Mandi kindly offered to let us stay for another night so we could spend the day in Launceston, so we took it easy in the morning and headed off on foot at about 9am. The day was already heating up (I know, I know, it is Tassie, but seriously, it was hot…well, rather warm…) and we had to walk up some more big hills to get to Cataract Gorge. I think we were feeling the strain from yesterday’s ride because, as beautiful as the gorge was, we did the minimal walk around once we got there.
Bec was desperate for a swim and jumped into the water at the First Basin. It was soft, clean and refreshing. My reason for not swimming (squelchy,wet underwear) were unfounded as the day was so warm and dry Bec had almost forgotten her swim by the time we made it back into town for coffee!
We had our first great coffee since Hobart and mulled around the rest of the day, watching the smoke get thicker and the air get hotter and drier. Tasmania had about 80 bushfires burning, mostly in the west and northwest, and the wind was pushing the smoke right across the island. You couldn’t see the hills of Launceston from the CBD, similar to their winter fog!
Mandi and Rob invited their friends, Malcolm and Vicki for dinner that night. They have been a big part of Launceston’s development of cycling infrastructure and cycling safety. Malcolm told us about his involvement in the Tamar Bicycle User Group (T-BUG) and the work the BUG to improve conditions for people who ride bikes. Bec is the vice-president of the Townsville BUG, and she and Malcolm had some thoughtful discussion about processes, ideas and issues. The TBUG were going on a full moon ride on Saturday, leaving at 1am and riding to Campbell Town for breakfast!
Vicki asked us if we cried on the ride via Lilydale. She had other people had, and explained that the Sidling is a much better route. Once you do the climb (approximately one hour’s worth), it is all downhill into Launceston). Malcolm told us that car drivers thought the Sidling was very steep and slow because it is for them! The road is windy and they have to go slow. Bike riders can enjoy this steady, windy climb because cars are going so slow!
It was great to chat with other people who regularly commute, travel, shop and exercise on bicycles and when we eventually got to bed we were inspired and tired!