It was a warm Monday morning as I drove up the coast from Hobart to Bicheno with the intention to cycle back down to Coles bay (Freycinet) and return the following day.
I arrived in Bicheno just after 10am, and changed into my cycling shorts and a travel style shirt (partly because of the extra sun protection and comfort and partly because lycra and I aren’t a pleasing sight). I parked my car outside the local police station and set off just after 11. I had never cycled with a loaded bike before and could immediately feel the weight on the back. I had the balance pretty good, it was just less responsive and sluggish. To be expected I assume.
The first hill leading out of Bicheno felt pretty easy and the descent was quite enjoyable. I noticed that the hills I had seen whilst driving did not seem as bad once out on the road and when I was riding and looking ahead the hills that seemed like they could be difficult were in fact quite manageable.
The road between Bicheno and the Coles Bay turn off basically had no shoulder, you were either in the gravel or in traffic. Luckily most of the drivers passed with a considerate distance and I never felt pushed into the gravel.
I stopped at the large blue information shelter at the Coles Bay turnoff for a short break. This point signalled the first 10km block had been done. Pulling into the turn off the loose gravel gave me my first taste of the bike wanting to go its own direction, seemingly swimming in the stones. I held it all together and managed to stop with an ounce of grace left.
From the turn off the road conditions improved with a wide shoulder and plenty of room for both myself and the traffic. Initially the road went downhill towards Apsley River, here I wished I had continued and not stopped at the shelter as it looked like a nice spot by the river for a break.
I continued my plan of riding 10km and having a break then repeating, Coles Bay road doesn’t offer too many places for a shady rest break, I did however take the opportunity to pull up under a tree at the entrance to the paintball field. Here I got my tent footprint out and lazed in the shade for about 20 minutes, catching glimpses of Moulting Lagoon Reserve through the trees.
Refreshed from a lazy lunch I continued down the road towards Coles Bay. The good shoulder continued and I made good progress, as if by fate I found a great spot to stop near Swanwick. This spot was right by a lagoon and shady trees provided some relief from the sun. A few jelly beans and another laze in the shade had me set for the last stretch to Coles Bay.
Just after leaving the rest spot the road took a series of sweeping downhill turns where I got the laden bike up to a decent speed without feeling out of control. The speed from this section let me coast into Coles Bay and a few strokes of the pedals saw me arrive at the Iluka Holiday Park. I had decided to camp here for the night instead of the sites within the Freycinet National Park as the thought of a shower won over the wallet.
I set up my tent and laid out my camp for the night, filled up my water bladder, made a cup of tea then headed for a shower.
Nicely refreshed I wandered down to the shops and procured a long neck beer and ordered a curry from the takeaway shop.
Back at camp it didn’t take long for tired legs and an unfit me to feel the effects of the day, half the beer still to go I decided to head to bed for the night. I poured the contents into the drain at the BBQ shelter and jumped into bed.
The next thing I knew it was morning, I broke camp early, packed up quickly and headed to the coffee shop for a double latte and a egg and bacon roll.
Those lovely sweeping hills that allowed me to gracefully roll into town turned into painful hills that saw me get off the bike on one occasion and with the grace of a giraffe in cycling cleats walk my bike to its crest.
The rest of the journey was basically a repeat of the first, only, a bit quicker.
I got back into Bicheno around lunch time, got my car from the front of the police station and got changed at the public restroom. All the work now done I treated myself to a burger and another coffee then set off back to Hobart.
This was my first foray into cycle touring and I quite enjoyed myself, with some fitness and free time, its something I plan to do again.
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