Weldborough to Derby: blown away - what a day...

Tuesday November 3, 2009, 22 km (14 miles) - Total so far: 389 km (242 miles) 

Today I want to reach Bridport, or at least Scottsdale. Whilst there is some climbing along the way either should be achievable.

Weldborough, my overnight stop, is about as cut off from the modern world as you can be these days - no mobile phone reception and no internet, so no weather information. As I recall from my last check in St Helens, some rain was expected.

I chose not to use my tent last night, even though the conditions in the bunkhouse were decidedly rough - it appeared as if renovations were half-completed. The Weldborough now has new owners, but it seems the previous owner had let the property run down. It's going to take a lot of effort to bring the facilities up to scratch, I doubt that I'll be stopping there again.

Edit: Don't get the wrong idea. To be fair to the owners, it wasn't that bad, but it was the wrong place to stop. I should have pressed on and covered some more distance, and that is what I would do if I ever come this way again."

Early in the morning I was awakened by the sound of rain on the roof, and later, long rumbling peals of thunder. I took my time getting ready to leave, waiting for the weather to break, then deciding that conditions were likely to improve lower down, I set off in light rain and cloud for the eight kilometre descent of Weld Hill through tall, lush rainforest. Visibility was limited and my hands began to tire from modulating the brakes most of the way down, but as expected near the bottom of the descent the cloud cleared. But by now I could hear the wind roaring ominously through the treetops. Oddly, from rainforest I now found myself riding past a well-manicured golf course in the middle of nowhere.

Approaching Derby the route climbed to a high open plateau of pasture land and farms. Here the wind was screaming over the contours, driving a stinging rain before it, and the lush pasture grasses in the fields seemed to undulate like waves. It became a struggle to keep control, at times it felt like the bars would be snatched from my grasp, or I would be blown off the road. I could only make progress in my lowest gear, and it seemed to take forever to complete the final kilometres into Derby.

I was wet, chilled and exhausted, and realised it was impossible to continue until the wind eased. At the nearest cafe I ordered food and coffee, and a fellow traveller told me there was a low pressure system and cold front passing over Tasmania, and that he had heard talk of 100 kph winds on his car radio, and fallen trees blocking the road in several places.

After waiting more than an hour I decided to try to make the next town, but after another battering from the wind along the main street, I took a room at the Dorset Hotel, and will hope for fairer winds tomorrow. The Dorset is an old country pub - nothing flash, but nicer than my accommodation last night, so now I truly regret deciding to stop at Weldborough, but I doubt I would have been able to make further progress anyway.

To fill in time I visited a new interpretive centre about the tin mining activities in the district. I think this would have to be the hardest 20 kilometres I have even ridden in my life, and nearly half of it was downhill.
Derby was a wealthy town in its heyday...

No comments: