(December 20, 2020 – written by Dave)
Today was the longest ride of the trip so far and it turned out to be just about 3k too long. We had brooding skies all day. For the most part, the darkest clouds seemed to be staying just ahead of us. As we crested the last hill about 3k short of St Helens, we managed to finally catch up with one of the heavy darker clouds and as if to show its appreciation, the cloud opened up on us as we raced towards town. Missed by that much…
Anyway, that’s how it goes sometimes.
Back to the beginning – we had a super quiet night in the hostel. The woman working at the hostel warned us that it was “pretty full” and that it could be noisy. There was a family of four – they were very quiet; and a group of three young men from Melbourne –they were completely mellow.
The guys from Melbourne looked like they may have been from Indonesia and when we first saw them they were hanging in the lounge on their smartphones wearing headphones. They seemed like they might be rowdy (however one “seems” rowdy, I don’t really know). In a classic case of don’t judge a book by the cover, once we started talking to them, we discovered that they were nurses originally from the Philippines. One of them had been working Covid cases in Melbourne’s last wave. They were down here for a break from the craziness of Melbourne. They were friendly and if anything extremely polite – a reminder to not judge a book by its cover.
It rained on us when we were watching the penguins last night and it rained more overnight. By the time we left this morning however, it looked like the clouds had moved northward up the coast and we had dry roads. Most of the day we rode along the coast though the views were never overly amazing. I thought we’d be making lots of stops at “red rocks” but ended up hardly making any photo stops. We had mostly tailwinds again so it was a good day just to roll along and make the ks.
We passed the first coffee shop of the day at Scamander – right at 60k. We toyed with stopping for a coffee as were getting closer to the dark clouds that I mentioned. Since it wasn’t raining, we decided to roll the dice and keep riding. Who knows, maybe we would have stayed dry if we’d had the coffee. Missed it by that much…
It is worth making a few comments about the area we are riding in. We are in an area called Blue Derby. This part of Tasmania is experiencing a mini mountain biking boom. St Helens has two bike shops and best I can tell, only one pub. The roads here are pretty narrow and there is no shoulder but the drivers have been stunningly patient. Some won’t pass until it is well beyond clear. Since we can’t ask drivers why they are being polite (or rude for that matter), we have to make assumptions. It could be that life is slower here and people just more considerate. Or it could be because of the mountain biking boom drivers “get” bikes. Whatever the reason, we’ll take it – share the road Tassie style is way nicer than what they do up in Sydney where we ride most of the time.
Arriving in St Helens, we pulled into a Banjo’s Bakery as soon as we rolled into town. It’s a bit of a chain but they still do nice pies and coffees. It was only noon but we had a pie, killed an hour and made puddles on their nice clean floor. An hour before check-in, Nancy walked to our hotel and managed to negotiate an early check-in (yes, we are in a hotel, the LWOP wet feet rule came into play today). Our room is in the Comfort Hotel at the Bay Pub and Bistro. For a pub room, it is very nice. We’d read some mixed reviews and were worried but we scored one of their upgraded rooms and are more than comfortable.
It took us an hour to walk the waterfront, visit the town’s two bike shops and in fact, walk the entire main street. To be fair, it is Sunday and most of the shops are closed, it’s slightly more than a one pub town in size, but just slightly.
We are of two minds about tomorrow. Heavy rain is forecast for the day after tomorrow. Knowing this, we may re-jig the riding tomorrow to make it possible to take Tuesday off. We may just stick with the original plan as often re-jigging for a forecast that is two days off rarely works out for us. Not knowing what to do, we did the only thing reasonable and got dinner. After fish and chips from the dockside takeaway and a couple nice Tassie IPAs, we are no closer to a decision. We’ll figure it out before tomorrow somehow…