Fidele Soul Rides – Frenchmans Cap (Tasmania)

Doug Bruce has offered up two for the price of one with his soul rides in Tasmania. Regularly towards the top of the Ride and Seek Strava Club classification he would have been spoilt for choice for Tassie soul rides.

Hobart, Tasmania (credit Tourism Australia)

A “Soul Ride” eh? Well, I’m greedy so I’m going to list two rides: my “go to” ride from home and then the ride I love above all others, my true “Soul Ride”. I reckon this is fair enough because I can only rarely do my Soul Ride – or bits thereof – because it requires fairly involved logistics. The “Go To” ride is a tremendously varied loop that takes me from where I live overlooking the city of Hobart, across the Derwent Estuary, through terrific countryside and then back again.

Here’s the Strava link to my “Go To” Soul Ride :

https://www.strava.com/activities/4820938554

MONA museum (credit MONA)

It takes me down into town, around the historic Hobart waterfront, along the Intercity Cycleway for ~ 10 kms, out past the famous world class MONA, alongside and across the river, along a quiet road through an industrial park, through countryside where there are horses, sheep, alpacas, miniature ponies, cattle, even goats.

On past hayfields, market gardens, vineyards, and a couple of cellar doors and the road winds its way to Richmond, a historic town with the oldest bridge in Australia. Usually, I stop here for a coffee, especially if I’m with my favorite riding partner.

Richmond, Tasmania

Five kilometers after leaving coffee one arrives at the base of Grasstree Hill, a much-loved steady climb of just over 4km in length. The descent takes you back down towards the Derwent River and the Bowen Bridge. Across the other side, the route winds its way back along the river with wonderful views of kunanyi, the Hors Categorie climb that stands 1272 metres above the city. If you’re likely to visit Hobart sometime down the track and would like to start and finish this ride from a cafe favoured by cyclists have a look at this version of the ride:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/35708832

Di riding just above the descent into Queenstown

Were I a better climber, the ascent of kunanyi from Hobart’s waterfront would have to be my Soul Ride. Back in the day it was the penultimate stage of the Tour of Tasmania, where in 1999 Cadel Evans announced himself – via the dulcet tones of one Phil Liggett – as a possible future champion of the Tour De France. That prediction would come to fruition with victory in Le Tour in 2010. It’s 22 kms to the top of kunanyi from the city and on a clear day the 360 degree views are absolutely stunning. For me, the climb to the top is something of an ordeal but it’s all worth it for the fabulous descent!

View of Frenchmans Cap on my Soul Ride

As for my Soul Ride, it’s got to be this one:

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/35709038

This is especially ‘soul’ if I can organise to do it with Dianne, my wife, and life partner. The route starts at Lake St Clair, the deepest lake in Australia and the terminus for the Overland Track which is the most famous multi-day wilderness hike in Australia. Of the total 90 or so kilometers of riding all but a few kilometers traverse the Southwest Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area.

Southwest Tasmania Wilderness World Heritage Area

Despite a net elevation loss of 500 metres, there is still about 1000 metres of climbing, but none of it very steep or very long. A big, big highlight of the ride for me is the wonderful descent to the famous Franklin River, but the views along the way – including the mystical, remote Frenchmans Cap – are just wonderful.

Franklin River crossing

Despite this being the only road from Tasmania’s capital city to the west coast, traffic is never heavy and if you start early in the morning you will see almost no vehicles for the first couple of hours. Much of the ride traverses Buttongrass Plains, a vegetation regime endemic to southwest Tasmania. When you’re not surrounded by buttongrass you are immersed in the Tasmanian temperate rainforest, the air laden with the scent of leatherwood honey.

Buttongrass Plains

Towards the end of the ride you descend to and cross Lake Burbury, one of the large hydro dams in the Tasmania’s southwest. A steady climb takes you to the top of the so-called “99 Bends” descent into Queenstown, with the ride finishing at the historic Wilderness Railway Terminus. Between start and finish there are at least three great spots to stop, relax, sightsee and refresh your water supplies. A truly magical ride.

And as a bonus here’s a great video by Doug of the 99 bend descent down to Queenstown. Some great Tassie imagery to inspire throughout the video.

Doug & Di on Caesar 2016

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