Dreamed it up 5 years ago
Traveling to Lake Burbury - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
Richard Taylor dreamed up travelling around Tassie on a bike but didn't want to take a car while travelling really light. When you're carrying all your stuff you don't want to carry clothes as they are too heavy so the best way to do is was to get rid of the clothes.
There was an itinerary - knowing all the Op Shops
Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
The accommodation was booked beforehand so the boys new their itinerary and it was based on all the Op Shops around Tasmania; their opening and closing hours so you could plan it a bit. The Op Shops were absolutely crucial; crucial to the whole trip (laughing).
Travelling with just a backpack onto the boat
The ascent of Elephant Pass to St Marys, Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
Everyone travelled with a small backpack since they had to travel with food, water, shoes and underwear. You started by riding onto the boat (Spirit of Tasmania) then off the boat at Tasmania.
We would buy new clothes at every town we got to so we thought why not make it a bit of a charity ride so basically we could donate money to every Op Shop on the way around and have a laugh at the same time (by what they were wearing).
If you need something, you have to buy it
So the next day after wearing the clothes from the day before they were donated back to the Op Shop (of course laundered).
Hilarious - you never know what you'll be wearing
The only stipulation was that you bring your own underwear, socks and shirts so it's super light to travel.
Everything else bought en route
Start 70km dirt to Ben Lomond - Photo courtesy of Richard Taylor
From food and drink to extra supplies, if you know there are going to be no shops, are purchased and carried with you and you cruise around Tassie.
Visiting the Op Shop before going on the boat
If you wanted to have civilian clothes on the boat, you needed to visit an Op Shop beforehand and buy the clothes before you went onto the boat (evening departure). So it was a case of the boys visiting the Op Shop a few days in advance; the rules weren't that strict (i.e. to buy the clothes en route to the boat).
A mix of road and mountain bikers, old friends
The Start from The Crescent hotel Hobart - Photo courtesy of Andrew Le Lievre
Two within the group ride mountain bikes quite a bit and the two that didn't, they weren't so happy about the dirt and kinda cracked it at the end.
Group together at the lookout towards Queenstown - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
From left to right Andrew Lelievre, Richard Taylor, Mark Howard, Dave DP Phillips, Simon Rich, Stephen Mayes
The key was that we were really good friends so that there was no one new or untested in the group -whether they could manage to get through the 8 days and have the technical skills.
At the Rosebury pub and beers - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
Every rider in a group will attest to this, especially when it's getting tough on the 7th or 8th day when everyone is cracking the shits.
Preparation to manage the big days
Bronte-sauris schnitzel at the Bronte Park Hotel - Photo courtesy of Simon Rich
The standard of riding beforehand included a long ride on the North Road Ride, riding up through the Alps, getting up to Mt Buller a fair bit, riding the Epic trail (first epic rated trail in Australia) while the attitude from a few of the guys was I'll train when I get there, on the job training (laughing).
Adjusting to the miles
The 1st and 2nd days were hard with a few tears but by the 5th day you are coming around. Everyone knew what they were doing and had done big rides before so they weren't unprepared for it.
The boys powering along from Devonport to Cradel Mountain - Photo courtesy of Richard Taylor
Ultimately, everyone was a good, experienced rider and if we got into trouble they wouldn't flip out too much.
Keeping it safe - having back up
Team car support riding from Devonport to Cradel Mountain - Photo courtesy of Stephen Mayes
With one of the riders, Simon Rich, being a diabetic, it was safer to have a car as back up, just in case.
Simple but ingenious
Usually when a group is running their own self-guided tour, they usually talk a friend or family member into driving the car or alternatively they pay for a driver.
So, Richard, using an App called a Randomiser, which when pressed would randomly select the first rider from the list to drive for the start of the day. Everybody did a two-hour shift of driving that way no one missed out on the riding and they didn't require an external driver.
Serious riding - 85 - 170kms/days
Lake Burbury Bridge Crossing - Photo courtesy of Richard Taylor
Riding towards swansea - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
Climb out of Queenstown Tasmania - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
The long climb - Queenstown - Photo courtesy of Richard Taylor
This was an epic trip with some serious daily kms on offer - over 150kms of dirt spread over the 900kms in 8 days.
A rest day in Hobart
Mount Wellington lookout mates - Photo courtesy of Richard Taylor
On the rest day they visited Mount Wellington which was hardly a rest.
Experience with the Amy Gillett Foundation ride
Richard rode the route four years earlier on the Amy Gillett Foundation ride and had experienced a lot of the roads with 25 other riders. He was involved in raising money for the Amy Gillett Foundation while riding with some of the pros.
Dirt section riding Hobart to Swansea - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
The Credit Card Tour route was modified a little to make it a little more interesting and include some dirt.
The epic Ben Lomond National Park
Jacobs Ladder Ben Lomond National Park Tasmania - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
A must do if you're going to do Tassie is the Ben Lomond National Park. It is so picturesque with beautiful landscapes and it's such a bastard to ride up.
Climbing Jacobs ladder - Ben Lomond Tasmania - Photo courtesy of Richard Taylor
When you are riding up there are switchbacks with loose gravel and the front wheel is coming off the ground because it is so steep, the back wheel is spinning and you don't know whether you are putting your weight forwards or back.
Ascent Ben Lomond - Photo courtesy of David DP Phillips
It's so tough that even some of our more accomplished cyclists had to push or abandon.
Tassie is one of the best places you can ride - wow factor around the island
Fingal from St Marys en route to Launceston - long sections of straight roads - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
Tasmania is still so remote that on the last day from St Mary's to Launceston, a 170km ride, we didn't see one shop.
Resting the legs - Photo courtesy of Richard Taylor
We were assuming we would stop for coffee, stop for water and get some food but there was not a shop in sight.
At the lookout towards Queenstown - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
Everywhere we went was just unbelievable, it was wow everywhere, incredible climbs, incredible descents, magnificent mountains.
Running out of water
Getting water stream Ben Lomond - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
After running out of water they had to find a stream half way up the Ben Lomond climb which ‘we were very happy about’ and it was a big day out; it was very hard.
After finishing in Launceston everyone wanted to do another lap
Tasman Bridge crossing into Hobart - Photo courtesy of Richard Taylor
Honestly, we got back to Launceston on the last night before jumping on the boat at Devonport and everyone seriously wanted to do another lap so it was flagged that we have to do another ride somewhere.
Beers and-phones last day road into Hobart from Bronte Park - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
So now the next trip is the South Island of New Zealand and a mountain biking trip from Devonport to Hobart.
It was so much fun, everything was ridiculous
Photo courtesy of Richard Taylor
All the guys on it are ex-racers and looking for something more up our alley these days and it’s the adventure riding that people around our age want to do. It's hard, don't get me wrong, it’s a big week but people want a new challenge. They don't want to be bashed around in the crits anymore (though many people into their 70s still enjoy criterium racing) so this is the next step.
We had tears in our eyes we were laughing so much, just the whole thing was fantastic.
A culture of adventure cycling
Sites like Cyclingtips.com feature these adventure rides through the States, Thailand, New Zealand and I think they also had the Ben Lomond climb. There is a culture of adventure cycling, the thrill of going out. (BTW Cyclingtips do run an epic ride called the Giro Della Donna.
I can see that we will all be adding panniers soon (laughing), I might have a sneaky pannier in the cupboard (more laughter).
Lucky - no mechanicals
Mount Wellington Lookout - Hobart - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
They were lucky as they had no mechanicals as they could have caused a few problems into it but it was called the Credit Card Tour so if you had a mechanical you bought your way out of the problem. It all turned out well in the end.
More than just booking a tour over to France
On the way to Cradel Mountain - Photo courtesty of Simon Rich
The big climbs are great rides but when you can do a ride with a select group and throw in something really tough and a bit of adventure, I think that's what people want, looking for something different. Everyone is dying to do one again, you just have to get into it.
Some tips to plan your adventure ride
- Get some tips on the route and where you are riding so you're not surprised by the terrain. A map may look really fine but when you are on the road it may not be suitable.
- Book a place so you have somewhere to stay when you get there as you don't want to be looking for a hotel when you're tired.
- Get into it and don't hesitate, pick the best season of the year and go and do it.