It was a pretty bleak experience pulling into Scottsdale today, and not just because of the rain showers coming through.
It’s been just over a year since I was out this way last and things have gone downhill fast – it was like every second shop was closed, and every conversation in the supermarket muted and the people hidden.
But not the rail trail … last time I came and rode it the big challenge of the ride was finding it’s starting point, but not anymore …
Not going to miss that are you?
With that said, I did then miss the car park which was exactly where the sign said it would be … 400m up the road. My excuse is that I got a bit of sensory overload with signs all over the place at the actual carpark (OK, there were three of them, but I’m easily confused) and as a result I proceeded to drive up the first kilometre of the new trail in my car, only realising I was meant to be riding it when I came to the first kilometre marker sign.
In defense of this navigational error I will say that the first kilometre is a new blue gravel road and it looks more suited to driving than cycling.
Regardless, the really good news is that there’s no more tentative finding your way onto the trail … everything’s signed …
But that’s where the joy ends I’m afraid … and not just because of the rain.
This is my recollection of the rail trail …
Here we go … hmm … that rain is starting to lift above a drizzle.
Oh look, another kilometre sign (2kms) … hope these signs are along the whole track.
Oh that’s pretty … better take a photo
ride, ride, ride … this surface sucks.
Where’s the next km sign?
There it is, 3kms. I think I’ll turn around when I get into the big gully, it was nice there and I don’t need to ride the whole trail …
God this rain is getting heavy.
This surface really sucks.
4km sign? Seriously, I’ve only done 4kms.
Blue gravel? Seriously on a rail tail? my butt hurts – definitely turning around soon.
Ooohhh … smooth surface … and the 5km sign … nice … maybe I’ll keep going, maybe it was only the first section that was that rough … lucky I kept going.
When the f*ck will this rain STOP.
6km sign, 7km sign, 8km sign … Oh … yep, there goes my last little dry spot. Let the chaffing begin.
Surface is getting crap again …
9km sign … how long was this trail again 14km? 16km? Maybe I should turn around now?
No – I don’t care if it goes all the way to Ringarooma, I’m going to finish this route …
I must have missed the 10km sign, it’s been way too long between signs otherwise.
Singing in the rain, I’m singing in the rain … I’m just singing and cycling in the rain …Oh my god, I’m singing out loud. That’s not a good sign.
WTF … there’s the 10km sign … I hate the rain, I hate this track.
A road, I see a road … that must mean I’m near the old railway station … it wasn’t far from there to the end. Woo Hoo.
Where’d all this loose gravel come from? It’s hard riding in the rain, there goes my speed. keep going … almost there.
12km sign, 13km sign … it wasn’t this far last time was it? I should get to that gravel road and then I can either turn around or enjoy some nice bush riding.
Ah there’s the road …
Oh no … they’ve cleared the lovely bush section … gravel road here I go, here I go, here I go. Don’t sing – nobody likes it when you sing … even in a blog.
Is this frickin’ cloud following me or something? It can’t rain this hard for this long.
15km sign … nope it’s not 14km long
16km sign … must be near the end.
WOO HOO – I can see the highway beside me, not far now … and yes there it is – the road where I started last time. Finished.
Oh … it keeps going.
17km sign … not happy Jan.
Another road … it keeps going … I said I’d go to Ringarooma, so Ringarooma it is …
Around the next corner and … Track Ende.
Thank god … now all I have to do is head back again.
At least it’s all down hill from here …
but it never stopped raining the whole way back and my gears started jumping again.
So why’d I put you through that monologue … because I don’t think the highlight of a rail trail should be the next kilometre sign along the way, and for me, today, that’s what it was.
Don’t get me wrong: I love the idea behind this rail trail, but at the same time in my book a rail trail should be easy to ride, fun, scenic and interesting riding … and to be honest most of the ride up didn’t feel like that at all.
Except when passing through the occasional cutting, I pretty much felt like I was riding along a poorly graveled forestry road … one which needed a nice soft pavement put on top of it …
So today … not so impressed. Especially as I can compare how beautiful the top section was when I last rode it, when it was overgrown and wild, to what it is now … but I can see the potential off it when the surface wears in or gets a proper surface put on it, a few more interpretive signs are installed (a trailhead map of the route with distances would be awesome), and hopefully (please, please, please) they let the track get reclaimed a bit more back to a single-track experience … not a wide ugly scar of a road.
But for now, I’d either do it one way (downhill) do the circuit back via the road or just choose a shorter section of it to have a taste of what the trail has to offer … seriously some of those cuttings are gorgeous.
Yes … let me finish by saying the potential up this way is enourmous … the stunning flow tracks in Launceston, the proposed trails around Hollybank, this rail trail and of course the tracks around Blue Tier … give it a few more years and this region could be legendary.
Oh, and for the record … 5kms further up the road … the f*cking sun was shining like I was in the sahara desert … it only started to rain again when I got to Weldborough and started to put up my tent … of course.