Star Wars fans might remember a line from Yoda in "Return of the Jedi" in which he suggests that Luke Skywalker must defeat Darth Vader before he can call himself a Jedi. It's a similar situation with a tour of Tasmania and a climb of Mt Wellington (a 1,270 metre job near Hobart). I couldn't say I've ridden around Tassie without conquering it.
The morning started with a pleasant ride into Hobart city to catch up with Rowan again (read the earlier pages). Rowan was again very generous in paying for my hot chocolate and letting me use his office computer to update these journal entries so that you people had something to read over the weekend. After all the updating I headed back to the waterfront and got some lunch (a seafood spaghetti to be exact).
After putting some food in my stomach, now the time had come. The climb starts literally from the centre of Hobart, in fact, this early section probably has the steepest gradient of all. Given Hobart's relative lack of urban sprawl, it didn't take long before I was back out in the bush, where the gradient eased for a few km up to Fern Tree.
From here I turned off on another road which Lonely Planet's "Cycling Australia" claimed was "11km at a punishing 7.6%". I'm not sure who that description was invented for, but 7.6% or not, I didn't find the gradient to be overly "punishing". As with many other climbs in this part of the world, it doesn't take long for the vegetation to change as the cooler, windier conditions in the higher areas take hold. I could actually feel the cold increasing as I climbed higher.
Above the treeline, the wind really started to blow. Here crosswinds can be a problem. I soon reached the summit and decided to spend a bit of time taking in the views at the top. I had to lay my bike down when leaving it anywhere, for fear that the wind would blow it away! I took the obligatory photos, and commenced the descent just as a shower passed over. If someone had told me a joke at this point, my face would have been too frozen to laugh at it, such was the temperature on the descent.
The temperature gradually increased as I descended, before pausing at Fern Tree at the bottom for a hot drink, I continued the descent into Hobart, and then the ride back to Berriedale where I was staying. At this point the wind decided to blow like crazy from the north (i.e. where I was going). I actually found this far more "punishing" than anything the mountain threw at me. Another rider decided to draught me for a while and refuse to do his turn on the front. Well, I guess that's his problem rather than mine. At least he thanked me when I turned off.
Another meeting with Rowan that night to go to a barbecue. It was good to meet a few more Tasmanians who, contrary to popular belief on the mainland, don't actually have two heads. In fact, the people I've been able to meet on this trip has really been a highlight.
So I am a jedi.