And so continues the final of the 3 part trip in Tasmania.
The next morning, she says she will take me all the way to Scamander, it’s about 80kms away and this means I will be on schedule. I cry. She hugs me and tells me it’s going to be ok. She drives me along the road, I know I would’ve had to cycle up. The whole time, I am thinking, there’s no way I was ever going to get up those hills, in the fog. Roads that are dangerous and narrow. She takes me to places I would never have stopped at. To say I was grateful, is an understatement. We arrive at Scamander. And we say our farewells.
Day 4 to 7 – The next part of my journey should be easier, the distance is shorter and the brochure brags about it being more downhill and easier. I pack up my panniers, for the hundredth time. I read that it’s easier to pack things into zip lock bags, so it’s more accessible, I am becoming a bit more pro at dividing up my belongings to fit equally in the panniers, the food is on top and placed in the bag on my right, so that when I stop, I can lean the bike against me and reach into the bag (that is clipped and rolled down, it’s no easy feat), to get a snack. I feel more confident on the bike and with my set up. Off I set, not knowing that this next part of the trip would once again test my strength.
Another thing I had to consider, was what do I do, if I needed to pee, as there were no cafes, or toilets, I had to find bushes, unfortunately, sometimes there was no way of getting behind a bush because of the density (and too scared of spiders), so I had to pee on the side of the road for anyone driving by to see. And to make matters more concerning, I was warned about the snakes, some of the most poisonous in the world. You try and pull off layers of clothing, lycra, bibs, gloves etc, past sweaty skin, and squat in a bush / roadside, whilst trying to look out for snakes. The first time I had to pee on the side of the road, I realised I had put my bibs on first, so it meant having to get completely undressed! Noted. Oh the lessons you learn.
Anyway, where was I, oh yes, so I am on bike, it’s cold (Forecast is 6 degrees) and drizzling, I ride through green hills and forests, the road is somewhat flatter, and I am trying to absorb the surrounds. Feeling more positive about what lies ahead. Dig deep Les, you got this.
I am on an open road, the headwind is intense, I am struggling to go anywhere with the wind, and I shout at the universe, mockingly, what else can you throw at me universe, and as I turn the corner, it starts to pour, the wind is hitting me side-on and I am almost being pushed sideways off my bike. Thanks universe.
I am soaked through to my undies, my waterproof jacket isn’t waterproof (another lesson), I can feel the water running down my shoulders and back. I am shivering and can barely peddle, I have lost complete feeling in my hands. My phone has SOS only and it’s at this point that I start to wonder if my situation warrants an emergency phone call, could I get hypothermia, I might die out here and there’s no one around. I actually feel afraid. I keep pushing on.
In the distance, I see an orange jacket. I get closer and there’s the next of many angels, she stops and asks if I am ok, I am sure she can see I am not ok, she tells me to cycle to her house, where her husband will be and have a cup of tea. Off I go, heading into the unknown, I arrive at the doorstep and knock on the door. This man, Russell, opens the door. I show him my red cold hands, and mumble something about being cold and his wife told me to come for tea. He tells me to strip off, we laugh, I say no, I am just stopping for a warming tea. He looks concerned and he starts taking off my jacket and gloves, and tells me to get inside and have a shower, he sounded like a stern dad, and I listen, because by this stage I am so freezing and almost delirious. I shower, and put on the warm tracksuit and socks he’s given me. I spend the rest of the day with him, laughing and chatting, like I have known him for years. He feeds me, a constant flow of soup, stews, cups of tea, and I feel like I am in paradise. Their house is right on the ocean front, Chain of Lagoons, google it, it’s mind blowing. His wife, Brenda, arrives home, she’s an avid cyclist and has toured around the world on her bike, so she knows exactly what I am going through. They dry my clothes, and offer to take me to my next stop, because it’s pouring. I cry again. I am so grateful that this lovely couple has crossed my path. Yet again, the universe has answered me. (We have kept in touch, and they even stopped by in Hobart the day before I left so we could hang out).
And so my journey continued, the rest of it, got easier compared to those first 2 days (anything was easier compared to those 2 days), the weather warmed up and I cycle through so many changes in scenery, from green fields, to rugged coastlines, mountains, forests, dry land. Kilometers of nothing and no one, except the odd car flying past that made me hold my breath each time they went by. I had to pray that they would see me, because there was nowhere for me to go. The force of air rushed past me, threatening to push me off my bike. The roads are narrow and no hard shoulder for cyclists, remember. Each day, I set off, knowing I had to cycle 50 or 60kms to the next town, and that feeling I got when I saw a sign that says, 10kms to go, and I know I have just cycled over 40kms, and I am almost there, is something I will never forget. Oh and I won’t ever forget the smell of road kill, there’s a lot of death on those roads.
In total, I travelled over 500kms, from Launceston to Hobart, and cycled about 250kms. I never knew what I would face, had I known, there was no way in hell, I would’ve ever done it. I spoke to the birds that flew along beside me, and moo’d to the cows, and baa’d to the sheep. I screamed and shouted, I cried and I laughed, sang on the top of my voice. When do we ever get those opportunities to be raw and vulnerable?
I was broken over and over again on that journey. And I managed to keep on pushing. People I met said they had never seen a woman cycling solo on that road, especially not an inexperienced one. It took a while to sink in, but I eventually felt pretty brave for doing what I did.
During those days, I vowed to never do anything like it again.
However, a couple of months went by and I longed for the open road, I longed to sit on my bike and be alone in the world. I wanted to feel that edge again.
I hope this post has inspired you to do something that’s completely out of your comfort zone x