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Cycle touring Tasmania: the easily distracted way

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Shawna cycling on Maria Island. Photo: Chris Ellison. Cycle Traveller

When Australian immigration stamped Chris Ellison's passport and ushered his bike through customs, the American from Hood River, Oregon, was all clear to embark on a bicycle touring milestone: Australia was the only continent he had not cycled, with the exception of Antarctica. The seasoned touring cyclist, who has ridden through Patagonia in Chile, Greece, France, Spain, Canada and the United States, wasn't alone; Chris's friend Shawna Jardan from Scottsdale, Arizona, was setting a milestone of her own: her very first cycle tour. The two had met perched on a stone wall above the city of Athens as it slowly awakened in the morning sun and the promise of a cycling holiday dawned on Shawna. The plans were relaxed – nicknamed the 'Easily Distracted Tour', Chris and Shawna set out with their bikes and 18 days to fill in Australia's most popular touring destination. Cycle Traveller touched base with Chris as the pair successfully completed their sojourn. This is how it went:

Shawna and Chris bicycle touring Tasmania. Photo: Chris Ellison. Cycle Traveller

CT: What route did you take through Tasmania?

CE: As this is the Easily Distracted Tour there was no real route preplanned; it was more of let's go here and then let's go...? Maria Island was one of the only places that was a known-beforehand place to visit. In the end we went northwest from Hobart into the mountains to Lake Saint Clair and on to Mole Creek, Deloraine then hit the coast at Swansea before hugging the ocean south to Port Arthur and back to Hobart.

CT: How did you enjoy the ride? Any highlights? Lowlights?

CE: This has been an amazing ride with a huge variety of riding challenges; some major climbs with the paybacks of sweet long downhill coasting. Standing in the street in Mole Creek where eight months earlier I had looked at the same red post office on Google Street View and then it was real was a huge goofy-grin highlight. Lows was finding out that services were very limited or non-existent in the smaller towns. Also, several beyond nasty outhouses that were not maintained in two public camping parks.

Maria Island. Photo: Chris Ellison. Cycle TravellerCT: What do you love best about cycle touring?

CE: Often we get friends, relatives, and gobs of strangers asking or remarking how they could never tour by bicycle. Always the big “Why” is asked? The real answer is actually very simple. This is not a race or a way to travel fast but a pace where the world unfolds gently before you, where you are directly connected to the ever changing landscape with its multitude of smells, sounds and impressions. Your needs are minimal, your impact on the area barely noticeable. The sweat produced climbing a steep hill is rewarded with a cool flow of air on the coast down the other side. Did you stop not once but several times to take in the view as the lake peaked through the small gaps in the trees. Your destination does not lie ahead but surrounds you. You live for the moment and are rewarded with each turn of the pedals.

CT: If you had to pick one section of your trip to recommend, which would it be?

CE: Swansea, then south along the coast. It went by too quickly and we should have spent more time on the beautiful beaches along that section.

Steep hills while bicycle touring Tasmania. Chris Ellison. Cycle TravellerCT: How did you plan your route? Were you happy with it, or would you do things differently a second time round?

CE: We really just looked at the map and said let's go here and then if there is time we will go there. We would have loved about two more weeks as there are places we wanted to explore but just ran out of time.

CT: I see you're touring with a hammock. How do you like it and have you had any problems finding good trees to hang it from?

CE: The hammock now has a rain fly upgrade and it is a wonderful night's sleep. Yes, there were some areas that had zero trees, but that is to be expected.

CT: How was your experience shipping your bikes out to Australia for the ride?

CE: Having your own bike is always a pleasure and mine have seen the world. I have good bike cases for the both of them. Experience teaches that you to fly the same airline to and from your destination to lessen the finger pointing if something happens to your bike getting there or back home.

Port Arthur. Photo by Chris Ellison. Cycle TravellerCT: What's your next dream tour?

CE: Turkey next fall with another stop to visit friends in Greece.

You can read a detailed account of Chis and Shawna's Easily Distracted Tour of Tasmania on Chris's blog.

Images: All photos property of Chris Ellison. 1. Shawna cycling on Maria Island. 2. Shawna Jardon and Chris Ellison. 3. Maria Island, Tasmania. 4. Steep grades. 5. Port Arthur, Tasmania.

 

Comments

lovely post....such a beautiful place..

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