Magnet Mine Township

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If you don’t know Oliver, then you should change that.

He has a map of Tasmania with little yellow flags on it for everywhere he wants to ride …

I like that map – it has the right attitude.

He also does cool things like publish Velocipedes Monthly, painting Giant Blue Monsters on cycling overpasses …

And he even sends me posts of rides he’s done.

Just last week he made my day by providing reviews for all the routes he’s ridden over on, and if that’s not enough for you to want to go right on over and stalk him on facebook … he even has this superpower whereby he can repair his own bike without having to take it into a bike shop (true story – I saw him use this very superpower today).

The only problem with Oliver is that, unlike me, he can actually ride his bike … like properly – he can ride through mud, up hills and he can even jump over branches and other technical stuff.

This is actually Oliver’s brother, Uriel …
Oliver was probably already off around that corner in front ..
or the one after that.

So when it turned out that both Oliver and I were going to the West Coast to chase down some trails over the new year break, and that we had some overlap in those trails, it sort of made sense to join up somewhere along the way, and fortunately, this thought actually occurred to Oliver and he then did something about it (this is not something we introverts would do).

And that’s why we found ourselves parked outside the Waratah Waste Transfer station late this morning excited about going for a ride through a tip …

Well I was excited, Oliver may have looked a tad dubious.

Sorry, back to the story: Waratah has a gorgeous, but completely unknown, mountain biking loop sitting right on its own doorstep, and having this great asset, decided it’s best use was to use the trail head as a waste centre (which has been on fire every time I’ve gone there).

But, if you’re silly enough to ride through the tip and onto the somewhat scratchy trail that heads out the back, and if you don’t get put off by a few deep looking puddles, you will get onto this …

Magnet Mine Rail Trail
Magnet Mine Rail Trail

It’s the old Magnet Mine Railway, and before you get too excited, for a lot of the year this trail is just a wet, unpleasant mess to ride (trust me, I’ve tried, and if you don’t believe me, then take this clue from a strava ride of the route titled: “Fuck.  Hills. And Mud.  oh yea we went to waratah, population us” from some girls that rode it in December 2012).

We however pinged it with the track conditions today and although there was the occasional muddy spot, today’s riding was sweet (particularly with Oliver out front picking the lines and acting as snake (x3) and cobweb clearer).

Magnet Mine Rail Trail

Cutting on the Magnet Mine Rail Trail

Oliver – he moves so fast he blurs.
but not as much as his little bro …

From the tip, it’s pretty much a long gradual downhill for around 10kms as you drop just over 200 metres over the length of the railway.

There is a creek crossing at just before the 8km mark …

This is where the riding abilities between Oliver and I first became really apparent … I got to the creek, looked at it and just jumped off my bike and walked across knowing that that was the only way for me to get across.

Unfortunately for poor Oliver, he then came down the track a few minutes later (he’d actually been waiting for me and not noticed when I passed) and I jokingly indicated where he should ride across knowing full well that any sane cyclist would just look at the water and jump off and push their bike, but not Oliver he actually trusted me and proceeded to charge off into the water.

Somewhat in shock I managed to flag him down before he found himself swimming down the  river, but I did leave him in a rather precarious position …

After about the 10km mark we started seeing signs of the old Magnet Township, and the effects of the mine that had been there …

At about this point, the track takes a sharp turn to the left and starts heading up another valley  (the old route shown on the 1:25000 maps to Waratah no longer exists on the ground).

The next few kilometres was my type of riding – the track was muddy and wet (OK, it was basically a river) and there were lots of cool old relics around to go and check out … which meant things were pretty much at my pace – although Oliver found plenty of steep things to ride up and down.

Showing my greater navigational experience, I twice suggested routes we should follow.

Both times we ended up in scratchy dead ends which I then allowed Oliver to navigate us back out of.

Eventually though the fun had to end, and at about the 13.5km mark we started ‘the climb’ back out to the highway.  You regain most of those 200 metres you dropped coming down in the next 2.5kms (more if you’re Oliver who decided to go and check out some side trail which also went up, up and up) and we managed to score three punctures in this short distance.

I somehow managed to get a front tyre puncture while I was pushing my bike up the hill (yes, it was so steep that even the air fell out of the front tyre).  I have no idea how this happened, and as the tyre re-sealed it wouldn’t have been a problem – if my pump had worked (I am pump jinxed, I really am) but for some reason the air was coming out of the top of the pump and what should have been a 1 minute fix stretched out into 5 minutes as I had to do around a thousand pumps to get enough air in the tyre to continue.

I caught back up to Oliver and Uriel who were patiently waiting for me further up the road (somehow these two were cycling up this impossibly steep hill, and they were chatting to each other whilst doing so (which is my way of saying the hill isn’t really as impossibly steep as I’m saying it is))

Anyway they took off again, but this time when I caught back up to them, Oliver’s bike was upside down with a very nasty sidewall puncture.

I proceeded to provide lots of useful advice on how to fix his tyre – not one of which worked, but all of which managed to chew up an extra 5 or 10 minutes, allowing me to recover a bit before the final push (which I actually rode) to the top of the hill which opens up into a big open quarry.

This is where Oliver’s tyre gave out a second time (yes, it was one of my great ideas which didn’t work) and Oliver went to the option he was going to try in the first place – putting a tube in the tyre.

That worked.

From the Quarry it was about another 2.5kms of undulating road out to the highway.

At the highway, Oliver and Uriel chose to go for a quick scoot up to the lookout across the road (it’s about a 300 metre ride in with a bit of a climb and worth the detour) whilst I decided to get a head start on the final 10kms back to the cars along the bitumen road (I had already been up to the lookout earlier in the morning).

Somewhat miraculously, despite stopping to check out an echidna, I managed to get back to the cars a few minutes ahead of Oliver so I did what any self respecting rambler would do … I got changed as quickly as I could, threw the bike upside down and pulled out a cold soft drink … so that when Oliver pulled in 2 minutes after me I could casually say “Oh yea, I’ve been here for ages”.

And because Oliver’s such a nice guy, he didn’t say a single thing.

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