens the week before the ride and you can’t go – the only issue is accommodation bookings you may have made. If you make a last minute decision to ride – that is reasonably easy as well – for most of the overnight stops.

However – as with all good bunch rides – once you are on the start line there are some basic requirements around safety and looking after each other. Someone will collect information that might be needed by emergency services – a bit more than the usual bunch ride but expected for a ride of this length and the distance away from home. After that, normal bunch rules apply with some minor coordination for riders around where the support vehicle will be at any point in time.

If you are going to use the support vehicle for transport of gear etc there is a bit of coordination to get your gear in it in the first place and then to get it to and from where you are staying. We’ll get to that later in the process.

So – where are you going again???
I have embraced technology and put the routes on digital media. I have used Strava as the base. I’m not a great Strava user but I’ve done my best. For those not on just sign up and join the PCCC group and you will have access to the courses with maps and elevations. Quite handy really but for most of it you probably don’t really want to know!!

If you want more details just send me a PM and I'll include you on the email update list.

Cheers all - seven months to go.

Posts: 306
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:41 pm
Location: Bellerive, Tasmania

Re: The February Ride 2017 - around Tassie in seven days

Postby BenevolantDictatorD » Fri Jan 13, 2017 9:43 pm

One month to go!

Posts: 306
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:41 pm
Location: Bellerive, Tasmania

Re: The February Ride 2017 - around Tassie in seven days

Postby BenevolantDictatorD » Sun Feb 05, 2017 8:03 pm

Five good training days left - plenty of time!!!!

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