99 hairpin bends

I listened to the rain as I lay in bed, and it appeared to be easing when we arose. We needed to hang around until 8 am to score some breakfast, as our food options today were zip until the 90 km point.

Tony waiting patiently for his tucker.

A wholesome brekkie, we donned all our wet weather gear, including the neoprene booties making their first appearance. We had a nice first 5 km warming up as we left the National Park, stopping to look at the headwaters of the Derwent River.

I do love the alpine vegetation, much of it in flower at the moment.

Selfies…

We are debating this river’s name….we think it is Collingwood River.

There were some fantastic vistas today…then there was a lot of mist too. The weather was a moving feast. As we climbed Mt Arrowsmith to get to over 800 metres above sea level, it rained, it blew, and it was 5 degrees. We were really cold, with the wind whipping off our wet legs, making it even harder for those big leg muscles to move. But move you must, to generate some body heat.

We then descended 400 metres, which ultimately increased the temperature to 7 degrees. For this period of time, no photos were taken as we were just too cold and needed to get ourselves down the mountain, knowing or rather hoping, that our comfort would improve.

The following photos are a selection of the first 60 km, where we just concentrated on moving.

Lake Burbury is amazing for the mountains that surround it. It is a man made water reservoir created by the Crotty Dam inundating the upper King River valley that lies east of the West Coast range.

Looking north from Bradshaw Bridge
Bradshaw Bridge

Once you have crossed the bridge, we were puzzled as to where the road would head, as it appeared we were encircled by very high hills and mountains, somewhat reminiscent of Scotland. The road after heading inland around an outcrop, followed the lake across a flat plain for some distance.

Heading away from the lake we rode past the now mining ghost town of Linda that once was home to 600 people. The town existed due to the discovery of gold at the North Lyell Mine.The Royal Hotel closed in the 1950’s and has had some other uses. I think it was for sale recently and purchased. It will be interesting to see how this site develops.

As soon as you leave Linda, you ‘arrive’ in Gormanston. There is a tight climb up as the town is based on the slopes of Mount Owen. The town boasted 2,000 residents in the early 1900’s, employed at the Mt Lyell Mine. There are about 17 residents now, fighting to try and preserve some of the older structures.

Entrance to the old town

At the top of the climb is a car park for a walk to a waterfall with an impressive decked walkway that you can see in the photo below.

Eventually we reached the start of something quite amazing. I wish the road was dry and the wind non existent before we started this.

Colle della Finestre ( I’ve ridden that!) is regarded as a monster and a legendary climb in Italy, ranking as one of the toughest in the Alps. It has 45 hairpin bends, including 30 in a 3 km stretch.

Stelvio has 46 and alpe d’Huez 21…..but ride into Queenstown and they have 99 bends! Not the same altitude to descend, meaning they are bang on one another.

Given I do not happen to have a drone handy, I have copied some borrowed shots.

I suspect my descent would be a very slow one on the all time lists. I took it very carefully! I stopped to look at the town of Queenstown way below.

I also stopped to take this photo as we entered Queenstown. What can you say?? 🙈

We kept moving through Queenstown as we were keen to knock off the final 40 km to get to Strahan. We both have some cumulative fatigue from all the climbing we have been doing, and more rain and wind was not welcomed!

At the highway junction to Strahan we paused to eat, leaning our bikes on a monument. I was very surprised to see my step Grandfather’s name on it. I have my Nan’s wedding ring that Tom gave her. I wore it for some time but ended up having it melted down and remodelled into the Gaelic symbol Tony wears on a chain.c

We arrived into Strahan after 131 km and over 1300 m climbing in some pretty awful conditions. We headed straight to Hamer Hotel hoping to score a meal, which we did!

Looking out the window at our chained bikes, overlooking the harbour.

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We are ready for bed, with our ride tomorrow taking us to Corinna, on the Pieman River. Thanks for reading. Ooroo

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